|Get Additional Ground Clearance Under Your YJ for Free||Short Cuts|
By: Brian Simon - 2/2001 edited by: John Nutter
Take advantage of that body lift by raising your gas tank!
If you've installed a body lift in your Jeep YJ (Thats an 87 to 95 Wrangler), you can create additional ground clearance by raising your gas tank into the room created by the body lift. An additional inch of clearance doesn't seem like much, particularly behind the axle, but there are times when it will help. I've dented my tank skid plate by hitting things after the tires drop off of obstacles. I've also gotten hung up on those things; every inch can help!
|Bending the lip of the skid plate over. Drilling through the angle iron and skid plate and then bolting the three pieces together in a couple of spots will help keep the angle iron in place.|
|The finished skid plate and gas tank, ready to go back in the Jeep.|
|You'll need to do a little cutting on the metal cross member for the body mount to get the gas tank to fit in it's new location.|
|This is after the cut has been made.|
The gas tank is held in place by the skid plate. There are two straps holding the tank to the skid plate, and 7 bolts holding the skid plate to the frame, via two cross-members. Other connections include the gas line, gas tank filler and breather hoses and the electrical connection for the fuel sending unit. There are two filler hoses attached by hose clamps. The breather lines are slip-on fittings. The sending unit has a plug type connection. I did not need to disconnect the fuel line itself.
Jack up the Jeep and remove the rear tires. This will give you extra room to work, particularly on the left side, where all the tank connections are. The filler hoses are accessed thru a plastic panel under the left quarter panel. The plastic pannel is attached by a couple bolts and some plastic rivet type devices that can be removed with needle nose pliers. Pry up the middle of the rivet type piece, then pull the whole fitting out. Those plastic rivet looking things are reinstalled by inserting the body through the hole and pressing in the center part once the body is in place.
Begin lowering the tank. Support it using a jack (I found that using two was very helpful). There are three bolts at the front and four nuts at the rear. Note that two more nuts at the rear tighten the hold-down straps to the skidplate. Lower the tank enough to get access to the filler and breather hoses and the electrical connections. With everything but the fuel line disconnected, I had enough room to rest the tank and skidplate on the floor, then remove the straps and pull out the skidplate.
With the skidplate removed, I used a grinder with a thin wheel (1/8") to cut each lip off. Mark the relative locations for the mounting holes on the vertical locations of the skidplate first. I scratched a line for each location.
To bend a new lip, I used angle iron as a form to bend the plate over. It took several tries to figure out an effective way of doing this; first I used C clamps to hold the angle iron in place, but the hammering kept knocking the pieces out of alignment. Then I drilled holes in the angle iron to clamp the pieces together at each end. In retrospect, it would have worked better to drill holes in the middle too, drilling appropriate holes through the skid plate to hold everything in alignment.
Measure one inch down from your cut and clamp the angle iron to the skidplate. Then take a hammer to the edge of the skidplate and bend it over the angle iron. This was the most tedious part of the project, mostly because I had to reset the angle iron every 5 to 10 hits with the hammer.
When you have new lips bent into the skidplate, drill new holes for reattaching the skidplate to your Jeep. Then you can reinstall the straps. I had to buy new straps (about $23 apiece from the dealer), since the old ones broke when I removed them.
Upon reinstallation of the tank, I discovered that the front crossmember interfered with lifting the tank. I took a grinder to this to make room, cutting the top horizontal piece off. This is pretty thin material, so I don't feel like I've compromised the structrual integrity of the piece. Cut close to the body mounts at each end, as the tank is a pretty tight fit into this space. Be certain that no sharp metal pieces will contact the plastic of the gas tank, as it wouldn't take long to wear through the tank and create a leak. It took me a couple test fits to make the necessary room.
Reinstall the tank in the reverse order of removal. Once its strapped to the skidplate, raise the whole unit until you can reattach all connections: electrical, breathers and filler hoses. Then bolt it to the cross members and refit the plastic piece under the quarterpanel.
The project took me a day and a half. I spent a lot of time messing around with the angle iron forms, which can be avoided. I also initially planned to use the angle iron to hold the skidplate to the crossmembers, sandwich style. It turned out that 1) the bolts weren't long enough (they're studs in the rear crossmember) and 2) it seems unnecessary. If you clamp the angle iron like I described above, the whole thing can be done in one day.
This modification should be possible for any Jeep CJ with a rear mounted gas tank skid and a body lift as well as TJs. The exact procedure and amount of work will vary by the type of Jeep and the type of skid plate on the gas tank.