Slee Off-Road Transfer Case Belly Pan Review

Jul. 31, 2012 By Jaime Hernandez

As our travels take us to rockier places, the need for heavy-duty armor protection became evident. Our long wheel base trail rig has the tendency of getting hung up on rocks and dirt ledges. With some visible rock rash on the factory transfer case skid, we knew it was time to step it up or risk cracking our t-case on the trail. 

The factory transfer case skid plate offers minimal protection. Itís recommended that it be upgraded with a heavy-duty piece of armor for serious off-road use.

Weíve had our eyes on the Slee Off-Road transfer case skid plate for some time now. Just as we were ready to place the order, we noticed Slee Off-Road had just added a new full belly pan to their 80 Series armor line. 

Frame-rail-to-frame-rail protection for the transfer case made it very enticing, so we gave Slee Off-Road a call to get the specifics.

RUB THE BELLY

Slee Off-Road Belly Pan for 80 Series Land Cruiser -- Part# SOF1127.

The new Slee Off-Road 80 Series Belly Pan offers more protection than the original transfer case skid plate. Made from 3/16-inch steel, the transfer case armor is fabricated to fit 1991 to 1997 Toyota 80 Series Land Cruisers.

This piece has been in development for quite some time now. Designed and tested on the Colorado Rockies and California Rubicon Trail, the Slee Off-Road Belly Pan has been used and abused, proving worthy to wear the Slee emblem.

Holes along the flat surface on the Slee Belly Pan facilitate fluid draining without the need to remove the skid plate. They also add airflow for heat dissipation. In addition, the plate features no exposed hardware on the bottom surface to prevent damaging bolts when sliding over rocks.

The well-executed design offers complete underbody transfer case protection, yet it keeps a high line for clearance. To make this possible, Slee incorporates the transmission cross member with the belly pan. The entire piece ties into the frame using eight factory bolt locations. Not only does this thoughtful design keep everything tucked high, it also adds strength.

Excited to try the latest piece of armor from Slee Off-Road, we ordered one for our Cruiser.

INSTALL
The Slee Off-Road Belly Pan was in stock, and we had our hands on it within the week. The piece was beautifully crafted and finished with durable black powder coat. Included were four grade-8 bolts to tie the pan into the frame rails. We will also be using the four original bolts from our stock skid plate.

The factory transmission cross member is held in place by four bolts attached to the frame. From it stems a small and thin factory skid plate that offers minimal protection for the transfer case. Both will be replaced by Slee Off-Road Belly Pan.


The installation of the Slee Belly Pan can be done in your very own garage, as long as you have floor jack to support the transmission and transfer case when removing the factory cross member. Youíll also need an impact gun with metric sockets. 

We like going over to ORW in Escondido, Calif., whenever we need help installing big parts on our truck. Wally and crew take care of us, and the shop has the muscle and experience to make sure the job gets done right the first time around.

Both the factory transfer case skid plate and transmission cross member need to be removed in order to swap in the Slee Off-Road Belly Pan. Doug powers through it with a pneumatic impact gun.

Jason Smith and Doug Ebba had our Land Cruiser up on the rack and well on its way to getting Sleeíd before we could even set-up our camera gear. These guys are fast!

Using a tall floor jack stand, they supported the transmission and transfer case while removing the transmission cross member. Four bolts roved and we were on our way to slapping on the new belly pan.      

Once removed, the transmission cross member was weighed. A solid 18 lbs. of imported steel was shed to make room for the heavy-duty Slee Belly Pan. Adjusted weight for this new addition is 33 lbs., after the factory cross member weight difference is factored in. Not bad for some serious armor protection.

Justin Mitchell from ORW was happy to jump in and get the Slee Belly Pan lined up for fastening. With it being a solid piece weighing 51 lbs., having an extra set of hands made the installation much smoother.

The entire installation took less than one hour with the proper tools, and it was a perfect fit. We did not need to re-work any of the holes or shim anything for the belly pan to fit. At first there was some concern that existing Metal Tech sliders would be in the way, but we are happy to report that everything fit without any modification. This is also true for any of the Slee Off-Road sliders.

Doug works his way across the Slee Off-Road Belly Pan, fully tightening bolts and pan-to-frame rails. Visible is the Metal Tech rock slider, which did not get in the way of our new armor. They are compatible and fit nicely together.

The Slee Off-Road Belly Pan spans 30-40 inches wide (tapered), and is 20 inches long, offering more than a 200 percent increase area of protection over stock.

FINAL THOUGHTS
We really like the overall look and functionality of the new Slee Off-Road Belly Pan. Itís well constructed to provide adequate protection and even help slide across rocks, logs or ledges when the situation arises. The solid steel construction and flat surface make it ideal for 4+ trails.

What makes this design unique is how it incorporates the transmission cross member into the transfer case skid plate. This product can be used for serious off-road, overlanding and rock crawling.

We especially like the circle cut outs that allow for air to circulate around the transfer case, and it also aids in quick cleanup after running in mud. It will also allow fluid maintenance without removing the armor.

Testing our new Slee Belly Pan on Poughkeepsie Gulch Trail. We lost part of our front bumper in Colorado, but the Slee Belly Pan had no issues. Itís solid and trail approved.

We havenít noticed a big change in weight or stability on the vehicle after adding this piece. The Slee Off-Road Belly Pan has performed flawlessly across the Mojave Desert, California and Colorado Mountains.

For those of you that may be concerned about the added 33 lbs., take a look at Sleeís original transfer case skid plate. Either one is a huge improvement over stock. It really comes down to how hard you wheel and the level of protection you need.
                       
SOURCES
Slee Off-Road
(888) 494-7533
http://www.sleeoffroad.com/

Off Road Warehouse
(760) 746-3193
http://www.offroadwarehouse.com/


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