Now that I have my LS Swap done and running. I am ready to start off-roading this bad boy. Check out this post for Part 1 of my custom front tube bumper with winch mount!
Step 1. Grab some cardboard and scrap tubing and lay out some ideas.
I usually start premeditating my project ideas a couple of weeks before actually doing them. It gives my brain some time to think about how I want to do it and what all features I want to include.
Once I got some solid ideas in my head, I got out the plasma cutter and cut back the front framerail.
You will notice I had put a come-a-long between the two front leaf springs. Since I have been driving without a front bumper for a while the frame rails had spread just a bit. Not a big deal at all, I just sucked them back in until they were straight before welding the winch plate in.
After measuring out the space I had to work with, I started cutting out my winch plate from 1/4″ steel.
I used my plasma cutter, but this can also be done with a grinder and some extra time.
Tacked the plate in between the frame rails. You can see at the back where it will also be welded to the crossmember.
I really like how it lines up with the front leaf spring mounts, kind of brings everything together..
Drug the tubing bender out of the basement and started to bend some tube!
First corner bend went well. Measured to the center of the grill and started my second bend.
Passenger side came out good…
Center bend came out good…
Right side came out… DOH! … too short.
Many years ago, I had an old timer once tell me “Any tradesman can fix his mistakes”. I still use that saying today. Everybody makes mistakes. It is important to not be afraid of making mistakes, just be confident in your abilities and have the patience to fix them!
While I was fuming about the above mistake, I decided to get out my new winch and see how it fit in the hole I had just made.
Next up, I needed to throw my new winch in the hole to do some more measuring. I ended up having to remove the solenoid pack for it to fit. I will show you how to relocate it in Part 2.
So the general rule of thumb is for a winch to be 1.5 times your vehicle weight. I am going to guess this truck is around 5,500lbs (maybe 6k? I’m not sure). Which would bring me to needing around a 9,000lb winch. Probably a little small for a fullsize truck, but the winch is more for getting me out of a pickle than it is for hanging off the side of a mountain.
The winch I ended up choosing is the Superwinch Tiger Shark 9,500 lb capacity with roller fairlead because it was a good compromise between capacity and price. Also, it got really good reviews on Amazon. It is just slightly more expensive than the Harbor Freight “Badland” winches, yet still ~1/2 the price of a similar capacity Warn winch.
Winch in the hole with the fairlead sitting in front of it. You can also see where I have set up a couple of 12″ long 2.5″ receiver tubes.
I typically set up offroad vehicles with receiver tubes in the front. Especially with a winch, it is important to have an extra anchor point just in case you need to use a snatch block to increase the winching capacity. I always carry a couple of receiver hitch shackle mounts that can be moved from front to rear or side to side by just removing a hitch pin.
I am going to try to keep everything tucked back inside so I don’t lose any more offroad approach angle than I have to.
So now I get to pull everything back off and fix my mistake. I started by cutting the tube on the side that I bent too short.
I then grabbed a scrap piece of 1.5″ OD tubing off my shelf and cut an ~4″ piece.
A little tip when cutting with a chop saw. As you can see above, the rusty tube on the right was the one I wanted but it was too short for the chop saw clamp to hold it by itself. I always stick a similar piece of tubing in from the other side then I can tighten the clamp as usual.
I inserted the freshly cut piece of 1.5″ tube into my 1.75″ OD bumper tube then tacked one side to hold it.
Threw the bumper tube back up on the truck so I could determine where I needed to weld the splice. You can see I added a ~1″ piece of 1.75 tubing as a sleeve, This is so I only have to weld and fill two joints, not the whole area.
Close up of the sleeve.
I then got the exciting job of welding/filling/grinding for the next 20 minutes…
Remember people, measure twice, cut/bend once!
It saves a lot of time!
Finally, I got to throw the bumper tube back up on the truck and start final welding.
Here you can see how I welded the receiver tubes to as many things as possible. They not only welded to the frame, but also directly to the body mounts and bumper tube.
I had my little Hobart 180 cranked up to the highest setting to weld in the bottom winch plate. That thing is forever a part of this truck now!!
Gaps turned out really good.
My splice. You will not be able to tell it happened after paint.
The end! Stay tuned for Part 2 when we reinforce the ends of the bumper tube, finish the winch mount, and mount fog lights!