Long ago when we first evaluated Klondike’s belly we noticed the PTU was left rather exposed. ( We know it’s actually an RDM “rear drive module”, but lots of people refer to it as the PTU.) Since the independent suspension often means the best ground clearance is right down the middle of the vehicle, the PTU’s location there meant we needed some protection on it for when we attempt straddling rocks and logs.
Since the KL Cherokee remains largely unsupported by aftermarket part manufacturers, this means we had to break out the welder and metal and get fabricating. Luckily the PTU/RDM has some extra holes on the casting that allow for the mounting. This said, they are not really suited for taking much of a hit so my plan was to try to keep the skid as tight as possible on the PTU/RDM (touching) so the PTU/RDM itself still handles the weight of the vehicle, but the steel protects the soft aluminum from the abrasion of impacts.
Here are a few shots of the mounting holes I would be using. As luck would have it a 5/16″ bolt works perfectly in these holes.
A few of these hole location uses were fairly straight forward. The trickiest by far to use wad the two staggered ones on the front of the PTU/RDM. I knew all along it would mean making some sort of tab and drilling and tapping some threads for the bolt but just decided to wing it and start with bending up the main skid.
I honestly thought this part of the job (bending of the main skid) would be pretty easy, but it took FAR more time than I had anticipated. It seemed as simple as the idea of this skid was, the practice of making it was far more involved. I had anticipated a few hours for this project but it took the better part of the day. The bigger bummer to this is I had hoped to be able to take notes to share with others and maybe even make a few at one time, but this just wasn’t practical.
So, after a bunch of bending, tweaking, grinding, and welding, I had the bulk of the skid made up. The main lower skid is 3/16″ plate, the locker actuator and connector is protected by some slightly lighter material but I was working with what I had in the shop.
I am fairly happy with how it turned out. I did end up adding another piece to the driver side after these pictures, but this is pretty much it all fabbed up.
The front mounting did prove to be the most cantankerous. I was able to weld a nut to the plate for one mounting hole location, but the other did need a fancy little tab.
This is the side where I added the additional side skirt. The plate I used was barely wide enough and I wanted just a bit more coverage.
After I added this piece, it was time for some paint. I’ve had a can of hammered silver in the shop for some time. It’s the paint we used on the cage we had in Lil-Punkin’ (our 2-dr JK). I can’t see a need for it and, since this paint is more about rust protection than anything else, it seemed like a good time to make use of this paint.
There you have it… All painted up and mounted hopefully it will do the job!
I know some other KL Cherokee owners that are likely looking for more coverage. I can even see where this looks like I haven’t added much but in reality, the other bits are fairly hard to get to. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but if something is in there, we have other issues and it’s time to break out the recovery gear and Maxtrax.
As I mentioned, I had hoped to make a few of these and/or provide drawings, but once I set out making this it turned into more of a one-off project. Even if I had been able to do this, I’m not sure the hole locations are good enough to rely on.