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Old 06-29-2009, 02:08 PM   #1
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newb .... issues with skid plate nutserts

i searched like 10 times 1st...

ok, long story short...
1998 4cyl auto TJ. took it up to the shop yesterday, put it on the lift and replaced the exhaust cat-back. while i was under there i figured i'd try to find my trans leak ( it's pretty bad) so i pulled the front driveshaft off the diff and pulled it to the side ( does it come out like everyother driveshaft? or is it bolted to the t-case??) tightened up the cooler lines, and began to tighten the trans pan bolts, most of them were about 1/4 turn loose, couldn't get to rear bolts, so tried to drop skid plate... heres where the fun starts.. LT front and LT rear bolts came out about 1/4 inch then they just spin like crazy, they won't go back in either.. so i put the driveshaft back on and came home.. now it's thumping under the drivers floorboard and i think it's cause i only have 1 bolt holding the lt side of the skid on..
go to the stealership today to ask them, parts dept looked up 6 new nuts and bolts it's like 75 dollars for 6 bolts and 6 nuts...
what's the best way to remedy this situation, i see people say dropping the skid is a 10 minute job, but i can easily see this taking me the better part of a weekend.....
i read about someone drilling up through the top of the frame and putting long bolts and nuts on there... is this a safe measure????
thanks in advance..and when i get this thing back safely driveable, can someone in W PA take me mudding???

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Old 06-29-2009, 03:41 PM   #2
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I just had to replace the clutch on my 97 TJ. It had been in PA (Lancaster County) for its entire life so needless to say there were some rust issues with the skid plate/frame. The rivet nuts that were in the frame were completely rusted out and the bolts were not far behind. Basically just rust holding the skid plate on. Steer clear of the dealership. Their quote to me for one of the skid plate bolts was $5.00 - couldn't even order the rivet nuts for me, just gave me a list of dealerships in the US that had them and pretty much told me I was on my own. Wasn't going to order a couple here and a couple there and pay an arm and a leg for them. I think the dealership charges about five bucks a piece for them too. No hardware/auto store that I was able to find sells rivet nuts big enough - not even a specialty nut/bolt place. Order the rivet nuts and bolts off of McMaster's website (McMaster-Carr). What you want are 1/2"-13 open end knurled steel rivet nuts (product number: 95105A169 worked for me, just make sure it will fit your frame thickness. It should.) and grade eight 1/2"-13 1&3/4" bolts (pn: 92316A718). Drill out the rivet nuts that you have in your frame now and replace them with these. They are actually a little bigger than the factory ones so you will need an 11/16" drill bit to expand the hole for them. $22.10 with shipping charge for ten rivet nuts and ten bolts. Once you have got them in you can have them welded to the frame. I had to grind off the flanges on the old ones that were welded to the frame and then just pried out what was left of the rivet nut inside the frame (about an eighth-inch ring). Just grinding off the three on one side probably took longer than drilling out all six holes, putting in the new rivet nuts and bolting the skid plate back on. Good luck.

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Old 06-29-2009, 05:58 PM   #3
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Old 06-30-2009, 12:30 AM   #4
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Drill a hole through the cert and the frame and pin them in place with a nail (make sure the nail is snug, should take a hammer to get them in). Hacksaw the excess off. Put two in each loose cert.
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Old 06-30-2009, 12:33 AM   #5
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Or - the easy way ---

One at a time so it all doesn't come crashing down.
If the bolt just spins and won't come out, grind the head off, use a punch to push the rest of the bolt and nutsert up inside the frame.

Now you have an open clean hole.

Select the bolt you want to use, and a regular nut.
Weld, or even JB Weld or epoxy a 1-2 foot piece of coathanger wire, weld wire or the equivalent to the head of the new bolt.

When it's cured, simply find a hole in the frame near the hole the bolt needs to go back into - fish the bolt with the wire down the frame until the bolt pokes through the hole and hangs down. Put a nut on it, done. The welded on hunk of wire along with the roughness of the original weldnut is enough to hold the bolt inside from spinning when you tighten it. After its tight, trim the wire.

It takes much longer to write this than it takes to do it. I've probably used that method 100 times or more.

Simple, cheap, fast, and easy.

And no - don't drill all the way through the frame for a bolt. When you tighten the bolt it crushes the box frame - dangerous. And, as you drive, the bolt will come loose.
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Old 07-01-2009, 01:24 PM   #6
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well, i ordered my parts from McMaster Carr, and they should be here tomorrow, i'm off friday, so HOPING to have it wrapped up by saturday morning so we can use the jeep for the 4th!!!!
how did you hold the rivet nut to the frame, it says a special tool needed to compress the rivetnut, but i don't have that tool. best i can figure out is to slide the rivet nut up into the frame, and tack weld it to the framerail.. then use one of the grade 8 bolts to crush it down into the framerail instead of the tool.. sound right???
thanks for all the help so far!!! i love the internet!
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Old 07-01-2009, 02:28 PM   #7
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The technique that I used was to get another 1/2" - 13, grade eight bolt from a hardware store, just a little longer than the ones I got from McMaster (2 1/4" I think - although one of the ones from McMaster probably would have worked fine). Anyway - that longer bolt, 2 lubed washers, a nut just big enough to sit over the threads of the bolt and spin freely (5/16 I think), 2 more lubed washers and a star washer. Screw the rivet nut onto the bolt (althogether it should all be the length of the hardware store bolt) and push it up into the frame. Hold onto the nut between the washers with a wrench while tightening the bolt into the rivet nut. The star washer will help keep the rivet nut from turning until it grips the frame and it will start to compress noticeably as the rivet nut tightens up so it kind of gives you a way to gauge how tight that is getting. The lubed washers and oversize nut allow the bolt to spin easily as it crushes the rivet nut. I used an impact wrench to tighten it down and it worked great - very little to no resistance needed on the wrench that held the oversize nut. If you are going to weld them to the frame anyway, I see no reason why you couldn't just go ahead and do that and then tighten them down. I didn't have access to any welding equipment so that was out of the question for me. If I recall correctly, McMaster has torque spec.'s for tightening the rivet nuts. I just eyeballed it and stopped when the star washer began to sink into the flange. I am sure that the specialized tool works better, but I don't think you can rent those and I don't plan on installing enough rivet nuts to warrant a purchase. And anyway, I think of the bolt and washer combo as a specialized tool too. My rivet nuts came from McMaster in two days, so you ought to have them shortly and be up and running soon. Good luck.
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Old 07-01-2009, 02:31 PM   #8
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5/16 obviously isn't right for the oversize nut. I meant to say 9/16. Regardless - whatever size nut will slide down the bolt over the threads.
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Old 07-01-2009, 05:32 PM   #9
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thanks for all your help, seriously.. i think the jeepers who don't live near the rust belt can't appreciate how much of a PITA it is towork on something that has seen 10 yrs of PA winters and road salt...
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Old 07-03-2009, 11:59 AM   #10
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Glad to have been of any service. This pretty well exhausts any sort of expertise I have with anything. I am curious to know how you make out - and definitely post if you run into any issues with those rivet nuts down the road. I think that they are better than what was there originally, but I have this nagging feeling that I will have to revisit that fix. No tto get too far off topic, but when my buddy and I were working on mine he had been making continuous remarks about the rust. Eventually he just stopped and asked -"Seriously, did you just park in a pile of salt one day?" PA winters do their damage, but the longer I am out of the state the more I miss it.
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Old 05-22-2010, 07:13 PM   #11
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Thanks a bunch for the links to McMaster-Carr Mike P. Also for the part #s. This should save me a good $50 or so over buying them from the dealer. If you were closer, Id offer to buy you a six pack :-).

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