Hey folks, we've been a vendor here for a little bit now, and sold a few our MiniMax front recovery mounts to a number of Jeepforum members. Rather than clutter up any review threads with posts answering questions in the technical areas, I believe this is the right forum and format to respond (mods, if it's inappropriate, please feel free to move it where it needs to be).
I'd like to take the opportunity to make a direct, photographic comparison to some competitors' products, and answer a few questions that seem to come up often. While one
competitor (Warn) might be a vendor here, I've praised their offering as not only inspiration, but a solution to a problem that is an inexpensive alternative to ours... unfortunately what they offer does not meet everyone's needs, so that's where our product comes in.
The Fawkes MiniMax is rated at 7 tons with a safety factor of 3, and has both a "street" price and an MSRP of $332. You can get all the rest of the specs here
Installed photos and reviews:
DubJay's MiniMax (old production) here
4Doors' MiniMax (new production) here
Fosterjd79's MiniMax here
Edit: The above photo doesn't adequately show the bent plate that the tube is attached to. See the link below for better photos.
Warn part number 61768:
Photo taken from Warn's instruction booklet
As you can see, the cross-tube on the Warn receiver is not quite as stout
as the MiniMax - nor is it meant to be. Warn rates the 61768 for a 3-ton winch (their M6000 series specifically). You can find photographs of the Warn unit installed on member's rides without too much searching (here, for instance
). The Warn has an MSRP of $285, and a "street" price of about $220.
Curt Manufacturing part number 31048:
Drawing taken from Curt's instruction booklet
Installation photo from Curt's instruction booklet
Despite a Google search that may turn up other part numbers, the Curt Manufacturing 31048 receiver is the product that will actually fit on Jeep WJs. Curt rates this mount for 4.5 tons and it is designed to attach around the front sway bar (incompatible with the factory front skid). It protrudes under the radiator support and front fascia.
The construction of Curt's components is more closely related to our MiniMax (compared to the Warn), however it mounts in a completely different manner. The Curt 31048 has an MSRP of $285, with a "street" price of anywhere between $165 and $220.
Q: Why does the MiniMax cost as much as it does?
To address some frequently asked questions & concerns:
Expense is relative to the cost of materials. As you can see from the photos above, we put quite a bit of steel into each unit. Here's a handy chart
for those folks looking at the different options. When all the aspects of cost vs. capability are compared, we think we're pretty close to being on-target price wise. The MiniMax is about a third of the cost of a full-on bumper, but pretty much incorporates all of the strength and recovery options of the same.
This quality and capability that we build into each unit costs money. The MiniMax has a working load limit of 7 tons, with the mounting hardware alone being roughly 20% of the retail cost. An awful lot of expense in making these also goes directly into the raw steel and the labor involved of welding everything together, along with the powdercoating.
We are also absolutely and positively committed to keeping the MiniMax 100% American-made, right down to the packaging. At the current price point, the only item not wholly sourced from the US are the push-pin fasteners we include in the kit to replace the rivets that are removed from the inner wheel well liner during installation (these are made in China). We are not aware of any US alternative, but if you know of one, we'd gladly switch.
Q: How was the MiniMax WLL determined?
14,000 pounds is the WLL rating that our mechanical engineer came up with. It is the shear/breaking point of the weakest components we employ (hardware) divided by three. What that means is we're guaranteeing that our product - and our product only - will function comfortably at 7 tons. We listed the winch capability at 12.5k because that’s the largest winch we’ve found that doesn’t exceed the WLL.
There is no way we can accurately test the failure point of the attachment method (the WJ uniframe sandwiched between 1/4" plates with three 1/2" Grade 8 bolts in two separate places) without an expensive (~$3000 last I checked) strain gauge and a destructive
test. While the strain gauge is on our want list for future shop equipment and testing, destroying a WJ just isn't in the foreseeable budget.
We have listed in our warranty and literature that a customer will pull the plates through the uniframe before the MiniMax components break. An ME with two decades of experience in load handling equipment has determined that to be the case, and both the software dynamic strain modeling as well as our field testing (don't-try-this-at-home stuff) bears that out.
Q: Can I get one for a Jeep XX?
making the MiniMax a modular system for those folks who just want the bull bar mounts instead of the whole shebang, and this will to allow us to adapt the system to other Jeep models (ZJ and WK Grand Cherokee models for certain and hopefully KJ, XJ and possibly even the JK). Right now* we have brackets to fit the WJ.
Q: What's involved in installing the MiniMax? Is there any cutting/drilling required?
The MiniMax attaches similarly to (but not in all the same places as) the factory tow hooks. There are a six stamped holes in the WJ's uniframe that need to be opened up a bit for the 1/2" Grade 8 bolts we use for mounting (the factory hooks and aftermarket hitches like Warn and Curt use 7/16" or 10mm bolts). You can view the installation instructions which detail the how the current unit mounts up here
The slats do have to be removed from the bumper fascia on 99-03 models (the 04's are completely open in that area) because of the size tubing we use. Again, the instruction sheet should be helpful in seeing what's involved.
Q: Does the MiniMax restrict airflow to the lower radiator?
Yes, but: We do leave a small clearance space behind the MiniMax for airflow, but even if we didn't, it would block approximately 10% (2.5" vertical) compared to the stock configuration.
We've put somewhere between 15-20k on our testbed WJ (stock 2000 4.0L, mechanical & electrical fans) running a MiniMax with no observed detrimental effects as far as temperature to either the engine or transmission. We've run tests with a MAC tools scanner recording live through the OBD port to observe actual temps recorded by the ECM while in bumper to bumper traffic, and noticed no change over pre-installation temps.
Q: Do you make the bull bar / brush guard / push bar shown in some of the photos of your product?
No. At the moment*, we do not make a bull bar or brush guard. We do, however make a product that the Texas Hunter bull bar can be mounted to (with the appropriate mounting tabs that we sell).
Q: Do you make a winch cradle/what winch & cradle will fit/ what winch & cradle will fit with a bull bar installed?
No. At the moment*, we do not make (or plan to make) a winch cradle. Unfortunately we don’t have the ability to test every specific and available combination of winch and cradle out there, but any winch in the 12.5k lb. category or smaller, on a winch cradle that mounts the back of the winch with at least 7.25” clearance to the center of the hitch pin will work.
Based on our testing, the Curt 31010 winch cradle is compatible with the MiniMax, and should
be able to mount any winch with a 10x4.5” base pattern with the clearance caveat above.
We hope that the illustrations and answers above are clear enough for our potential customers here at Jeepforum to make an informed choice when it comes to their options for a front receiver hitch for their WJ. We can safely state that our mount is the strongest currently on the market (without going to full bumper build), and the reasons why should be obvious when making a direct comparison. We highly encourage the same potential customers to choose a different product if it better meets their needs.
Thanks for taking the time to read all of this, and PLEASE feel free to IM me questions about the MiniMax directly. I'll answer in as timely a fashion as I can and update the FAQ and photos above as new options become available.
*Good things (VERY good things) come to those that wait.