Boogielander Build - Part 6 - Underbody Armor

RCI Full Skid and cat guard installed

RCI Metalworks Full Skid Plate Package

Skid plates have been a vital part of chassis protection on offroad vehicles. These metal panels are designed to take a beating while wheeling, protect expensive mechanical parts, and help the vehicle avoid getting caught on obstacles. In today's world, skid plates are not only functional off pavement, but are also quite important to protect your drivetrain on pavement as well, especially when your commute involve going through roads littered with debris. 

Who is RCI?

RCI Metalworks is a fabrication shop/ company in Loveland, CO. They specialize in fabricating skid plates, bumpers, bed racks and roof racks, and other vehicular mounted accessories used on offroad and overlanding rigs. They are pretty well-known for their products on Toyota/ Lexus platform, but have expanded into other niche platforms from Ford, Jeep, GM, Ram, and Nissan in recent years. Unlike the screen you are viewing my thread, all of their products are made in the USA by craftsmen who are passionate in what they do and offroading/ overlanding. 

Why RCI?

If you look into Toyota/ Lexus platform, there are plenty of options available for full skid package from trusted brands such as RCI, CBI, C4 Fabrication, Rago Fabrication, etc. I've ran RCI skid plate on my personal 4Runner (my previous rig) for years and also installed their skid plates on countless customer vehicles, and we all have nothing but good experiences with them. As such, when RCI started to manufacture full skid plate kits for Ram 1500 DTs I jumped on it.

Skid plates were on the very top of my priority list when I was planning the build in June 2022 when I ordered the truck and started to order all the parts. Unfortunately, Ram 1500 DT is not a very popular platform for wheeling and overlanding (it is more of a work truck/ towing truck that don't see a lot of trails), so my option was very very limited when it comes to finding full skid package. There are a few vendors actively involved on the 5th gen Ram DT scene trying to make them, but due to various trim levels and aftermarket lifts people install, their development time took too long. Don't get me wrong, I am willing to give my money to vendors that are dedicated to our platform and even help with the R&D process; however, due to physical distance and different goals for vendors I couldn't make it work. 

That, plus the fact that RCI products are sturdy, well-made, and affordable, made me decide to utilize RCI again for my skid plate needs.

All skid plates and cat guard unboxed with stock skid plate on the side


RCI offers a few products for Ram 1500 platform from bed racks and rack mounts to skid plates. Their bed racks are universal mount, just like many other manufacturers. 

RCI offers 3 skid plates for Ram 1500 platform: engine, transmission, and transfer case. Two materials are available for each: 10ga powdercoated steel and 1/4" aluminum. Transmission skid can also be paired with their catalytic converter shield. They also offer a full skid option for those who want to do it all at once at a discount, but if you are only looking for one or two pieces at a time you can buy accordingly as well. 

For 4"+ lift kit application, please contact RCI for fitment. This is a non-issue for me and I did not investigate because frankly, 4"+ lift are more form over function, and I am more focused on function over form.

You can find them here:

  • Engine skid: 
    • Link
    • Available in 10ga powdercoated steel and 1/4" aluminum
    • All hardware included
    • All 4x4 trim levels, excluding TRX
    • All engines, including Eco-Diesel
    • Not compatible with 4" + lift kits
    • $345-450
  • Transmission skid:
    • Link
    • Available in 10ga powdercoated steel and 1/4" aluminum 
    • All hardware included
    • All 4x4 trim levels, excluding TRX
    • All engines, including Eco-Diesel
    • Compatible with OEM engine skid plate.
    • $300-410
  • Cat shield/ guard:
    • Link
    • 12ga powdercoated steel only
    • All hardware included
    • All 4x4 trim levels, excluding TRX
    • All GAS engines, Eco-Diesel please contact RCI for purchasing instruction
    • Require RCI transmission skid plate
    • $175
  • Transfer Case :
    • Link
    • Available in 10ga powdercoated steel and 1/4" aluminum 
    • All hardware included
    • All 4x4 trim levels, excluding TRX
    • All engines, including Eco-Diesel
    • Eco-Diesel require RCI transmission skid
    • $195-295
  • Full Skid Package:
    • Link
    • Available in 10ga powdercoated steel and 1/4" aluminum 
    • All hardware included
    • All 4x4 trim levels, excluding TRX
    • All engines, including Eco-Diesel
    • $798-1097.25 (save 5%)

For my application, I chose the Full Skid Package in 10ga powdercoated steel and the cat shield. What can I say, I learned to do things at once than do what I think I need and then realize I need more so I have to do it again. That is called being experienced and learning from your past mistakes. 

Also, the tips and tricks offered below is applicable to trucks equipped with 5.7 Hemi with or without e-torque with stock exhaust. Though, I don't see how having aftermarket exhaust will implicate the installation process. 

Disclosure: I also bought mine during their Labor Day Sale for 20% (I think, could be 25%) off. I am not sponsored by or affiliated with RCI at the time of writing.

Engine Skid and Filler Plate installed

Engine Skid Install and Thoughts

The engine skid consists of 3 parts: the skid plate, the filler plate, and the filler plate wings. All 3 came in one single box, the main skid (that covers the engine, front diff, and oil pan) and the filler plate are individually wrapped in heavy duty plastic shipping bags with the edges wrapped in shipping Styrofoam and plastic wrap. The filler plate wings are wrapped in shipping Styrofoam and plastic wrap and placed inside a smaller box with mounting hardware. This meticulous packaging shows the company's attention to detail and the great length they go to protect their products during shipping process.

*A thought regarding filler plate: Filler plate section is what vendors dedicated to Ram 1500 DT are struggling with due to active air dam and bumper design. RCI's solution to the problem is simple: removal of active air dam, and then use the holes on the frame horns as attachment points to secure the filler plate so it doesn't need to be bolted to the bumper. Problem solved. 

Installation instruction is available on RCI website, or can be found here. Therefore, I will not be writing/ documenting a full install guide here. Instead, I will be sharing a few tips and tricks to help with installation.

  • If you have gone offroad before, I strongly recommend wearing a face shield when working under the truck unless you like having sand and other fine particles falling in your eyes or nose. 
  • Stock bolt sizes and the 5 bolts you see in the above picture are 15mm, the nuts holding the wings are 1/2" nuts.
  • Be sure to lay out all the hardware included in your shipment and identify each before you start. I also find grouping and preassembling all the nuts, washers, and bolts very helpful when putting things together so you will not have to spend time looking for each individual hardware when assembling. 
  • It's best to install this on a lift with a way of lifting up the skids, whether using a tranny jack (if you don't have friends who would come help you afterhours) or another pair of hands is up to you, but having the truck up in the air gives more space and lighting to work with. I found it a lot easier to just have the truck in the air and use tranny jack to raise and hold the skids since I can move things around easily. 
  • Keep everything finger tight ("loose" is the word instruction used) until everything is good. 
  • Instruction guide's wording can be confusing, or maybe because I can't read properly. But here's the basic idea: assemble the filler plate and filler plate wings, slide the filler plate into position while making sure the wings go where they should. Put the 3 bolts on the first cross member and the 4 bolts, nuts, and washer in for the filler wing, finger tight everything and adjust position if needed. slide the main skid plate in, leave finger tight and adjust if necessary. Move on to the tranny skid if you have it; if not, tight everything. Done.  

Overall, installation process is simple and straight forward. The skid plates are very well wrapped and protected during shipping process, and there was no scratches or anything on the powdercoat when unboxed. The carriage bolts can be a bit tricky to align, but there is enough space for you to get your hands in to work it out. 

Transmission Skid and Cat Guard assembled on the ground

Transmission Skid + Cat Guard Install and Thoughts

Transmission skid and Cat Guard are even more simple. Everything is bolted right into place; there's no guessing or figuring things out here. Similar to the Engine Skid, everything is well packaged and clean when unboxed. Since tranny skid and cat guard are two different items sold separately, they came in two boxed. Tranny skid can be installed by itself and works with OE engine skid, while Cat Guard needs to be installed on the tranny skid off the truck first. 

Tranny skid installation instruction can be found on RCI website, or here. Cat guard installation instruction can be found on RCI website , or here. Therefore, I am only offering a few tips and tricks here:

  • Install Cat Guard onto the tranny skid first on the ground, carriage bolt side faces out and the nuts go inside. They are 1/2" nuts. 
  • Install and tight the first and last nuts, washers, and carriage bolts on each side first. This helps with alignment.
  • There are indents on the cat shield. They should align with the indents on the tranny skid. They are exhaust tube pass throughs. 
  • Another way to make sure your orientations are correct is to look at the wings of cat guard. Wings go to the opposite side of the 3 holes. 
  • If you have gone offroad before, I strongly recommend wearing a face shield when working under the truck unless you like having sand and other fine particles falling in your eyes or nose. 
  • Slide your skid into gap between your engine skid and your frame/ second crossmember. 

  • Using tranny jack or another pair of hands will help with install, though not required. 

Thoughts on tranny skid and cat guard:

  • Tranny skid is simple install. Not really anything to write home about. 
  • Cat shield is made with 12ga steel that is thick and sturdy. 
  • Unlike conventional cat shield that is a flat design, these also covers the side to make it even more difficult to access. 
  • This is a better alternative to conventional cat shield because this is integrated into tranny skid. Conventional one piece cat shield designs are not really meant to be used as skid plate. 

Similar to the engine skid, installation is simple and straight forward, and packaging is very nicely done. Unlike the engine skid, there is no carriage bolts to mess around with. The fact that this works with OE skid is a plus for those on a budget as well.

More pictures of cat shield:

Vented and winged design for the cat to help with heat dissipation and prevent reaching from the side. The bolt in the middle is the mounting bolt for White Knuckle sliders. 

T-case skid installed

Transfer Case Install and Thoughts

Transfer case install is a bit complicated. You will need to install the RCI additional crossmember first and then install the skid plate. For this part, I recommend fully reading the instruction front to back to get an idea of what goes where versus read as you go along the steps. Also helpful is to lay all the hardware out and group and preassemble them to help you get a more thorough view of the parts. One thing to keep in mind: there will be leftover hardware. RCI has included enough hardware to install this on both gas and diesel engine trucks, therefore it is very important to preassemble and find the hardware you need first.

Installation guide can be found on RCI website and here. Therefore, I am only offering some tips and tricks:

  • A second pair of hands or tranny jack will be extremely helpful for this installation. 
  • Exercise extreme care to NOT pinch the hard lines running around the frame on the driver side.
  • The carriage bolt nuts are again, 1/2" sized nuts. A socket with ratchet will be your best friend here.
  • Carriage bolt that mates the add-on crossmember and t-case skid plate will go from bottom up, meaning the nuts will be on the inside of add-on crossmember. This is done so to avoid the nut getting caught on obstacle. 
  • Instruction wording is a bit complicated regarding the add-on crossmember. Basically lift up the cross member, feed the long carriage bolt through the holes on the frame, put on nut+ washer+ split washer with the nut side facing out, attach the carriage bolt plate, and leave everything loose until the skid plate is installed and the 3 smaller carriage bolts are tightened. 
  • Once happy with alignment, you can start tightening every nut and bolt now. Work your way forward. 

Similar to the tranny skid and engine skid, everything is well packaged and nicely crafted. Unlike the other two, this is the one where you will need to finesse the part into position (the crossmember). Overall, installation shouldn't take long at all if done with the truck lifted. 

Everything laid out, before installation. 


If you are looking for a one-size-fit-all, direct bolt on, and best bang for the buck skid plate option, look no further than the offerings by RCI Metalworks. 

Through my prior experiences, RCI skid plates have protected my rig from costly towing and repair bills numerous times. Installation of their products are always easy, despite the instructions' wordings can be technical and a bit complicated to understand. The integration of transmission skid and cat guard is a genius design, since it takes out the additional work on my end to find compatible cat shield that works with tranny skid. Furthermore, the company is smart to utilize frame horns as the mounting points for the filler piece. 

I keep on saying this is the most affordable and best bang for the buck option while spending nearly $1000 out the door, because it is. Currently, it is the only company that I know of that offers all 3 skid plates. It is the only company that created a filler skid piece that goes between the first crossmember and the bumper. This is also the only company that utilize a stacked design for skid plates, a design that eliminates any gap that allow the truck to get caught on obstacles, that I know of. 

If you like to go off pavement and looking for proven underside armor, RCI full skid package will be the best investment you will make. 


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