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Unread 11-03-2009, 09:14 AM   #1
dcorn
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Homemade winch bumper mod

Back when I started modding my XJ, I never thought I would get into anything extreme, so I figured a 3" lift with some 32" mud tires and a decent bumper for recovery would be fine. Now I've got a 4.5" lift and tons of other crap that I'm slowly trying to upgrade. I've been winched out a few times from getting stuck in between rocks on rather difficult trails that I shouldn't be able to get into with 32's and a single locker. I decided it was time to stop relying on my friends to pull me out and get a winch. The only problem was my Rigidco bumper, which wasn't made for a winch. It was expensive enough and I didn't want to try and sell it, only to buy a winch bumper that stuck out really far and looked ugly. My only option now was to follow EricsXJ and a few other guys and modify my non-winch bumper to fit a winch.

I showed up at my friend's house with a harbor freight winch plate (- Harbor Freight Tools - Quality Tools at the Lowest Prices) and my winch. He had a plasma cutter, angle grinder, and welder. We got right to work.

First we put the winch on the winch plate and cut the excess off each side of the plate. Then I took the front clip off the XJ so we could lay the plate on the bumper and see how everything would fit. The Rigidco bumper has internal supports, as well as a receiver hitch in the middle of it. We decided cutting down to the top of the hitch would be perfect so we could weld the plate underneath to both the hitch tube and the internal supports. The winch would sit down below the top face of the bumper by about an inch.

The best part was we never even had to take the bumper off the Jeep to work on it. The plasma cutter hacked through my bumper and the winch plate with ease and was fairly precise. We cut out the big section of bumper and put the winch plate in it to figure out what needed to be grinded on to even it all out. Before welding in the plate, I wanted to make it look a bit better, so I diagonal cut from the fairlead mounting surface to where the plate would meet the front of the bumper. Made the appearance a lot more appealing and fit more with the style of the bumper already.

So we welded in the plate and made small side pieces to close up the gaps between the winch plate and top of the bumper. We're confident there is plenty of weld surface to hold everything in place, plus he has a 220V welder, so welding the 3/16" plate to 1/4" plate should be easy. He was getting heat coloration on the opposite side of 1/4" plate.

Yesterday I was able to prime and paint all the bare metal and mount the winch. The solenoid is mounted with the Warn bracket right on top of the drum, which is kind of temporary for now because I'd like to mount it somewhere under the hood instead. I left the grille piece off for now because I didn't have anything to cut it with, plus I'd have to cut it more for the solenoid pack to fit. Of course, the one hitch was that the bolts for the fairlead were too big to fit through the holes in the winch plate, so I'll have to get new ones or drill out the holes sometime.

I think all complete, it looks awesome. The BG11 brush bar on the front of the bumper will protect the winch from whatever I might run into. There is about 1/8" between the bar and the corner of the winch where the motor is, so the fit couldn't have been better. The only thing I probably won't like is the huge fairlead sticking out past the front bar. I might end up getting a steel hawse fairlead to curtail this problem. Eventually I'd like to go with synthetic rope, so maybe I can wait.


Hope these attached pics work...

winch-before.jpg   winch-hole.jpg   winch-plate-raw.jpg  
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Unread 11-03-2009, 09:15 AM   #2
dcorn
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Pics of the finished product
winch-done-front.jpg   winch-side2.jpg   winch-side.jpg  
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Unread 11-03-2009, 09:19 AM   #3
justanotherjpr
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Really nice work! You can probably cut your bar off and re-weld it with a better angle or just bend a new one.

Edit: Looking at the finished pics, do you think it will impede your air flow at all on the highway?
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Unread 11-03-2009, 09:26 AM   #4
dcorn
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Thanks man. I think I like how the bar covers the winch like it is. Doesn't get in the way of any functions of the winch either. I guess the only thing I would ever think about doing is angleing it a bit more down and to the front because I think the fairlead is going to be sticking out farther than the bar, which would look weird and defeat the purpose.

As far as airflow goes, that's the reason why I strayed away from the integrated solenoid winches. I think this ones gives me plenty of free flow space because the winch itself is blocking very little of the radiator. Hopefully I can find someone to make me some longer cables soon and move the solenoid and I won't have to worry at all about airflow. I think the lights I had on the bumper before blocked more air than this winch will.
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Unread 11-03-2009, 09:32 AM   #5
justanotherjpr
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcorn View Post
Thanks man. I think I like how the bar covers the winch like it is. Doesn't get in the way of any functions of the winch either. I guess the only thing I would ever think about doing is angleing it a bit more down and to the front because I think the fairlead is going to be sticking out farther than the bar, which would look weird and defeat the purpose.

As far as airflow goes, that's the reason why I strayed away from the integrated solenoid winches. I think this ones gives me plenty of free flow space because the winch itself is blocking very little of the radiator. Hopefully I can find someone to make me some longer cables soon and move the solenoid and I won't have to worry at all about airflow. I think the lights I had on the bumper before blocked more air than this winch will.
It looks like when you get the solenoid out of there, you'll have more than enough air flow. Have you looked into making the in-cab winch controls?
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Unread 11-03-2009, 09:37 AM   #6
XJH-007
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Airflow won't be a problem. Mine sits the same way and probably has more airflow infringement.



Now....for one more thing for you to upgrade.

SYNTHETIC WINCH LINE! You use the Hawse Fairlead so it doesn't stick way out...AND you shed almost 18 LBS! (bringing the front end back up a little)



Good Mod. I'm not sure what the diff. is in the winch vs nonwinch Rigidco bumper, but it appears to have a center support...so that's good.

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Unread 11-03-2009, 09:40 AM   #7
dcorn
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I've thought about it, but doesn't really matter to me yet. Just gonna try and take it one step at a time haha. I'm not much of a fan of wiring, so I try to do as little as possible.

XJH - I looked at the Rigidco setup for their winch bumper and it looks like the winch doesn't even actually attach to the bumper. The bulkhead between the stock bumper mounts is plated, then two brackets bolt to that to hold the winch. The bumper itself is just held by the plated bumper mounts on each framerail. I figured my bumper would be plenty strong enough since we kept the receiver mount in the middle, which itself is bolted by 4 bolts with a backing plate to the bulkhead.
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Unread 11-03-2009, 09:55 AM   #8
XJH-007
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ohhhhh ok, that's what that is. Sweet...perfect.

Look slike your winch sits inside the grill?? Are you able to reuse your stock grill?
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Unread 11-03-2009, 09:56 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XJH-007 View Post
ohhhhh ok, that's what that is. Sweet...perfect.

Look slike your winch sits inside the grill?? Are you able to reuse your stock grill?
I'm guessing he'll trim the grill like Eric's XJ.
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Unread 11-03-2009, 10:10 AM   #10
dcorn
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That's the plan so far. I might grab another grille from the junkyard or something to trim for now.
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Unread 11-03-2009, 10:12 AM   #11
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Right on. I'm one of those Don't Cut if you Don't have to people....

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Unread 11-03-2009, 10:53 AM   #12
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Nice work,looks pretty darn cool.
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Unread 11-03-2009, 12:47 PM   #13
dcorn
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Thanks guys. I was a bit worried about cutting into a great looking (and pricey) bumper, but the aftermath looks just as good as I had hoped. It's not quite as clean as EricsXJ's bumper mod, but he had one of those tiny little rock crawling winches to work with. mainly because of price, it was between the M8000 and the Superwinch LP8500, but the Warn had much better specs and was actually smaller and lighter. I didn't feel like cheaping out with a Smittybuilt, plus I got a lifetime warranty from 4wd.com on everything, so I never have to buy another winch again
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Unread 11-06-2009, 11:17 AM   #14
srmitchell
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Looks awesome!!!

Exactly what I want to do man. How hard would this be with just an angle grinder? (No plasma.)
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Unread 11-06-2009, 11:30 AM   #15
dcorn
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I wouldn't be too hard, just a little more time consuming. If you have a fairly thin cutting wheel on the grinder, it goes through the 3/16" pretty fast. You'd probably benefit from actually taking the bumper off as well. It was tough to get into all the cracks and crevices to sand off the coating before welding, so I'd imagine it'd be pretty tough to cut certain parts as well. We did the whole bumper modification in about 4-5 hours, so I'd say it would take you at least a few more hours without a plamsa. Just be careful, I burned my finger through my gloves and my friend caught his shirt on fire, both from grinder sparks. Use the little shield that it comes with cuz he didn't have his on.

This pretty much turned out exactly how I wanted it. I have the fairlead on now and it sticks out a lot, but at least I have a winch. I'll have to grind down the hole in the winch plate that the cable goes through because the cable will contact it if I'm winching at a low angle. Synthetic and a hawse fairlead will hopefully come for christmas.
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