Part 3 – Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for PJ 1


Time to weld the winch plate together, make some mounts for the winch solenoid, and get everything permanently attached to PJ our Suzuki Vitara offroad truck!

Previous posts on this winch bumper build in case you missed them:

Building a winch control box mount

I am not mounting the winch solenoid pack in the factory (intended) location. It came with mounts to hook it to the two lateral bars on top of the winch, but that wouldn’t really work with the way I have the winch shoved into the grill. So now I need to make some brackets to mount the solenoid pack vertically behind the winch.

Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
For those of you that have been LONG time readers, this steel I’m about to cut up was from an iPad mount I made way back in 2015. Check it out HERE. These projects never die, they just eventually get cut up and turned into something else!
Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
Cut out some strips and drilled holes to match the mounting pattern.
Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
In typical fashion, I decided that wasn’t beefy enough since it had to be mounted through the bottom of the box (which it wasn’t designed for). So I bent the straps around in the vice and drilled holes through the steel and the bottom of the plastic winch controller box.
Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
I needed a way to hold the bolts from spinning in the new holes I drilled. The four original bolt holes had plastic embossed to hold the head of the bolts, but my new drilled hole didn’t .

TIP: Flag bolts are made for assemblies where you can’t get to the backside to hold a bolt/nut. Normally the flag is made out of high strength spring steel. In this case we are just making our own using some 1/8″ thick scrap steel.

Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
Here is the bolt with the tab / flag on it installed in the box. The tab will keep it from spinning when I tighten/loosen the bolt without having to open the box.

IP Ratings

Here is a quick explanation of IP ratings. You might have seen them on your cell phone for example, but what do they really mean?

This winch is IP67 rated. IP stands for Ingress Protection. The first number is the rating for dust. In this case ours is rated as a 6 which is the highest dust rating meaning ‘dust tight’.

The second number is the rating for water ingress. The 7 means the winch is protected from temporary submersion in water ‘3ft of water for 30 minutes’. The highest possible IP water rating is 8 which means it can be permanently submersed in water.

Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
This winch is IP67 rated, but I will be mounting the control box vertically instead of flat. I wanted to provide some extra seal but didn’t want to permanently silicone it shut in case I needed to work on it. I whipped out my can of dielectric grease and lubed up all the holes and seal around the two halves of the case. Should keep it pretty sealed up.

Dielectric grease is specifically created to seal up electrical connections from water, salt, dirt, etc. yet make it so they are still serviceable. If you don’t have some in your shop, you should. The thing I use it on most often is trailer plugs to keep the salt from eating them up in the winter.

Mounting the control box

Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
Next I needed to mark the holes in the winch plate for mounting the control box. I put the winch on the plate then put two dabs of lithium grease on the tips of the bolts for the control box. Got it in place and touched it down to the plate. Bingo! Two marked holes and no measuring required.

TIP: If you need to mark bolt holes in locations with multiple bolts that need to line up, put a dab of lithium grease on the end of the bolts and touch the pieces together. This will leave two nice white grease marks you can then center-punch and drill your holes.

Attaching the winch plate

Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
Next up it was time to weld the fairlead mount on. Weld turned out nice! Even a blind squirrel can find a nut once in a while.
Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
Here is a shot that shows the location of all the bolt holes. The welds on the backside didn’t turn out nearly as pretty though.
Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
Next up was to weld the plate onto the truck. I used a welding blanket and piece of scrap steel to protect the radiator.
Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
Here you can see the heat marks for all of the places I welded it on. The front of the frame is going to rip off before this thing ever comes apart.

Painting

I am probably not the best person to take painting advice from, so take this with a grain of salt. Currently we are still under quarantine, also I tend to work late at night. I got done welding and went to go paint but quickly realized I was totally out of black spray paint. Not being a quitter, I got inventive…

Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
My rag tag painting team.

I keep a quart can of Rustoleum black paint around that is good for painting expanded steel (spray paint just goes right through that stuff). I decided it would work here also. Took an old sock and some mineral spirits and wiped down everything to get it nice and clean. Then I went after it with a 2″ housepaint brush (cheap/disposable so I can toss it when done instead of having to clean it).

Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
I put on a THICK wet coat. Yes I got some runs, this Rustoleum is pretty forgiving though and I just went over it again with the brush before it dried to clean up any runs.
Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
The next day I bolted the winch on and wired it up. Use convoluted tubing anywhere you are running in places that might chafe the wires.

Amazon isn’t always the cheapest, but in the case of convoluted (split loom) tubing it is WAY cheaper than any brick and mortar store. I bought a couple hundred feet of it (50ft each 1/4″, 3/8″ and 1/2″) when I was working on my gas tank relocation project and haven’t even put a dent in my stock yet.

Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
The winch came with a really nice cover but I won’t be able to use it because of where I mounted the solenoid pack and how close the grill will be to the winch. I will need to figure out something else to keep the sun off the winch rope (the UV light is hard on synthetic ropes).
Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
Notice I didn’t paint the outer receiver tubes yet. There is still more to come for building the rest of the bumper, You will have to wait for the next part though because even I don’t know what it will end up looking like yet.
Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
All done and permanently mounted!
Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for Suzuki Vitara Chevy Tracker
Finally outside! Next up reinforcing the mount to the frame, completing the wiring, skid plates, and finishing out the bumper.

The ZESUPER winch seems to work good so far. I have hooked it up and rolled it in and out a couple of times with both the wired and wireless remotes. Guess we will see a real test next time I get out for a wheeling trip. Check it out on Amazon, it is a lot of bang for the buck:

Hope you all are enjoying this so far. It has been a fun project. It is fun to create something that is totally unique. I know there are plenty of Suzukis with winches on them but none are quite like PJ 😀 . Now I just gotta motivate myself to get back out in the garage and finish this project!

Now YOU (and me) go outside and work on something!


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

One thought on “Part 3 – Front Winch Bumper Build with Receiver Hitch for PJ

  • Andy

    Hey man, I love keeping up with everything you’re doing to PJ! I just finished my winch mount on my 99 Tracker, and I’ll be putting on a similar 2″ lift kit this weekend. Thanks for posting up all this stuff since there really isn’t a lot if info out there on these, your manual hub/front diff welding post was super helpful. Keep it up and thanks again for posting!