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Custom Front Bumper
5-20-06

Complete Front Bumper

Why?
    This project had 4 main goals -
    • Build a high clearance (at least the same clearance as stock) front bumper
    • Solid tow points on the front for recovery
    • Re-enforce the frame area around the steering box
    • Have the area on top of the bumper to carry a winch (Someday, Maybe)

    I also wanted it to not look like someone had just welded a chunk of metal to the front of their car and called it a bumper, I wanted it to "look" decent - and ignoring my color choice, I think I did that :-D


Materials
  • ~9' 1/4"x6" flat stock
  • ~6' 2"x4"x.25" rect tube
  • ~5' 1/8"x3" flat stock
  • ~8' 1"x1"x1/8" Angle
  • ~2' 2"x2"x3/16" Angle
  • 10 - 1/2" bolts - 8 @ 1.5" long, 2 @ 3.5" long
  • 3 - 7/16" bolts (corse thread) to replace steering box bolts - 4" long
  • 2 - 12mm bolts that use the factory threaded hole in the frame
  • 1 - can black primer spray paint
  • 2 - cans "caterpillar yellow" spray enamel


Brackets
    The heart of every bumper is its bracket mounting system - how it attaches to the "frame" of our vehicle. My front bumper attaches everywhere my factory tow hooks attached, and adds the 3 steering box bolts on the drivers side of the vehicle.
    I wanted my tow points to extend straight through the bumper, so they werent just some surface welded piece of metal that would be easily riped off in a hard pull.
    My first itiration of hole drilling left me with inacureate holes following some drawing that I found on the internet :-( so I had to drill most of my holes twice :-(

    My frame brackets are 1/4" x 6" flat stock, with a piece of 1/8" in between the two piece bracket to match the factory mount.

    Predrilling holes      drilling 1/2inch holes      holes drilled - arent they pretty?
    Now I had to make an internal piece that caught the factory holes in the front crossmember -
    To do this, I first attempted to score a piece, then bend it with a pipe wrench in the vice. This resulted in a broken vice :-(
    My second itiration of the inner mount was to cut and weld the two pieces together.
    Mount clamped in pace      Mount fully welded      Mount fully welded and drilled, put in place

The Bumper
    The main chunk of the bumper is 2x4x1/4 rect tube. I measured a friends winch (Warn M10,000) that I want to have some day, and the mounting pattern is a 10"x4.5" rectangle for the 4 bolts that hold the winch to the bumper.
    His winch also took up about 23" of space across the front with the motor and whatnot, so I made sure to leave room for that.
    I cut a piece of angle 2' (24" long) and welded that to the back of my 2x4 giving me 6" of space on top which is just enough to give me 4.5" distance between the winch bolts
    angle clamped to 2x4      angle tacket to 2x4      angle welded to 2x4
    Then I took a 6" piece of the 3"x1/8" flatstock and taped it into place between my two piece mounting brackets. This serves as a spacer because the factory mounting holes in the frame are there.
    The angle iron welded to the 2x4 sits all the way flush with the factory front crossmember, as far back as possible.
    I tacked them in place, then welded the center chunk in.
    1/8in pate in place      bumper tacked      welded      welded


    To gain clearance, the sawzall and grinder came out to shape the brackets for a more flowing fit.
    line      cut!
    Then the time came to make the "wings" for the bumper. I held a piece of 2x4 up on top of the bumper at the contour that I wanted, and drew a line, then cut on that line... not to hard :-D

    Then I cut a cap out of the 3"x1/8" flatstock, and welded it to the end of the wing. Then tackwelded, and fully welded the wings to the brackets, then ground down the welds on the top.
    welded      ground

    To use the tabs on the front as tow points, I needed a hole in them for my shackles. My shackle pin measured a little less than 7/8", so I bought a 7/8" drill bit and made a hole...
    After drilling the tabs, I started strengthening the wings and adding a little "style" to the front bumper by using the 1x1 angle and the 3" flatstock on the ends. The loading on the wings will all be cantalever loads, so ading even just this 1/8" plate and moving the neutral axis up 1" makes a huge difference.
    To form the angle iron to the same countour as the rest of the bumper, I notched and bent it with my hands - not hard to do at all.
    After setting the angle, I boxed it in with the 3"x1/8" plate
    tabs drilled      Angle tacked      tacked      welded
    After boxing in the top, I added a chunk of 1/4" plate on the front, center of the bumper to hide and protect the ugly front crossmember (no pics of that - it was around 11:00pm)
    Then I pulled the bumper off the rig, and welded all the spots that I couldnt weld while it was on the jeep -
    Primed it black
    and painted it yellow :D

    complete!      complete!      black      yellow!

    Then I bolted it on...

Conclusions
    Not a project to undertake unless you have quite a bit of tools and time available. If I didnt have acess to a welder, sawzall, grinder, 1/2" drill, drill press, die grinder, floor jack, and a shop, this project would have been VERY expensive.
    I think I met my goals of the project - now all I have to do is find a winch!

Pictures
Credit
    I owe a lot of the design ideas to Terry Smith (Okie Terry) and his bumper build thread on NAXJA here.
    I owe my grandfather a lot for the use of his shop and his help with fabricating and bolting up the product.

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