Custom I-Beam Winch Bumper


The stock bumpers on Full-Size Jeep wagons are pretty-much useless for off-roading. They interfere with the installation of tow-hooks, and hang low to catch on obstacles. Custom Bumpers are available, but not free. There is, however, a pile of scrap iron out behind where I work, with all sorts of pipes and I-beams available for me to play with. That's where I got the ideas for the bumpers I made for my Cherokee.

The outer ends of my front bumper are cut from a 6"x18" I-beam, with a 1/2"-thick outer plate and a 3/8" thick middle plate. I bolted these plates to the side of the framerails using the stock bumper-bracket mounting holes and bolts. I used lengths of that same I-beam as brackets behind an 8"x8" angle of 1/4" plate (fabricated for me by Mark Dupont of our Sniper's Lair 4wd club), to which I mounted the Warn 8274 winch:

The bolts from those brackets double as mounts for the two tow-hooks on each side (ok, a little bit of overkill, I admit). The bumper has some vertical support from a pair of brackets cut from a 3"x3"x3/8" box-section tube, which bolts to the original bumper mount on the front crossmember.

I cut out a section of the front valence panel in to the framerails and to just under the headlights. This required the relocation of the marker lights and turn-signals; for those, I installed two NAPA marker-lights on a plate that I pop-riveted over the vestigal inner light hole in the front support. I've also installed a Rhino grille from a '64 Wagoneer.

The upright 8274 does block the grille a bit, so to minimize the obstruction, I mounted the relay pack under the hood, and built some 2-ga cables to power the motor:

In order to avoid popping the hood every time I want to use the winch, I've relocated the remote connector to the front valence-panel, right between the lights. All cables run through a factory opening in the radiator-suppor that looks like it was designed for this very purpose.

The outer plates are strong enough to stand on, but maybe too heavy. I may cut out a section in the middle of the plate to reduce the weight and weld in some expanded-steel mesh to give a good footing.

The rear bumper is a rather simple deal, constructed out of a single piece of 4"x6" structural-steel I-beam. It provides a handy step for getting up to the roof-rack, as well as a place to install a bumper-mounted tow-hitch.

The I-beam itself is 1/4" thick across the middle, and slightly thicker on the end-plates.


To make it, I first cut it to length, and bolted it into place using the four stock 7/16"" bolts on the top. To tie it in to the factory tow-hitch reinforcement bracket inside the rear frame, I attached some 1/4"x4"x4" angle-iron L-brackets to the side-framerail with a 3/4" grade-5 bolt and drilled through the rear crossmember directly into the bumper, using two 9/16" grade-8 bolts.


I beveled the ends to avoid knocking off people's kneecaps (this bumper is SOLID!), cut small slots in the bottom edge to enable use of the stock bumper-jack, and covered it in a coat of primer.


I notched the bottom of the bumper to fit a step-bumper  receiver-hitch attached to the center plate with a pair of 3/4" grade-5 bolts. I want to weld in some gussets on the bottom next to the jack notches to prevent the bumper from flexing when I'm jacking it up, and maybe box the bottom of the bumper to avoid the rear hanging up on rocks. If I get ambitious, I'll fit a pair of D-shackles on the back to use as recovery points, but for now the pin through the hitch receiver works fine. All-told, I've got about $50 in this rear bumper.


Once I'm done with all the little details on these bumpers, I'll cover them with black Hammerite paint. Matching rocker-rails are in the works, but a little ways off still as I hunt down some suitable material (scrap 4"x6" box-section tubing is hard to come by).


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