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Old 01-07-2017, 06:18 PM   #11
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Mike, a liability waiver--if included--might provide some protection for the producer of the aftermarket bumper.

But--what about the happy SMB owner driving behind that bumper?

Let's do a thought experiment, just for the sake of contemplating these things.

But before we do the thought experiment, I will relay a story that was recently passed on to me. It is part of what got me thinking about all of this:

Happy pickup truck driver driving down a two lane road in Oregon. Not speeding, not misbehaving. Said driver had previously done a 4WD conversion and quite a large lift. His bumper was no longer within the height range dictated by federal safety standards.

Woman driving a small sedan coming from the other direction. She gets distracted, and swings into the opposite lane of traffic, just as happy pickup truck driver happens to be driving that stretch of road. Her car goes under the pickup truck's bumper, and the bumper takes out her windshield--and kills her.

Pickup driver had done nothing wrong, with respect to how he was driving. The other driver made the driving error--and paid for that error with her life.

However, the accident investigators concluded that if the pickup's bumper had been at the legally-mandated height, she would likely have survived the crash. Consequently, charges were filed against the pickup truck driver.

Back to the thought experiment:
Let's say that one of these cool new bumpers goes on a happy SMB owner's rig. Happy SMB owner signs a waiver, releasing the design/build team from any liability.

SMB is later in a driver's side front end collision, and the crumple zone does not work as originally designed. Instead of the motor and transmission being shoved down and back, they are shoved laterally, and end up crushing the legs of the occupant of the passenger seat.

The insurance company investigates, and determines that the aftermarket bumper prevented the crumple zone from working as designed. Coverage is denied. The not-so-happy SMB owner does not get their van replaced, and the occupant of the passenger seat is left with no medical coverage.

Questions:
1. Could an aftermarket bumper negatively interfere with the van's crash response system, leading to a possibility of increased physical harm to the people involved in a crash?

2. Could an insurer deny coverage based on the owner installing an aftermarket bumper that negatively interfered with the van's crash response system?

3. How do we find the answers to these questions?

Thanks, Mike!
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Old 01-07-2017, 06:39 PM   #12
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I love the idea of a fold down platform on the front bumper of for maintenance but never have gotten my head around putting bikes or a moto up there. It's going to shake and distract you, interfere with vision and cooling, and they just stick out too far IMO for driving.

I love the idea of storage with accessible doors on the ends, especially the rear, and a frt/rear cartridge for a winch would be amazing. How could it be made strong enough for our vans though if removable?


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Old 01-07-2017, 07:20 PM   #13
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Hey Glider ---
I'm not an aftermarket designer (yet) --- so to your liability questions I truly have no idea. However --- I would hope that this is a well-trodden path, and one we would be able to navigate successfully by referencing actual best/legal/due care practices of other aftermarket producers.

Also....I'm willing to bet that a lifted Sportsmobile with even its **factory-original Econoline bumpers** are already lifted too high to place it's bumper "hit zones" within the Federally-mandated "bumper height zone" - so the bumper design itself becomes increasingly irrelevant. Anyone on the forum with a lifted van is already creating liabilities for themselves in this respect, at least by the line of reckoning you're embarking upon.

But I agree it's a good topic to sort out.

By contrast:
All of the styled bumpers I design for my OEM employer are ridiculously regulated items....new regulations lifted at them every year....such that we even have to design specific bumper/lower fascia profiles in our newest vehicles around "Ped Pro" specs ("Pedestrian Protection" -- the bumpers and lower air dam shapes must meet specific US and Europe-specified shapes that are designed to make sure that anyone that's hit (on foot) by one of our cars will be best protected.)

Yep. The front ends of modern cars are collectively (by law!) shaped/designed to make sure that a pedestrian, if struck, will be tipped/tumbled **up and over** onto the hood (where there is now a "pedestrian crumple zone" designed in, to make their landing on the hood somewhat cushioned) --- as opposed to being struck bluntly and then run over.)

I am positive that I've read another forum thread about the various aftermarket SMB bumpers and their potentially compromised safety, would be worth linking to from this thread if I (or someone else) can find it.

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Old 01-07-2017, 07:35 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MountainBikeRoamer View Post
Hey Glider ---
...I'm willing to bet that a lifted Sportsmobile with even its **factory-original Econoline bumpers** are already lifted too high to place it's bumper "hit zones" within the Federally-mandated "bumper height zone" - so the bumper design itself becomes increasingly irrelevant.

But I agree it's a good topic to sort out.

I am positive that I've read another forum thread about the various aftermarket SMB bumpers and their potentially compromised safety, would be worth linking to from this thread if I (or someone else) can find it.

Some lifted SMBs are out of the federal bumper height zone; some are not. For example, QuadVan states that all of their conversions are kept within the zone--this is required by their product liability insurance. I do not know what the other conversion operations do--I'm guessing that you are right that some, perhaps many, are out of range.

However, I certainly would not take the perspective that just because some percentage of vans are not height-compliant, that is a reason to build a bumper that further compromises safety and/or increases liability or risk of denial of insurance coverage. You can certainly disagree with me on this point. That's just how I see it.

If someone knows where that thread about aftermarket bumpers and safety is, I'd sure love to see it.

Thanks, MountainBikeRoamer. If you are aware of any places where we can find some relevant reading material on this topic, I'll be happy to do some reading, and report back on what I learn.
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Old 01-07-2017, 07:47 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glider View Post
Some lifted SMBs are out of the federal bumper height zone; some are not. For example, QuadVan states that all of their conversions are kept within the zone--this is required by their product liability insurance. I do not know what the other conversion operations do--I'm guessing that you are right that some, perhaps many, are out of range.

However, I certainly would not take the perspective that just because some percentage of vans are not height-compliant, that is a reason to build a bumper that further compromises safety and/or increases liability or risk of denial of insurance coverage. You can certainly disagree with me on this point. That's just how I see it.
Hey Glider -- I'm definitely not disagreeing with you. I was just raising the awareness that it's more than likely the *suspension lift* that creates bumper-height issues, not the design of the bumper itself. (They all need to bolt into the same set of frame-horn mount points on the front of the van structure, and this establishes most of a bumper's height, regardless of stylistic differences)

I just now read up a bit on bumper height laws....and found that each State regulates bumper height differently. It's usually based on GVWR, such that vehicles over 7500 pounds are allowed pretty generously-high bumper heights.

This page list the various requirements by State:
Bumper Height - AAA Digest of Motor Laws

And for reference, this one goes into greater detail for California and it's lift/bumper laws:

http://www.liftlaws.com/california_lift_laws.htm

As far as bumpers being designed to manage and comply with crumple-zone specs....that's another issue entirely. I dug up these two SMB Forum threads where that issue was discussed.

http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/for...ions-9368.html

and

http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/for...ety-17640.html

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Old 01-07-2017, 07:58 PM   #16
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Hi Glider: I've thought about similar scenarios as you have posed above and you are making some good points. I design medical devices as a freelance consultant and I'm certainly aware of the liability exposure when developing new products.

Here is what the NHTSA has to say about bumpers:

https://one.nhtsa.gov/cars/problems/...per/Index.html

Note #4 is of particular interest........

Please keep in mind that we are conducting a design exercise here.......we are not contemplating (presently anyway) delving into commercial product development. We are doing this for fun and entertainment..at least I am anyway.....

I would be curious to know what (if any??) crash testing Aluminess has done on their bumpers. Based on the various makes and models of trucks and vans that they make products for I can't imagine that they could afford to crash test anything, although I'm guessing here.

As far as interfering with the van's crumple zones, there are at least a few leaf spring conversions that certainly alter the factory crumples zones...at least the front leaf hangers from Advanced 4X4 do and I imagine that they are similar to others. I also cannot imagine that they have done any crash testing but I'm guessing again. Same for Camburg and Action Van lift kits.

Again, this is purely a design exercise......
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Old 01-07-2017, 08:15 PM   #17
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Thanks, MountainBikeRoamer. That made for some interesting reading. I'm going to keep poking around to see what I can find out. It would be really wonderful to have front and rear bumpers with features that support van life.
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Old 01-07-2017, 08:35 PM   #18
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Thanks, boywonder. That made for some good reading. I'm going to keep poking around--I am going to see what I can find out about what some of the larger manufacturers are doing.

But in the meantime, for the purposes of the design exercise, here is a summary of my wish list:

Front Bumper
- Brush guard that offers real protection.
- Brush guard that folds down to provide an elevated working surface and a means of loading gear for transport (I agree with 86Scotty that this might not be an ideal location for loads, but the option would come in handy in some circumstances.
- Waterproof storage.
- Storage access at the ends and the middle.
- Winch mounting options.
- Auxiliary light mounting options.

Rear Bumper
- Multi-purpose swing arms for boxes or tires.
- Box set up that allows a Rotopax to be mounted between the box and the rear door.
- Easy-to-operate, non-jamming latch system for swing arms.
- Locking mechanism to allow swing arms to be locked at different opening angles.
- Swing arms set up to allow rear doors to open as wide as possible.
- Option to hook rear door to open swing arm to prevent movement.
- Winch mount option.
- Integrated hitch.
- Waterproof storage.
- Auxiliary light mounting options.
- Multipurpose platform, serving as a bench, table, or shower platform.
- This one might not be very popular or generally needed, but someday I'm going to have a rear tire mounting system that allows me to lift/winch my spare tire up or down--given that the spare tire weighs about as much as I do, I don't have many options for grunting it into place.
- Oh, and the total cost should definitely be $19.99 or less.
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Old 01-07-2017, 10:29 PM   #19
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FWIW, from the factory, Excursions came with a 'blocker bar' because of the ride height of the Excursion.Not sure if the F-series had them so it may be the difference between a passenger vehicle (the Excursion) and a truck which has quite a few different safety laws.


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Old 01-08-2017, 01:49 AM   #20
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Let's see..
Front:
- Front air scoop to increase air flow to the radiator.
- recessed front side signal so side vehicle can actually see them.

Back:
- BBQ mount
- additional break and side signals.
- recessed step.
- Jack holder
- reverse camera ? Not sure about this one.
- haz-mat storage for engine oil, BBQ lighter, power steering ...
- sand strap side brackets perhaps also connected to the side stairs.

Nerf Bar
- Floor illumination to use while at the campsite.
- Some sort of lift so they also serve as steps.
- maybe also act as flotation devices while crossing rivers. :-)
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