Home Forums Truck Camper Adventure Forum Underside Protection

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    • #19547

      Hello – a question for Mike in particular as we have similar rigs, but for anyone with a full size dodge or any pick-up really… I was under the 2014 3500 the other day and trying to decide what looks the most vulnerable. I’m not trying to turn this into a rock-crawler, but we like to get off the beaten path in Death Valley and around the Sierras to some favorite fishing holes- I figure White Rim Trail is a likely trip too. Most of these trips will be taken with the camper (Hallmark Everest). Nothing crazy – what would be referred to as class 2 or light class 3.

      Class II – Road might have a high center, or an occasional rock sticking up, either of which could cause problems for ordinary passenger cars. Possibly able to be negotiated by a skilled driver operating a low-slung automobile, however two-wheel drive vehicles with higher ground clearance than most passenger cars is higly suggested. Four-wheel drive and dual range gears are not needed.
      Class III – Possibly very rocky, very sandy, or very steep. Four-wheel drive may be required. A transfer case with low range gears and locking axles is not needed. Unless they are excessively wide, most off-the-shelf SUVs and pickups, even with novice drivers, should be able to handle this road without any vehicle damage.

      So starting with the lowest points first, given the width I figure I may have to compromise on lines and approaches occasionally. Starting with the lowest point first, it seems like the front diff is going to take the brunt of things – was thinking about a stronger front diff cover – like this:


      Now that its not my daily driver, the steps will be going, and replaced with a set of wheel to wheel rock rails. Subject of a future thread as I figure out how to adapt the frame mount camper tie-downs or go to something different.

      So aside from those two obvious ones, what have you seen as potential trouble spots underneath? I know I can’t protect everything 100% …and I don’t want the weight penalty of going overboard. Thx – Vic

    • #22843
      Mello Mike

      Sorry, I missed this. This is a good question. In general, you want to protect vitals like the oil pan, differentials, transmission, and control arms. But it depends on your truck, take a peek underneath and see what’s low and vulnerable to damage from rocks and submerged logs.

    • #22849

      My experience as a hard core rock crawler helped give eye to decisions Re: your truck’s underparts. My 2001 Dodge has a skid plate on the oil pan, transmission and transfer case. But there’s not much hanging down under there except the elephant in the closet that is always a nuisance: namely the rear pig. I drive slowly over rough, rocky roads with most of my attention focused on where the wheels are to go and where the rear differential will be in another 8 feet. Many times the best route is getting a wheel right on and over some larger rocks just to get the pig out of harm’s way. I’ve spent the last 18 years trying to find the ‘edge’ on what I can and cannot do in the truck camper. The best solution is to work with what you have, keeping a radar-like image in your head about what is moving beneath the chassis, and that can only come with experience. Short wheel base rigs have an easier time in the outback for avoidance maneuvers and getting around dogleg turns without double pumping. The worst rigs for this are 90’s Fords with leaf springs in front. With long w.b.trucks the breakover angle is the crucial issue. This is where aftermarket skid plates may be the ticket. The best solution for more clearance and better obstacle avoidance underneath is taller tires. But that can have an expensive ripple effect on gear ratio selection, fender clearance and general power. Here is my solution: short wheel base; 3 inch loaded lift; 35 inch tires.
      short wheel base, 3 inch lift, and 35 inch  tires
      My guess is that your rig has a lot more off road survivability than rock pile at Mengel Pass Death Valleyyour current technique.

      2020 Ford F-350 XLT FX4 4WD SRW SB SC 7.3L Godzilla Gas TorqShift 10R140 397 amps dual Alt dual batts Frnt Dana 60; Rr Dana M275 E-locker 4.30's 4580/4320/4066# payload 7243# curb wt. 11,300# GVWR 5-er prepped. 2020 Northstar Laredo SC, 12v compressor fridge, cassette, 320w Solar sub zero insulation.

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