MetalTech FZJ-80 Sliders

By | November 16, 2007

Body damage…uugh…knowing how I drive, it’s inevitable. As soon as I purchased my 1996 80-series, I knew I’d wheel it some, and I knew I’d push it’s limits too far. One of the most vulnerable spots on the 80-series is the rocker panel area, and since damage there is also an expensive repair, it’s one of the first things any smart 80-series owner should protect.

I researched a LOT of vendors for rocker sliders, and seriously considered making my own as well. Some of the major Vendors include Slee Offroad and Hanna Quality…both make great products and have some variations to their designs. But I was looking for something a bit different with a bit more “flow” to the design…Mark Hawley with MetalTech was in prototype stage for his new design, and his drawings caught my eye.

Most of the other production products rely on a rectangular box tube below the rocker seam and a single round tube hoop out from there, either angled upwards for the rockcrawlers or flat to use as steps. Both are effective. MetalTech took things one stage further…rather than use box tube, Mark had flat steel bent into a shape the resembles the existing rocker area…and then did a two-stage round tube as well. Both of these features help make the sliders “fit” into the styling of the 80-series, and make a product not only perform well, but look good too.

There are basically 2 ways to install sliders…either weld them on, or bolt them on. If you EVER did have a ding to repair, or a paint scratch to mess with, having to cut free a welded on set of sliders would make the project even more major than it already is…and having thoroughly abused the u-bolt design that MetalTech used, I can see zero reason to weld them into place. (I have read that some folks will stitch-weld a couple small spots to keep them from moving…not a bad idea, cause if you land HARD on them and they shift at all, they may rattle against the body or the cats)

The MetalTech design also has some features not found on the others, including the ability to install a spare battery in the open space on the drivers side OR install a spare driveshaft under there. Also, some air tanks will fit in that area, so there’s another idea. I haven’t yet decided which option to go with, so for now mine remain open…

And, if anyone ever needs to see some beefy protection, check out the cat guards…these are 1/2″ thick steel and aren’t moving anywheres. MetalTech has these designed so snug with the 80-series cats that I actually had to trim the edges to keep them from rattling. Even with that tight clearance, the mounting design works great…my only rattle came after a HARD landing on the passenger side…getting totally bound by the sliders on a steep breakover didn’t move them.

Step one: put 4 people in your rig…this ensures you have enought weight to fully test the sliders…

Next, pin the passenger side slider against a rock, lock the rear diff, turn hard right, and slide the rear axle sideways about 18″ to re-line yourself in the direction you want to go…with luck, the rear tire then compresses up and over the rock, and misses your rear 1/4 panel area…see the nice gouge in the rock just behind the tire? Yeah….IMO, paint these yourself if you intend to USE them as intended…

Next, lets test the drivers side a bit….BTW, those two-stage rub bars stick out sufficiently to stand on, so when you install your roof rack, you can reach the gear up there…

Finally, stick the rig on top of a couple more rocks, wedging them between the frame and slider, and stuff a fair chunk of an overweight 80-series on there as well….this spot required a winch to free me from some poor driving skills….haha

(Props to MoJ on ‘MUD for back seat driving and taking most of these photos….)

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