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Rear Bumper Design
A rear winch bumper with tire and tool racks

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Bill's bumper

For my 1994 Ram expedition truck, I needed a rear winch bumper and a swinging rack to mount the spare tire on the rear of the truck. Bill Swails had a wonderful custom aluminum bumper fabricated by Denver OffRoad but, it took considerable time to have it built and the price was frightening. Unable to find a commercial supplier for a suitable utility bumper, I decided to design one myself and have a local welding shop do the fabrication. The original design was to feature storage inside the bumper, a Warn M12000 winch, and a swing-away rack for the spare tire, hi-lift jack, water/fuel cans, and tools. The rack would be hinged on the driver side of the truck. Weight for a steel bumper system was estimated to be around 275 pounds plus the winch, tools, tires, and cans - bringing the total load to about 630 pounds. After playing around on paper, I made a full size cardboard model of the bumper to see how the mounting and positioning would work. The rack design was put off while I worked on the bumper.

The Diamond utility bumper that came with the utility bed
No bumper
Cardboard model of original bumper design

As time grew shorter before we were scheduled to leave for our Alaska vacation, I continued work on the design details but discovered that the shop which usually did my welding was completely covered up by a large construction contract and would not be able to handle any additional work. I began looking for another shop but, on the way to work one morning, I found a 6 1/2' long piece of 10" channel iron laying in the road and the plans changed instantly. The channel was a bumper which had broken free from its brackets (poor quality welding). All it needed to become my bumper was a new set of brackets, which could be attached with angle and bolts (no welding needed!). I had assorted pieces of 1/4", 5/15", and 3/8" plate, plus miscellaneous pieces of channel, angle, and diamond plate laying around. If I was lucky, this thing could cost very little....

  Inspiration came from a HD Bronco bumper on the Big Bronco Tech page . This bumper was a piece of 5"x4" steel I-beam, and the racks (including the hinge and latch) were completely home built.
  More inspiration came from a home built Chevy front bumper in the neighborhood. Gary's bumper used a 6'2" piece of 10" channel, mounted a Warn M10000 winch, and included a fixed tire rack.

    My bumper would be crude but serviceable for the trip. If everything was bolted together, I could revise the design later. With only four weeks to our departure date, I went to work with a band saw.

Tire rack with mountain rack on topAssembly diagram for the TJ tire rackThe complete rack assembly   An off-the-shelf rack system made for Jeeps by Durango 4X4 looked as if it could be attached to any HD bumper with a minimum of work.
Figuring it was much quicker and easier to buy an engineered system than it would be to "hang stuff" on my bumper, I ordered the Durango YJ tire rack, the optional Hi-lift jack/jerry can rack, and the mountain rack. So much for costing little!

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