The old forum where i had this posted got shut down. Figured people here would find it useful.
I'm going to try and stuff as much of what i have learned in here but feel free to ask questions. Here goes...
The skids have been on my truck for maybe 9-10 months (including being pounded on in Moab and the Dusy Ershim trail) and the bumper is currently being powder coated.
So the goal of this was to have an end product that was as close to a professional appearance and performance as possible. I like the plate style bumpers for the type of wheeling I do so I started doing research on plate designs. Here is the list of what I wanted out of the bumper:
-Mount straight to the truck with factory mount points
-Provide much higher clearance and strength than my trashed factory bumper
-Hold two Lightforce 240 blitz
-Hold a warn M8000 with easy access to the clutch lever
-Hold two turn signals
-Keep the weight to around 100lbs
And the Skids:
-Mount up to all the factory skid mounts (except the rear; more later on that)
-Provide more strength and protection than the factory skid
-Be removable for maintenance
As I started looking into it and doing research I came to the conclusion that I wanted to get parts laser cut then weld it all up. Two reasons for this: First, I have done projects like this with cutting torches or a grinder and wanted to avoid the hours of grinding. Second, it allows a lot more design freedom because I only have basic tools (hand tools, welder, grinder,etc) at home. The other thing I wanted to do was to design everything in a 3D CAD program before cutting it out. I had wanted to learn how to work with 3D CAD for a few years and this was a good excuse. After trying out several programs (solidworks demo, google sketchup, Alibre Design) I choose Alibre Design because it was way better than sketchup and waaaayy cheaper than solidworks. They make a "personal edition" for $199 that I bought after doing the 30 day trial. The Alibre guy I deal with has been great about answering any questions I have plus they have a help forum which has saved me hours of tearing my hair out several times. I decided that I wanted to build the skids first, basically as a big test of the whole process (cad design to final fabrication). So Iíll start with that.
I started by measuring the factory skids as best I could. Then made up a 3D model:
If you havn't used 3D cad before the program allows you to build everything in 3D then it transfers it to a 2D drawings like this.
Then I took those and made a partial wood model to see how things looked under the truck. Didn't take any pictures of it under the truck but you get the rough idea
After going back and forth between the computer and the wood model a whole lot to make extra double sure the measurements were right I sent the 2d drawings in four PDF files to Petrofield industries, and had them cut everything from SA36 3/16" steel (this is pretty much your average hot rolled carbon steel). I thought about using cold roll but in the ended decided not to because Petrofield would have to special order it. They were able to throw my parts in with their regular production stuff so the parts were done in a few days. So I picked up a pallet that looked like this:
The cut quality of laser is excellent:
So then I laid everything out on my bench and checked all the parts. There was one part that was missing two holes but Petrofield cut out a new one for free when I explained the issue. Once everything was ready I started to tack it all together according to the cad drawings. Most of it fit well but I had to modify several parts because I had messed up a measurement of the factory skid. Thankfully the measurements I messed up were lengthwise and parts could be shifted end to end so that things lined up. If it had been side to side issues then I would have had to get new parts cut.
After putting together as many parts on the bench as I could they then went on the truck:
Past the trans crossmember there is no really good place to mount things to so i made one from 1"x1.5" rec tube:
So in total the skids are two parts with the front part held on by all the factory holes. The rear part bolts to the front with three carriage bolts then has an additional two carriage bolts in the trans cross member and two bolts that mount to the frame.
Again for some reason I never took pictures right after I welded it so I just have tacked photos.