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Wheelin' the 'Con - Jeep Wrangler JK Bumper Trail Test

Posted in How To on February 26, 2008 Comment (0)
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Photographers: Mary Adams
The Fab Fours front winch bumper and Warn 9.5ti not only look good in combination, but they will get you to your destination and home again in one piece!

What better place to test the strength and durability of Fab Fours new Jeep JK replacement bumpers and Warn's 9.5ti Winch, than the all mighty Rubicon Trail. After trashing our stock bumpers in Moab, for the '07 Easter Jeep Safari, we were in dire need of replacements. It really doesn't take much effort to disfigure the stock JK front and rear bumpers, which we experienced firsthand. The stockers span the entire width of the new JK, reducing the approach and departure angles and quite frankly, they just get in the way of things.

Traversing the Rubicon Trail, without inflicting major damage to your rig, takes skill and a little bit of luck. So, to help ensure a trouble-free trip, we outfitted our new '07 Jeep JK Wrangler Rubicon with Fab Fours heavy duty front and rear bumper protection, as well as a "get out of jail free card", in the form of a Warn 9.5ti Winch.

As an added bonus, Hella foglights and turn indicators are included with the front bumper. The tapered bumper ends, vastly increase the approach angle.

The Fab Fours JK front winch bumper is built from 3/16 inch steel plating and is finished off in a textured powder coat finish. The stealth fighter-like design, includes a winch mount and two 1" D-ring mounts. Another benefit is recessed turn indicators and Hella fog lamps. The tapered bumper ends and front fascia literally slide off obstacles. The front bumper is relatively lightweight at 140 pounds, compared to the chintzy stock bumpers which weigh a meager 30 pounds. There's an optional pre-runner style hoop, made from 1.75" by 1/5" steel tubing.

Fab Fours JK rear bumper with integrated tire carrier, evens out the entire package, with its innovative "knife-edge" design. While sliding off the Rubicon Trails granite ledges, the tapered bumper ends enabled the rear end of the Jeep to slide off ledges, instead of pounding down on a flat surface. On a few occasions, I thought for certain that I had caved in the rear body corners of the Jeep. But, after closer inspection, the rocks that did happen to touch the rear bumper, merely etched the powder coat finish. There were no dents or dings to be had on the bumper or the body.

The rear bumper has excellent rock clearing abilities, with "knife-edge" ends, increasing the departure angle.

The tire carrier pivot is rated to 1,250 pounds and has a locking pin that enables you to swing the tire rack out of the way for rear storage access. The tire carrier will handle up to a 37" tire. Located next to the spare tire carrier is a vertical hi-lift jack mount. The mounting threads are the same thread as the JK's wheel lug bolts, so you can secure your hi-lift jack with matching wheel locks. Also included is a CB antenna mount, two recessed 1" D-ring mounts and a 2" tow receiver. The tow receiver was the only portion of the bumper that really showed any sort of rock rub, but this was to be expected.

A vertical hi-lift jack mount attachment, bolts onto the pivot side of the spare tire carrier. A locking lug nut secures the jack to the tire carrier.

Again, no structural damage here, only a little rubbing off of the powder coat, which can be easily touched up with a paint rattle can.

Last, but not least, we installed Warn's 9.5ti Thermometric self recovery winch, that tucked securely into the Fab Four's front bumper. We ended up not having to use our Warn 9.5ti winch on this trip, but it sure was reassuring to have the added security. Installation was as simple as tightening four bolts, running the positive and negative cables to the battery, engaging the winch clutch and then pushing the line "in" or "out" button on the remote control switch. Integrated into the remote switch is a thermometric indicator that gives the operator information about motor temperature during the winching operation. Warn's patented Gen II Series Wound motor delivers the tremendous torque needed to pull a fully outfitted vehicle out of almost any situation. The Warn 9.5ti's rated single line pull is a whooping 9,500 pounds and came fitted with 125 feet of 5/16 inch winch cable and a roller fairlead. Wrapping up the safety factor is Daystar Products new winch isolator, which eliminates rattles and gives your winch hook a happy home.

The bumper and winch installation took approximately three hours and can be completed by any offroad enthusiasts with moderate mechanical abilities. Except for an extra hand needed to lift the bumper up and onto the Jeep, it's a one-man operation. The only time consuming portion of the entire install, is wiring up the turn indicator and fog lights on the front bumper. The instructions are very straight forward and there were no alignment or trimming issues.

The transformation from stock bumpers to the Fab Four units and Warn 9.5ti Winch really sets this JK apart from the rest. Not only did we spruce up the appearance of our project JK, we now have the peace of mind of having superior front and rear bumper protection, along with the very best in self recovery units. We conquered the Rubicon Trail in stride.

Winch Specification:

Rated Line Pull (single line): 4,500 lbs. (4,310 kgs)
Motor: Gen II, Series Wound
Gear Ratio: 156:1
Overall Dimensions: (LxWxH): 23.1" x 6.3" x 10.0"
Drum Diameter/Length: 2.5" (6.4cm)/9.0" (23cm)
Remote Control: Remote Switch, 12' (3.7m) lead, thermometric indicator, S2 elements, integrated flashlight
Weight: 89 lbs. (36.3 kgs.)

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Sources

Warn Industries
Clackamas, OR 97015
800-543-9276
www.warn.com
Daystar Products
www.daystarweb.com
Fab Fours Inc.
www.fabfours.com

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