Second Generation Nissan Xterra Forums banner

1 - 20 of 50 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
569 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Tell me your thoughts on Aluminum products (Bumpers and skids)

We have been building aluminum skid plates for the Ford Raptors for a couple years now with great success. However, they are only about half the strength of steel and a lot more expensive. The weight is less than half of the steel version. We have been toying with the idea of building skids and bumpers out of aluminum, but due to the strength difference we would not recommend them for heavy off roading but the weight savings and the additional strength and protection over stock products may be a viable option for much of the xterra crowd. Let me know your thoughts.

Again this is just a feeler, they are not in production!! Don't call and ask for pricing, we don't know.

Chris
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,165 Posts
Skids are there for protection so in my mind strength is what I'm looking for, if it weighs a bit more but protects better I'll take steel. Mine have already proved their worth on a number of rocks, well worth the extra gas.

If you could do hybrid bumpers it might be worth it. Aluminum hoops, tire arm etc but leave the strength parts (tow points, winch mounts etc.) steel.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,797 Posts
Skids are there for protection so in my mind strength is what I'm looking for, if it weighs a bit more but protects better I'll take steel. Mine have already proved their worth on a number of rocks, well worth the extra gas.

If you could do hybrid bumpers it might be worth it. Aluminum hoops, tire arm etc but leave the strength parts (tow points, winch mounts etc.) steel.
Thats not really possible because you can't weld aluminum to steel. They could be bolted together, but not welded.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
482 Posts
Depends on how much more expensive the Alum. would cost. For me, the weight of the steel bumpers is the biggest drawback. I don't hardcore wheel, so the strength of the steel isn't as important. The only reason I'd want an aftermarket front bumper is for increased approach angle. The design/style needs to be clean, personally, I don't care for the huge "plow" look. But that's just me.


Sent from AutoGuide.com Free App
 

·
on line
Joined
·
10,980 Posts
I like the idea ... aside from the cost. I know you have to set the price at whatever it needs to be, in order for the project to be viable ... ie: enough to cover development, tooling, production and *some* margin.

I think for bumpers, at a minimum, you'd need to maintain the stock crash protection ... it seems like steel bumpers improve it, or at least make the energy transfer to the other vehicle. There's no reason that the lower density of aluminum can't be taken advantage of, while still maintaining equivalent structural capacity to steel equivalents ... it'd just take some intelligent design and likely some FEA to have confidence in the design (or more importantly, to instill confidence in the customer base).

I think where you'll see the biggest differences (assuming everything else equal) is in fatigue and abrasion resistance. The aluminum will be more susceptible to cracking and gouging than the steel ... on the stress-strain deformation curve, most steels (aside from the much more brittle tool & structural steels) will have a highly plastic region prior to absolute failure; whereas a lot of the aluminums have very little capacity for plastic deformation, which is why you see more tearing and material removal as aluminum hits its maximum loading.

The above is obviously (I hope) an oversimplification; but I think there's potential here ... there are companies that make these things out of aluminum - heck, you guys make the skids for the Raptor ... (as an aside: how have those been performing?) Asfir makes a set of aluminum skids for the F-Alpha platform (I think just the R51 Pathfinder and the D40 Frontier/Navara) but you don't see them - or at least I haven't - used much here in North America, I get the sense they're more widely used abroad. Aluminess seems to do decent business on bumpers for the bigger trucks & vans ... and I'm sure there are others.

I think with proper design - and an openness about any testing/analysis to back up that design, and pricing that gives good value (ha! how's that for ambiguous) you could do well. For the skids, I'd almost like to see the aluminum used as a frame/carrier for HDPE/UHMW plastic sheeting, rather than directly as the impact surface itself. For the bumpers ... any flex HAS to be taken into account, I can't stress this enough; you guys responded well with a design change to your first bumper, to address this issue when it started cropping up ... but I'm sure you know better than any of us, how polarizing that became in this small community. If there's any damage multiplication from unanticipated deflection, or if mounting points start ripping off under recovery loads, it'll kill an aluminum bumper project before there's any chance for it to show good results.

I hope you guys can come up with something good! :eek:ccasion5:
 

·
on line
Joined
·
10,980 Posts
Here's a good read on GVW and weight: http://www.overlandexpo.com/overland-tech-travel/2012/1/8/is-gross-vehicle-weight-rating-overrated.html

... personally, if there are viable (lower weight) options to consider; I want to know about and look at them. As I said above, simply because it's lower weight, doesn't mean it *has* to be reduced strength ... all it takes is proper design; we deal with this all the time in the aerospace industry. I'd love to see this work out, and at a reasonable cost ... personally I think that's where the sticking point will be; not in the actual ability of the material to perform in a good design.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
482 Posts
Skids are there for protection so in my mind strength is what I'm looking for, if it weighs a bit more but protects better I'll take steel. Mine have already proved their worth on a number of rocks, well worth the extra gas.
If you could do hybrid bumpers it might be worth it. Aluminum hoops, tire arm etc but leave the strength parts (tow points, winch mounts etc.) steel.
Adrian:

I agree with you on skids or sliders, steel is the way to go and the additional weight isn't as great as with a front bumper in particular. There is more than just gasoline cost to consider, just as important is the extra load on the suspension system and what you need to do to compensate for 200-300 extra pounds hanging out there (in the case of a front bumper).

How are things in Canada these days?

Mark
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,548 Posts
I think that Aluminum skids might make the most sense for someone like me if they are a performance improvement over stock skids... or cover parts that aren't covered by stock skids.

And shipping aluminum parts to Canada might be cheaper than shipping steel..

Would I buy an Aluminum front bumper? If the weight difference between aluminum and steel was enough that I wouldn't need to upgrade my stock Off Road suspension I'd consider it. I don't imagine I'll put a winch on.. but would enjoy the illusion of being able to withstand moose and bear impacts
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
354 Posts
As an X owner with aluminum skids, I thought I was ahead of the curve when I got them....a friend fabbed mine up off the PDF's posted here somewhere...

Then all the kool kids told me steel > aluminum

And I began :crybaby:

So, I set out doing some research; seems there aren't many aluminum skids out there because aluminum costs more than steel and if you're on this forum, any $$ saved is already earmarked for another mod...:headbang:

So...

I love mine. They haven't folded; haven't given in. I've bounced off plenty of stuff whether it's up in Big Bear...or Mojave Road.....Anza Borrego or Superstition Mountain. So far so good.

Now, I'm not gonna lie, the phrase that stuck with me when I was doing my research is 'there's a reason there's nobody selling them'. Ummm...ok...

So...that's my .02 Would love to see others get them so I feel more confident in mine....and I would hopefully stop stalking the <FOR SALE> forum for the off chance a whole set of skids falls there..

-Sandy V
 

·
on line
Joined
·
14,613 Posts
No one has mentioned corrosion.
All the guys that run in the salted road environments need to think about this.
Aircraft fight corrosion for their entire airworthy lives.( failures are catastrophic)
This is not the solution for rock crawlers in my opinion.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,049 Posts
I looked into Aluminum skids as an option and the cost was too high for me. I'd expect the same to apply to bumpers.

What about 4130 Steel plate? Yes, it costs more than the A36 plate most people are probably using, but its yield strength is nearly double, so you could cut the material thickness down and save weight... Has Hefty looked into this?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
569 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Thank you for the posts everyone. This is why we asked the question. Development of a new product costs a lot with no guarantee of return so we are very cautious with introducing products like this. We have had incredible success with the Raptor skids and they have been proven very effective. Most of our Raptor customers actually do use their skids. We have sold to race teams and currently build them for Shelby American. The testing and real world use has had a much better result than initially expected. However, the type of wheeling is significantly different which is where my hesitation comes from. There is no way we would offer Aluminum sliders.
The idea for the bumpers would integrate our 1/4" steel frame mounts with a 5/8" Aluminum attachment plate. Winch options would use a steel mounting plate that ties directly to the frame mounts, same goes for the recovery points. Basically the bumper would be a shell. Even so, the strength would be far greater than the stock front end but would reduce the weight of the bumper and mounts to about 70 lbs.
As far as using 4130 Sheet. The cost factor on this is WAY!!! more expensive than even the aluminum. We have considered it but there is no way it would be a viable financial option for 99% of xterra owners. Material cost alone is nearly 5 times that of our current skid plates.
As far as corrosion, Aluminum will corrode or oxidize. Our bumpers would come powder coated, skids would be optional just like they are now.

Keep the comments coming. This helps us tremendously in developing new product lines.
Chris
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
482 Posts
70 lbs. would be awesome! Any approximate costs yet for the aluminum versions? What grade of aluminum might you use?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,755 Posts
The bumper idea sounds promising as long as the recovery points, winch mount and radiator skid were steel. I can't say I would purchase a bumper since I just mounted one. I am not sure about the rest of the skids though. Maybe if one was into racing instead of crawling...

Maybe the gas tank skid? It would be nice if that one was lighter at it seems by the time the rocks get there I am sliding and not crashing ;) Although the cost might scare people away on that one too.
 
1 - 20 of 50 Posts
Top