Smittybilt 76896 XRC Atlas Rear Bumper Install and Review
Just had the Atlas rear bumper delivered today so I will be detailing my install and a follow-up review.
Smittybilt 76896 XRC Atlas Rear Bumper (with Tire Swing)
Well packed on a pallet no visible damage during shipping. Actually packed better than my front Warn Elite bumper.
A couple more pics of unpacking. No damage to any components and the finish looks great!
Looking forward to seeing your instal finished. Keep it up
Here is the parts kit that comes with the Swing Arm. Parts are matched to the instructions by labels on each bag. Parts grouped together logically so I had no issues with identifying what goes where.
Before picture of the JKU with the Bestop HighRock bumper. I have been running this bumper for about a year and it has giving me no issues. I think I will miss having the swing arm connected to the tailgate but wanted to attach more gear to the swing arm.
Frame support/mounting brackets for the Atlas. Very stout.
The frame brackets just slide into the open frame rails. This setup seems very sturdy.
The instructions were not clear on orientation so I went with the logical (to me anyway) setup of the L.
Looked like it was going to be a piece of cake lining up the holes in the brackets with the bumper...
First snag... I used a floor jack with a 2x6 under the middle of the bumper to lift it into position. I got the passenger side bolts started then moved to the driver's side. Clang, clang. The hitch bracket was hitting the frame crossmember and was just shy of letting me get the driver's side frame bolts started (of course). I am not sure if this is an issue of fitment on the bumper or whether or not my crossmemeber is a little tweaked. I know there are frame variations from the factory so I tried not to get too flustered.
I went ahead and got the 4 hitch bolts started then repositioned the floor jack under the driver's side of the bumper to lift that side just a little. After an hour of playing with starting the bolts and a lot of pushing on the bumper I was able to get the frame bolts started with no stripping or racked knuckles. Once the bolts were started loosely tightening them went easily so there was no sense I was grinding against the frame.
Pic of the 4 hitch bolts and the little access ports in the bumper. I had no issues with hitch hole fitment.
Looks good! I'd be interested to know in the end, your impression on the install of the Bestop vs Smittybilt.
I am watching this too, I'm looking to replace my xrc. Not a huge fan of Smittybilt, but this bumper looks to be the solution for carrying additional equipment + jerry cans.
The Saga Continues...
Bumper mounted up.
On the question of the difference between the Bestop and Smittybilt installs... The Bestop was very simple and straitforward to install. everything fit up perfectly and looked like a factory part. The finish wasn't as nice as the Atlas however there are massive differences in the swing arm designs. You get real comfortable with having the arm attached to the tailgate.
I may have gotten spoiled by the fit of the Bestop HighRock bumper. It matched the rear fenders perfectly and butted up against the rear fender liner on both sides.
Atlas still looks good but would have liked it to meet up with liner.
Pic of the swing arm mount... Which will introduce Snag #2
When I am done I will summarize the issues and what went well so there is a short list.
Snag #2: Swing Arm Install...
Setting the swing arm in the pocket on the bumper you are suppose to place a single stainless steel washer under the arm. If there is a space there is another SS washer to add. However; when I slid in the swing arm there was NO space. I tried for about half an hour to squeeze, pry, and swear a single SS washer into place but it was a no-go.
Engineering Change Request #1: sand off powdercoat on swing arm mounting locations on the bumper before shipping.
I should have stopped and done this but I didn't. So no SS washer in there. This is going to be a problem for wear but I am not sure I can get the bolt sleeve (see inventory pic) back out. Uggg! . This was Mistake #1. I will try to call Smittybilt and see if there is any way of removing the swing arm sleeve once installed. It may come out easier than when it went in after some wear (fingers crossed).
Installed swing arm sleeve. Another item that I should have grinded off the powder coat on the bumper at the top where the sleeve slides in. I had to rap on the sleeve with a rubber mallet to get it to seat down into the swing arm and its bracket.
Observation: Instructions have you grease everything that deals with the swing arm joint but there is no zerk fitting to allow periodic lube.
Engineering Change Request #2: add zerk fitting and modify assembly to route pumped in grease.
I have not dealt with this type of swing arm pivot before. Prior projects including the Bestop bumper all used the old spindle and bearings so I am not sure if I just don't get it or if this setup will be a problem.
Snag #3: The latch stud on the bumper for the swing arm catch isn't far enough out to catch the swing arm properly. I had to add a few washers to get the catch to work properly. (I will post a pic of this later).
Already seeing that Smittybilt is living up to the more common name of "S*#&^tybilt".
They have a great concept, but just fail to follow through on the little, but very important details. :thumbdown:
Snag #3 Pics
Snag #3: Pics of the swing arm in the bumper pocket (not centered). No rubbing on the inner side but its close.
Pic of the washers I had to add to the catch otherwise the jaws of the swing arm latch hit the bolt head of the catch. Yes, I now, ghetto but I promise I will find a more professional washer/spacer before I am done.
These pics are jumping forward a little since I have already aligned and tightened down the swing arm mount but it was the same before and after final adjustments. I will continue to post the install in sequence.
Quick Tally of Issues so far and my take on them:
1. Hard to start driver's side bumper frame bolts (clanging against crossmember and hitch of bumper). - This may not be a "Smittybilt issue" with all the variation in JK frame specs.
2. Swing Arm stainless steel washer wouldn't fit. Powder coat needs to be sanded away for washer to fit. There is an argument for this being a normal part of installing a powder coated thing since the coating is thick. I should have known better than to just go without the washer and done it right the first time. I think that I can use a slide hammer to remove the swing arm sleeve and add the washer. Going to wait a little while and let things wear slightly.
3. Latch bolt on bumper hits latch on swing arm requiring added washers to move the latch bolt out. The swing arm, other than missing the SS washer, the swing arm is installed properly (keeping open the possibility that the SS washer missing may have an impact on this) with the swing arm sleeve tightly aligned with the upper and lower mount holes on the bumper. This means the swing arm is in the correct position and should be sitting even in its pocket on the bumper and latch should not have an issue. This is the only gripe so far from a manufacturing standpoint. I plan to explore the swing arm alignment more once I am finished.
Overall I am still liking the setup and am not disappointed. So far I have two changes to the design that would be nice (IMHO) (1) zerk fitting for the hinge assembly and (2) A swing arm open lock/pin to hold the arm open. There have been many folks on Jeep Forum for YEARS that have added this feature to their custom bumper swing arms. ANYONE who has been out wheeling and tried to open a swing arm in an off-camber situation should give me an amen on this :). I will probably mod the bumper to add this feature (break out the MIG).
Thanks for posting. Even with the hiccups, this is still at the top of my list.
Swing arm mounted up (ignore the dangling hitch wiring)
Side view. The extended bumpstops I was using with the last bumper will be replaced with the factory spare tire bumpstops. The spaghetti wiring is from last setup so don't judge yet :)
Spare Tire brackets. Very nice setup and lots of adjustment. Two piece that allows quite a bit of variation including different bolt patterns. I decided to set it up so that the spare rides low on the bumper and tight against the swing arm. The discoloration is just dust. All the powdercoating on the bumper and its parts is excellent.
On to Rotopax, high-lift, rear LEDs, and spare mounting.... No additional issues found up to this point.
Rotopax do fit on the carrier. I used my 4 Rotopax 2 gallon containers (2 gas, 1 water, and 1 storage). I was going to try and adapt my Rotopax LOX mount to the swing arm but with the snug fit I may just opt for a wire lock for the Rotopax and High-Lift.
Straps provided with bumper are nice and work well.
View with the swing arm closed but without the factory bumpstops. Also, note the High-Lift jack brackets. Tried to mount the jack in this position but it interfered between the spare and the 3rd brake light bracket. Had to rotate the jack mounts to the rear (will see in later pics).
I thought I could leave my Rugged Ridge CB mount on the tailgate but it looks like it hits the Rotopax. Will continue to watch this after I put the factory bumpstops on.
Installed LED lights. Bumper comes with little L brackets for this (powdercoated). The lights I had from the last bumper so they are not the "perfect" size for the opening but look good and still work well. I will paint the bolt head and washer flat black so it blends in more (I am freakie like that). Note the nice billet swing arm hinge cover.
Not finished yet. More pics coming from different angles as well as rewiring the rear lights, 3rd brake light, CB, and Hitch. And of course a summary...
Really feeling the bumper now. Very excited.
My Hi-Lift is an antique! I am pretty sure I purchased that thing over 15 years ago back in my 77 Chevy Blazer Days. The space between the Rotopax may be an interesting spot for more storage so I may fab up a bracket (winch bag or fire extinguisher maybe?).
Wiring and hitch plug mounting is next. Will also hitch up my trailer and see how that setup looks/works.
No additional issues found. Looking good and my happy factor is high!
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