this point, we were ready to roll. We had all of the parts we
needed, but we had ordered the skid plate from 33 Engineering
unpainted. They will ship it out Powder Coated for a small additional
fee but we wanted to custom-paint this plate and the bare metal
would give us a chance to check out the welds and craftsmanship
of the crossmember. We were very pleased with what we saw. The
skid plate had no rough edges, everything fit together like a
glove and all-in-all, we were impressed with the appearance, packaging
and quality of the plate. Now it was time to find out if it would
work as well as it looked - of course painting it would make it
look better, too.
The crossmember / skid plate is well packed.
Here's the crossmember by itself.
that since the Jeep is red, we would paint the crossmember black
to match the frame and the skid plate itself red to match the
Jeep. We began by cleaning all of the metal and then laying down
two or three coats of heavy gray primer. We covered the black
Allen head flush-mount screws for the skid plate with tape and
screwed them into the mounting holes in order to protect the threads
before we painted the final coats of color.
Putting a coat of primer on the crossmember.
Leaving the skid plate to dry.
Installing the flush-mount screws.
Ready to paint.
Once the primer
dried we applied several coats of Krylon to both the crossmember
(gloss black) and the skid plate (red). The finished product looks
quite nice, and as a bonus for this article, shows you where the
two pieces of the crossmember and skid plate separate.
The business side of the skid plate.
The frame side of the skid plate.
Okay, so now
it's painted and ready to install. While waiting for the paint
to dry, we installed the transfer case with the SYE, the Performance
Accessories Body Lift and the M.O.R.E. motor mount lift. To give
you an idea of what you may be looking at, the transfer case and
body lift took a reasonable amount of time - perhaps two to three
hours total. The only tricky part on the body lift is the two
mounts above the gas tank. Be sure to put Loctite on each of the
bolts before you torque them down.
motor mount lift was more of a booger. It took two of us about
three hours just to get one side off. The drivers side mount offers
very little room to move around or turn a wrench. A stubby u-jointed
3/8" drive ratchet was our ultimate savior. Thank you, Craftsman.
The best way
to start your installation is to remove the existing factory crossmember.
First, place a jack or jack stand under the rear of the transfer
case. If your jack is not tall enough, try placing a 4x4 block
of wood between it and the crossmember. Then remove the four bolts
that hold the transmission mount to the crosssmember. Place a
jack under the crossmember and then remove the six bolts that
hold the crossmember in place. Lower the jack, being sure to keep
an eye on the transfer case to make sure it's staying put and
that the jack stand you placed under it earlier is not moving.
Once the crossmember
has been removed, you have a great opportunity to check your transmission
mount and replace
it if it is damaged. They break easily. You might
be surprised at what you find.
the new crossmember, simply reverse the process. Place the new
crossmember in place and be sure to align the transfer case mount
bolts and install the six bolts that hold the crossmember in place.
Torque the mount bolts and the crossmember bolts down. Remove
the jack stand you were using to support the transfer case.
the skid plate section of the 33 Engineering mount and place it
on a jack (or use a buddy if you have one handy) and position
the skid plate and install it using the six flush-mount bolts
supplied with the plate. That's it. You're done! Now sit back
and look at the difference between what you had and what you have
Skid plate on jack.
Plenty of clearance on both sides - easy access.
Visual comparison of the stock crossmember
Here's a view that shows the 3" difference
Can you see the bend in the factory plate?
Not only does
the 33 Engineering skid plate look 100% better than that old beat-up
stock crossmember, but it provides substantial clearance and ease
Wow! What a difference!
Now let's find out how it works in the real world!
To The Testing --->>>