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Engine & Tranny Skid
 

After installing the AW4 auto transmission in my TJ, it was time to seriously consider a transmission skid.  With the manual tranny, this was never much of a concern since it had no tranny pan bolted to its bottom side.  While smacking the tranny body onto a rock is never a good thing, the chances of it surviving such a mishap is much better than the fluid pan on an auto tranny.  And so, I started poking around the TJ forums and vendor web sites looking for a suitable skid plate. 

It became evident that my existing engine oil pan skid would be up for retirement once this project was finished.  The new tranny skid would extend forward from the tranny and protect the oil pan as well.  Since the new tranny skid would be bolted to the vehicle's transfer case skid, the front of the tranny skid would also have to be mounted to the frame.  Mounting it to the engine/tranny (like the existing oil pan skid) would transmit a lot of drive train vibrations to the frame.  I have enough of those already, on account of the poly tranny and motor mounts, and I don't need any more.

Mounting the rear edge of the tranny skid to the transfer case skid won't be too difficult.  Mounting the front edge, by the oil pan, to the frame would present more of a challenge.  Back to the web to do some more information surfing.  It seems that for the folks on the East coast, the Skid Row engine skid seems to be quite popular.  As I looked through the Skid Row, I found a page with some replacement parts on it.

 

The Skid Row engine skid mounting brackets were just what I was looking for.  They are a little pricey, but since this was a build it yourself project, I decided to splurge a bit and get a pair of brackets and two nut plates.  I'll save some money on other stuff (like labor) so the $70 to mount the front end of the skid was acceptable.

 

Here is a pic of the Skid Row bracket bolted into position on the passenger side motor mount.  It fit nice and tight on the bottom side of the mount.  Since it is quite a trick to get nuts onto the bolts, you can see why I opted to get the nut plates too. 


With the front mounting brackets taken care of, it was time to work up a template.  I grabbed some cardboard from the garage and with the help of some racing tape, a suitable sheet of template material was produced. 

I gave my buddy Robert a call and asked if he could shoot me some measurements of his skid.  Robert runs the same Alumi-flex suspension that I do.  His very capable '98 TJ also runs an automatic tranny.  So....it made sense to me to get some numbers to use as a starting point.  For what it is worth, passing skid measurements back and forth through e-mail isn't the best way to duplicate another guy's skid plate.  After Robert saw a photo of mine, the first thing he mentioned was that it didn't look like his.  Go figure! 

Before I got too serious about finalizing the template, we used a forklift and picked up a couple of corners of the TJ while checking for clearance up front.  I didn't see any problems with what I had and so decided to go with it.  If I find otherwise after I get on the trail, I'll have to make an adjustment as necessary. 

 

With the template's shape transferred to the aluminum, I used Troy's band saw to cut the 6061 1/4" aluminum plate.  Don't ask me what this piece of 1/4" alloy costs.....it came from Troy's parts and pieces pile.  It was the remnant of a 4'x8' sheet that cost several hundred dollars.  Did I mention that aluminum corner guards and side sliders are not cheap?  I wish I had the $$ to put them on my TJ.  Talk about a weight savings. 

 

I used 1" square tube for the arms that connect the brackets to the front of the skid.  One end of each arm is attached to a  bracket that is bolted to the motor mount.  The other end of the each arm is welded to an 1/8" thick metal plate which bolts to the front of the engine skid.  Troy welded the plate to the arms after I positioned them and tightened the bolts (to prevent their movement).  Grade 8 hardware is used throughout the installation.
 

More Tranny Skid

 

 

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