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Engine & Tranny Skid
 

Troy finished the welding, attaching the 2" angle aluminum to the skid plate.  As was already done to the piece in the above photo, some of the angle aluminum will have to be trimmed for clearance purposes. 

 

Here is the final layout (at least until I decided to change it) of the skid plate.  The outer seam where the angle and skid plate join are welded all the way around the outer edge.  On the inside, Troy stitched it here and there as appropriate. 

 

 

Using an angle grinder and some coarse flapper discs, I started the process of making the skid fit around all of those things that can get in the way (namely, the exhaust system in my case).  I used a coarse cutting blade in my jigsaw when the section to remove was a bit more than I wanted to do with the grinder. 

 

The clearancing took a little longer than I expected, mostly due to the many test fits that were required.  I didn't wish to remove more than was necessary and as the fit improved, I found a few other spots and needed some minor trimming.  I would have hate to pay a shop to have this done.....some extra bucks in labor for this step would have driven up the bill. 

 

Hey....check out the powder coating!  That rusty old bracket was ran through the media blaster and then hung in the powder coating oven with a bunch of other items.  Turned out very nice.....much better than my sanding and rattle can flat black would have done.  This is the front of the skid, looking towards the rear of the vehicle (over the front axle).

 

Looking in from the driver's side....what looks like the shadow of the exhaust pipe (on the aluminum) is actually the trimmed away aluminum.  I may or may not have to trim a bit more.  I'll find that out once I get things flexed up a bit and get the motor to torque a bit as well.

 

I apologize for this one getting kind of crooked.  Trying to shoot this one with the camera laying almost flat on the ground was a little difficult.  But you get the idea of what it looks like all bolted into position. 

 

I had the TJ on the lift and was almost able to get a full shot of the front of the skid (and brackets) without the drag link and track bar in the way.....like I said, almost.  But this gives you a pretty good idea of what it looks like. 

I weighed the skid on the bathroom scale and it showed 14 pounds.  Troy had commented to me, while welding it, that he thought it was getting a bit heavy.  Perhaps so but I am very happy with the weight and extremely satisfied with how it all turned out.  A big thanks to Troy for handling the TIG welding. 

One of my friends has been watching the progress of the skid and was wondering if I was going to cut an oil drain hole.  At this point, it is pretty easy to take on and off.  I only do 3 oil changes per year (less than 10K miles per year) and so the extra 10 minutes I spend taking it off and putting it back on isn't going to add up to that much time in the grand scheme of things.  If it becomes a hassle, I can cut a hole. 

That is about it for now.  If I make any changes, I'll do an update to this write-up.
 

Good trails to you and remember to TREADLightly!

 

Update:  05/26/2006

Lady has made a few trips over the rocks since this skid was installed.  Last weekend, I ran Die Hard, a solid 5.0 trail here in the Phoenix area.  I am happy to report that this skid performed very well.  At one point, I had the weight of the vehicle parked on the skid.  I had high centered the front end....both tires were just barely scratching the dirt.  While scraped up, there were no dents in the aluminum.  Those 1/2" thick reinforced edges did a good job of distributing the rock impacts. 

 

A few folks expressed a concern with the method I chose for connecting the engine skid to the center skid.  I didn't shear any of the grade 8 hardware.  Likewise, I didn't mangle or peal the 1/4" aluminum that was bolted to the steel center skid.  You can see fresh rock rash right at the leading edge of the center skid.....just a little knick in the aluminum that is about 1/8" up and away from the steel edge.  I'm sure you can find a rock that will hit that aluminum....but after dragging Lady across Die Hard for more than six hours, I'm very confident this skid will do everything I ask of it. 

If you like the idea of an aluminum skid, check out my recently installed aluminum gas tank skid.  Half the weight of the steel skid it replaced and after its initiation on Die Hard, every bit as good from what I can determine.
 

Update 12/27/2006:

I finally got around to taking a photo of the oil drain hole (yes, I added one) on the skid plate.  Even though I only change my oil 3 times a year (only put 9K miles on each year), I got tired of taking the skid off when it was oil change time.

 

 

 

 

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