stock skid plate Notice how thin it is and how it does not provide
any side coveage.
out cruising the trails on any given weekend, you will notice that
there are many sounds associated with rockcrawling. Good sounds
(your friends cursing because you made it over the obstacle that
they couldn't), normal sounds (the creaking and popping of your
suspension flexing over big rocks), and, of course, bad sounds (the
sound of your 20 gallon gas tank becoming a 15 gallon gas tank).
If you have been into rockcrawling for any amount of time you know
exactly what I am talking about and so does Travis Allen of All
Custom Fabrications in Grand Junction, Colorado.
really long!" I said. " My list of Jeep parts that I want,
that is." To tell you the truth having extra protection on
my gas tank was fairly low on my list. Somewhere right after an
Atlas II, I think. That all changed in Moab at the Easter Jeep Safari
when I ran into Travis of ACF. Travis and I talked about parts,
swaps, trails and some horror stories of rockcrawling . We talked
about my 4.0L swap and the article I wrote for this website
about it. If you have read the swap article, then you know that
I had to replace my gas tank so I could have the high pressure fuel
pump. What that article didn't say, is that I was in desperate need
of a new gas tank anyway. I had pummeled my 20 gallon tank down
to about 15 gallons (and I know exactly where I did it and on which
rock). Travis then showed me something I just had to have; a bright,
shinny, new gas tank skid to go scratch.
Fabrications replacement skid plate. The ACF skid plate comes
up over the sides, giving much more protection.
With a new gas
tank skid plate to play with, I realized that I spend very little
time thinking aobut my gas tank. When was the last time you took
a serious look at yours? I had not looked at my new one for a few
months and I discovered some surprises. One of my spring shackle
bolts was wearing a hole in the side of the factory plastic gas
tank on the driver's side. This could have caused some serious problems
if I had not discovered it. The factory skid plate (tin foil) only
covers the bottom of the plastic tank. It does not wrap up the sides
of the tank to prevent a puncture of the side of the tank. The skid
plate from ACF protects your precious fuel tank all the way around.
The bottom of the skid plate is made from nearly bulletproof 3/16"
steel while the sides are an 1/8" thick. I did some research
and found that most of the other options out there are only 1/8"
and typically cost more.
The new skid
installed, seen from driver's side.
planned on writing about the whole installation process but it was
so short and simple that I think I can only get about a paragraph
out of it. So here we go! It took me more time to take pictures
of the skid plate than it did for me to install it. When I started
taking pictures, I noticed how thick and clean the welds are. The
entire skid plate has a very beefy and clean looking appearance.
My skid plate came with all the hardware needed (one bracket and
two bolts). Everything else is attached to the skid plate. If you
look at some of the other skid plates available, you will see that
they have a lot more parts involved. This is something I really
liked. The fewer extra parts, the better for me.
Ok, are you
ready for the install? Here it is! Keep in mind that I am a fairly
large guy that spends
some time in the gym, so your approach to this may be different
than mine. I simple crawled under my Jeep with the skid plate on
my chest, took off four nuts, lifted the new skid plate into place
right over the factory unit and put the 4 nuts back on. That's it.
The skid plate uses the factory Jeep gas tank nuts and bolts. It
took me less than 15 minutes and only one tool. Gotta love that.
The new skid
installed, seen from rear.
So how does
it work? You can probably tell from the rest of the article that
I have been very impressed. I have had it on my Jeep since the Jeep
Safari and it has seen some serious abuse. I have taken it out on
some of our hardest trails here in Colorado and have purposely bounced
it off a few rocks right on the skid plate. So far, the only thing
I have been able to do to it is put some scratches in the powder
coat. I have since discovered that it also looks much cooler under
my Jeep than the factory gas tank skid plate. You will notice in
the pictures where my shackle bolt was rubbing and how the new skid
plate comes up high enough to protect that area (I did take the
time to correct the problem before I put the skid plate on). The
trail is much more fun now that I have one less thing to worry about
breaking. Now it's time to go upgrade something else.
notes: All Custom Fabrications makes gas tank skids for just about
any Jeep model and installations will vary