Non-Winch to Winch Bumper Project

This project was a big one and I plan on covering each section in-depth so I've split this write-up into different parts. It will make it easier to navigate that way.

Introduction: Winch Bumper versus Non-Winch Bumpers (thats this page)
Part 1 - Bumper Modification
Part 2 - Mounting the Winch
Part 3 - Relocating the Solenoid Box
Part 4 - In-Cab Winch Control
Part 5 - Electrical Upgrades

photo taken Jan 07, 2006
photo taken April 04, 2007

Introduction: Winch Bumper versus Non-Winch Bumpers

For mounting a winch, you can either permanently mount it on an aftermarket bumper, or use a "multi-mount" winch cradle that slides into a 2" receiver. Both ways have their advantages and disadvantages, so what may be the best method for me might be different than what you want on your rig. I thought long and hard about this a few years ago, and decided to get a non-winch bumper with a 2" receiver so that in the future I could use a winch on a multi-mount. It was the right decision for me at the time. But now, my needs have changed somewhat so I wanted a winch bumper instead. Looking at the advantages / disadvantages of each, you might understand why I chose what I did.

Advantages of a winch bumper
1. convenience - winch is there when you need it
2. looks (who doesn't like the look of a winch on the front?)

Disadvantages of a winch bumper
1. added weight (most winches weigh about 75 lbs)
2. most winch bumpers stick out further for a worse approach angle

Advantages to using a multi-mount with a 2" receiver (either in a bumper or front hitch)
1. less weight when winch is not attached
2. winch can be stored out of the elements
3. winch can be transfered to another vehicle (if you have cables)
4. winch can be used in a rear bumper / hitch if wired for it

Disadvantages to using a multi-mount with a 2" receiver
1. less convenient to move around (bulky and heavy)
2. worse approach angle when attached
3. could be stolen easier whether attached or in storage

So I went with a non-winch bumper with 2" receiver mainly because I didn't want to carry a heavy winch on the front of my daily driver and I liked the idea of having a portable winch (even if it was a pain to move around). But... by the time I got around to buying my winch, my Jeep has become less of a daily driver and more of a trail rig. When I started, I never thought I'd be running 35's or have my Jeep built to this level so while having a non-winch bumper back then was the right decision for me, a winch bumper now makes more sense. I really like the convenience of having the winch there where I need it rather than digging though my cargo to get it in less than ideal situations.

The bumper I bought somewhere between '02 and '03 was made by a company called BPI Fab. It was a great bumper that didn't stick out too far and I talked them into adding a 2" receiver to it and I got the second one they made, only because someone local to them in Colorado bought the prototype. The only bad thing about the bumper was it didn't support the steering box bolts, but I bought a C-Rok plate and welded it to the bumper mounts and also added another brace to the passenger side. It was in my opinion the best non-winch bumper I could ask for. BPI Fab later sold the design to Poison Spyder who still sells it, only they improved the design by adding a better mount that supports the steering box bolts. This write-up would be boring without plenty of pictures so here's some more that better illustrates the advantages and disadvantages to using a non-winch bumper and muli-mounts.

Here is my rig with this bumper. Its pretty light, and has a great approach angle.

This next photo is one of my friends who also has a non-winch bumper with a 2" receiver and a multi-mount. Because the multi-mount is a pain to store securely in the back and retreive when needed, my friend started leaving it attached to the bumper (kind of defeats the purpose of a multi-mount). Thats okay but as you can see it sure sticks out far - even further than a winch bumper would.

And here's a good example of how it can affect your approach angle. The obstacle is "Soup Bowl" on the Rubicon, and even though he didn't need to use his winch here, having the multi-mount attached to the bumper did affect his approach angle. He actually scraped his roller fairlead against the rock but it didn't damage anything and he did make it through this obstacle successfully.

So how could I have the best of both worlds - a winch bumper that would have the clearance as a non-winch bumper and wouldn't be too heavy? I really liked my non-winch bumper and knowing from all the emails I get asking where they can be bought, I knew that I could sell it if I wanted and probably make more than I payed for the original bumper. But then I'd have to look for a winch bumper, and none on the market really had what I was looking for. So the answer was to turn my non-winch bumper into a winch bumper. But I also needed a winch that would be right for this project, and that was the Warn 9.0Rc.

(note: winch solenoid box is not shown in this photo, but it does come with one)

The 9.0Rc is Warn's rock crawling winch. It is shorter than the standard winch because it uses a shorter drum. It also comes with synthetic winch rope instead of cable. Because of the shorter drum it only holds 50 feet of 3/8" rope but the advantages of these features is that it only weighs 54 lbs! That is roughly 20 lbs lighter than other winches. On top of all that it is rated at 9,000 lbs which is also what I wanted.

continue on to Part 1 - Bumper Modification

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