All's well that ends well, I guess. I've been swamped with other projects this year and it has taken me until now to get the bumper repaired and re-installed on the Jeep. I wound up buying the "Mega Spindle" kit from A to Z for the repair, and was pleased to discover that it uses the same bearings as my previous spindle, thus I did not have to cut the machined tube out of the carrier and replace that, as well.
The Mega Spindle is made from chrome moly, and is 1/4" bigger in diameter than the old one where it actually broke, and it is supposed to be 80% stronger. So we'll see. While I was at it, I also added another diagonal tube to the carrier, beefed up the hold open device, improved the support for the latch end, and added some gussets to the bumper where it mounts to the frame. It probably didn't need that last, but I had wished I had done it the first time around, so it seemed like a good idea while it was off.
Getting the old spindle out turned out to be much less of a challenge than I had feared. Since the new one was 1.5" in diameter, and the old one was only 1.25", I simply used a 1.5" hole saw with no pilot drill, and cored the apple.
Then I cut the end cap off, and used the gas torch to remove what was left of the spindle. Once the new one was welded in place, I welded back the end cap that I had removed, and smoothed the corners once again. Kind of anti-climactic, really. I managed to not get the new spindle in quite as straight as the old one, so the tire carrier is slighly misaligned with the bumper, but it's not something you are likely to notice unless it is pointed out. Since I had planned on rebuilding the closure support at the other end entirely, I can live with that.
Here you can see the additional diagonal brace I added. The lower tube was bent, so I had to straighten it. I just cut it most of the way through, and then welded up my cut while the tube was clamped straight. After smoothing the welds, I added a piece of 2"x3/16" strap over where the bend had been.
Here is the bumper portion of my improved latch end support.
And the carrier half of that. Originally I just had a rounded bolt head under where the latch mounted, which rested on top of the bumper surface. This is much more positive.
The improved hold-open. I cut off the smaller piece of tubing that was there, and then center drilled the shank of a 3/4" diameter grade 8 bolt, reamed to 3/8" ID, and welded it in place. The pin itself is made from a 3/8" grade 8 bolt, which should be a lot stronger than the 5/16" Grade POS bolt that was what I happened to have before. One nice unexpected feature of having used a coupling nut to join to the eyelet instead of welding, is that it is close enough to the carrier structure, that it prevents it from rotating like the old one sometimes would.
Another view of the hold-open. I had to buy shiny new latches for the fuel carriers, because I mangled the old ones getting them off.
All in all, I am really glad to have this done, as I am planning a trip with the Jeep in early October and lifting the fuel cans up to the roof rack is a real drag. Plus my Jeep doesn't sit with its *** end up high anymore. I have the heaviest TJ/LJ springs that OME makes to compensate for the weight of the bumper assembly, and without that weight it's a little stiff.
I'm not around here much anymore, but I thought I would post this as a follow up. Hopefully I won't need to do it again in a few years. I might make a point of removing the tire carrier every couple years, and checking for cracks with a dye penetrant kit or something. The break of the old spindle looked like it had been in progress for a while.