Technical / Installation
Articles - Body Interior / Exterior
Nth Degree Mobility Tummy Tucker
Article written by Adventure Bob
Date Added: 07/12/2006
During the Utah 4wd Association Winter Rodeo, I attempted to climb a dirt cliff. High speed and the vertical wall at the top launched me about 3 feet into the air.
Gravity, being what it is, brought me back to earth with a resounding crash directly on my belly pan; no wheels, no driveline, just belly pan. My Jeep began making horrible protesting noises as I slid back to flat ground.
A severely bowed belly pan and a broken motor mount had crippled my Jeep. The impact to the belly pan shoved my tranny to the right and up far enough to break a motor mount and render any gear past 2nd unusable. The twisted driveline forced the front driveshaft into the exhaust and the front driveshaft had to be removed to get off the trail. The shifted motor drove the oil filter into the frame, punching a nice pressure relief hole for my oiling system. To top it all off the clutch wouldn?t completely disengage, so stopping was a challenge to say the least.
I?m not one to replace breakable Jeep parts with the same breakable Jeep parts, so I called Nth Degree Mobility out of Nevada. They have some good ideas about protection that make sense for rock crawlers. Countersunk bolt heads, adjustable tranny mounts and nearly 3 ½? of clearance over the stock pan with their flat Tummy Tucker (TT). I have a 2? body lift, so I went with their flat TT to replace my stocker. They also offer a 1 ¼? drop version for people without any body lift that can net about 2 ¼? over a stock pan.
The first thing you?ll notice about the TT is that the installation instructions are a weighty document. My VCR manual isn?t this thick. I?ve talked with Nicole from Nth Degree, and pointed out that we?re knuckle draggers; less words more pictures. In my opinion, a different manual for each of the various common installs would benefit the do it yourselfer. There are simply too many ?ifs? in the instructions for them to be very user friendly.
On the other hand the install is relatively easy. On a YJ with a four banger it?s a total of 14 bolts and can be done in about 3 hours by your average person with an average set of tools and a jackstand. The actual install took about an hour, but I use a shop that has a lift.
I say the actual install took about an hour because some problems were encountered with my TT that seem to have stemmed from production maturity. In Nth Degrees defense, Nicole let me know that they?ve not sold a lot of the YJ flat TTs for a 4 banger, so I was sort of a guinea pig. I also have to say that their response to our problems was first class. No bitchin? or whinnin? just ?what can we do to make it right?? Hopefully our feedback helps them with product development.
1. Remove the shifter knobs, boot and floor access panel. Step 1 may not be required but definitely makes it easier if you have clearance issues with the top of the tranny and shifters
2. Remove the transmission adapter mount bolts.
3. Remove the tranny torque arm bolt.
4. Remove the rear driveshaft. Pulling the rear driveshaft isn?t required but makes the job MUCH easier
5. Remove the six belly pan bolts and belly pan.
Support the tranny with a jackstand; the belly pan is the only thing holding up your drivetrain!
6. Remove the transmission mount.
7. Remove your exhaust.
You?re going to need a new exhaust; don?t do this unless you?re prepared to take it to a shop or if you can do exhaust fab work
8. Bolt the new Nth Degree tranny mount to the tranny. The notch goes forward
9. For the YJ with the Flat TT the driver side adapter bushing must be ground about 1/16? to clear a gusset I found it easier to mount the adapter bushings to the TT and then install the mount bolts to the tranny adapter
10. Loosely install the tranny bushings to the TT.
11. Raise the TT into place and loosely install the 6 countersunk bolts.
12. Install the 2 tranny mount bolts through the top of the adapter into the tranny bushings.
13. Another angle
14. Tighten everything down.
15. Check clearances above the tranny and transfer case. You?ll need to go out and drive around; going through all of your gears and all position of the transfer case shifter to make sure nothing binds. My Jeep required no mods for clearance above the tranny & transfer case. This may not be true for all Jeeps
16. Some installation issues:
I received the wrong tranny mount for the 4 banger. The one that arrived (on the right) was for a 6 cylinder. No problem, they had it swapped the next day. When I received the new tranny mount I noticed a couple of issues. First and foremost was that it didn?t match any of the holes in the TT.
17. Second, it didn?t have an exhaust hanger bracket on it. Nicole sent me a map of where to drill and counter sink the holes in the TT so it would match the 4-banger tranny adapter.
18. She assures me that this is a fixed condition in their production process and customers won?t need to drill holes to make it work. As I mentioned in the install, one of the tranny mount bushings must have about 1/16? of its metal base removed to allow clearance for one of the gussets that run along the TT. This is simple to do and takes about five minutes with a grinder. It could even be done with a decent file if you don?t have access to cool power tools. Justin at the shop where I have all my exhaust stuff done fixed the exhaust hanger issue. His solution was to use one of the holes in the TT and fab a mount to support the catalytic converter.
19. It works great and may be the ultimate solution for anyone changing to a TT.
My ultimate opinion of the install? This product, at least a flat TT on a YJ, is just a little raw for the average "do it yourselfer" as I received it. While none of the mods where difficult, with what I went through, I wouldn?t say the TT is a ?bolt on? product, at this point. Nicole has taken our comments and future customers should have no problems opening the box and bolting the TT on.
On the trail:
I attempted to rate the TT in 2 ways, how much clearance I gained and how much abuse it could take. I took my Jeep down to Moab for a sound thrashing and came away impressed in terms of clearance. With my Jeep (4? suspension 2? body) I could not whack the bottom. I told Nicole that I was sorry I couldn?t show her any pictures of the thing getting hammered because I couldn?t find an obstacle with enough break over to hit it. I did touch it, and I do mean touch, once coming down White Knuckle Hill. Obstacles where Jeeps with stock belly pans were grinding rock and banging belly pans never got close to touching mine. Every time I thought I?d bang it, pictures and the wife assured me I was not even close. My abuse rating will have to wait, while I continue to attempt to thrash the thing. We have a rock garden on a local trail that?s notorious for high centering Jeeps. My intent is to run that and see what happens in terms of strength. I?m pretty well known for my ability to break stuff and I promised Nth Degree that I?d continue to try with the TT. Nicole, I?ll let you know when I actually make a mark on it. As of today I haven?t even scratched the paint.
Nth Degree is an emerging company making innovative products for the 4X4 community. Their head of Product Design & Development understands Jeeps; he worked there for 9 years as a suspension and chassis development engineer on projects like ZJ, WJ, KJ, and the TJ Rubicon. He also has experience in professional off-road vehicle durability testing and development. The rest of the crew at Nth Degree are off roaders who build and thrash their own rigs. Everything from junkyard heaps, to new vehicles. They have applied their knowledge and experience to create innovative products that really work, and develop each product comprehensively. This means they take into account all aspects of how their products work not just how well they work off road. As Nicole put it ?We plan for the daily driver, but enhance for the off-road enthusiast.?
Again I want to say thanks to Nicole and the folks at Nth degree for their help, and their great customer service. I look forward to thrashing the TT and possibly some of their newer stuff as it becomes available for the YJ.