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DEX210 Ball Differential Build Guide – Part 1


150wideTTTThe DEX210 ball differential has been designed for optimum performance but some users have had problems correctly building and maintaining the diff.  As with any ball differential it’s a fine setting between too loose (and slipping) or too tight and damaging the plate/balls or other parts. The largest source of build errors comes from the circlip used to hold the thrust bearing in place.  This circlip ideally needs to be installed using circlip pliers but other methods are possible with care – it’s easy to bend the circlip and weaken its hold which could lead to premature failure.  We’ve put together a written guide (this article) and a video guide for the DEX210 ball diff build.

DEX210 Differential pro build
To start the differential build you need to clean all the parts thoroughly. You can use motor cleaner / brake cleaner or similar to degrease and clean the parts.  The reason for doing this is that the metal parts could be covered in oil and small metal fragments from the manufacturing process – and any oils on the ball differential could cause it to slip or perform poorly.

cleaning Cleaning using a cotton bud soaked in brake cleaner cleaning2 Soaking the parts speeds up the process of cleaning


The thrust bearing is made up from three parts – two thrust washers and a caged thrust race which makes assembly and maintenance easier.  The thrust washers look nearly identical at first glance but they’re different from one another and designed to be assembled in a certain way. The thrust washers have different internal diameters and this can be easily checked by placing them onto the diff screw and seeing how far they’ll lean over.  The larger internal diameter washer is designed to sit on the inside of the thrust race (the same side as we install the circlip) and not contact the diff screw (hence the larger inner diameter).  The tighter washer is designed to sit against the head of the diff screw and will be placed into the diff half first.

thrustwashers2 The two thrust washers side by side thrustwashers3 The smaller diameter thrust washer doesn’t lean as far (on the right) and will sit against the head of the screw.

The easiest way to assemble the greased parts into the differential-half is to build the thrust bearing onto the diff screw and then drop the screw backwards through the diff half – allowing the screw to fall out of the outdrive whilst the thrust bearing sits inside the recess within the diff half.  With the tighter thrust washer on the diff screw – coat it well with the provided black grease before dropping the caged thrust balls on top.  Finish the assembly by coating the other thrust washer in grease and placing it on top to effectively sandwich the thrust balls.  You need enough grease to coat the parts well but not so much that excess grease will spin out and into the differential where it could cause slippage.

greasethrust1 Thrust bearing parts ready for greasing / assembly greasethrust2 Use plenty of black grease – but not too much!

With the thrust bearing assembly still on the screw – wipe off excess grease and drop it backwards through the outdrive to leave the thrust bearing inside the diff half.  A gentle prod with a driver should help the thrust bearing sit fully inside and expose the groove where the circlip will sit.

greased-thrust Thrust bearing assembled on the diff screw thrustplacing Slide the diff screw backwards through the outdrive to seat the thrust bearing assembly

The way the differential is held together means this circlip takes a lot of strain as the differential screw sits on the outside thrust race plate and transfers the pressure to the inner-facing edge of the circlip.

Due to the way the circlip is manufactured, one side has a slightly flatter appearance than the other and for the best possible fit it’s advisable to install the circlip so this flatter side faces away from the thrust bearing and in toward the differential.   It can be hard to see the difference looking at the side profile but looking at the face of the circlip and comparing each side makes things a little easier.  The reason for orienting the circlip in this way is that the sharper edges of the flatter side will hold better against the lip of the groove inside the diff half.

circlipgroove3 The groove where the circlip will sit circliptools2 Two different circlip pliers – you’ll need some which can work with small circlips

Using the proper tools for the job is the best way to avoid damage or other problems later. Some small circlip pliars are highly reccomended for this part of the build.  The circlip needs compressing slightly to get it into position over the thrust bearing and then it should snap back into shape to hold firmly in place.

circlip1 circlipinstall_0 With the circlip compressed – place it into the outdrive

If you’ve managed to damage the clip during installation, either by using incorrect tools or by applying too much force – you might be able to expand the clip back to its original shape when its in position by opening up the open ends of the clip.  Using a large flat-bladed driver, hold one side of the blade against the outdrive and between the open ends of the circlip – then turn the driver to force the two ends apart and stretch the clip back into its original shape to fill the groove.


To make building the differential easier, use some clear silicone grease to attach the differential rings to the diff halves – this just stops the rings from falling off during assembly.

greaseoutdrive ringsattached

There are several ways to build and lube a ball differential and some of the methods are down to personal preference rather than there being a definitive method.  Suffice to say, the differential needs to be well lubed with clear silicone grease but past a certain point you’ll just be wasting the grease and making a mess inside the gear case.

Place the two ballraces along with the shim between them over the extended sleeve of the outdrive and grease both differential rings so the diff balls will be running over the clear grease right from the start.

greasedring bearings-on

add-balls Place the moulded differential gear over the bearings and slide it fully down over them against the diff ring.

Using a driver liberally coated in clear grease, pick each of the 14 diff balls up one at a time and place them carefully into each pocket on the diff.  Make sure each gets a touch of grease to keep it in place.

Place the thrust bearing side diff half over the gear to complete the differential and drop the screw through.

crush-spring Compress the spring finalassembly1 Holding the diff screw in place before turning it over finalassembly2 Ready for the spring and T-nut

Place a driver through the outdrive to keep the screw from falling out and turn the whole assembly over to drop the spring and T-Nut through the opposite outdrive.  Turn the diff on its side and hold the T-Nut in place whilst tightening the diff screw to clamp the diff together.

TIP: The diff spring is freshly wound and has never been compressed – to achieve a consistent setting we advise compressing the spring with some pliers a couple of times before installation.

They best  way to achieve the desired setting for the diff is to tighten using only finger pressure and test.  Keep tightening a little and testing and don’t be tempted to over-tighten and possibly damage parts.  The final setting will need to be fine-tuned in the car, and we’ll go into more depth in the next installment of our DEX210 ball diff build guide. Look out for Part 2 of this build guide, coming soon.


DEX210 Ball Differential Build Guide – Part 1
Team Tech Tips – 16mm Big Bore Shock Set-Up
Travis Amezcua – Ride Height Basics – Tutorial
TD Germany Take Team Title
Team Driver Build Diary – DEX8T – Leo Lorenzen
Team Tech Tips – How To Create A Car Stand Using Kit Boxes
Team Tech Tips – All-New Video – Reduce Mid-Corner Understeer
Team Tech Tips – Droop Tuning Guide
Team Tech Tips – DEX210v2 – Type B Gearbox Camber Position Adjustments
Team Tech Tips – DEX210v2 Camber Adjustment Guide
Team Tech Tips – Build The Perfect Turnbuckle Linkages
Team Tech Tips – Lightweight Diff Conversion
Team Tech Tips – DEX210v2 Ride Height
Team Tech Tips – Diff Change – 210 Range
DEX410 Rear Cone Washer Mod – Team Tech Tip
Team Durango Big Bore Shock Build Guide
Team Durango ‘Race Ready RTR’ Team Tech Tip videos online
‘210 Gear Diff Build
DEX410v3 – RR Anti-Squat settings
DESC410R – Outer Hinge Pin Location
TD330303 – ‘408 Toe-in and kick-up inserts
DESC410R TD320141 Rear Bumper Install
DEX210 Motor Configuration Guide
Turnbuckle Build Guide
410 Diff Seal mod
DESC410R 2mm Anti-Roll Bar set screw mod
1/10th scale BIG BORE spring charts
DNX408 Ackermann link mod
+2mm Rear Roll Centre – DNX408
DNX408 Receiver Fitment
DNX408 Shock Build Guide
DNX408 Brake Piston Alignment
DNX408 Drive Shaft Boot Install
DNX408 Gearbox Input ‘Snapring’ install procedure
DESC410R +1 Degree rear hubs
DESC410R Centre Diff Option
DESC410R – Slipper Setting
DESC410R/DEX410 Gearbox Pro-Build.
DNX408 Brake Shimming
DNX408 Throttle Linkages
DNX408 Setup from Reno Savoya
Anti-Roll Bar Installation
Shock build guide
25mm Lipo in DEX410
Setting up your Servo Saver
Starting Set-up for DEX410 (Outdoors)
How to Save / Send in your set-ups using the Team Durango Editable Set-up Sheet
Bullet-Proofing your CVD’s
Building the Perfect Diff
Rear inner hinge pin spacer (TD709005)
Your local Team Durango distributor
T: 217-398-3630
F: 217-398-1104
Great Planes Model Distributors
1608 Interstate Drive
IL 61822, USA