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Afro built a winch bumper, took a bunch of pictures and did a full write-up

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by afroman006, Aug 23, 2004.

  1. afroman006

    afroman006 1/2 ton status

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2002
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    Location:
    College Station & Kingsville, Texas
    After pricing all the winch bumpers I could find for my truck, I was less than impressed. Not one of them was exactly what I wanted, and, they all cost more than I wanted to spend. Now, I am by no means a professional fabricator, maybe not even a competent one, but I decided I could handle building a bumper on my own, and make exactly what I want. I realize, not everyone has a 6000 sq. ft. shop and a bunch of cool tools at their disposal, but this could definitely be done with far less expense and equipment. For this project I used the following tools:

    Trick Tools Model 3 tubing bender with 2” and 1 ½” dies
    Tubing notcher (it broke so I ended up not using it, but it would have been handy)
    Cutting torch
    Welding machine
    Grinder
    Drill press
    Grease pencil
    Measuring tape
    Various clamps
    Normal hand tools
    Angle finder

    Like any other project, time is also a necessity. I took me about 7 days to do my bumper. Materials for individual bumpers can vary to a great extent, so this is where you must decide what is best for you. Following is what I used.

    4 ½ sq. ft. of 3/8” plate
    2 2” receiver blanks (local trailer supply place)
    9’ 2” ¼” wall round tube
    20’ 1 ½” .188 wall round tube

    First things first, get the stock bumper and brackets removed. A dozen bolts and a half hour later, that’s done. Then, measure and see if your winch will fit in between the frame. My Warn M12000 was actually about ¼” too wide, so I had to grind some indentions into the bottom of the frame, nothing big at all; I did about ¼” on each side for a little extra room.
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    Then, its time for the cardboard mock-up, I only did one side’s bracket because they will be mirror images of each other.
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    I should mention at this point that this is my own design, feel free to copy it down to the last grind, but I am not liable for its failure or any modifications of its design.

    I started by cutting one front and rear bracket out to match the cardboard templates. (I say one because there will be one for each side) The front bracket mounts to 3 of the 5 holes on the very front of the frame. It extends about 3 inches above and below the frame and 1 ½ inches out in front. It is oblong shape, as can be seen in the pictures. The rear bracket is another piece of 3/8” plate mounted to the two bumper brace bracket holes behind the front spring hanger/radiator support. Originally I was going to use 2" square tube instead of the receiver blanks so the design changed a little when I added the receivers. First are the first design pics, second are the second design pics.
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    Because the bottom of the frame has a curved surface, I had to create some sort of flat surface for the actual winch plate to mount to. I did this by cutting out a piece of trailer hitch receiver square tube to fit around the spring hanger and attach flush with the two brackets. The pre-made receiver tubes are available at any trailer supply store, one foot long and about $18 apiece. Regular 2 ½” ¼” wall square tube cannot be used because of the seam on the inside of the tube, 2” square will not fit inside it. 2” square tube can also be used, its what I used first, but I wanted the receivers up front. After enough material was removed for it to clear the bracket, only about a ¾” width of steel was left on two sides to join the two ends. Because this part should not be seeing too much of a load, I am not concerned with it. Here are pictures of the various parts; first shows the curvature of the frame that had to be dealt with, second and third are the pieces of the receiver tube used to make the flat surface, fourth is only the front bracket mounted on the frame, and fifth is the old design of everything assembled and sixth and seventh are the new design. (Grade 8 hardware was used throughout, ½” x 1 ½” for the frame and 7/16” x 1 ½” everywhere else)
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    After the receiver tubes have been fitted to the brackets, its time to fab up the winch plate. Of course, I used 3/8” plate for my 12000 pound winch. Just a plain rectangle will work here. Mine is all cut up because of a previous design that did not work because of the above mentioned curved frame. One important thing to remember is to offset the mounting holes for the winch to the side. My M12000 was about 2” to the side. The holes are exactly 10 wide by 4.5” deep apart, pretty simple. I had to notch the receiver tubes again for the winch to fit, but again, not a problem. Here is the plate and tubes together.
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    In the last picture, the front suspension is fully unloaded and resting on the middle of the plate. Prety stout.

    Now that the winch mount is done, we can move on to the bumper. Since I was building this bumper to accommodate a 3” body lift, but did not have the lift installed yet, I had to kind of guesstimate this. That’s what the upturned lobe of the bumper bracket is for. I decided to go with a flat tube across the frame, then “wings” following the body back, and finally, a little wrap-around protection. Since they were serving no purpose after I removed the stock bumper, I decided to cut the little wings off the very from bottom of the fenders ,since they’d be hard to protect and would probably get mashed by a rock anyway.(after the install I decided to wait till they got bashed to do this) I made the joint between the flat tube across the front and the “wings” 5 degrees exactly, cutting 2 ½ degrees into each part, then the wrap-around protection was 80 degrees, with each part being cut to 40 degrees. At this point I bet a few of you are wondering why I didn’t use my $1200 tubing bender. The answer, I tried. Even with a 10’ cheater bar I could not bend the 2” ¼” wall tubing. Oh well, welding is fun anyway… Here’s the main bar.
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    In this pic, it has a little tilt to it. I took a little metal off the driver's side bracket so it sits level now.

    Next, I began on the grill guard frame. I used a solid length of 1 ½” .188 wall tubing for this part. I’m sure anyone who is using a tubing bender knows how to use it, so I’ll skip all the little details of bending the bar. I made one 5 degree bend on each side 15” from the center, then an 80 degree bend on a 20 degree downward angle from the first bends. At this point, my tubing notcher broke, so I used a cutting torch for everything. I cut the notches at the end of the tube, then came to find out that with the 80 degree bends, the whole loop was too wide. I went ahead and made each bend 90 degrees. Whoops. Now it was about 4” too narrow. With my options being; remake the whole thing, and wasting all that tube, or just cutting the whole thing in half and splicing a 4” long piece into the middle, I went ahead and did the cut and splice approach. Here’s a few pics.
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    After that, I made the center supports. I made them at about a 20 degree angle. I decided for angled instead of straight up and down for appearance only, I thought some non-vertical lines would look good. They are each about 22” long. After that, I went ahead and made the outer vertical supports. They are not really structurally necessary because they are so close to the outside, but since the grill frame wraps around, I wanted something to protect the headlights from horizontal assault. They are each 20” long. Here’s a pic of the center support assembly.
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    At this point, I decided to turn my attention to the fairlead mount. I did not want to attach the fairlead directly to the winch, as this would make the winch removable from the front, (defeating my theft deterrent goal) and put the fairlead inside the bumper brackets, both being bad. I did not want to attach the fairlead from the bumper to the winch plate too, because I wanted the plate to be removable separately. I decided to make some 2” wide 3/8” strip come in from each side of the bumper brackets then up to the main bumper bar. It certainly looks sturdy enough, but time will tell if it is. Here’s a few pics.
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    As a final touch, I decided to make two supports running from the outer part of the main bumper bar to the brackets, as a side touch, they would also house and protect a set of Hella 550 lights. For them I used the same 1 ½” .188 wall as before. I cut one end square and then put a 45 degree bend in them 10” from the square end. After the bend they went straight up to the main bar of the bumper. To mount the lights, I cut a couple of 3” long pieces of the same 2”x 3/8” strap used to make the fairlead mount, and drilled a ½” hole in each. This setup does exactly what I intended, provides some support for the outside while protecting the lights at the same time. Here’s a pic of the braces/light guards and the completed bumper awaiting paint.
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    Sticking with my silver and gloss black undercarage, thats what colors the bumper received. Here's some shots of it painted up and installed (still no body lift yet).
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    All in all, I’d say I’m glad I did it myself. While it may not be as perfect or pretty as a professionally made one, my bumper is exactly what I want, with no compromises. Also, I saved a bit of money (maybe not immediately from tool purchase but in the future I will). Finally, getting the fabrication experience and building something that is practical and useful is a great feeling. If you have any questions about it, please feel free to email me at afroman006@hotmail.com.

    I hope this can be put on the page in the "tech" section or something but I hope yall enjoyed and got some use out of this, it took me a long damn time to write. /forums/images/graemlins/waytogo.gif
     

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