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Howdy, wondering if any of you run custom skidplates? I currently have Budbuilt steel and like them, but feel I can do a better job and giving myself more clearance. There is atleast 1" of ground clearance I can add by making my own transfer case skid and transmission skid. I like the All-Pro design, but am too cheap to buy $900 plus of someones skids when I can have the fun of making them myself at literally 1/10 of the cost. I was also planning on rerouting my exhaust around my transfer case so I will have a completely flat TC skid as opposed to All-Pro's design with the bump out. I have access to a full shop and materials including plasma cutter and sheet metal bender. Feel free to post any ideas here (or words of encouragement) as I document what I come up with in this thread. Tomorrow I will take better pictures showing what I have planned.

Also, is all this trouble worth it for 1" increased clearance at the transfer case and a couple inches at the transmission skid? My new skids will be stronger than my Budbuilts in certain areas that are weak currently. Trust me, with my driving I'm glad I went steel if you know what I mean. :lol:

Should I just get bigger tires and be done? (planned already) Or should I just go full lefty/tummy tuck route? (after I've saved for a few years haha ) This one inch more of clearance would currently be the equivalent of me having 34.8" tires, when I get bigger tires it would be approximately another .6" on top of that. Sorry for the long post, more to come. :rocker:
 

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Found some pictures online basically exactly what I was planning. Apparently they make these for Tacos all day long. WHY YOU NO MAKE THEM FOR FJ's????!!!??!??! Surprising the similarities between the two vehicles underneath....

My plan is to re-create something very similar. I will reroute my exhaust around my transfer case so I can have a completely smooth bottom. Next step will be to cut my budbuilts at the first cross member, leaving them mounted there. With the same bolts I will also attach one of my custom skids with a few bends it. This will mount on the opposite side of the next cross member with a few horizontal bolts. These same bolts will hold my custom T-case skid which will be as short as I can make it, while angling up towards the vehicle. This skid will not have a bump in it due to exhaust reroute (unlike some pics). This will eventually get welded to a straight rectangular tube as my new cross member. (mounted flush to my frame with vertical holes drilled and tapped) Please tell me why nobody makes skids this way for the FJ! So simple, more clearance, etc....

The only thing I'm assuming here is that there are indeed holes on the back side of the last factory cross member able to put bolts through, and if there are, this won't be a pain to install because of access issues.

All of these pics below are what I want, minus the bump out for the exhaust:

(all of this for 1" where you need it most, custom stronger skids, and to say I can)
 

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That'll be the day! :lol:

So far I've figured out that the FJ's are a little different than the Tacomas posted above. The main thing is the Tacoma gas tank sits back further, allowing the ability to make the last skid (T-case) longer and angled up. With the FJ you can't quite do this, also an exhaust reroute is slightly harder with the FJ because the T-case and gas tank are so close, but it definitely can be done like with the lefty install.... That first picture I want to do my transmission skid exactly like though.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Here is why I want better skids. These are my budbuilts. There pretty strong and to be honest I don't really have many complaints, but if I have access to a full shop and can make a better design on the cheap, why not? These skids are good for people who want something easy to bolt on, completely flat, and retain the factory cat protectors. Mine will allow more clearance, still be wide enough to protect the cats, and not to mention stronger and easier to bolt on and remove. (more than likely they will also be heavier too)

This first picture: never mind that my factory cat protectors are not bolted in, if I remove these and the 3/16 budbuilt spacer, that is another inch I can gain on both the transmission skid and transfer skid.

The second picture shows crudely where I will cut my budbuilt skid. (red line) I will leave enough sticking past that cross member so I can bend it up to gain that 1". Getting bolted to this skid will be my new transmission skid. (like first picture in my previous post)

The third picture shows the weak points of my budbuilts. This was bent on a trail (while the cat protector was in place) Notice how it didn't bend any where the edge is angled up 90 deg. This makes the edges so much stronger, and all of my skids will have this.

Notice throughout my pics that there are some areas of my skids that aren't really supported.

All of this will come somewhat slowly, time to schedule an exhaust reroute, this might be the biggest expense of my project.....
 

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wow.. i bent my budbuilts in the exact same place!.. weird
 

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Preliminary design with some basic measurements showing my progress. Just to give you an idea. This is an assembly with both skids together. My new T-case skid is skinnier than my budbuilts, and my transmission skid is wider to protect the cats. Maybe I need to add water holes? I added a hole for the transfer case drain plug. I also need to come up with something for the new rear cross member and plan on removing the slotted holes for the T-case skid and not sure on the gussets. This design will get refined after my exhaust gets rerouted and my budbuilts chopped and bent. Why do I get the feeling by the time I'm done my budbuilts will be in tiny pieces and used as gussets for my new skids. :lol:

What are some things maybe you guys noticed you'd rather have on your skids? Any suggestions welcomed.
 

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Looks like you are making good progress on this. I'd think the most difficult part of the R & D is identifying where the weak spots will be and where a failure will occur when that moment occurs when the weight of the rig is resting on a skid. Weep holes are important IMO to beat the rust gremlins. Anywhere water or moisture can get trapped eventually becomes an issue.

It looks like your onto something though! Nice work.
 

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You should do a non-stick coating so that your new skids will let you just slide over things. Maybe a teflon layer or olive oil or something, it seems to work well for cooking... :lol:
 

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So...the BudBuilts bolt OVER the cat protector tubes? If so that seems dumb. All the rest bolt flush to the crossmember...like RCI, ect. That is about as flush as it gets. To not add anymore depth in that spot you can do a transfer skid that bolts to the back of the crossmember exactly like you are showing.

Not counting the exhaust 'bump-down thing', you are basically running an RCI / Ricochet design engine/trans and a Trail gear transfer skid. Might be easier to just use a TG one and lop the exhaust bump-down thing off, no?

edit: I guess the All Pro transmission skid is even higher since it bolts to the front of the crossmember, but that leaves it exposed for damage.. Not great in that regard.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
So...the BudBuilts bolt OVER the cat protector tubes? If so that seems dumb. All the rest bolt flush to the crossmember...like RCI, ect. That is about as flush as it gets. To not add anymore depth in that spot you can do a transfer skid that bolts to the back of the crossmember exactly like you are showing.

Not counting the exhaust 'bump-down thing', you are basically running an RCI / Ricochet design engine/trans and a Trail gear transfer skid. Might be easier to just use a TG one and lop the exhaust bump-down thing off, no?

edit: I guess the All Pro transmission skid is even higher since it bolts to the front of the crossmember, but that leaves it exposed for damage.. Not great in that regard.
Yeah, my skids aren't entirely a new concept, just a little different. As far as I can tell, RCI is not flush to the cross member either. (see pic) All-pro is, but they have the exhaust cutout. (as you mentioned) I could buy from them and tell them to build one without, but I don't want to spend that kind of $$ on a single skid when I can spend $50 overall, plus I like how mine is going to mount using the cross member bolts and nuts, no bolts going into weld nuts that can corrode and snap etc.. also no messing with allen wrenches and countersunk bolts. The high clearance all pro transmission skid is close, but I would probably need to buy their IFS skid to make work, and as you argued, it leaves the cross member vulnerable, cats vulnerable, and seems weak overall. Ricochet, is only made in aluminum, and even though they sit flush with the cross member, they have an uneven bottom and leave the cat protectors bolted to the exterior, risking destruction IMO. Your right with your points, and mine seem to be the best of all of them, I'm able to do this simpler, cheaper, stronger, and with the help of an exhaust reroute. So in summary: Nobody actually makes an all flat transmission and transfer case skid flush with the cross member, nor do any allow the option of benefiting from an exhaust reroute. Thanks for those points, I'm not arguing (as you stated most of this), just simply saying why I'm doing what I'm doing. :)

BTW thanks for mentioning the TG transfer case skid. Didn't even know they made it! Mine just so happens to be similar, I might make mine more offset to only protect the important stuff like theirs. Your right, it would be easier to buy theirs, and I also like how it's even more high clearance in the last half and will include the cross member, but at $220 I still will have the ability to build one at a fraction of that. Tempting though, I'll look into it. :)

(note: interesting how the trail gear skid in this picture would require an exhaust reroute and gives even more clearence. The one on their website is built differently with less clearance.) Dang, I kinda want one now.....
 

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The allpro skid plates are bolted to the front cross member like this: literally no waste and highest clearance available. For the money with someone not having access to a shop they are best IMO, I've got them all three and tough as hell.

ImageUploadedByAG Free1451878819.853274.jpg


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I wish some sort of lube like that would work.. I have been trying to figure out how to attach a thin sheet of HDPE or UHMWPE that is replaceable on the the bottom of my skids. The soft plastic would definitely would absorb a lot of impact

Sent from my 831C using Tapatalk
 

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but feel I can do a better job and giving myself more clearance. There is atleast 1" of ground clearance I can add by making my own transfer case skid and transmission skid.

I was also planning on rerouting my exhaust around my transfer case so I will have a completely flat TC skid as opposed to All-Pro's design with the bump out.

Also, is all this trouble worth it for 1" increased clearance at the transfer case and a couple inches at the transmission skid? My new skids will be stronger than my Budbuilts in certain areas that are weak currently. Trust me, with my driving I'm glad I went steel if you know what I mean. :lol:

Should I just get bigger tires and be done? (planned already) Or should I just go full lefty/tummy tuck route? (after I've saved for a few years haha ) This one inch more of clearance would currently be the equivalent of me having 34.8" tires, when I get bigger tires it would be approximately another .6" on top of that. Sorry for the long post, more to come. :rocker:
There's basically two concepts to belly armor: get all the ground clearance you can in all the places that you can (which leads to a lot of bending / edges on the armor0, or provide the smoothest surface you can (for sliding over things that you're stuck on) where the height of your lowest impact point ends up dictating the overall height of your armor.

Each vendor differs as you've seen, another couple of examples:

Ricochet's transfer case skid has edges:



Budbuilt's engine and transfer case skids are level/smooth from the lowest point:



If you're offroading in mud, it probably doesn't matter. For pointy rocks, smooth trumps ground clearance because every one of those edges is going to snag a rock at some point.

Also, if you've got access to all the equipment to make these yourself, replacing this stuff isn't hard to do. You've already installed the Bud's, so you see how simple they are. If you really wanted to do it yourself, go nuts. The nice thing about armor is that you never see it, so people won't be judging your work like they would with a custom bumper.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Good points Jimmy. It's my opinion that a well done combination of both high clearance and smooth skids is the best. All of my skids will allow you to slide smoothly over rocks, yet give close to the max clearence possible. While moving forward, the tapered steps shouldn't hang me up on anything. If I need to back off a rock, the slope should still allow me and because of the higher clearance my tires might be more planted on the ground to get more grip. They will be smoother than the all pros and higher clearance than my current ones.

:rocker:
 

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Little update: got my exhaust rerouted last week. I took it to an exhaust shop and I must say, it wasn't exactly the most "professional looking" end product, but it will definitely do the job and at $70 I didn't complain. Actually it probably has better flow than the stock crossover anyway. This new exhaust section sits up higher than my frame cross member, allowing my new skids to sit flush.
 

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Also chopped my skids today. Here is what they look like. The last two inches or so I'm going to bend up at a 45 deg angle. This will bolt to my new skids. Hopefully by the end of the week I have my new skids cut and bent, ready to install this upcoming weekend!
 

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Ordered a bunch of grade 8's and some metric hardware at my local Fastenal today for my skids. Went in to order and hopefully save on shipping. The guy in front of me got a discount for working at a certain local company. I asked if one was available for me and I told him where I work. Yep! Like $8 total, over half off. Awesome. Tomorrow I hope to be able to bend my Budbuilt skids up at an angle, then get measurements, finish my design, and finally cut it out in the next couple days.

Anytime I'm not in a shop physically working towards something, I feel like I'm moving too slowly. :lol: Fingers crossed for having something finished this weekend.
 
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