Adding a Gas Tank Skid
You know, this has got to be one of the most diappointing mods I've made to Stinky yet. I've always known that I need some armor underneath, but there are a number of different skids out there and so I held off for awhile. I recently found a great deal on a local skid and went to check it out. The guy who sold it had pulled it from a junkyard and wanted to use it on his '99 XJ but realized the older models had a metal gas tank so the factory skidplate won't work with the new ones.
Yes, this is a factory gas tank skid. It's not the beefiest one out there, but it's still a decent bit of protection and is certainly better than the plastic mat that Jeep uses. Yup, my tank came from the factory protected by a 1/4" thick rubbery plastic mat. Maybe that explains some of the dents...my 20 gallon tank only holds 15 gallons.
Some of the remains of the plastic matting
I also had a hitch that (I assumed) needed to come out before anything else, so I broke out the 1/2 ratchet, breaker bar, 6" extension, universal joint, and 18mm socket. More about the assumption later... There were eight bolts holding the hitch in place, and I needed to unscrew the trailer connector to finish it off. Fortunately, there weas enough room to rest the hitch on the rear springs while I ran back into the garage for a 1/4" wrench to remove the trailer connector.
Once the matting was out of the way, I still had to wrestle the skid back into place. The lips on the upper edges of the skid prevent it from going straight up, and the full frontal profile of the skid kept it from sliding on from the rear and lifting up into place. This left me with a wrestling job; slide the skid up nearly onto the tank, and then drop the left side so I could pull the exhaust out of the way while squeezing the right side up past the exhaust hanger. There are two bolts that hold the hanger in place, so make sure the skid goes between the frame and the hanger.
Installation itself was pretty straightforward and simple. The big problem came when I tried to reinstall the hitch because I didn't read my FSM (Factory Service Manual)...Somehow I had gotten the idea that the skid came first, then the hitch. Of course, the hitch doesn't fit outside the skid, so tomorrow night I get to pull my freshly-installed skid and put the hitch back before re-installing the skid. There are times when it pays to read the directions first.
Edited to add: Okay, so it wasn;t very technically involved to add the hitch; I had to drop the skid, add the hitch and the two rearmost bolts on each side and then put the skid on. However, I'm still concerned about the size of the gap between the back of the skid and the hitch; there's quite a bit of exposed tank there. Yes, I know the tank has always been exposed like that but in the old days at least it looked like it was covered.
Updated May 7, 2005