To Protect And Recover - Bumper, Armor, and Winch InstallationPosted in How To on November 1, 2012
Sometimes we want to go ’wheeling so bad with our newly found 4x4s that we forget they might not be ready for the punishment of going off-road. Tackling a difficult trail can be rewarding and a lot of fun, but if your rig just has a lift and bigger tires and is not adequately protected and set up with a good winch, you may end up with permanent damage to the front or rear, rocker panel, or undercarriage.
We want to avoid this scenario with our 2004 Tacoma Double Cab TRD, so we contacted a well-known Toyota 4x4 specialist, All-Pro Off-Road in Hemet, California, to get all the parts we would need to protect it. We also acquired a Smittybilt X20 winch to help recover it when needed.
All-Pro Off-Road has been building hardcore parts for Toyotas for over 15 years, and knows how to set up trucks, 4Runners, and ’Cruisers for the trail. And since this Tacoma will gradually transform from our daily driver to more of a hardcore rock-crawler, we wanted to protect it from all angles. The rear received an All-Pro wrap-around tube bumper that also allowed for an All-Pro two-inch receiver hitch set up to tow a mid size trailer or motorcycle trailer. Up front is a high clearance All-Pro tube winch bumper with front skidplate, side hoops for corner protection, and a front hoop to hang a few off-road lights. We also opted for the All-Pro fill plates in front and on top of the bumper that not only help with aesthetics, but also keep road debris from chipping the chassis paint. For the rocker panels we went with the All-Pro bolt-on/weld on rock sliders with a kick out at the rear that helps to push your truck away from the rocks in that time of need. We also chose to weld them on in order to be able to use a high lift and just plain abuse them a bit more if the situation arose. On the bottom of the truck we installed the two 3/16-inch-thick steel All-Pro skidplates, which connect to each other to form one long skid. The front skidplate is made to mount to the bottom of the All-Pro front bumper to tie it all together. In addition to protecting the oil pan and transmission, All-Pro also offers a factory TRD rear locker actuator skidplate, and a transfer case skidplate that will work much better than the wimpy stock item, so we opted for both.
For those times when we end up stuck between a rock and hard place and need to get out, we contacted Smittybilt, who have been in the off-road industry for over 50 years, to get our hands on a brand new X20 8 Comp-Series Winch. The new 8,000-pound winch was developed with series-wound amphibious technology, which completely seals the 5.5 series-wound motor as well as the three-stage planetary gear system. It also has an oversized and waterproof 500 amp solenoid that has the versatility to be mounted over the winch motor or winch cable, and performance is fast with just under 40-feet a minute of line speed. The Smittybilt X20 series is IP68 rated, which means they are dust proof, and protected from continuous immersion in water under more severe conditions than IP67-rated winches. Both the control handle and hardware are manufactured out of marine grade 304 stainless steel, and the heavy-duty rubberized remote control has a cool magnet which means you can locate it on the side of your truck and control it with your left hand while steering with your right. The 100-foot synthetic winch rope is much lighter than steel cable, comes with a protective sleeve to prevent overheating, and is UV and abrasive resistant. The Comp Series version also comes with an aluminum fairlead made from high-grade billet and reduces binding and friction caused by angle pulls that might damage or fray the synthetic winch rope.
Once the Tacoma was outfitted with protection parts from All-Pro and the Smittybilt winch, we felt way more confident in its ability to conquer the trails. Follow along as we show you how we did it.