How to Build a Skid Plate

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Making your own skid plate is a great way to enhance the underbody protection on your vehicle, bike, or ATV. The skid plate is a plate of metal that rides on the undercarriage of a vehicle and shields it from rock strikes or when the vehicle bottoms out. Without the skid plate the vehicle could suffer significant damage, rendering it inoperable and costing a lot in repair bills. By mounting a skid plate you can tackle the roughest of trails with confidence.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Butcher paper
  • Metal shop
  • Hydraulic lifts
  • Assistant
  • Wrench set
  • Bolts

Put your vehicle, whether it be a large or small vehicle, onto hydraulic lifters by driving it onto the platform and then turning the vehicle off. Make sure it is in park and that the emergency brake is on. Once the vehicle is lifted to head height, go under the vehicle and look at where you want to put a skid plate. Measure the length, width and the clearances that you need. Rotate the wheels via the steering mechanism to measure the radii of the wheels' turning space. Mark the location of the retaining bolt holes, recording both the diameter and the exact center of the hole. Make an outline of the measurements on a piece of butcher paper.

Take these measurements to a professional metal shop. The thickness of the metal necessitates commercial level metal working equipment like metal drill presses and blowtorches. Give the butcher paper design to the metal shop and inquire as to the best thickness and type of steel to use. Go with stainless steel, as the underbody of your vehicle is the most vulnerable to rust. Make sure that the bolts and nuts are made from the same material in order to prevent rust and corrosion.

Thoroughly clean the under carriage of the vehicle you want to mount the plate onto. If any debris or dirt is left sandwiched between the plate and the structural member, then early rust and corrosion can set in. Use water and a towel to brush it away and then a separate towel to dry it off. Water trapped between the plate and the structure can also lead to rust.

Place the finished skid plate on a hydraulic jack if it is too heavy for a single person to lift -- if not, then lift it by hand. Jack the plate up until it is a few inches from the underbody. Carefully line the bolt holes on the undercarriage up with the skid plate and then jack the plate up till it is flush. Thread the bolts into the holes and rotate them by hand until the threads "bite" into the holes. Do not bolt them all the way down yet. Once all the bolts are in the holes then go back and bolt them in with a wrench.

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