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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Current Mods are in my signature. Originally I was looking at Metal Cloak's undercloak system, but it's ~$1300 + shipping and just under 300lbs. This week I realized that Rock Hard is made in NE and only 2ish hours from me so I'm going to go with them. The Jeep is a daily and sees more salty winter roads than trails. It does get off road about once a month, and at least right now I'm more worried about stumps than boulders. I hopefully will make it to CO and UT within the next couple of years.

Pros: lighter (easier to install or remove if need be), no rust, Aluminum cool factor

Cons: more $$$ (not too worried about this), possibly not as durable

Does anyone have any pictures of demolished aluminum plates or is 1/4" aluminum almost as strong as 3/16" steel?
 

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It isn't on my Jeep, but i've got a 1/4" aluminum front skid plate on my R50 pathfinder. I've literally used it as a ramp to get over rocks an it is still intact. Sure, it is dented, bent, and otherwise not pretty, but it has done it's job protecting my steering bits. On the same rig I have a 3/16" steel center skid, the center skid does seem to have held up better but also hasn't seen near the abuse....
 

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Won't try to talk you out of anything, but I live in Colorado and have the Metal Cloak Skids and scrape them all over boulders. They have zero rust and hold up amazingly well.

They are heavy as hell, but I bought them for protection and I am quite happy with what they can take.
 

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Alum bumpers maybe, but with skids, i wouldn't have anything but steel, i cover the rocks scratches with black rusteloum, and weight at that location is actually beneficial when doing the fun trails, don't sweat this much.
 

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I'm a huge fan of aluminum, even for skids.

The weight savings is massive, the strength of aluminum that thick is insane for a simpleton like myself, and I wouldn't hesitate one bit about running aluminum skids from rockhard (it's the route I'm going as well).

Little story about aluminum plate, my dad has a FJ with the Aluminess front and rear bumpers. He demolished a 1500 Chevy pickup with the front one and it did very minor damage to his FJ, including AND thanks to the Aluminess bumper. The forces applied in that collision mangled the OEM sheet metal of the Chevy, only tweaking the aluminum plate slightly. It was replaced by Aluminess, the old one was resold to another FJ owner who didn't mind the less than obvious damage.

In the TJ world, Savvy is pretty highly regarded...they use and sell aluminum skids and rock sliders. They beat the hell out of their rigs on some of the most insane stuff in Cali at least.

If you're not making it a habit to bounce the belly off boulders(and heck even if you are) , and want to save weight, I would definitely consider aluminum. Don't try to justify it with MPG savings or anything silly, as you'll soon get into trouble with the math.


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I have the Rock Hard 4x4 aluminum skids and love them. Weight was a big consideration for me as I wheel at stock height. Recently I slipped off a rock and the whole Jeep landed on another rock. Here is a pic of the minor damage to the skids from 5000lbs of Jeep landing on a rock. If you are a hard core rock crawler get steel - otherwise get aluminum. Plus Rock Hard makes their skids (aluminum or steel) right here in the USA and they are great people to work with.
 

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Sorry - really can't talk you out of one of our best selling lines of parts!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Sorry - really can't talk you out of one of our best selling lines of parts!
Ha, can't blame you for that. I'll give you a call later this week to get a quote on the aluminum (we only talked about steel before) and to see if you'll be open Monday so I can drive over and pick them up.
 

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Forget the "cool factor". Focus on the "protection factor". If it's bad enough to where you need skid plates, get steel. Aluminum is for mall crawlers that want their undercarriage to look "cool", just in case someone decides to take a look under there.
 

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It depends on your wheeling. If you are going to be rock crawling then steel is going to be better. Otherwise the aluminum does the job for most wheeling. I have the rock hard aluminum fuel, engine and transfer case skids and they scar when you roll over a rock in a way that steel would not, but have held up fairly well otherwise.
Generally steel skids are 3/16 and aluminum is 1/4". Thus the aluminum is a little under half the weight of the steel. The aluminum is not as hard as the steel, so it will scar when sliding on rock. The strength depends on the alloys, but guessing 6061 and mild steel, then the yield is about 35kpsi vs 53 kpsi. It gets more complex if you want the same bending resistance because of the difference in thickness (the rigidity goes up with the cube of the thickness, so 1/4" is a lot better than 3/16") but aluminum has a lower yield and modulus, but more plastic range, but I think that you'll find aluminum dents more easily.
The biggest factor would be that a couple of ribs were added to the top of the skids to increase the effective thickness then either the aluminum or steel would be much stronger as a skid, or conversely could be made lighter. So design matters, not just the material.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Forget the "cool factor". Focus on the "protection factor". If it's bad enough to where you need skid plates, get steel. Aluminum is for mall crawlers that want their undercarriage to look "cool", just in case someone decides to take a look under there.
The aluminum looks the same as the steel, by cool factor I just think aluminum is a cool material. Do you have any sources of people who have wrecked their aluminum plates? I've only found 1 example with a picture, but I doubt steel would have survived either.
 

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Forget the "cool factor". Focus on the "protection factor". If it's bad enough to where you need skid plates, get steel. Aluminum is for mall crawlers that want their undercarriage to look "cool", just in case someone decides to take a look under there.
Not sure you can tell the difference by looking. If you install aluminum because they look cool you are definitely wasting your money.... Most people are amazed when they discover my skids are aluminum - the first question truly knowledgeable Jeepers ask is how my ride height isn't lower with all that armour under there..guess they think it must be steel...OP it is your Jeep. Install what you want. I love my skids and they have saved the bottom of my Jeep several times.....
 

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Soooo, did they ever talk you out of them? Or into them?

I swear, I read one post and the whole thing is STEEL IS REAL! Then I read the next thread and everyone is all pro-aluminum.

I am really leaning on the fence with the Artec system at 20.20% off until tomorrow. I have also looked hard at RockHard (steel and aluminum) and MetalCloak. I honestly don't think I can go wrong with any of the above systems. In fact Metal Cloak said they ran Rock Hard skids until they came up with their own system.

I haven't really seen much information comparing the different systems and which ones have what advantages in the way of protection etc. I have also not really seen any or enough examples of catastrophic aluminum failure to scare me away.

If we went wheeling once a month, that would mean we are 1.00 - (12 / 365) = 96.7% street and 3.3% offroad in some rocky terrain. Crappy winters (salt etc.) is also a consideration.

Are there any other factors between these 3 manufacturers to take into consideration?

Everyone loves a spreadsheet.

4472899
 

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I went with Metalcloak Undercloak steel and I’m super happy with my decision. While I’ve not put them to the ultimate test, I work on a friend’s Jeep who does. He wheeled his stock 2016 JKUR everywhere I’ve wheeled my lifted YJ and lifted JKUR, so it took an absolute beating. His stock crossmember and “skids” were totally mangled. I replaced everything on his rig with Metalcloak Undercloak about 15 months ago. Similarly, it took a beating, but has held up great. The best part is it replaces the factory flimsy crossmember.

Conversely, another buddy with a 2015 JKUR runs some aluminum skids. He got hung up on some rocks at Hot Springs ORV park and mangled them up pretty badly. After seeing how his aluminum skids folded under pressure I’d never personally run aluminum or recommend them.
 

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I went with Metalcloak Undercloak steel and I’m super happy with my decision. While I’ve not put them to the ultimate test, I work on a friend’s Jeep who does. He wheeled his stock 2016 JKUR everywhere I’ve wheeled my lifted YJ and lifted JKUR, so it took an absolute beating. His stock crossmember and “skids” were totally mangled. I replaced everything on his rig with Metalcloak Undercloak about 15 months ago. Similarly, it took a beating, but has held up great. The best part is it replaces the factory flimsy crossmember.

Conversely, another buddy with a 2015 JKUR runs some aluminum skids. He got hung up on some rocks at Hot Springs ORV park and mangled them up pretty badly. After seeing how his aluminum skids folded under pressure I’d never personally run aluminum or recommend them.
Thank you for the feedback! do you know which aluminum skids they were running? Material alone is pretty vague, as you can imagine.

Tough decision.
 

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If you look at the most reasonably priced sets in each material you come down to this: Is it worth $331. to save 72 pounds. Or, appx a 20% increase in cost for a 38% weight savings.

I'd personally pull the trigger on the Artec Aluminum.
 

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Neither of those systems provide protection for the exhaust loop.
 

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If you look at the most reasonably priced sets in each material you come down to this: Is it worth $331. to save 72 pounds. Or, appx a 20% increase in cost for a 38% weight savings.

I'd personally pull the trigger on the Artec Aluminum.
/r/theydidthemath :D
 
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Neither of those systems provide protection for the exhaust loop.
Are you suggesting an alternative skid system that includes exhaust loop protection?
Or additional protection from another vendor who sells an exhaust loop skid...
 

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Neither of those systems provide protection for the exhaust loop.
The exhaust loop is too low for any skid plate system that I’m aware of. Is there one you have in mind?
 
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