Wednesday, May 8, 2013

FJ Cruiser: Rear Differential Skid...

Late yesterday afternoon, Federal Express delivered a heavy box to us, containing the Boztec rear differential skid I'd ordered.  This thing is a single piece of quarter inch thick steel, cut, formed, and welded to form a protective cover for the rear differential housing (which is a relatively fragile casting). At right is what the parts looked like after I laid them out as I started installing it.

The big part is the skid itself, seen from the top.  It's a beautifully fabricated piece of metal.  The two “wings” sticking out left and right mate up with the bottom of the rear axle housing.  The 3/4" thick bracket visible at the bottom is the bottom half of the bracket connecting around the differential housing where the drive shaft enters (the front side); the odd-shaped bracket (top center) is the top half of that bracket.  The U-bolts go around the rear axle housing, and hold the axle housing wings in place.

At left you can see what it looks like after installation, as seen from below the rear of the FJ.  It's like a steel hand wrapped around the differential housing.  I think I'd have to try really, really hard to hurt the differential now that this thing is in place!

Installing it was very straightforward.  I just held it roughly in place with my left hand while loosely installing and putting the nuts on the U-bolts with my right hand.  Then I rotated the skid until the bracket clanked into place, and loosely installed the hex-head bolts onto the top half of its bracket.  Then I did a little pounding (rubber mallet and a hardwood dowel) to get the U-bolts rotated so that the top brackets were level.  There's a hard brake line running just behind those brackets once they're installed; those were a little too close to the brackets for my liking, so I bent them slightly to move them away.  The trickiest part of the entire installation was figuring out how to get my socket wrench and Allen wrench into a position where I could put enough torque on all the nuts and bolts.  The entire process was just under an hour, front-to-back.  I wish the other skids had been so easy!

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