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33 Engineering High Clearance Skid Plate for TJs
By Shawn Pagan

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Painting & Installation...
At 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.

33 Engineering High Clearance Skidplate
The crossmember / skid plate is well packed.
33 Engineering High Clearance Skidplate
Here's the crossmember by itself.

We decided 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.

33 Engineering High Clearance Skidplate
Putting a coat of primer on the crossmember.
33 Engineering High Clearance Skidplate
Leaving the skid plate to dry.
33 Engineering High Clearance Skidplate
Installing the flush-mount screws.
33 Engineering High Clearance Skidplate
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.

33 Engineering High Clearance Skidplate
The business side of the skid plate.
33 Engineering High Clearance Skidplate
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.

33 Engineering High Clearance SkidplateThe 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.

To re-install 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.

Next, take 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 now!

33 Engineering High Clearance Skidplate
Crossmember installed.
33 Engineering High Clearance Skidplate
Skid plate on jack.
33 Engineering High Clearance Skidplate
Completed installation.
33 Engineering High Clearance Skidplate
Plenty of clearance on both sides - easy access.

 

33 Engineering High Clearance Skidplate
Completed installation
33 Engineering High Clearance Skidplate
Visual comparison of the stock crossmember
33 Engineering High Clearance Skidplate
Here's a view that shows the 3" difference
33 Engineering High Clearance Skidplate
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 of use.

33 Engineering High Clearance Skidplate
Wow!  What a difference!

Now let's find out how it works in the real world!

On To The Testing --->>>

 
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