I finally reached the
point where my factory skid plate was so bashed that it was no longer
protecting my muffler, was tilting the transfer case slightly to one
side, and had all kinds of dings in it. Time to swap it out. The
picture above shows the skid plate with the first dent I got, but since
then it had received several more.
I have an AA SYE and a
body lift kit on my shelf. But I still need to get the CV shaft, MM
lift, adjustable upper control arms and track bar, shock relocation
brackets, transfer case shift bracket relocator and (gasp) belly-up skid
plate. So I have a few more parts to collect before I can go all the
In the meantime, a good
friend was putting on a long arm kit and had a pretty virgin factory
skid plate. He was good enough to give it to me. I took it home, gave
the two little dents a good whack with a BFH. I had to work out a 6 inch
dent in the leading edge where it forms a lip. It had almost folded over
on itself and was very hard to bend back out. But I got it. Then I
cleaned it up, painted it with truck bed liner paint and left it to dry
for a day.
I figured this would be
an easy swap and I was basically right.
I removed my Skid Row
engine skid plate (still straight as when I got it.) This meant taking
out the two bolts that hold it to the transfer case skid, the bolt on
the right lower control arm, and the one bolt from the bracket that goes
to the motor mount. Dead Easy.
Then I put two 6 ton
jacks under the bell housing and transmission so it would be supported,
and so it would not move. The Jeep was sitting on level ground.
Next I slid my 2-ton
floor jack under the middle of the transfer case skid plate after
removing the four nuts holding the tranny/transfer case mount to the
The three bolts on each
side came loose with a long handled ratchet (19mm socket). I was careful
not to crank them off all the way in case the engine and tranny were not
properly supported. Little by little I eased them out equally until the
skid plate was hanging free of the frame, supported by the floor jack.
Then I lowered the
floor jack and slid the plate out. As expected, it was badly whacked on
the trailing edge, just in front of where the muffler sits, right over
the catalytic convertor. It did it's job, but now it was time to set it
aside. The muffler was very vulnerable and the cat was pretty much
pressed between the floor and the skid plate.
The frame was nice and
straight and all the components covered by the skid plate were in great
shape. I wire brushed the frame where the plate had been attached, to
remove some light surface rust, cleaned it off with some naval jelly,
then primed and painted the frame to help prevent rust. While it
dried, we cleaned up the engine skid plate and painted it, then set it
aside to dry while we worked.
I put the replacement
transfer case skid on the floor jack and positioned it under the Jeep.
My five-year old son slowly jacked up the plate on the floor jack while
I guided it to line up the four bolts from the tranny/transfer case
mount and frame. He had strict instructions to:
- stop immediately
when I said so
- "stand away
from the Jeep" (not on stands, so nothing to fall except the
plate and maybe the engine/tranny/transfer case)
- if things went
bad, dial 911, for the meat wagon
With the plate lined up
(surprised it was so easy), I put the four nuts back on the tranny/transfer
case mount, the three bolts on each side into the frame with
never-seize, and then bolted it up. Then I put the engine skid back on.
I was pleased to find
that all the holes lined up, everything fit, and the job was done a lot
faster than I expected.
I'm half tempted to
straighten out the one I took off and make a couple modifications:
- add a removable
piece that covers the gap in the middle where the transfer case
bolts on - to smooth the bottom of the skid and maybe give it some
- weld in some bar
stock around the edge filling in the lip, to give that some added
Of course, for that, I
can have a flat skid fabbed up and be done with it, so of course, it is
unlikely that I will bother modifying the stock plate.
Anyway, for anyone
afraid to remove the transfer case skid plate, as long as you have the
right tools, it's a piece of cake. A willing five-year old is a plus!
- 9/16 sockets and
open end (Skid Row Engine Skid Plate bolts)
- 22mm and 7/8 sockets
(lower control arm bolts)
- 19mm socket
(transfer case skid bolts)
- 13mm socket
(transfer case bolts)
- jack stands (2 - to
support engine and transfer case)
- floor jack (to
support skid plate when removing and replacing)