Well I had the day off from work today, so I slaved at my tire carrier in hopes of finishing and being able to paint it tomorrow (weather is supposed to be upwards of 75 degrees this weekend). I started working around 9 AM and finished around 7 PM. You'll notice the final photos are in the pitch black with the camera flash being the only source of light. Needless to say it was entirely worth it, as it's now COMPLETELY done! Just need to do a few more layers of paint and let it dry, then mount 'er up.
I started the morning with the spindle. I was nervous about not mounting it perfectly level, so I had 3 different air-bubble levels on it at once so that I could make sure it was straight from all angles. Once that was all set, I tack welded the bottom spindle plate to the bumper and re-checked all my levels (a little OCD, and I admit it). Then I fully burned the plate in. Lots of surface area covered by these welds, so I have a lot of faith that this thing isn't going anywhere. Post-welding the spindle plate, I mounted up the swing arm as a mock-up to see how it looked. Surprisingly, it was level and worked beautifully. I used 2 chlorine bottle covers from the hot tub to keep the height of the arm up, and drew out the cut in the A-frame arm that would be needed to meet the spindle end. 5 minutes with the angle grinder and everything was matched up. Same gig from there, tack weld then final burn in. I did add a gusset to the arm for some extra support as many people on here had suggested doing.
After that was mounting the latch clasp, welding that plate in, and then finishing the tire mount. I had some problems with the tire mount as the largest drill bit I've got at the house is a 1/2"..... the end of the lug studs are just under 5/8". SOOO... much to my annoyance, I took my small hand file and filed away at the 3/16" steel until everything fit. Then took a hammer and bashed the crap out of the lugs to seat them all the way, then welded them in. From there, welded the plate to the A-frame, and added a gusset as everyone in the Fab forum suggested.
Then it was time to paint! I hung it off a rope in the back yard and shot it with Rustoleum Hammered. First coat went well, then I realized I forgot to weld the latch on... oops. So I took it down after dinner and welded the latch, as well as re-welded the back of the bumper on so that I can mount it back on the Jeep.
Tomorrow it'll all get hit with a few more coats of the Rustoleum, then I'll bolt 'er up and work on some frame tie-ins to get the weight off of the crossmember. All in all, I'm pretty happy with this silly thing. Tons of pics... enjoy!!!