I posted a teaser pic about this on the 'What did you do...' thread the other day, but time to shed more light on the project.
Long story short, I'm making a winch bumper for myself, but that idea has evolved into making a builder kit for others to build their own custom bumper around. This is the progress...
I'm still iterating through some small tweaks, but here are the general features:
- Uses an off-the-shelf winch channel, such as the Badlands (Harbor Freight) or GoPlus (Amazon)—inexpensive, universal, and the 36" width is perfect.
- Weld-together kit, but entirely bolt-on to truck; no cutting, no drilling. (Well...maybe a little trimming on the windshield washer bottle's plastic lower mount, but that's it so far.)
- 3/4" shackle mount (eyelet is 1-1/8" thick, or 3 layers of 3/8")
- Retains factory tow hooks
- Attachment plates for building any bumper style
- By itself, a winch mount
- Uses 3/8" steel for the bracket, and 3/16" for all attachment pieces.
- Uses all existing tow hook and bumper attachment points, plus three existing unthreaded chassis holes (blue piece in sketch is a nut-strip that inserts into the chassis); 18 total chassis attachment points using M10 and 1/2" hardware.
- 8" of vertical winch clearance. A side plate (red piece in sketch) provides mounting surfaces for the control box.
- Slotted channel on the main bracket that allows for attaching things. Currently, working on a bracket that allows the 00-04 OE fog lights to be attached.
The bumper attachment plates (green and purple pieces) are what the rest of the bumper is built around. This allows the bumper to be completely removable. The upper plate's shape allows for using up to 1/4" plate on the top and front edges. Of course, the plate can be cut, notched, or bored to use tubing, but is basically intended to be a blank canvas. The lower plates (one inside, one outside the bracket) allow for additional mounting points. The inner plates, in particular, can be used to build a receiver tube attachment, or mounting a skid plate (00-04 models have a power steering return line that is exposed). I may incorporate use of carriage bolts (think single-tool tightening) and make it so the bumper can be rotated up for easy installation, or rotated down for service, winch access, even a step for engine bay access, by pivoting on the lowest attachment bolt.
I'm also designing new skid plates, and once that's done, I will be getting everything plasma cut. Hoping to do all that very soon.
I guess the real question at this point is if anyone would be interested in something like this? We obviously have very little aftermarket options between ARB (is this still even available?) and TAG (I can't stand the mounting setup). There's been a bit more chat about using XJ bumpers lately, but I'm not convinced that's a better option. While this isn't a complete bumper, I think this tackles the toughest problems about starting one. Down the line, I might make some weld-it-yourself kits that use this as the backbone. Even if you can't weld, this would grossly simplify the process for a local shop that could make you one.
Questions and feedback welcome!