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Discussion Starter #1
Fairly cheap front skidplate options.

Light weight, cost effective, durability and ease of fabrication were are all qualities I was looking for when I decided to increase the effectiveness of the OEM skidplates. There are several options, ways of looking at design and fabrication. Deciding what is most important will guide how you purchase or make your own equipment.

I could have bought a 4x8 sheet of 3/16s or ¼ inch flat plate and built a really durable skidplate, in fact I have seen very few dents in ¼ or 3/8s inch skids even on Suburbans that are driven hard on trails! Its the industry standard for mild steel, but it would have weighed an arm an a leg, ie about 10lbs per square foot for ¼ inch, or about 310-20sh lbs for the whole sheet!

I have a D-cab that tips the scales at 3700lbs stock, by time I get my tool box loaded, sliders, front receiver mount, and solid skidplates, winch, I would be in well over 4K easily. Even if I leave most of my tools, winch at home, I would still be right around 4K not including me or my family. Since its my daily driver, gas mileage is important to me and thus lightest weight with decent durability were the goals I was shooting for in my design.

I do believe my design or ideas offer at least twice the protection of the OEM skidplates but there is a rule in physics that says there never is a free lunch. If the amount of steel is decreased then durability will suffer, if the thickness and amount of steel increases the weight will suffer. HOWEVER, if the same level of protection can be achieved with less steel ie lighter weight, almost all of us but those with the hardcore trail dedicated rigs would benefit from a modest upgrade that would be more than sufficent. What I am saying is that unless your plan is to spend hours every weekend draging your trucks belly over rocks, a modest upgrade is usually sufficient.

Secondly , if I do tear a hole in my skid plate because it is somewhat thinner than 1/4 flat plate, owning welder I can bang if flat and weld it back up, grind it smooth, put some more black rattle can on it and viola good as new.

I considered cutting the brackets off of the what would be the bottom part to the front skidplate, drilled holes in the top one and then putting them togather and tack welded it. This method would have created an OEM skidplate that would be at least twice as strong as the original, and still fairly light weight. When two thin pieces of metal are attached, the sum of the strength is greater than each piece by itself, at least thats what a mechanical engineer told me, even if this was a phalacy the minimum would be twice the strength and if it is true then its over twice as strong and durable as the original OEM.

I decided to go a different route for the front skidplate, I cut shaped and welded in 1/8inch flat plate, My rational for going this route was that it would be even stronger than two OEM skids welded together, less welding time, less fabrication time and it still looks OEM. The front skid is the one that is going to take the brunt of the getting up on a big rock, or dragging over a big rock.

Thus I used 1/8 inch by 3 inche flat bar and I welded the flatbar to the brackets on the sides and to the sheetmetal and each other in the middle.

I have mixed feelings about doing it this way, after I finished. I wasn’t easy to pound the 1/8 flat plate into the shape of the skid, in fact it required more hammering, and pounding on me than I would have liked. And cutting out the round holes required lots of drilling to punch out the circle and then dremmeling to make the holes round again. A plasma torch, or a blowtorch may be faster, or other methods to consider for this part but neither were available to me thus the drilling it out process was my method.

I do believe it is quite a bit stronger than the OEM or the clamshelled/doubled up front skid since its 1/8 inch + the thickness of the heavy guage sheet metal. I originally weighed it in at 19lbs, however once it was completely finished it weighed in at 23.5lbs.

My last concern, although untested, is the strength of the OEM brackets, while there are three up front and two in the back, I had little trouble fitting the new skidplate with a few swift wacks with the hammer. Thus the ease in bending the brackets into place leads me to believe that they may not tolerate a lot of heavy rock bashing, I guess I will find out the hardway and will report back.

This method for increasing the protetion of the front skidplate cost me $30 in 1/8 flatbar plus about $20 in a second front skidplate, I think if I had went to the steel warehouse it would bought my flat bar much cheaper, but it was closed when I had time to buy steel, so I bought it at TSC and paid through the nose.

Comments, opinions, suggestions appreciated.


I have some pics I can e-mail if anybody is interested in viewing them.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I forgot to note, another aspect of steel is that the more of it that is used the more it costs, at about a dollar a pound in some areas, and about ten pounds to the square foot for 1/4 inch, the steel alone can add up over a $100+ pretty quick, even if one has access to a commercial supply while cheaper, its not like it used to be.

While there are some places that will sell metal by the "foot", they are more expensive than the commercial places that sell it by the pound but require you to buy the whole enchilada, meaning you buy the stock in 20 foot sections, and the sheets in 4x8, the will usually cut if for you for a reasonable fee ie a couple of bucks. I have found that by buying it in 20 foot sections or the 4x8 sheets, I used to do 4 times better before the costs of steel went up now I get about twice as much steel for the money as I do at the hardware store ie Lowes, TSC, WestLake and the likes. Plus your not limited to a 4-5 foot chunks if you needed a longer piece.

Most of the folks whom bust and then weld up their rigs on a regular basis have probably already gone through this process and have a supplier for steel, however the occasional welder, fabricator should also think about finding a commercial source for steel, why pay high costs when there are places that will sell at a better price?
 

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The Satanic Panic
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609 Posts
another option

i made my own skid plate outta 3/16's, but another thing i did was i replaced the front crossmember that holds the front of the skid since i had bolts sheered off, and it was bent to hell. SOLUTION = i replaced it with a piece of angle iron, with 2 plates on the ends and 3 nuts welded for it to bolt onto. I did the same thing to the rear bolts and change it to 1/2". i attached these ones on the front crossmember that is shared with the lower control arms. only problem i had was i was backing up and my skid got caught on a rock and litterly grabbed one of the bolts and pulled it back, and now the rear bolts go in sideways lol but they didnt snap.
im goin to grind off the old nuts in the rear and weld in a 1/2" thick plate and tap new threads, but my goal was to make the skid connection stronger since i only had two left holding it in. i think you possibly u can go with a similar concept while using the factory skid. simply use a piece of angle iron or something, and get larger bolts, so that u can risk a skidplate and hammer it back out rather than having bolts sheer off and goin thru hell to drill them out. ill post pics as soon as i get a camera
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Tankoma wrote " i replaced the front crossmember that holds the front of the skid, it was bent to hell."

It sounds like you have first hand experience with the brackets being the weak link. Do you think that the brackets failed because of the skidplate or from the brackets not being heavy enough?

I know I am going to eventually replace the front skidplate bracket, for the same reasons and I want put a reciever hitch through the plastic part of the bumper. I can't figure out a stronger way to do it other than to weld brackets onto the frame and bolt a crossmember for a reciever and in the process the OEM bracket is going to be in the way.
 

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The Satanic Panic
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first of all i know this is late, but it failed just from usage, it started to twist, etc. and a piece of 1/8" angle iron has worked great with the new skid i made when i pile drived it on a rock at tellico, but yeah if u know how to weld, i think its worth it
 
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