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Front Bumper Version 2   -   2004/01/07Viewed 371 times this month, last update: 2004/02/09


I've started version 2 of my custom front bumper for my truck. This design learns lessons from version 1 in strength, weight, clearance, and asthetics.

First, the design of the frame clamps are improved. Being less rigid horizontally will allow much easier installation (less use of the rubber mallet.) Leaving off the full-size top and bottom plates also reduces weight. Easily 10 pounds each.
Secondly, the front plate is nearly flush with the grill, drastically improving the approach angle. This does however, reduce the amount of room available for the winch, but since Superwinch is comming out with the EP9.0, a 9,000 pound planetary gear winch, with the brake outside the cable drum, I can still use the synthetic line, my primary motivation for choosing the 12,000 pound Ramsey for version 1 of the bumper. I don't think this will be a problem, as 9,000 pounds will be enough for most situations, and if it isn't I can always use a snatch block to double the force.
Thirdly, the wings will be rounded on the corners, and fit with the wheel arch curve. Asthetically this is much more pleasing, but it also means I don't have those sharp corners. I also think the design, with two 1/4 inch struts, cross-braced, will be stronger and a bit lighter. These struts will be covered with a 12 guage steel sheet, making it very clean looking.

At this point, the bumper weighs 63 pounds. Not a lightweight, by any means, but it's still 15 pounds under the weight of version 1. When I finish the wings, and install the face plate, it'll probably be even, or just a bit under.

Here you can see the final extensions to the wings, bringing them back to the wheel well. The bottom of the extension is only 1 inch deep, leaving lots of room for the tire to come up and forward when stuffed.
Here is the wing face. A sheet of 12 gauge cold-rolled steel, cut to angle up from the bottom of the winch tray, and around the corner.
I'm finally finished with the cutting, welding, grinding, sand blasting and sanding. I'll be able to install it tonight! For paint, rather than powder coating, I'm using Flat Rustolium with several coats of primer underneath. Powder coating is tougher, and not all that expensive, but rustolium is much easier to touch-up, and this bumper definitely is going to see some scratches.
Here it is! I like it a lot. Simple, strong, stylish, and it'll hold up to a lot of winching and rock/bush smashes. I think it also gives my truck that "don't mess with me" look.
Grrr... A flaw: Up/down force applied to the very tips of the wings causes more twisting than I think is acceptable. If I landed it on a rock, it'd probably twist up and crumple the forward body panel.
This is a toughie to fix. I designed the wings with wide, horizontal braces for strength in front or side impacts. I really need a strong vertical piece other than the face plate to provide strengh when a vertical load is placed on the wings, to prevent that twisting. I'll keep thinking about it. When I save up the money (Tax refund) for the winch, I'll do the reinforcement, as well as the holes for the winch all at the same time.

Thinking about it, I think I can easily fix the above problem. All I have to do is box in the wings. Right now, the back of the wings are open, exposing the internal structure. If I put in a piece of 1/4 inch thick plate, closing off the back, it'll add that strength I was looking for. It'll mean sand-blasting and re-painting the entire thing, but that's not too bad.

Update 2004/01/29:
Originally I planned to mount the Expedition Exchange shackle mounting bracket to my bumper, since it's 3 ton rating made it strong enough for the EP9.0 9000lb winch, and it's four-bolt mounting system makes it easy to install. However, it's 3"x2", which is too big to fit between the frame sleeves of my bumper. This would force me to mount it with one of the frame sleeve sides in the middle of the shackle mount, making that one sleeve side bear the entire load. Not ideal.
So, I bought a couple of 3/4" d-shackles from my favorite hardware store, McFadden-Dale Industrial Supply, and fabricated my own shackle mounts.

These shackle mounts are each two 5"x2"x1/4" plates welded to the front 1/4" thick plate of the bumper, right between the frame sleeves. I then boxed in the front portion of the sleeves to bear vertical loads better. One of the two plates is welded on both sides, and the other one (too close to fit the welder head between) is welded on just one side. I choose the inner plates to be the ones to be stronger, thus bearing squeezing loads better, like if I wanted to use both in a bridle setup. So, each shackle mount has 15 inches of weld bead to bear the load. With a 9000 lb draw winch, that comes out to 600 lb/in. Well within the safe range. And that's only if I use just one shackle. If I use a bridle to make use of both of them, it's just 300 lb/in of bead.
I'm very happy with both the look and strength of the mounts. Time to hit the trail!

Update 2004/02/07:
After last weekend's trip, today I decided to upgrade the hardware on my bumper. I went down to my favorite hardware store, Mc Fadden Dale Industrial Hardware in Anaheim, and picked up 14mm mounting bolts and a 7/8" drill bit. The 14mm bolts replaced the four 12mm bolts holding the bumper to my truck's frame. The old 12mm grade 5 bolts, each with two shear points, would have yielded a total strength of 105,000 pounds. (50 tons) The 14mm grade 5 bolts should yield a total strength of 143,000 pounds. (71 tons)
The 7/8" drill bit was used to widen the 5/8" holes in the shackle mounts, allowing me to use 3/4" bow shackles, rated at 13,000 pounds, rather than the 1/2" shackles, rated at 6,000 pounds. Just in case.
Eg:
vs.

Comments:
James (2005-11-09): Thanks! I was just looking at the Expedition Exchange shackle mounts for the front of my ARB bull bar, but I think I will get a local fab shop to weld up a couple instead...

Dan (2006-11-13): Hey, both your bumpers look good. Good job.

Dan (2006-11-13): Any updates on how they are holding up, have you been on the trails with the new bumper? Thanks.

Erik (2006-11-22): Thanks Dan, the fuss-pot in me is of course always wanting to re-make them, but they have both worked out very well for me. I never installed a winch, but I've used the front shackles a lot with tow straps and chains!

brad (2007-01-29): That looks nice also, but I liked the bigger one.

Ben (2007-02-24): Be careful welding those recovery mounts on with a little MIG welder, could fly off during extreme pulling. I dont no if you did, but it would be a good safty precaution to run multiple beads on them.

Erik (2007-02-24): Thanks Ben, actually the recovery points are each four 1/4 inch thick plates, each welded to the front plate of the bumper, so each recovery point has 16 inches of bead holding it on.

Drew (2007-07-24): More of a muted, unobtrusive look. The hookups let the secret out. I like them both. To me the first one would win out.. if a winch was installed. Very nice job matching up to the wheel wells though!

Pope (2007-10-17): Dude u just hooked me up!!!! How cool, I like both of them, I think its you can add some design but I like plain look plus it does what it was made for anyway. So keep it up, Great Job!

rich (2008-11-08): I still like the first designe and build . sharp corners are a stronger joint whene upward force is applied,like landing on rocks as long as you put reinforcing plates in place

Steve (2009-11-10): Absolutely love what you did, like the first design better, but this one looks hot as well..Would either design work for a D1?

Erik (2009-11-16): I don't know. I think the front frame points are the same in the D1 and D2, but the body panels might be different, so it might not fit snugly. I know the D1 has different rear bumper attachment points than the D2.

Bk (2010-06-29): i like this one better than the first but i dont think that it could stand up to what i drive through in my 72 f250

hayden (2010-12-07): i have had a lot of mud rigs with custom bumpers, and i am telling you the first time you hit somthing tall enough you will break your grill. the designe is great but your bumper is flush with the grill, mine sticks out almost 12 inches and i hit 2 deer at 75 and no damage what so ever

Erik (2010-12-11): hayden, I agree with your assessment. However, for me, approach angle is more important than impact damage protection. I live in So. Cal., so there are very few deer strikes. In fact, the thing I am most likely to hit is a pedestrian, in which case, giving them a bit of soft grill isn't a bad thing!

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See also: My Custom Front Bumper, My Custom Front Bumper, Stump Pullin' Yeeee Haw!, Jan 28th, 2004

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