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Skid Plate make/buy ideas for 2nd gen Explorer XL?

Schnitzel

Member
Joined
April 9, 2020
Messages
18
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3
City, State
Fort Collins
Year, Model & Trim Level
1997 XL 4wd
Hey Guys, I recently made some custom mounting brackets for an XJ bumper and it worked out real nice. However, I plan to be doing a little more intense offroading this year and wondered if you guys have any skid plate ideas?

I think the large gap behind the bumper looks a bit strange but I mainly want to avoid breaking anything as I've already dented a bunch of the underbody skidplates. I was hoping to find something under $150 or weld it myself out of sheet metal. I don't have a pipe bender, unfortunately, but I did like that one turboexplorer made 2nd Gen Front Skid Plate, TurboExplorer.

Would you guys recommend 1/4 inch steel or a different thickness? Where do you guys go to source sheet metal at these large sizes for low prices?

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Here's the bumper thread
 



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For $150 You’ll almost surely be making it. Sheet steel that thick will require a local vender. Look up steel suppliers, or welding supplies locally and make a few phone calls. A 1/4” plate that large is gonna be HEAVY. Plus, it’s gonna sap some cooling.
 






For $150 You’ll almost surely be making it. Sheet steel that thick will require a local vender. Look up steel suppliers, or welding supplies locally and make a few phone calls. A 1/4” plate that large is gonna be HEAVY. Plus, it’s gonna sap some cooling.

What thickness steel would you recommend? I definitely wouldn't mind going lighter as you're definitely right that 1/4th would be super heavy. I did find someone got this RCI skidplate that is 3/16th that is exactly what I am looking for. A little out of my price range at the moment and that is about what I spent on my bumper.
forum post Front Skid Plate

Will it still be sapping a ton of cooling if I cut some bigger holes in it near the upper part? I don't really have the tools to cut large "good looking" holes at the moment. Do you happen to know anyone that just sell the plates roughly the right size? I can just create and well on the mounting brackets in that case.

What are your thoughts on just buying some generic plate that has the holes already cut out and then just welding on some brackets to mount them to the bottom of the frame?
Something like this maybe? Zone Offroad C5651 Front Skid Plate Chevrolet | eBay
 






Alright, new plan. Just picked up this 3/16" 2010 4runner skid plate for $50 bucks on craigslist. Needs a little paint but it's a steal at $330 new. I need some advice from you offroad pros on how to best create mounting points for this thing since I'm new to the world of skidplates.

Mocked up with jacks
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Here's my 2 mounting options I'm weighing at the moment

Option 1. Mount to the back of the front bumper. Less work, but less clearance.
Blue lines would be trimmed off. Blue circles are bolt locations that I need to make mounting brackets for. Orange areas to show it will move up a bit once trimmed to fit.
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Option 2. Mount to the back of the winch plate. More clearance, maybe more work?
Will this help increase the strength of the winch plate or hinder it because of the downward or upward impact force? Going to have to chop some of the rearward end of the skid plate off and reweld it at a horizontal angle (where the orange star is) since the angle is too intense.
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just wanted to share the final result. Came out nice but too way longer than expected to make all the adjustments, test fit, and get the final fitting right.
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I just wanted to share what I did toclean up the lines on a JK bumper install with you. Your set up looks really nice. Great job.
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RCI makes a skid for our trucks. Note the side wings for bolting it to the frame.

Although at 50 bux and some work in yours looks good. I think it should be mounted more securely up front though.


Side note. Get ready to burn thru fuel. 15 mpg at 65 mph if you r are lucky. 11 mpg at 80 mph

These skids create a lot of lift up front.

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RCI makes a skid for our trucks. Note the side wings for bolting it to the frame.

Although at 50 bux and some work in yours looks good. I think it should be mounted more securely up front though.


Side note. Get ready to burn thru fuel. 15 mpg at 65 mph if you r are lucky. 11 mpg at 80 mph

These skids create a lot of lift up front.

View attachment 316939

Thanks for the tips. I may try to weld up some brackets to mount to the bottom of the frame like yours eventually. I think it's this skid plate
98-11 Ranger Front Skid Plate. I wasn't quite ready to drop the $300 with tax/shipping. Also I wanted to add some hard rubber spacers between the bottom of the skidplate and the horizontal frame. I've already bent mine a little in the past with rock impacts.

I was hoping the 4 3/8" bolts attached to the reinforced winch plate would be enough in addition to the 3 1/2" bolts with protectors. Since my skidplate went all the way up to the bumper I cut another big circle hole into it as It looked the radiator would barely be getting air otherwise. Do you guys have any heating issues?
 












View attachment 316891
I just wanted to share what I did toclean up the lines on a JK bumper install with you. Your set up looks really nice. Great job.
View attachment 316892

Nice, Those lines look way better! Definitely stealing this idea to bring back the bumper up to meet the fender line. Just gotta go find some 3/16" sheet metal.

Do you not have rubbing issues running those big tires when turning or getting bendy offroad? I did want to upgrade the size of mine in a few years but want to make sure I accomodate for that

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Any auto store will carry their version of the “rv cooler”. Basically get the largest regular cooler you can stuff in front of the radiator.
 






Any auto store will carry their version of the “rv cooler”. Basically get the largest regular cooler you can stuff in front of the radiator.

Hey man, I looked into this a bit more. Is it possible I already have a huge trans cooler from the factory? Maybe a towing kit upgrade or something? It's weird as my truck didn't come with a hitch but I put one back on. 98' xl 4wd



The only video I found was showing this 1/4 size radiator compared to what I have in there.


So I'm pretty sure this little cooler is the power steering cooler right? If so then I have 2 radiators sandwiched up front that are about the same size (1. and 2.). Am I good to go then as I definitely want to do this upgrade if I need it?
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Top view. both go all the way across
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The smaller bottom cooler is for your power steering. The 1 and 2 you have marked are the radiator for coolant and your condenser for the ac.
 






It looks like you don’t have the factory transmission cooler, either. There’d be a slightly larger cooler like the power steering on the passenger side if you did.
 






Nice, Those lines look way better! Definitely stealing this idea to bring back the bumper up to meet the fender line. Just gotta go find some 3/16" sheet metal.

Do you not have rubbing issues running those big tires when turning or getting bendy offroad? I did want to upgrade the size of mine in a few years but want to make sure I accomodate for that

View attachment 316949
I do have a bit of rubbing at full lock. I have modified the bump stops to assist with up travel. I did a bunch of passes in Colorado last year with no issues
 






I will add that I run 4.5 inches of back spacing which also helps. Any less that than an a saws all might not be enough.
 






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