Tomken Gas Tank & Steering Box Skid Plates

4X4 ICON 2000 - 2008 The DVD! - Click here for details!

4X4 ICON 2000 - 2008 The DVD!

Back when I had my CJ-2A, I recall marveling at all the new trucks that were coming out with 4-wheel drive and precious little protection underneath.  The CJ-2A I owned had a huge, thick skid plate protecting the transfer case, another that protected the space between the front of the oil pan and the front axle tube, little deflectors to protect the brake lines.  Mine also had extra heavy duty leaf springs, plow frame (this was both an asset and a liability off-road), a tow frame, and a large metal shroud that someone had fabricated to protect the PTO.  There was very little that could get damaged underneath.  I had some clearance problems but it went places that lots of higher rigs could not.  The only thing I ever ruined was the metal steps that were bolted to the body.  Those came off after about a week of off-road exploring...

So when I bought my new Jeep, I was aware that the protection underneath would be lacking.  I was pleased to see that the factory "skid plate" for the transfer case was a little higher and fairly thick.  I still don't trust if for slam-and-bash rock climbing, but I don't expect to be doing anything like that.

Notwithstanding my driving style, I still felt that the underside needed a little more protection than the stock vehicle provided.  Most vulnerable seemed to be the steering box and the gas tank.  I was, quite frankly, surprised and disappointed to see how these were located, begging for trouble.  On the CJ-2A neither of these items were even remotely close to being whacked on the ground.

Such as it is, I chose to put skid plates on both the steering box and gas tank.  After reading the reviews and tales of woe from people who installed different types of protection, I choose the Tomken plates for these two areas.

Update 6/30/07

Steering Box Skid Plate
Tomken Steering Box Skid Plate The Steering Box Skid Plate required me to drill one hole and blindly attach one nut and bolt.  I didn't find this to be at all difficult, with my experience restoring old cars.
An example of steering box damage - Click to Zoom In! Steering Box Damage Example - Click to Zoom in!
Here is an example of the kind of damage that can be done to the steering box without the skid plate.  Note that the steering fluid is leaking out...

Photos Courtesy of "Ronbo of the North" Check his site here

Tomken Steering Box

 

This picture shows the skid plate installed (the 4x4 sticker was added later).  You can see how vulnerable this steering box is, hanging down the way it does. 

The Steering Box Skid Plate has seen some light duty on a couple approaches where the angle was a little steep and I would have dug the steering box into the dirt.  I haven't really whacked it yet, and hope not to, but it is proving itself to be a very worthwhile (and inexpensive) addition that I would not live without.

Steering Box Skid Plate
Steering Box Skid Plate

 

Update 6/30/07

I replaced the steering box due to a leak and while it was out I repainted the skid plate with POR-15.

Gas Tank Skid Plate
The Gas Tank Skid Plate was a straight bolt-on installation and was mindlessly easy.  The Gas Tank Skid Plate robs some ground clearance.  But I have seen "bigger" Jeeps (read lifted, or running larger tires) tear the heck out of the factory skid plate, so I was willing to lose the 3/4". Tomken Gas Tank Skid Plate
Example of gas tank damage - Click to Zoom In!

 

Here is an example of damage that can occur without some kind of protection.  Usually what happens is the factory "plate" is deformed and fuel tank capacity is reduced.  I suppose in severe instances, the plastic fuel tank could be ruptured.

Photo Courtesy of "Ronbo of the North"
Check his site here

In actual use, I have done a great job of christening the Gas Tank Skid Plate.  It has scars from every outing.  I am just about certain that if I had not installed it, by now, at the very least, I would have a dented factory skid plate.  Or worse...

 

Generic Tow Hook and Tomken Gas Tank Skid Plate Tomken Gas Tank Skid Plate
Note that clearance is not as good as other products (like the Kilby skid, or even the stock setup.  Live and learn.... Although some clearance is lost, one benefit from this is that the rear exhaust pipe is more protected than for example, the Kilby skid plate.  It's a trade-off.  We're talking about 3/4 of an inch.  You can see the mud on the plate, evidence that it spends some time on the ground.  This plate has taken the most abuse of any of the skid plates I have installed. 

So does it work?   You decide - Here is an update showing the factory skid plate after 35 off-road trips, exposed during some routine maintenance.

 

Tomken Gas Tank Skid Plate Maintenance

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