This is part 2 of our build up of a tube bumper and winch mount for ‘Ol Blue. Today we Gusset the frame and add tube reinforcement, then mount and wire the winch!
In typical DIY fashion, I always start by laying out the parts in the location I would like to put them.
I say “would like” on the picture above because even though I usually go in with a plan, parts of it are almost always changing. I like to not make my build plans too rigid that way I can change and modify the design as the build progresses.
I had an interesting issue with this build in that the clearance between the radiator/grill and winch plate was not large enough for there to be any reinforcement in front of the winch or I wouldn’t be able to get it out. This is a problem because typically the fairlead bolts to a vertical plate in front of the winch. My solution to this was to use two of the fairlead roller bolts and add two additional bolts to the rear. It should work out fine.
If I end up bending the fairlead someday, guess what? It’s only metal and at that time I can either fix it or build a new one that is even stronger.
Since I had cut off the front of each frame-rail I can’t just leave them like that. So it is time to cut out some gussets to reinforce the frame and receiver tubes.
Two cardboard gusset templates cut out and in place.
I also mocked up two tubes to reinforce the ends of the bumper.
I like to show the picture above with the chain come-a-long hooked to the bumper to show that fabrication isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. This is DIY metal fabrication after all, and it requires ingenuity. The gap between the bumper and fender didn’t quite match from side to side, so I had to use the chainfall to pull the tube out just a bit until I could weld in the reinforcement.
I coped one side of the reinforcement tubes with my tubing notcher then cut the other end with the grinder. I have an emotional attachment to the scrap piece of tube in the picture because it at one time was a part of the front bumper on the CrAzYbLaZe.
Here you can see where the tube hits the frame. I cut the tube off little by little with the grinder until it fit right.
I laid the cardboard templates on a piece of 1/4″ steel then marked around them with soapstone. After that, I cut them out with my plasma cutter and cleaned them up with my grinder.
Gussets in place ready to be welded. You can see I went ahead and drilled the holes for the winch to mount to before having the gussets in my way.
Gussets welded up.
Close up of how the gusset ties the winch plate, receiver tube, frame, and front spring mounts together.
The gussets should really tie everything together and make it strong. Not to mention it cleans up the front end and makes it look a little bit more like a bumper.
Next, I had to find a spot to mount the solenoid pack to mount. I couldn’t leave it on top of the winch because there wasn’t enough room. I found a nice spot here behind the grill.
It just so happens that the connector on the winch controller just barely fit through the holes on the grill. Lucky me.
Because I was remote mounting my winch solenoid, I had to make an extension kit.
You can buy a premade winch solenoid extension kit but if you need the solenoid further away than 18″ you will have to make your own anyways.
The extension kit is made from 2 gauge wire and these Dorman 85635 copper wire ring terminals and heat shrink tubing.
Here you can see the wires installed on the solenoid ready to install. There was also a small black controller ground wire that I had to extend.
As seen in the pic above there are 3 main power wires going from the solenoid to the winch and I didn’t want to get them mixed up. So I bought colored electrical tape that was the same color as the terminal on the winch and solenoid pack.
While installing the extension kit, I wanted to protect the wires where they contacted the frame. An old piece of radiator hose with a slit down the side worked great to contain and protect the wires. (not to mention it was free!!)
Painted the bumper. The black makes the winch disappear under the truck which is kinda what I was going for.
Bumper painted, winch installed and wired up. Lookin good!
This is a side view so you can see why I worked so hard to recess the winch. The addition of the winch did not affect my approach angle at all.
Finally, a picture of the front bumper outside and offroad!!
More pics of it off-road here: KS Rocks Offroad Trip
This was a fun project, and it is one that you can do yourself at home with a welder, drill, grinder, and some motivation. It doesn’t have to have bent tubing in it. Simply adjust the design of the bumper to use the tools and abilities that you have. You can easily go out and spend $1,000+ on an aftermarket winch bumper, but that is expensive and you don’t learn anything. Nobody knows what you want better than you, so go out there and make it yourself.