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Discussion Starter #1
I'm able to find skid plates form Hefty Fab Works and Shockworks. Both make 3/16" steel skids but Hefty Fab also makes aluminum skids. I like that they weigh a lot less for similar protection according to their site.

Anyone here running aluminum skids? Opinions?

Also out of the full skid set, which one's do you all think really need upgrading.
 

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Steel-If you are constantly taking a beating. Cost less. Slides over rocks better.

Aluminum-For the occasional might smack a rock. If you are constantly removing the plates in order to work on the truck. Can afford it.

My recommendation would be to get an engine skid plate (steel) and call it good. It is the lowest thing and the one that you hit the most often. The stock PRO-4x plate does not cover the aluminum front diff, which is the lowest most forward thing you hit. With the engine skid you can "meter" the need for more protection.

If you are an auto tranny I might consider a tranny skid next. The manual tranny is small and sits much higher than the engine oil pan or the T-case. Very little chance of hitting it.

The factory gas tank skid is actually pretty good. That coupled with the fact that the gas tank itself is plastic does very well at preventing rocks from ripping through the tank. It acts as a protective skin. The tank can get depressed. Pull the skid, knock out the dent, and the gas tank just pops back into shape.
 

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Your geographical location also plays in. Out in the western U.S. where you will be encountering mostly rocks is a different need than up in MN where I am where you will mostly be sliding over Earth with the occasional rock. I'm planning on going with Aluminum skids working my way back as needed as Nissan4Life suggested with priority being getting sliders first.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Steel-If you are constantly taking a beating. Cost less. Slides over rocks better.

Aluminum-For the occasional might smack a rock. If you are constantly removing the plates in order to work on the truck. Can afford it.

My recommendation would be to get an engine skid plate (steel) and call it good. It is the lowest thing and the one that you hit the most often. The stock PRO-4x plate does not cover the aluminum front diff, which is the lowest most forward thing you hit. With the engine skid you can "meter" the need for more protection.

If you are an auto tranny I might consider a tranny skid next. The manual tranny is small and sits much higher than the engine oil pan or the T-case. Very little chance of hitting it.

The factory gas tank skid is actually pretty good. That coupled with the fact that the gas tank itself is plastic does very well at preventing rocks from ripping through the tank. It acts as a protective skin. The tank can get depressed. Pull the skid, knock out the dent, and the gas tank just pops back into shape.
So then engine/trans are the two to get? Would getting it powder coated be the way to go or just DIY paint it? My intent for getting them would be more peace of mind for when I do take the truck out.
 

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If you are comfortable with DIY paint then do that. Once you drag it over a rock it will go right through the powered coating.

Shizzy makes a good point on the sliders. I hit those almost as much as I hit the engine skid.
 

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So then engine/trans are the two to get? Would getting it powder coated be the way to go or just DIY paint it? My intent for getting them would be more peace of mind for when I do take the truck out.
I have a full set of AL skids from Hefty. I agree with the engine being most important DEPENDING on style of wheeling & amount of lift. I have 3/2 lift and 32" tires. the full skid set allows me to drag belly over things. I also drive more cautiously than some. Around me, its alot of jeeps & older beat-up trucks. They don't care much about breakage. I do. So I pick lines and enter carefully. I have had a few knocks that the engine skid has protected from and slight gouges. The trans plate also protected from getting hung up on a rock as it slid from eng-trans-and off the xfer. Haven't touched the gas tank skid yet as I keep teh tires on the obstacles, so stock skid should do while you save up.

The AL pans are strong. very strong. If you go 'hard' and plan on bashing the snot out of the pans then steel will allow you to straighten them out & repair them easier.

I like that I'm saving aver 1/2 the weight. Weight = performance.
An option for you also is a reinforced trans pan depending on how you use your truck.This pan will give you more ATF, cooler temps & some protection. but not as much protection as a belly pan.

If you do alot of this, and have limited lift, you want more armor than less. Also, You want rockrails (sliders).
Ma bell
Ma Bell 2
Ma Bell 3
 

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Discussion Starter #7
If you are comfortable with DIY paint then do that. Once you drag it over a rock it will go right through the powered coating.

Shizzy makes a good point on the sliders. I hit those almost as much as I hit the engine skid.
I have a full set of AL skids from Hefty. I agree with the engine being most important DEPENDING on style of wheeling & amount of lift. I have 3/2 lift and 32" tires. the full skid set allows me to drag belly over things. I also drive more cautiously than some. Around me, its alot of jeeps & older beat-up trucks. They don't care much about breakage. I do. So I pick lines and enter carefully. I have had a few knocks that the engine skid has protected from and slight gouges. The trans plate also protected from getting hung up on a rock as it slid from eng-trans-and off the xfer. Haven't touched the gas tank skid yet as I keep teh tires on the obstacles, so stock skid should do while you save up.

The AL pans are strong. very strong. If you go 'hard' and plan on bashing the snot out of the pans then steel will allow you to straighten them out & repair them easier.

I like that I'm saving aver 1/2 the weight. Weight = performance.
An option for you also is a reinforced trans pan depending on how you use your truck.This pan will give you more ATF, cooler temps & some protection. but not as much protection as a belly pan.

If you do alot of this, and have limited lift, you want more armor than less. Also, You want rockrails (sliders).
Ma bell
Ma Bell 2
Ma Bell 3
Sliders and upgraded skid plates are on my list of to-do's. I'm more keen on building up the truck to be an overland vehicle, not much of the going out and bashing on it. Given the advice of you folks, I'll stick to the engine and trans skids to start along with sliders.

Given that these will/can get scratched up. Is there any point in getting them powdercoated vs spending a little time on a weekend, priming and painting them myself? If i can save a few bucks going this route then it'd be more ideal.
 

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I bought a pint of black glossy rustoleum brush on paint. It is oil based and goes on real thick. I also have a stack of cheap paint brushes that I throw away after one use. That is what I use for all of my skid plate painting needs.

 

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I have a full set of the Hefty aluminum skid plates and love them! They will really take a beating as well. Trust me, I know this from first hand experience .... not on purpose but it happens.

I would agree with the engine and the transmission skid pans as being very important but there has been no mention of the radiator protection..... This item is very important in my mind as well. The radiator hangs down a good deal on our Frontiers and is immediately in line for many decent angles

I had a local fabricator make my rock sliders and installed them before buying the Hefty skids .... I used the factory skids for a while.

I would not recommend powder coating the skids as it will be an expensive waste of money. Your skids will get nicked and scratched no matter how careful you are, so painting them when installing and then touching up later is the best way to go IMHO. I agree with OutFront on the hammered paint product. I did mine with the Rust-O-leum hammer tone rattle cans and it is fine.
If you get the Hefty aluminum skids there would be no reason to primer them .... they are aluminum :)

Another item not discussed ,,,, the factory rear differential cover is very thin. It is easy to drag the factory cover off on a rock, when hung up. Look at investing in an ARB or PRG after market cover ... a worthy investment, again IMHO.





 

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When it comes to armor my thoughts fall into 2 camps. If I take a hit will it cause catastrophic irreversible damage. Oil pans, doors, etc... Others can take a hit or two and be fine. The radiator is already protected by a factory skid. No it is not the beefiest, but mine has taken numerous hits and has held. It it is more of a "feeler". Same can be said for the diff cover. Mine has taken numerous hits and I am finally replacing it with an aftermarket.

Regarding the powder coating. If you have the money do it. Many spots get worn lightly and the powder coating will hold up much better. Even if left exposed with no contact paint will wear. Then touch up the rock hits with paint. It is expensive though and IMO money is better spent elsewhere. But if you have money to burn...
 

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Sorry it took me soooo long to reply, I had to change my undies. Those aluminum skids are so HOT!!!
 

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If you're going for an overlander, then weight will be a concern for you. This is the direction I'm building in also, hence the AL pans. With AL you don't need to worry so much about paint, especially if you clean them off regularly. Salt is the enemy no matter the material. 130-150lbs weight savings on the AL pans over steel... Shipped weight on the AL was just under 70, Hefty says the steel are over 200. Another weight savings area will be the bumper (AL). But that can wait some, I have not NEEDED it even for stuff like MaBell. If you're overlanding over terrain like that, then you have a real build on your hands (like Camel Trophy build) Biggest reason (for the early build) for going winch early is if you have alot of mud OR you have a trip you're building for that you're soloing. For a solo truck adventure, everything needs to be on there, including diff armor, multiples of jerry cans, 2 spare tires, ... and for that, you want a rear bumper with a swing-out spare & jerrycan carrier... (BSA motto- be prepared)

My stock rad skid has taken a few knocks, it serves more as a gong to let me know if something is too big and I picked a bad line. When I do the bumper I'll do a rad skid.

Another thing to consider is a new HU with front cam input OR make a splitter input and a trigger sense input to turn on the stock reverse cam and then select a front cam input. It would take some electrical work, but completely doable If you have no desire for a new HU. A front cam will make chosing a line much easier. (this is part of the solo trekker build need)

If you have some DIY skills, you can try to make some skids yourself. At their core, they're a flat piece of metal. Hefty & Shrock & others you may find out there add the lips & gussets for added strength. Hefty began making the AL pans for us as they were already making them for Raptors. AL is used on desert racers... (weight - performance) BUT AL comes at a price premium...

I'm partial as I have a set of AL. Someone with steel will say theirs are better for strength (AL is 80% strength of steel as Hefty has designed). If I were running a rock crawler, with a V8 and OBA & welder & full lockers/spools then I'd lean towards steel too, but I don't have welder (or skill to weld) and was concerned about weight. As it is, I'm still on the fence about having a winch up front all the time... Ideal would be an AL receiver hitch style front bumper.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I have a full set of the Hefty aluminum skid plates and love them! They will really take a beating as well. Trust me, I know this from first hand experience .... not on purpose but it happens.

I would agree with the engine and the transmission skid pans as being very important but there has been no mention of the radiator protection..... This item is very important in my mind as well. The radiator hangs down a good deal on our Frontiers and is immediately in line for many decent angles

I had a local fabricator make my rock sliders and installed them before buying the Hefty skids .... I used the factory skids for a while.

I would not recommend powder coating the skids as it will be an expensive waste of money. Your skids will get nicked and scratched no matter how careful you are, so painting them when installing and then touching up later is the best way to go IMHO. I agree with OutFront on the hammered paint product. I did mine with the Rust-O-leum hammer tone rattle cans and it is fine.
If you get the Hefty aluminum skids there would be no reason to primer them .... they are aluminum :)

Another item not discussed ,,,, the factory rear differential cover is very thin. It is easy to drag the factory cover off on a rock, when hung up. Look at investing in an ARB or PRG after market cover ... a worthy investment, again IMHO.

http://i1148.photobucket.com/albums/o575/bobhowdeshell/Nismo/hefty_skids_002_zpswpbzaiwg.jpg

http://i1148.photobucket.com/albums/o575/bobhowdeshell/Nismo/hefty_sliders_001_zpst5zd1crj.jpg

http://i1148.photobucket.com/albums/o575/bobhowdeshell/Nismo/arb_zps5yshmre6.jpg
One of the things driving me toward Aluminum is as you mentioned, easier to paint and maintain since they wont rust. How much were the custom sliders? How did you find a local shop to make them? I have a design in mind for them from what I had seen on Tacoma's when I owned one but none of the frontier one's are like those.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I bought a pint of black glossy rustoleum brush on paint. It is oil based and goes on real thick. I also have a stack of cheap paint brushes that I throw away after one use. That is what I use for all of my skid plate painting needs.

I sure like this stuff. Looks good, easy touch up, LOW COST!!!
Stops Rust® Hammered Product Page
Bringing this thread back from the dead again. I ended up ordering the full set of the steel skids from Hefty. Since you guys are the only ones who responded about paint, did you prime before painting or just laid the paint on thick?
 

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Bringing this thread back from the dead again. I ended up ordering the full set of the steel skids from Hefty. Since you guys are the only ones who responded about paint, did you prime before painting or just laid the paint on thick?
I use the Rustoleum Hammered finish spray paint that has primer in it. Since I pull them off and repaint them every year or 2, this method works pretty good.

Make sure you clean ALL the cosmoline off the skids or the paint will not adhere to the metal.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I use the Rustoleum Hammered finish spray paint that has primer in it. Since I pull them off and repaint them every year or 2, this method works pretty good.

Make sure you clean ALL the cosmoline off the skids or the paint will not adhere to the metal.
Any tips for cleaning?
 

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I buff with a 3m pad then a thinner wipe down. Once the thinner is evapped I hit it with brake cleaner, evaporates fast, leaves no residue. I used Rustoleum bare metal primer under the Rustoleum hammered (both brush on). Stuck like glue & still great after two years.
 

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I like the look of the hammered but find the dirt sticks to it. Even flat black, dirt sticks to. With gloss paint, all I need to do is to hose it off with high pressure nozzle and it comes out pretty clean.
 
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