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...
||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!
||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...
||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!
||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
||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
||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.
||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.
||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.
||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.
||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.
||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!
||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!
||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
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
||Once all the parts are bolted back together and you're sure
you didn't forget anything, the tank can be refilled.
||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!