skid plate

More reasons to upgrade

Looking for potential mounting positions for a future modification, I found a couple more examples, albeit minor ones, of my Jeep playing a little too up-close-and-personal with Terra Firma.

The instance above, of course, is my factory muffler. Every JK owner knows this is a part that just begs to make contact with the rocks, and it’s something I’m dying to replace. (A relocated muffler with a more aggressive note would do nicely.) The second is my factory fuel-tank skid. While the photo doesn’t do it justice, the paint has been rubbed off the rearmost edge, and there’s a fist-sized depression close to a half-inch deep in that location.

At the end of the day, these are just signs Smokey is getting used. 😊

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Coming into view

Before:

IMG_5595

 

After:

A notable effect of installing my new crash-bar skid plate was that it blocked some of the light from my rock lights. Prior to the installation, I’d simply had the lights mounted to the bottom of the front bumper. But, the skid cut off the forward throw of the lights, so a change was in order.

Moving the three forward lights necessitated only minor rewiring, as two of the three had to be cut out of the wiring series to free the bumper for removal in installing the skid plate, anyway. So, I took advantage of the necessity to adjust the position of all three for the best possible light throw.

Two of the three now reside under the forward frame rails, where they do an admirable job of casting a nice squared-off light below and in front of the Jeep. I placed the third on the flat plastic shroud beneath my radiator. Here, it helps augment the frame-rail lights, and also casts a little more light backward along the center-line of the vehicle, an area that had been more shadowy than I’d liked.

Overall, I’m very pleased with the new light pattern. I think it’ll be a useful change. I was a little hesitant regarding the radiator-mounted light, as I’m not sure how any heat transferred from the radiator will affect the 3M tape holding the light in place. Time will tell, of course, but it’s looking good so far. I’ve already had the chance to put them to use, and they performed very well.

First impressions: Crawler Conceptz Ultra Front Skid

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The good news is my Crawler Conceptz lower skid is finally mounted. It fought to the last with fitment. A friend helped me remove the bumper (a frustrating necessity) and attach the skid on Saturday. The nine bolts and Nylok nuts that attach the skid to the bumper have just enough clearance to mount. The bolts don’t even extend into the nylon ring, let alone protrude from the nuts.

skidpowderLater, after a test drive, I discovered the bolts already were coming loose, and now some were just hand tight! So, again with a friend’s help because of the 100-pound (combined) weight involved, the bumper was removed. One by one, we loosened or removed the bolts, applying Lock-Tite and re-secured each one.

The look is great and, in defiance of logic, just the addition of the 26-pound skid makes the Jeep feel much more planted and stock-like on surface streets. (I suspect this is the additional weight balancing out the heft of the rear bumper-tire carrier.) The downside is that it also introduced a bit of noticeable understeer on the highway. It’s nothing I won’t get used to and be able to compensate for, but it wasn’t a change I expected.

Overall, I’m glad I added the Ultra Series img_1034skid. It makes the front end look more complete with the Ultra Series stubby bumper look. But, if I had it to do over again, I’d likely go with the company’s one-piece unit that includes a true recessed winch mount.

Frustrations.

I crawled under the Jeep this weekend to install the skid plate below my front bumper. But after starting all but one of the bolts, the seam between the skid and bumper at the final bolt location were too far apart to join with the bolt! (My initial test fit revealed a gap here, but I suppose adding powder has increased the gap.) I tried loosening and removing some of the other bolts to create more play, but nothing enabled me to secure the skid in place. (A longer bolt isn’t an option, due to the faceted surface of the bumper and skid plate.)

Finally, I gave up and removed it completely. As I stewed over the situation the next morning, I fired off an email to Shad at CrawlerConceptz. To his credit, I received a reply about lunchtime, suggesting I trim the outboard corners of my Jeep’s crash bar to clearance the skid or simply leave out the final bolt. But, as I looked more closely at that option, I realized two things: First, Jeep has changed the design of the JK’s crash bar at least twice since the JK’s initial launch (web searches show at least three designs in existence) and, second, there’s nothing hanging down below the crash bar that should hinder my skid from bolting into place.

I want to spend some more time looking at the situation, but at this point, I think the entire crash bar may hang a 16th or so too low to allow the skid from bolting up. So, if that proves to be the case, would you:

skidpowder

My Crawler Conceptz front lower skid plate (inverted, above) returned from being powder-coated yesterday, meaning I’m one step closer to getting my license plate out of my front window and covering up that crash bar eyesore. Now, I’ve got to pick up a 1/2-inch ratcheting wrench to avoid some busted knuckles (not to mention a lot of frustration) and make the time to install it!