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Trail Armor Skids for Ranger XP

2449 Views 10 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  JeremyD64
A few weeks ago I finally purchased the Trail Armor Skids and today I finally got around to installing them so I thought I would give a mini review and my experience installing them.

First of all when I ordered them I mentioned that I was a member of PRC and they gave me a 10% discount which is pretty nice just for being a forum member, and it helped offset the shipping costs. I received my skids about 3 or 4 days later by UPS in two boxes. The first thing I noticed is that they are heavier in weight than I thought they would be. Some extra weight is the price you pay for the heavy duty protection they provide, and believe me they are heavy duty. I suppose someone could find a way to damage them; during my tenure on the fire department there were guys that could break anything, but it would take considerable effort to damage these skids.

I opted to install them by raising the Ranger on blocks so I had about 24" of clearance under it instead of laying it on it's side. I have doors and a windshield and didn't want to chance damaging them plus it's only me and I don't think I have the muscle to lift it onto it's side by myself without getting a huge hernia. Even laying on the ground under it the installation wasn't difficult.

Prior to installation I read the instructions a couple of times and watched the Youtube video which, unfortunately, had no sound.

Some observations, things I learned and a few suggestions and minor errors in the provided instructions:

1) The square steel tubing that the Ranger frame is manufactured with is actually quite thin. I guess it's strong enough to get the job done but I certainly wouldn't call it heavy duty. This means two things:
a) the self drilling/tapping screws included with the skid plate can easily be stripped out with too much torque. I managed to strip the very last one I installed and had to drill and tap the frame for a 5/16-18 bolt which I will replace later with a Nutsert so I can use a bolt with a 3/8 head like the others.
b) The tubing can be crushed fairly easily when installing the reinforcing brackets that fit beneath where the cab and bed meet the cab included with the kit. My suggestion for Trail Armor is to include a 1/8" thick piece of metal wide enough to span the tubing width (approximately 2") and long enough to allow both long 5/16-18 bolts to go through it. This would reinforce the frame tubing in that area and couldn't add much to the overall cost.
c) Standard head size for 1/4-20 is 7/16" but the bolts included have a 3/8" head. This means nothing other than for me it meant two trips to the tool box because I assumed the bolts would be the standard 7/16".

2) The instructions mention various bolt sizes in both length and diameter/thread, but the bolts included don't match the dimensions listed. For instance, the instructions mention using self drilling 1/4 -20 bolts but the self drilling bolts are not 1/4-20, they are in reality #14 or 1/4-14 self drilling bolts which do not have 20 TPI. What difference does it make? Well, if you happen to accidentally install one of the #14 or 1/4-14 self drilling bolts that are listed as 1/4-20 into one of the 1/4-20 split nuts included with the kit it will ruin the nut for future use with the proper bolt. This may not create a problem immediately but if the need ever arises to remove one of the skid plates for other service and an attempt is made to install a 1/4-20 bolt during reassembly it may cause a problem. The self drilling bolts (#14 and 1/4-14) actually have fewer TPI than the 1/4-20 so less thread is actually engaged in anyplace they are used therefore they will strip with less tightening force. The instructions mention 1/4-20 bolts of 3/4" length but in reality they are not 3/4" but slightly longer. It really isn't a big deal but there are numerous bolts of various types and lengths and different places for them to go so anything that improves clarity would help some. Some of the "3/4" 1/4-20 bolts included in my kit had slotted heads in addition to the hex while others were not slotted. This merely added to the confusion.

3) I don't mean to be nit picking Trail Armor, they actually do a good job with their product and the instructions, especially if you have some previous mechanical knowledge, however for the total novice the instructions could be improved slightly. As previously mentioned, some language to better describe the bolts used in various places would be helpful and maybe even some actual size pictures of the bolts so the included bolts can be compared to the pictures as well as specifics of where they are to be installed (pictures with arrows?). In addition, a mention of the thin tubing the Ranger is constructed with and the possibility of easily stripping the self drilling bolts as well as a caution to use care not to crush the tubing where the reinforcing brackets attach.

4) When you install the skids don't expect all the counterbored holes machined in the skids to line up perfectly with the OEM holes Polaris provides and some of which are reused. I suspect this is lack of QC at Polaris level and not in the Trail Armor Skids. In the end the skids will fit and the joints in them will be tight but some of the cup washers may be slightly off centered in the counterbores. Overall, even with careful, thoughtful installation, my skids ended up with a 1/8" difference sticking out from the body, side to side- not bad at all really.

5) Test ride: As soon as I started the engine I noticed the Ranger seems slightly quieter, fewer rattles. It may be that the thin OEM skid vibrates and makes noise. When I drove I found that there was no longer noise coming from beneath the floorboards as I drove over tall brush and grass. Maybe it's my imagination, just like an engine always seems to run better right after I change the oil. In any case, I am pleased with the TA skids and am glad to have the peace of mind they bring.
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Good review and details on the install, thanks for the writeup. Does the TA skid cover the rocker panels?

Since I put a stick through the rear floorboard l see the value in adding a full skid plate. I like the idea of noise reduction and protecting the parts I haven't broken, but since I now need to replace the rear seat floor tub does it make sense to even consider installing one beforehand?
Awesome, thanks for the feedback gentlemen. I'm going to order one up. Any idea how much weight it adds? Left about 73 pounds extra for the baseline on my Elka shock order as I figured I'd be adding things (trailside tools, equipment and other accessories). Not that it'll make a difference, at least I hope not. I'm just curious what the crew skid weighs in at. Can't imagine it's very light being such dense material.
Quick question as I'm searching again on which skid to order up: Does the Trail Armor skid have a lip at the front behind the front wheels to mitigate some dirt from entering on top of the skid plate?
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