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Gas Tank Skid

58 Pounds of Protection!

The stock gas tank skid plate is pretty thin.  One-sixteenth, to be exact.  The weight of the Jeep on top of the gas tank skid plate can result in some problems.  For me, it was about two gallon's worth of capacity and a fuel gauge that stopped reading at 1/4 of a tank, thanks to a big dent below the float.  Fuel tank skid plates are not uncommon and they are pretty easy to come across, if you have a stock 15-gallon gas tank.  For me, I have the stock 20-gallon option, and skid plates for the larger-stock tank are very hard to find.  Along comes FourXDoctor to the rescue!

FourXDoctor makes a beefy skid plate for the Jeep stock 20-gallon gas tank.  Beefy?  Their skid plate starts with a single piece of 3/16ths-inch steel plate that is laser cut and bent to shape.  Once bent, the 1/8th-inch sides are welded on with built-in drain holes.  It is safe to say, this skid plate is over three-times the weight and protection of the stock skid plate!

Follow along as we beef-up the CJ with some armor fit for battle with the rocks...

 
View of the rather beat-up stock skid plate. We start with a rather sorry looking skid plate.  Notice the large dent on on the left side of this photo - this dent affects the fuel gauge from reading below 1/4-full and made for some unexpected stops on the side of the road!  Although, one could argue that this has a better departure angle!
View of FourXDoctor's 20-gallon skid plate - as delivered by Mr. UPS! Here's our hero: FourXDoctor's  skid plate for the stock 20-gallon gas tank.  58-pounds of protection.  The inside is treated with some paint/coating.  However, the outside is bare metal.  Just add paint...
Take a close look at the welds.  Ready for paint! The skid plate is shipped just as you see it, not in a box.  I chose to paint the outside with Rust-Oleum.  Black seemed to go with the motif of the rest of the Jeep!
View of the freshly painted skid plate. Not much to say here, except that this was only a first coat.  The remaining effort to get this skid plate up under the Jeep will remove some of the "first coat," so don't get too fond of it!
Use a floor jack under the skid plate to help lower the assembly. I didn't mention it yet, but before you start this project make sure the gas tank is near empty!  This will save you from having to muscle a really heavy gas tank around!

Use a floor jack to help hold the assembly while you remove the nuts and bolts.

Drop the tank from below the frame to access the hoses and wiring on top of the gas tank. Once you remove the eight nuts and bolts the tank will fall - but not all the way.  Have a support ready and be careful of the hoses that are still attached to the top of the plastic gas tank.  I found it helpful to remove the filler hose bracket at the filler cap.  There are four hoses that need to be removed from the top of the tank, and two wires (for the fuel gauge).  The tank strap has an annoying pin that needs to be removed from the front top edge of the skid plate.  The back of the strap is linked to the angled bolt on the back side.  Loosen that first and it will make driving the pin out the back easier. 
View of the gas tank, once it's out of the frame. A short metal plate is attached to the passenger side of the stock skid plate.  This short plate is not used with the new skid plate and needs to be removed to allow the tank to drop.  Once the tank is disconnected from the hoses attached to the body and frame, it can be removed.  Notice the actual gas tank is plastic nestled into a metal skid plate.
Gas tank finally removed. Getting the gas tank out of the stock skid plate may be a bit of a challenge!  Careful when you pry the tank out, you don't want to puncture it!  Once removed, I drained the remaining fuel from the tank.  Next I washed the tank.

After the tank was all clean and free of dirt, I plugged all the holes and filled the tank with compressed air to pop out the dents.  The tank was set in the sun to soften, too.

View of stock tank and the rubber blanket. A lot of dirt and water can accumulate inside the stock tank.  Save the rubber blanket that buffers the plastic tank from the metal skid plate.  A garden hose and a brush will get the blanket somewhere close to being back to normal.
Mark the skid plate for drilling the extra hole, if needed. Once the stock skid plate is removed, you can take some notes (and some measurements) of the number of holes on the back mount of the skid plate.  The new plate may require drilling another hole (mine did).  Carefully measure and mark the hole for drilling.
Trim the stock rubber blanket to fit in the new skid plate! Once the hole is drilled, you can fit the old rubber blanket back into the new skid plate.  A lot of trimming was necessary; an exacto-knife works well for this task!
What a tight fit! Now the fun part...  The stock tank (with the rubber blanket) is a very tight fit.  Once I got in this position (in the photo) I had to place the tank/skid plate on the floor of the garage and sit on it in order to get the tank pressed back in!  A rubber mallet also helped things along.  Again, be careful not to damage the plastic tank - it will require some force!
View of the front-top of the new skid plate. Due to the extra weight, installing the new assembly takes a little more effort than removing the stock assembly.  First, use the floor jack to hold the assembly while you reconnect the fuel lines, wires and the strap.  Then lift the assembly and align the holes.  Two of the front three holes didn't align exactly.  Using the new skid plate as a template, I drilled through the cross member to make room for the bolts.  Notice two of the three bolts on my set-up had previously been modified for the fuel filter and pump - back when I installed the Mopar MPI project.

The strap pin proved to be a big pain.  You can see the hammer marks from driving the pin back in.  A little paint cured that when I was finished!

Don't forget to refill the gas tank! Once all the parts are bolted back together and you're sure you didn't forget anything, the tank can be refilled.
View of the finished work! A couple shots more of paint, and the project is finished!  Immediately, I noticed my fuel gauge was now able to read below 1/4-full, which indicated the tank was able to resume its stock shape.  The tank is now protected with the same thickness of armor as the rocker panel guards!  Now, the Jeep is again ready to rock!