I ran a t’case skid from Rusty’s OffRoad for a number of years with no problems, in fact it was one of the oldest aftermarket parts on my rig. But while it protected the transfercase just fine, it did nothing to protect the crossmember and over the years my crossmember racked up its fair share of scrapes and dents.
When Dirk at DPG OffRoad first told me about a new t’case skid was he was working on I was pretty interested, but after seeing some initial production photos I was *really* interested. The skidplate runs from frame rail to frame rail, completely covers the factory crossmember, and features front and rear reinforcing lips for added protection and strength. The skid itself is made of high-strength (50,000psi) 3/16″ laser-cut steel and mounts using 10 3/8″ self-threaded bolts (3 bolts in each frame rail and 4 bolts in the crossmember). The bottom 4 bolt heads are protected by DPG’s exclusive “Glider Plates” which are machined from 3/8″ thick solid steel plate and then welded to the bottom of the skid plate. The whole thing is then cleaned in a phosphate bath and powdercoated black.
The install is relatively easy, and Dirk’s instructions are top-notch. The kit even includes a titanium drill bit to drill all the mounting holes. The first step is to jack the skid plate up against the crossmember. I used a piece of 2×4 to help maneuver the skid plate into place and also to protect the powdercoat (yeah, I know, it’s going to get scraped up offroad, but I at least wanted to keep it looking pretty for the photos!). You’ve got some leeway as far as where exactly you mount the skidplate front to back, and I positioned mine so that there was about 1/4″ between the front of the crossmember and the leading lip of the skid plate.
With the skidplate firmly in place and flush against the bottom of the crossmember, drill the two mounting holes along the bottom of the skid plate and secure it in place with the supplied mounting bolts. Once that’s done you can use the jack and 2×4 to jack against the outer Glider Plates if you need to jack up the sides to get the skid flush with the crossmember there.
Now all that’s left is to drill the mounting holes in the frame rails. The mounting holes in the sides of the skid are slotted to allow for some adjustment and placement of the bolts. To maximize the mounting strength, drill the side holes as close to the bottom of the slots as you can. Since all the bolts are self-threading, make sure you don’t over-tighten them and strip the holes.
As of the writing of this article we haven’t had the chance to get our XJ out on the trails yet since installing the skid plate, but we did get to see one in action in Tellico earlier this year where it held up great. DPG has been testing this design literally for years, so I have no doubt they got it “right”. They’ve also designed a version to fit late-model XJ’s with the big “coffee can” catalytic converter, and they are currently working on a version that will fit with the NP242 t’case (right now it’s only compatible with the NP231).
If your current crossmember is pretty banged up and/or bent, you’ll probably want to replace it with a good one before installing the DPG skid plate. The skid isn’t compatible with any aftermarket crossmember nor is it compatible with the engine skid plates from SkidRow or Rusty’s OffRoad (it will work with the NthDegree oil pan skid though), so you’ll have to find a replacement stock crossmember if you plan on replacing yours. Mine was dented to the point that I probably should have replaced it before the install, but the skidplate fit flush enough that I didn’t bother with trying to find a replacement crossmember at the time. All in all the install took under an hour to complete, and you can easily do it yourself.
The DPG OffRoad Rock Attack XJ belly skids are available through our very own JeepinOutfitters.com.
For more information, contact:
PO Box 190
Rose Hill, Kansas 67133