A story & replacing TDK skid plate with Barnes - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 10 Old 05-03-2019, 08:01 AM Thread Starter
schardein
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A story & replacing TDK skid plate with Barnes

I was Jeeping an area called Shoe Creek in Virginia in 2008 when I high centered my transmission/transfer case skid plate on a rock. Rather than have someone pull me off backwards, I decided to winch myself forward over it. All went well, and after re-spooling, I got in my Jeep. As I put my hand on the gear shifter (T18 at the time), I immediately noticed that it was “taller” for some reason. Then I looked at the shifter boot and saw it was stretched tight. It took me a minute to process this, then I climbed out for a look. Yes, the factory stamped steel skid plate had been pushed upwards in the center, at least two inches. I removed the screws for the shifter boot to release its tension, and the group I was with continued on its way. I figured I would replace the skid plate with another factory one when I got home.

A few miles down the trail was a large rock/dirt hill climb. It didn’t look very steep, but it was just steep and smooth enough to make it very challenging to get up. I was making my attempt, and revving the engine pretty good, spinning the tires trying to climb this hill. I think it was my second attempt, when there was a horrible ripping sound from under the hood, followed by the smell of engine coolant and the sound of it pouring on the ground.

The smashed in skid plate had pushed the entire driveline up, leveling the engine, and putting the 7 bladed (HD cooling option) fan closer to the radiator. Close enough, it turned out, to eat the radiator when it was revved up enough.

We spent roughly the next hour pulling the fan, pulling the radiator, and bending over 45 coolant tubes over like a toothpaste tube with a pair of needle nose pliers. Believe it or not, when we put it back in, only ONE tube failed to seal. I happened to be carrying a five-gallon jug of water, and most of the trip followed a creek. I left the radiator cap loose so as to not build pressure and shut the Jeep down at every opportunity. Several times throughout the day I topped off the Jeep from the jug, and then filled the jug in the stream. It was a long day on the trail.

For the trip back to the cabin, I was driving two or three miles, then stopping to top off the radiator… for about 15 miles.

In true Jeeper fashion, a fellow in the group drove two hours home and two hours back (on his vacation) to bring me a used CJ radiator. When I left the next day, I drove straight to the nearest AutoZone, bought the cheapest electric fan they had, zip tied it in place, and wired it directly to the battery for the six hour drive home. I got some funny looks when I pulled in for gas, raised the hood, and pulled the wire from the battery to shut off the fan.

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1983 CJ7, 5.3, NV3550, D300 4:1, Fr D44 Detroit, Rr D44 OX, 4.56, 35" SSTs on beadlocks
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post #2 of 10 Old 05-03-2019, 08:04 AM Thread Starter
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As it turned out, the fix was an aftermarket heavy-duty skid plate from TDK. This was on my Jeep from 2008 until 2018 and has survived four wheeling trips in PA, NC, TN, VA, IL, AR, MO, AL, WI, and TX. It held up well. The removable skid plate took some hits that made it a little difficult to bolt back on after removal, and several times I had to get creative to get the bolts out, but it always did its job. The problem was it hung down pretty low, being almost five inches deep.

After my 5.3 swap was completed in 2017, I started planning for a replacement with better ground clearance. At the same time as the engine swap, I installed a clocking ring for the Dana 300. With a one inch body lift, I was able to get the transfer case nearly flat. Not flat enough for a completely flat skid plate unfortunately. After some searching, I settled on a two inch drop CJ skid plate from Barnes.
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1983 CJ7, 5.3, NV3550, D300 4:1, Fr D44 Detroit, Rr D44 OX, 4.56, 35" SSTs on beadlocks
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post #3 of 10 Old 05-03-2019, 08:09 AM Thread Starter
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After it arrived, I test fitted it. Everything went well. But I would need to fabricate a transmission mount.
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1983 CJ7, 5.3, NV3550, D300 4:1, Fr D44 Detroit, Rr D44 OX, 4.56, 35" SSTs on beadlocks
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post #4 of 10 Old 05-03-2019, 08:12 AM Thread Starter
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I bought a Universal Bolt Through Engine Mount Cushion Kit (720-9314) from Speedway Motors. At $19.99, I though it was a good deal.

The initial test fit of the skid plate revealed the need for two clearance cuts. One clearance cut was required for the transfer case pan, which was right over the rear lip of the skid plate. Another relief was needed at the front center skid plate lip, for the transmission itself. My measurements say no cut was needed for the front driveshaft, but I’m going to confirm that with some trail testing at home before making any trips.

I then cut a short section from an OEM CJ front bumper. I drilled the bolt pattern for the NV3550 transmission mount, and bolted it up. After some careful measuring, I marked and drilled the 1.25” holes that the upper bushings would index in. Then I bolted it up again, and using the upper bushing set in place as a guide, I used Prussian Blue marking dye on the end of the mounting bolts to mark the skid plate for drilling. After drilling the skid plate, everything was mocked up again, and careful measurements taken of the CJ bumper piece. I cut the bumper’s “lip” on both sides, leaving .25” clearance on the back edge, taking into account the compression of the bushings. This way, if the bushings ever completely collapse, the driveline will still be supported, albeit metal on metal. As a final step, I stamped the mount with an “F” and “L” so it could be oriented the right way, and everything went off to the Powdercoater.
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1983 CJ7, 5.3, NV3550, D300 4:1, Fr D44 Detroit, Rr D44 OX, 4.56, 35" SSTs on beadlocks
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post #5 of 10 Old 05-03-2019, 08:16 AM Thread Starter
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Once everything was back, it bolted on without issue. I did add a flat washer between the transmission mount foot and the bracket, on the front bolts only. This was to counteract the rearward tilt of the driveline and somewhat level the bracket in relation to the skid plate.
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1983 CJ7, 5.3, NV3550, D300 4:1, Fr D44 Detroit, Rr D44 OX, 4.56, 35" SSTs on beadlocks
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post #6 of 10 Old 05-03-2019, 08:17 AM Thread Starter
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This mod has gained me three inches of ground clearance at the critical point right in the center of the wheelbase. I’m looking forward to testing it out this year.
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1983 CJ7, 5.3, NV3550, D300 4:1, Fr D44 Detroit, Rr D44 OX, 4.56, 35" SSTs on beadlocks
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post #7 of 10 Old 05-03-2019, 08:27 AM
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Awesome! I'm in the middle of putting the same skid on my CJ with a torqueflight and clocked Dana 300. I'm using Rusty's Offroad universal crossmember kit to mount my transmission though so I can drop the skid without supporting the drivetrain.
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post #8 of 10 Old 05-03-2019, 08:32 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KLG79 View Post
Awesome! I'm in the middle of putting the same skid on my CJ with a torqueflight and clocked Dana 300. I'm using Rusty's Offroad universal crossmember kit to mount my transmission though so I can drop the skid without supporting the drivetrain.
I considered doing that, and may in the future. Not only does that allow the skid to be removed without supporting the driveline, if the skid takes a hit and bends, it won't push the whole driveline up. Unless it hits the support crossmember and bends that also.

1983 CJ7, 5.3, NV3550, D300 4:1, Fr D44 Detroit, Rr D44 OX, 4.56, 35" SSTs on beadlocks
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post #9 of 10 Old 05-03-2019, 08:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schardein View Post
I considered doing that, and may in the future. Not only does that allow the skid to be removed without supporting the driveline, if the skid takes a hit and bends, it won't push the whole driveline up. Unless it hits the support crossmember and bends that also.
Yeah, I'm looking to avoid that also. My radiator has a crescent moon shaped scar where the top of the fan hit it when I turtled it at Gray Rock. I'm saying bye to the mechanical fan and installing a contour fan.
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post #10 of 10 Old 05-03-2019, 09:06 AM
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Good story.....and a good reason I've been running an electric fan....in my case, Ford Taurus fan with a continuously variable speed controller. I can also force it full on or full off (for water crossings.

I'm doing a similar thing with my skid plate. My original one wouldn't work with my SBC and 4L60E tranny....so I made a custom tranny bracket. I still need to make the bolt on skid plate....but it is nice to have just the skeleton t-mount so I can work on the underside without having to remove a skid plate and block up the tranny.
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