Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Helsinki, Finland - on the European side of the Atlantic
It's not just seamless/ welded tube that makes the strength difference, there's a lot of different types of steel manufactured. DOM tubing is typically higher quality steel than HREW or some other crap quality steel tubing.
OP, as for the body protection why don't you fab tube fenders? Make 'em wide enough on the front to cover your tires and you've provided protection for the front fenders. Rear is a different story unless you make the tube fenders or exo- cage stupidly wide, which makes 'em look like crap. Building an exo cage/ half- exo like on the Wrangler pic you posted, you're going to be denting the roof area anyways when hitting a tree. There are a lot of tight trails around here with big trees and slippery mud, there's really no way to avoid dents if you try wheeling on trails like that unless going very slow and winching all the time because of that.
I agree with others, if you're looking to avoiding dents on either your doors or rear quarter panels, you need rolled mild steel plating to protect them. If you're looking a t keeping the weight down, use thin abrasive- resistant steel plate and bend them to follow the body lines. 0.088 or .125 is plenty thick if you get high quality steel and it'll keep the weight down. using tubing the weight increases suprisingly rapidly, and does not give you the protection you're looking for.
I've built tube fenders on my ZJ (check my build thread), I've got box steel rocker replacement with rocker tubes - and I've got dent on both of my rear quarters. You're talking about fitting on tight trails, and looking at widening your ZJ by at least 1.5" in the rear on both sides if you want to keep the panels away from trees with the tube. Something doesn't match here, right?
1998 Grand Cherokee 5.9 LX daily driver, 1.75" BB, 32" KM2s, HPD30 Eaton e-locker/D44a stock LSD, 4.56 gears, custom- fabbed tube bumpers and tube fenders,...
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1990 XJ Limited (4-door), 4.0 I6, AW4, NP242, ***rolled and totalled @ 165k miles***
1990 XJ (4-door), 4.0 I6, AW4, NP242, PBR 42" tires, Unimog 404 portal axles, 110" WB, full cage + uniframe completely rebuilt, front 3-link + panhard / double triangulated 4-link rear,... ***SOLD***