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Old 04-09-2013, 10:13 PM   #1
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Winch mount

I've got a 2001 SMB with stock bumpers (the chrome ones, not the step ones). I finally decided to add a winch as I noted in other posts, and finally managed (with help from my fabricators, Any Seven Offroad, to figure out a mount. I was gonna use a standard winch plate, chop ends, and cut a big hole in the bumper so it could be welded atop the existing front hitch receiver (basically a 2" square crossbar between the front framerails).

I set the Any Seven guys to work, but they were rather put off by the carnage that this would have done, and so they custom made a smaller winch plate, took off the bumper and grill guard, and put the winch in with minimal hacking. Essentially made a hidden winch receptacle behind the little stock bumper. Aside from being a bit cooler looking, it is also mondo theft proof (in Oakland everything has to be locked down).

Thought I'd toss up a pic in case anyone else wants to add a winch without having to get a whole new front bumper.

I'm wondering if I should paint the plastic on the bumpers black while Iím at it. I'll put up more when I get the solenoid box mounted (probably on bumper) and the fairlead and rope on.



Rob
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Old 04-09-2013, 10:39 PM   #2
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Re: Winch mount

I like that a lot! Looks great! I may have to contact them. What size winch did you use?
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Old 04-09-2013, 11:15 PM   #3
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Re: Winch mount

Nice! I'm a big fan of this approach.

If I see it correctly, you have recovery points on the bottom now. Are those hooked to the winch plate or the hitch?
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Old 04-10-2013, 08:40 AM   #4
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Re: Winch mount

Very neat Rob. You could even make a little plate to screw on over the opening to make it essentially invisible to casual inspection.

If I understand you, the winch plate is mounted to a 2x tube welded between the front frame horns. Anything else backing it up? Did you need to bring the bumper forward at all?
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Old 04-10-2013, 10:48 AM   #5
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Re: Winch mount

The winch is a Harbor Freight 12k model. Not the best by far, but lots of people using them successfully. It's not a great frequent-use winch because of it's duty cycle, but compares favorably with the lower-end winches from all the usual suspects. I replaced the wire rope with synthetic.

The two inch tube runs from about 3" behind the front of the frame rails, going side to side. That's the point where my front leaf springs attach to the frame rails (Salem-Kroger), and also the brackets that hold the lower end of the grill guard you can just see. And those tow hooks.

About those: not so trustworthy, apparently. Big bolts and rated 10k+ but the folks that did some of the work said they bend those with a much lower side pull; they'll only hold straight on (which makes sense if you look at how the bolts are positioned). I rarely use them. Much better to attach via a short static tree saver in the front hitch receiver. Convenient for winch extensions as well, and you don't have to worry about stuff falling off (which they do off those hooks, which is why they're sorta worthless for towing).

The bumper still mounts in its original location; didn't extend it at all. I never got aftermarket bumpers in part because I didn't want to get longer. And if it gets hit, it's still a relatively easy replacement: just bolt on and cut a new hole.



The winch plate sits on top of the receiver you see; the forward edge is at the left side of the photo. We sliced down into the triangular gusset, and the rear of the plate sits on that and butts up against the cross tube. The cross tube is pretty secure against the rails since it's bolstered by the leaf spring brackets. And now the winch plate gives more side-to-side strength to the receiver tube as well for double-lining, tow straps, etc.

When I carry my Hi Lift in the receiver up front it will partially block the opening, but the cover might be nice. Maybe even a fabric one with those snaps like on boat covers.

Rob
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Old 04-10-2013, 11:56 AM   #6
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Re: Winch mount

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gonejpn2
I like that a lot! Looks great! I may have to contact them. What size winch did you use?
I forgot to credit the fabricators; they're Any Seven Offroad in San Leandro, CA, http://www.any7offroad.com

They did bumpers for me on my Chevy Tracker, and some work on the lift. They're great; can make about anything. Give 'em ideas and turn 'em loose. Lots of experience in offroad stuff, and they've run KOH before so they are familiar with much more brutal use than we ever get. When I was there he was setting up to convert a school bus to living quarters and truggie carrier. They've made vehicles from the ground up, so my stuff was easy for 'em.

Someone I dunno why people don't get custom work done by guys like these; the cool thing about offroading is that there are tons of good builders out there (mainly because you build it, break it, repeat). Beats the heck out of buying stuff and then spending hours and/or $$$ trying to get it to fit, when a one-off build would cost as much.
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Old 04-14-2013, 04:53 PM   #7
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Re: Winch mount

Finished the mounting today.

I probably should have removed the grill guard and bumper, as it it would have been easier to get at. But it's HEAVY, so I unbolted the winch and by moving around in its enclosed space managed to get it painted (hey, primer) and the cables hooked up.

I took the opportunity to install a buss bar with 3/8" studs and some smaller posts; I hooked the winch cabling to it, as well as a 6 AWB wire and big fuse I have that connects to an inverted in the cabin. And a trickle charger and driving lights also connect there.

It's a pain because at least on my van I've got two 2 AWG (? maybe smaller) crimped together from the engine, with a clamp-on style terminal. There's absolutely no slack in it, so I was reluctant to pull off the clamp and install new ones, mainly because it would have been a PITA to get new ones on. Instead I put a clamp that converts to a "marine style" stud (3/8"); onto this I fastened a 2 AWG short cable and a tapered battery connector; the engine wiring now clamps to THAT terminal, and the short battery cable runs to the bar. And from the bar all the other stuff connects.

I ran the winch cables through split conduit, as you can see, and then through a PVC elbow where they cross a sharp edge. Then they enter some scrap heater hose and run down the side of the fan shroud. I figure that stuff's wear and temperature resistant. At the bottom, more conduit and up over the crossbar I mentioned in an earlier post. Neg to winch, pos to the solenoid bos.

The box was originally meant to go on the winch, but no room. And the design seemed bad to me (as is typical with HF stuff it's just a starting point...you usually have to mod it to make it good). So bent a couple of brackets and bolted through the chrome bumper. The design is lame because it's impossible to take off the top when it's bolted down; I'll correct that later if I have to. Couple little drain holes in the bottom and done.

As you saw in earlier photos, no wire rope. Traded it in. Got synthetic. The line, however, came with a ring terminal end and I've got a through-hole-with-allen-bolt winch (the last one I installed was the other way 'round, which is actually more of a pain). So had to cut it off. Man, Dyneema is HARD to cut! Stuff's like tool steel! Went through a few cutting wheels with the Dremel. It just made it into the hole since the rope has a heat sheath; I figured I could peel a bit back to make it fit, and it did. Now I need a tree to get it taut, but it's on. SOOOO much nicer than wire rope. All my friends made it clear they would not help me winch a 4.5 ton van with wire rope. Scared them.

HF makes a wireless remote; gonna add that (BTW, lots of folks are rewiring those to work on other winches; they're fairly inexpensive).

Only hiccup was the crappy bolts for the winch. So here's a warning:

DO NOT USE THE HARBOR FREIGHT BOLTS TO MOUNT A WINCH!!

Not the first time I've found their hardware lacking, and I had considered, on advice of a reviewer, switching to SAE anyway. But I thought I'd do it when I returned and was just gonna make sure they were torqued correctly and was literally on the last one when SNAP. BIG pain, but that's for another thread.

Overall, pretty happy with the project.

One lingering question is the width of the opening of my fairlead. It's the right size, and I notice that they seem to be standard and all run a bit smaller than the width of the drum. Rope spools fine; just wondering about it.

Some pics:





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Old 04-14-2013, 06:09 PM   #8
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Re: Winch mount

Nice job. So Rob, can they do any 12K winch or is it specific to that brand? Could they get a Warn to fit in there like that?
Looks like they do very clean work.
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Old 04-14-2013, 06:59 PM   #9
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Re: Winch mount

They sell winches, Engos I think. But the HF model is very similar (just rebadged??) to lots of other winches. I just brought it to them and they figured it out. They thought that my idea would have chopped too much metal, and they didn't want to weld without taking off the bumper, which would be especially necessary, I imagine, if you didn't already have a front hitch receiver crossbar.

But you could bring in a Warn and they could probably build a van around it. I had a Tracker and tore off the bumpers and just went in and told them to put on hitch receivers front and back and add tube bumpers while you're at it. and they fabb'd all that, no problems.

Best way is drop by first or call, and get some ideas. Then get your stuff together make and appt and go for it. I'd imagine that if they don't have something they could either order it, or you could have it drop shipped there.
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Old 04-14-2013, 11:14 PM   #10
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Re: Winch mount

Thanks for all the additional info! Especially the note about those hooks (I have some that I've not quite had the resolve to mount yet).

I'm not sure why you'd switch to SAE, everything else on these vans is metric. I'm nearly done carrying any SAE tools in my kit. (I'll hang onto some SAE crescent wrenches in case I'm wrong )

The fairlead being narrower then the winch spool is normal/correct. It's that way so it won't try to spool past the end of the drum.
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