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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Thought I'd try to save everyone some grief.

There are several areas that seem to keep reappearing.

A few weak areas on all TJ's that I've found:

The pod that the steering box mounts on - the welds break, the metal tears, the entire pod comes off. The aftermarket cross brace helps a little, but does not prevent it. No braces are made for the Rubicon, as the box is bigger, but it's still bolted to the weak pod. Weld a plate on the outside and on the ends along the frame to gusset it.

The front trackbar mount - the forging itself breaks, or it pulls loose from the frame. It doesn't look possible, but it does. RE makes a decent brace to help the forging, or you can make one yourself.

The rear trackbar mount on the axle end (left side) - the mount breaks off. Again, RE, or you can make one.

The front upper control arm mount - right side - where it's welded to the axle - it snaps off or bends. No commercially available braces available that I know of, make your own.

The stock front TJ (and Cherokee, and Grand Cherokee) lower control arms bend like prezels. Slip 2 pieces of 1.25 x .120 tube in them, weld in place, then box it in.

The lower control arm mounts, mainly front, but rear also - the verticle tabs bend, then break off when they get hit by rocks. The aftermarket "skid plates?" that mount with U-bolts help slightly, but they don't last. Good for one or two hits, then they fall off. They do nothing to strengthen that area, just shield it a little. Weld a strap between the ears, tying them together. Then mount a skid plate to that.

If interested I can post pics of what I build to help with the above - no, I'm not trying to solicit business.


Tip --- BEFORE you have a problem -- paint those areas with a thin coating of flat black paint. If and when a crack starts to develop, it usually starts flexing a little before it breaks. Water gets in the new crack, then rusts a little. The movement makes the rust's dust work out of the crack. You see a thin orage line against the flat black paint - a sure indication of future trouble. Have a look at those areas every so often. Called a poor man's magna-flux.

Anybody experienced more weak areas? I like to prevent, not repair.
 

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I've been wheeling TJ's A LOT also.. and I'll add coments to (hopefully) help out as well.

[ QUOTE ]
Thought I'd try to save everyone some grief.

There are several areas that seem to keep reappearing.

A few weak areas on all TJ's that I've found:

The pod that the steering box mounts on - the welds break, the metal tears, the entire pod comes off. The aftermarket cross brace helps a little, but does not prevent it. No braces are made for the Rubicon, as the box is bigger, but it's still bolted to the weak pod. Weld a plate on the outside and on the ends along the frame to gusset it.
I have had this exact problem. Several times on my 97. I agree that the fix it to weld a plate along the frame

The front trackbar mount - the forging itself breaks, or it pulls loose from the frame. It doesn't look possible, but it does. RE makes a decent brace to help the forging, or you can make one yourself.

I havent had this one, but I broke 2 RE track bars, a forged super duty track bar, and another home made track bar

The rear trackbar mount on the axle end (left side) - the mount breaks off. Again, RE, or you can make one.
This happened to me 5 times on 2 different TJ's

The front upper control arm mount - right side - where it's welded to the axle - it snaps off or bends. No commercially available braces available that I know of, make your own.
I havent had a problem here, but I had a dynatrac axle in 1 TJ and I made my own mount on the HP44 front I'm running now. I ran the stock TJ 30 for years with no problems though.

The stock front TJ (and Cherokee, and Grand Cherokee) lower control arms bend like prezels. Slip 2 pieces of 1.25 x .120 tube in them, weld in place, then box it in.
both sides of mine are now home made...as are all my friends with TJ's

The lower control arm mounts, mainly front, but rear also - the verticle tabs bend, then break off when they get hit by rocks. The aftermarket "skid plates?" that mount with U-bolts help slightly, but they don't last. Good for one or two hits, then they fall off. They do nothing to strengthen that area, just shield it a little. Weld a strap between the ears, tying them together. Then mount a skid plate to that.
I have bent mine a few times, but so far I've just hammered them back into rough shape.

If interested I can post pics of what I build to help with the above - no, I'm not trying to solicit business.

Tip --- BEFORE you have a problem -- paint those areas with a thin coating of flat black paint. If and when a crack starts to develop, it usually starts flexing a little before it breaks. Water gets in the new crack, then rusts a little. The movement makes the rust's dust work out of the crack. You see a thin orage line against the flat black paint - a sure indication of future trouble. Have a look at those areas every so often. Called a poor man's magna-flux.

Anybody experienced more weak areas? I like to prevent, not repair.

[/ QUOTE ]

The biggest problem I have is track bars.front and rear, the mounts and the bars themselves. I have also bent the transfer case skidpan up so far that the fan hit the bottom of the shroud. My gas tank is pushed up about 4", but seems to be working OK (though with 4 gallons less capacity). I seem to overflex the rear axle and the drivers side shock rips off, then the spring falls out, then the upper control arm/track bar mount gets overstressed. I had to install limiting straps in the rear.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Your bent belly pan - Rubicon Express? They are pretty stout! You must have landed hard on it.

Trackbars for sure seem to be a problem. They sure have lots of stress on them. I've re-inforced the rear axle mount, welded, not bolted like the stock RE is -- so far so good - but -

Limit straps on the rear - he he - never put mine on yet - but needed them in the front. My shocks extended longer than the springs - springs kept coming loose.

On every TJ I've been under inspecting, I've been able to find stock factory welds that were terrible! Sometimes the weld itself is fine - but it's not on the joint, but next to it! The automatic machine missed!
 

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not the RE skidpan. I had one of those on my 97 and it was really really tough. I bent the OEM onepretty bad.. oh... and I keep shearing off the t-case mount bolts
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yeah, the stock belly pans are really weak, and they are made like a scoop. YJ's too.
What I've been doing on those is welding a 1x1.5 or 2" angle on the leading and trailing edges, with the outside edge angled up. Strengthes it as well as gives a little "lift up" over things.
Then in the center I weld a 3/16 or 1/4" x 8" plate across the bottom, tying the ripples together. It goes right under the 4 bolts, so I put access holes for them. That protects the bottom end of the bolts too.

So far so good. I've had them get whacked pretty hard, but they stay in position.

When you lie under it, you can see the tranny is totally exposed, and the engine oil pan right in front of it is too.

I've been mounting a new crossmember between the frame rails up front. Then my engine/tranny skid plates mount to that, they cover from there all the way back to the belly pan. Commercial skid plates mount to the engine mounts etc - vital parts. Some, believe it or not, GLUE onto the oil pan.

It really doesn't take all that much work to get things protected properly.
It sure would help the environment -- all that oil dropped on trails, not to mention all the damage.
 

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indeed.
I have bent the oil pan up far enough where it hit the oil pick up. I welded a plate on the pan, but then I hit the plate so hard it tore the pan at the weld. So now I wrapped steel all around the pan, but it needs to be replaced. The bellhousing has been hit several times as well, and it has a hole in it about the size of a raquetball.
I am not able to weld anything across the skid pan... My front driveshft hit the pan when the front end was totally unloaded (climbing really steep) so I cut a recess in the skid.
speaking of driveshafts, the front is a terrible POS. The tube is only paper thin and one good rock takes it out. I made mine from 3.75" DOM and it's really taking a beating well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
You might want to try making one similar.

3/16 plate, braced along the sides with 1/4".
About 1.5" clearance below the vitals to give it room to flex if needed.
Front x member is 1/2 x 2" - easily removable to get to the pan.
42 lbs. total. And that weight is low down where it does the most good.

On those I've installed, some have really been tested - scratched up, gouged, but none have significantly bent.

Myself, I had to jump down off a ledge onto a big round rock, landed hard right on the plate. All it did was gouge a scratch in it.

This particular one has an extra slight bend in the middle - the rig has a belly-up pan, putting everything a little higher than most. I was trying to keep it close, but not too close.

Some folks look up there and say "everything's up out of harm's way." It's true - everything's up -- but ---.
A good friend said that one day. A few days later he "stepped" on a flat rock, it tilted up and cut his oilpan wide open.


I'd prefer to laugh when I hear that bang underneath, rather than cringe.
 

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I made one similar last year, Somebody gave me a warn engine skid for a earlier TJ but I made it work. Here is some pics
 

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Very nice piece. One day I want to make one for the CJ. Now I have an idea of what to shoot for. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
How thick is the Warn plate? In the pics it looks pretty thin - like 1/8"?

Yet - if it's bent up, and no damage to things underneath, it's doing it's job. Better to bend the plate rather than crack a bellhousing.

I'll post a pic of the front x member tomorrow - gotta take a picture.
 

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It is 3/16 reinforced on the edges with 1/4 1x1 angle. Only complaints is it is a bear to change fluids with it on and there is no easy way to remove it. I do not think mine would be bent but for me shearing off the rear bolts through the crossmember every other time I go out.
 

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I can imagine the warn could be pain but I kind of modified mine and I can take it off in about 5 min. Plus I made the opening for the oil drain plug a little bigger. It does its job, it is a little thiner than yours (RRich) but it can support the weight of the veichle no probs and Ive taken a few good smacks that without it would have surely busted the oil pan
 
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