Once the ROCKBOX
got side Boulder Bars
for rocker protection, it was time to turn to the front and rear
bumpers and assess what we wanted to do there. We discussed the
different options and decided that we would look at our requirements
and see who made a bumper that met them. Here's what we came up
No giant bull bar or light bars. Must be as tight
to the body as possible
hold a winch
allow use of a towbar for flat-towing
be extremely durable and put up with all the abuse
we can give it
at just about every major bumper manufacturer and narrowed them
down until we came to Bulletproof
Manufacturing. Now in all fairness, we already have Bulletproof
bumpers on our Wrangler,
so we are very familiar with them and how they hold up over the
years. When we were looking around at other companies' bumpers,
we simply could not find a matching pair that both met our requirements
and looked the way we wanted. Confident that Bulletproof would
be able to get us exactly what we wanted and get it to us in time
for Moab Easter Jeep Safari, we called up and placed our order.
bumpers are hand-made by expert metal workers and welders. As such,
they do take time to build and ship. When you order a set of them,
you should not expect all models to ship immediately - especially
if you ask for custom modifications. While some models are kept
in stock, others may take a few weeks to produce and ship out. Our
Cherokee bumpers showed up just in the nick of time for us to get
them on for our trip to Moab. Like everything else we did on the
ROCKBOX project, we were bolting on parts right up to the minute
we left. In fact, the diamond plate guards that go behind the rear
wheels had their holes incorrectly drilled and the folks at Bulletproof
made a new set, which were waiting for us at our motel in Moab when
of the things that sets Bulletproof apart from their competitors
is how they build the bumpers. While some bumpers are made of formed
steel, Bulletproofs are made of rectangular tubing, meaning there
is no open back-side, making the bumpers much stronger. In addition,
clevis/tow-bar mounts are made for 3/4" bar stock steel and
go through the bumper and are welded at both ends, ensuring a strong
mounting point. Once complete, the bumpers are beautifully powder-coated
front bumper we chose is a plain-Jane FF3L, which is made from 2”
x 6” rectangle tubing with a 3/16” wall, as well as
3/8” angle, 3/8” plate and 1/4” plate. The top
surface has diamond plate sections and the end caps are entirely
welded, ground flush and completely sealed. It also has two D-rings.
Several other models are offered with various grill guards and headlight
loop guards, but we wanted ours to be basic and low-profile.
rear bumper is the FF3LR-REC-SHK, which is made from 2” x
5” rectangle tubing with a 3/16” wall. Like the front,
the end caps are entirely welded ground flush and completely sealed.
This model includes a 2" receiver for towing, so it uses the
same holes in the frame that you'd use if you had a hitch. The bumper
is rated for 10,000 pounds and also has 2 D-rings and an air tank.
We decided to mount our spare tire on a Wilderness rack on the roof,
however, Bulletproof does offer a swing-out tire carrier, as well
as Gerry can mounts if desired.
of the front bumper is fairly straight-forward. Bulletproof bumpers
are made to extremely strict tolerances, and it is easy to think
your bumpers were not made right if you don't line them up perfectly.
Patience pays off when you realize just how perfect they do fit
and you get everything put on right. Bulletproof provides all the
hardware you need to mount your bumpers. Our bumpers were sent in
a hurry so we could get going to Moab and we got shorted on a few
bolt/washer/nut combos. It was not a big deal because they were
standard Grade 8 and were available at Lowe's for just a couple
bumper close-up |
front bumper removed
off the stock bumper is not a terribly difficult task, however,
some of the bolts and screws in the frame and supports are a bit
tricky to get to, so have various-sized tools handy. One thing you
will need to figure out is a new place to house your vacuum ball.
This baseball-sized plastic ball mounts inside the original bumper
and has nowhere to live once you put the Bulletproof on. We tried
tie-wrapping it to the frame for starters. During a long ride home
on a hot summer night, our air conditioning stopped blowing out
of the vents. A road-side inspection revealed that we had lost the
ball somewhere on a trail or road. Plugging the hose got us home
and we got a new ball the next day. We relocated the ball inside
the engine compartment and everything works just fine now.
need to find a new home for the vacuum ball |
piece gets tossed in the recycling bin
addition to the ball, you will also need to do some trimming of
the plastic inside the wheel wells. Because of the shape and size
of the new bumper, the plastic does not look good and must be trimmed
down and smoothed out so it's not sticking out or looking out of
place. The trimming is easily done using a cutting wheel such as
bracket needs to be moved in order to install the new bumper.
It's very difficult to completely get loose. We decided to
strong-arm it out of the way with a pry bar. |
bumper attaches using existing holes in the frame. Once it's
in place, we brought the bracket back to its original position.
you get the bumper in place and the plastic trimmed, it's time to
put the winch in. Over the years we have been very happy with the
Ramsey winches we've owned, which have included a Pro Plus 9000,
a Platinum 9000, and
a special-edition Bad Boy
Platinum 9500. Having given us flawless performance, we decided
to go with the latest winch Ramsey has to offer - the Pariot 9500.
again, our bumper was made with extremely tight tolerances. We lowered
the winch down into the hole at a very slight angle and the feet
got stuck in the bumper. A pry bar was needed to get the winch back
out. We discovered the trick was to lower it perfectly straight
and lined-up with the bolt holes in the bottom, because once it
was in wedged in place, it wasn't moving. Though this sounds a bit
like a pain, it actually is quite nice. We don't expect any thieves
to be making off with our winch very easily!
winch of choice for the ROCKBOX is the new Ramsey Patriot
9500, which provides 9,500 pounds of pull on the first layer
of cable. It also includes a wireless remote. |
mounting tray for the winch is very tight and fit the Ramsey
perfectly - and we mean perfectly. You can see where we got
the winch jammed the first time we put it in.
for the winch is easily run underneath the bumper and through the
front of the Jeep and to the battery. We circled our extra power
cable and tie-wrapped it snug up inside the bumper, out of harm's
way. Our roller fairlead mounted perfectly to the holes on the front
of the bumper and winch was ready to go.
Ramsey's roller fairlead mounts directly to the holes already
in the bumper. The bumper will keep the winch safe and sound
and provide a solid point of attachment. |
bundled the excess winch power lines inside the bumper. They'll
get a bit dirty under there but they are out of the way and
should not get damaged.
winch came with a wireless keyfob remote. We mounted the receiver
to the Jeep's firewall, out of harm's way.
magnetic remote receiver antenna fit perfectly inside the bumper
and is for the most part out of site of thieves.
on to the Rear --->>>