Part 2 – Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for PJ


Time to whip out the plasma cutter and finish reinforcing the winch mount! In this post we add two additional attachment points and cut out the winch plate and fairlead mount.

Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
Here is the last picture from Part 1 so you know where we ended up.

I didn’t mention it in Part 1 but the reason I put a receiver hitch in the middle was because about 5 years ago I created a DIY hitch mounted snow plow operated by winch. Well I still have and use it but the winch got salt in it and locked up. So my plan here is to build a new mount for the plow blade and just use this winch to raise it up and down. Works good in my head, guess we will see.

Reinforcing the new crossmember

In the picture above you can see I had some weld on D-rings laid out to see how I liked them. After thinking about it for probably too long, I decided to put a receiver hitch on either end of the crossmember instead. This way I can put a shackle, tow rope with hitch pin through it, trailer hitch, vice on a hitch mount… whatever I want. Also It would add some nice reinforcement between the winch and the frame.

Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
I ordered a couple extra 2″ receiver hitches on Amazon. Cheap, easy, and I don’t have to drill any holes.
Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
To make room for the receivers I notched either side of the 2×3 tubing with my sawzall.
Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
Clamped the two additional receivers on and got out the level. Since it wasn’t fully welded yet I used the floor jack to move it bit so everything was square.
This is a delicious tenderloin I got on takeout since we are all quarantined.
Please remember to support your local eateries.

Making the winch plate

Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
Getting out the cardboard again. Yes it is a diaper box… They work pretty well. Notice having the receiver tubes on each end gives me a nice long spot to weld it all together.
Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
This is where the winch solenoid pack is going to end up. It isn’t perfect but I didn’t want to extend all of those wires, nor did I want to cut the Suzuki emblem out of the grille.

Typically the solenoid pack gets mounted directly on top of the winch. It came with brackets to mount it there which would have been super easy. Due to the location I put the winch, aesthetics, and wanting to still be able to get some air to the radiator, I decided to relocate it. The closest spot to where I didn’t have to extend the control wires was right behind the winch. In part 3 I will build a new bracket for it to mount to.

Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
Had to add back on a piece on the top left of my template for a place to mount the solenoid pack to.
Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
Traced it out on a piece of 1/4″ plate. Nothing high tech, just sharpies and cardboard.
Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
Cut out with the plasma.

TIP: When you have an edge that is going to be outward facing or visible, try to put the factory edge out. It will always be straighter than what you cut by hand.

Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
The plasma makes it easy to do detailed shapes that would be hard with a grinder or other cutting method.
Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
Made some templates out of cardboard for the hawse fairlead mount. Then traced it onto some scraps and cut with the plasma also.

TIP: Keep your scraps! Metal doesn’t expire or have a shelf life as long as you don’t let it get too rusty. The red bin in the pic above is for my plate steel, I also have one for round tubing and one for square tubing.

Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
Fairlead tacked on. Should also provide some rigidity to the front of the plate.
Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
Spent a bunch of time at the drill press drilling holes for the winch and fairlead. Don’t forget to use lube, drill slowly, and step up in sizes! I used three different drill bits to get up to the needed 1/2″ hole size.

Typical winch bolt pattern is for bolts on a 4.5″ x 10″ rectangle. Be aware though that winches on the outside of that rectangle are NOT symmetrical. This is because the motor is on one side and the gear reduction is on the other. You can see in the pic below I trimmed the grill symmetrically and there is a big gap on the right side where I could have left some more meat on there.

Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
Next step is to weld the plates together and onto the truck.
Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
Had to notch the grill more for the winch engage handle. Unfortunately I think I will have to cut even more out of it by the time this is all done.
Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
The winch only sticks out 2.5″ beyond the Suzuki emblem. I wish I would have measured a before shot but I think it is even shorter than with the stock bumper.
Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
This pic right here explains why I went through all of the extra work. Nice and tight.
Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
For reader reference on approach angle. The new bumper is mounted ~2″ higher than the stock bumper. The truck has a 2″ lift and is sitting on 235/70R16’s. I will eventually put a skid plate below to protect the radiator.

Definitely not done yet, but I wanted to post some detailed pics so you all can get more ideas. I still need to weld on the top plate, mount the solenoid pack, wire it up, reinforce the mount to the frame, build a skid plate and the rest of the bumper. This post series is going to be at least 4 or 5 parts long. Oh well, it will keep me busy. Not like I have big plans or anything for the next couple of months :shrug:.

Hope you enjoyed. Now YOU, go outside and work on something!

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