Divided_Wood

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I ran the stock bumper with a stubby kit and a Rock Hard 4X4 winch plate on my JKU for years before I got my JT and liked it a lot. Pictured here on my old Jeep in Moab...

IMG_0526.jpeg


These days, I'm a fan of keeping things as stock as possible. I've always found I need a steel rear bumper more than a steel front when wheeling, and I like the extra weight savings of not hauling around an extra 80 - 100lbs on the front of my Jeep. I pulled my winch off my JKU when I sold it and it's been sitting in my garage ever since.

I considered the RH4X4 plate for my Gladiator, which mounts on top of the plastic bumper, but I have a diesel and was concerned about blocking any more of the radiator than I had to. So I set about looking for a recessed winch plate and a way to fit it to the stock plastic bumper. I settled on the Warn plate (the one that is supposed to go with the stock steel bumper) because the fairlead mount is embedded in the plate, unlike some of the other options out there. This is important because a plastic bumper obviously won't hold up to mounting a fairlead.

First things first--take the old bumper off and test fit the winch plate. The stock skid plate comes off too, for now. Good news--it fits! All the hardware stays loose for now until everything is installed into place.

IMG_3112.jpeg


Next up, start taking apart the old bumper. The stock Rubicon plastic bumper is 3 pieces (technically 4 if you include the weather guards): the outer fascia, the internal hard plastic, and the steel frame. After popping off the weather guards...

IMG_3113.jpeg


...disconnecting the fog lights, and removing 8 nuts holding the steel frame in...

IMG_3114.jpeg


...you'll need to follow the small screws/bolts around the outside of the plastic frame to end up with the 3 pieces.

From there, I started cutting. The Warn winch plate protrudes quite a bit on the bottom, preventing the bumper from fitting on, so I ended up chopping the middle out of both the metal frame and the internal plastic frame. (In hindsight, I may have been OK to leave the top channel/lip on the metal frame, but I'm not 100% sure about that.) On the metal frame I also had to remove some of the lower lip, as the wings wouldn't go on otherwise. I used a sawzall for the metal frame and a hacksaw for the plastic. Both of these pieces are mounted through the tow hooks and ultimately attach to the outer plastic fascia.

IMG_3117.jpeg

IMG_3120.jpeg


I hit the steel wings with some spray paint to clean them up and did a quick test fit to ensure the metal wings and tow hooks would fit as intended.

IMG_3118.jpeg


From there, the last thing to do before refitting the bumper was to cut out the opening for the winch and fairlead. On the Warn plate, the fairlead "attachment" is fairly large so you have to remove quite a bit of material. I used a combination of a hack saw and a razor blade (scoring and then slicing) to open up the plastic fascia and cleaned up the edges with a blowtorch.

IMG_3121.jpeg

IMG_3122.jpeg


From there, everything is ready to go back on. Initially I tried reassembling the bumper off the Jeep and putting it on all in one piece, but the tow hooks needed some convincing to go back in and I didn't want to smash the plastic fascia with a hammer. I ended up installing the metal wings and tow hooks first, then shimmying on the rest of the bumper (internal plastic wings bolted to the fascia). The winch plate and all the associated brackets were fully tightened down at this by a few ugga duggas of my impact gun.

Once I bolted the plastic internal supports to the steel wings, I put the plastic weather covers and stock skid back on as well. The fairlead opening on the plastic fascia looks a little crooked here with the camera angle, but it's square-ish in person.

IMG_3125.jpeg


Finally, I installed the fairlead and license plate holder (included with the winch plate).

IMG_3131.jpeg

IMG_3132.jpeg


And that's that! Recessed winch mounted on the stock plastic bumper using an off-the-shelf winch plate. I still need to wire it up and spool my cable on, but otherwise it's ready to go.

Observations--the winch plate bolts directly into the frame (as it should) and is strong as hell. I like the location more than the top-of-bumper mount I had on my JKU, especially with all the cooling issues on the diesel. The tow hooks are bolted directly back into the stock location and are unaffected by any of the cutting or modifications.

That said, the "bumper" itself (or what's left of it) is really just for looks and serves basically as a glorified fog light holder after these modifications. With the wings attached independently and not connected together, you lose what little strength the stock bumper had. I'm not convinced it had much strength to begin with--it had quite a bit of flex even fully assembled off the Jeep. But in my experience, most hard hits off-road come where the bumper is bolted into the frame or under at the frame horns, which are still plenty strong here.

If you're expecting to take a direct hit to the wing and be fine, you'll probably be disappointed, but I have found that the pliability of the plastic bumper can sometimes be an advantage. I cut the ends off my JKU bumper and did a stubby kit so I didn't actually have any material there anyways. I would've preferred to do that with this bumper but the location of the fog lights makes that impossible.

As long as you're aware of those drawbacks, I think this is a good mod and saves a lot of weight over a steel bumper. The winch mounting point and tow hooks are just fine, which is all I care about anyways. The rest of it is just for looks...

 

skindata

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Fantastic job! It looks awesome!
 

Escape.idiocracy

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Great job!
 


Devries

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Yup, Jeep came with a plastic bumper... so thats what you have to work with
 

Hootbro

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That is the cleanest one I have seen down. A few others have done the same of reusing the bumper and it came out ok but looked a little amateurish.
 
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Divided_Wood

Divided_Wood

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Looks great @AmishMike! What winch plate did you use?

Finished up my install today--got it all wired up and put my line on there. I should probably get a cover...

68071890637__B164307D-3CAE-4608-B12A-9AD59FB5BDB9.jpeg
 

AmishMike

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I used the Warn plate as well.
Yes, get a cover. UV is no good for synthetic line.
 


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Divided_Wood

Divided_Wood

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I used the Warn plate as well.
Yes, get a cover. UV is no good for synthetic line.
I'm impressed you got it to fit without cutting more out of the front. I might not have tried hard enough but I didn't see a way I was going to squeeze it back on without cutting out that opening.
 

905_gladiator

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Looks amazing i would get some rubber edge to go around the area where you cut the bumper to give it a finished look
 

Sarge502

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I just saved this thread!! May go this route eventually. Wanted to go with a steel bumper but really don't want the extra weight.

Im assuming theres no hidden differences from the stock plastic Rubicon bumper versus an Overland other than the diff colored tow hooks?
 
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Divided_Wood

Divided_Wood

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I just saved this thread!! May go this route eventually. Wanted to go with a steel bumper but really don't want the extra weight.

Im assuming theres no hidden differences from the stock plastic Rubicon bumper versus an Overland other than the diff colored tow hooks?
I believe the Overland and Rubicon plastic bumpers are the same 3-piece construction. The Sports are different and only 2-piece. So the disassembly steps should be the same, I think.
 
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I ran the stock bumper with a stubby kit and a Rock Hard 4X4 winch plate on my JKU for years before I got my JT and liked it a lot. Pictured here on my old Jeep in Moab...

IMG_0526.jpeg


These days, I'm a fan of keeping things as stock as possible. I've always found I need a steel rear bumper more than a steel front when wheeling, and I like the extra weight savings of not hauling around an extra 80 - 100lbs on the front of my Jeep. I pulled my winch off my JKU when I sold it and it's been sitting in my garage ever since.

I considered the RH4X4 plate for my Gladiator, which mounts on top of the plastic bumper, but I have a diesel and was concerned about blocking any more of the radiator than I had to. So I set about looking for a recessed winch plate and a way to fit it to the stock plastic bumper. I settled on the Warn plate (the one that is supposed to go with the stock steel bumper) because the fairlead mount is embedded in the plate, unlike some of the other options out there. This is important because a plastic bumper obviously won't hold up to mounting a fairlead.

First things first--take the old bumper off and test fit the winch plate. The stock skid plate comes off too, for now. Good news--it fits! All the hardware stays loose for now until everything is installed into place.

IMG_3112.jpeg


Next up, start taking apart the old bumper. The stock Rubicon plastic bumper is 3 pieces (technically 4 if you include the weather guards): the outer fascia, the internal hard plastic, and the steel frame. After popping off the weather guards...

IMG_3113.jpeg


...disconnecting the fog lights, and removing 8 nuts holding the steel frame in...

IMG_3114.jpeg


...you'll need to follow the small screws/bolts around the outside of the plastic frame to end up with the 3 pieces.

From there, I started cutting. The Warn winch plate protrudes quite a bit on the bottom, preventing the bumper from fitting on, so I ended up chopping the middle out of both the metal frame and the internal plastic frame. (In hindsight, I may have been OK to leave the top channel/lip on the metal frame, but I'm not 100% sure about that.) On the metal frame I also had to remove some of the lower lip, as the wings wouldn't go on otherwise. I used a sawzall for the metal frame and a hacksaw for the plastic. Both of these pieces are mounted through the tow hooks and ultimately attach to the outer plastic fascia.

IMG_3117.jpeg

IMG_3120.jpeg


I hit the steel wings with some spray paint to clean them up and did a quick test fit to ensure the metal wings and tow hooks would fit as intended.

IMG_3118.jpeg


From there, the last thing to do before refitting the bumper was to cut out the opening for the winch and fairlead. On the Warn plate, the fairlead "attachment" is fairly large so you have to remove quite a bit of material. I used a combination of a hack saw and a razor blade (scoring and then slicing) to open up the plastic fascia and cleaned up the edges with a blowtorch.

IMG_3121.jpeg

IMG_3122.jpeg


From there, everything is ready to go back on. Initially I tried reassembling the bumper off the Jeep and putting it on all in one piece, but the tow hooks needed some convincing to go back in and I didn't want to smash the plastic fascia with a hammer. I ended up installing the metal wings and tow hooks first, then shimmying on the rest of the bumper (internal plastic wings bolted to the fascia). The winch plate and all the associated brackets were fully tightened down at this by a few ugga duggas of my impact gun.

Once I bolted the plastic internal supports to the steel wings, I put the plastic weather covers and stock skid back on as well. The fairlead opening on the plastic fascia looks a little crooked here with the camera angle, but it's square-ish in person.

IMG_3125.jpeg


Finally, I installed the fairlead and license plate holder (included with the winch plate).

IMG_3131.jpeg

IMG_3132.jpeg


And that's that! Recessed winch mounted on the stock plastic bumper using an off-the-shelf winch plate. I still need to wire it up and spool my cable on, but otherwise it's ready to go.

Observations--the winch plate bolts directly into the frame (as it should) and is strong as hell. I like the location more than the top-of-bumper mount I had on my JKU, especially with all the cooling issues on the diesel. The tow hooks are bolted directly back into the stock location and are unaffected by any of the cutting or modifications.

That said, the "bumper" itself (or what's left of it) is really just for looks and serves basically as a glorified fog light holder after these modifications. With the wings attached independently and not connected together, you lose what little strength the stock bumper had. I'm not convinced it had much strength to begin with--it had quite a bit of flex even fully assembled off the Jeep. But in my experience, most hard hits off-road come where the bumper is bolted into the frame or under at the frame horns, which are still plenty strong here.

If you're expecting to take a direct hit to the wing and be fine, you'll probably be disappointed, but I have found that the pliability of the plastic bumper can sometimes be an advantage. I cut the ends off my JKU bumper and did a stubby kit so I didn't actually have any material there anyways. I would've preferred to do that with this bumper but the location of the fog lights makes that impossible.

As long as you're aware of those drawbacks, I think this is a good mod and saves a lot of weight over a steel bumper. The winch mounting point and tow hooks are just fine, which is all I care about anyways. The rest of it is just for looks...
Looks awesome!!!

 

 
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