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JB Custom Fabrication’s Heavy-Duty Winch Bumper For ’87-’96 Ford F-150 and Bronco

Posted in How To: Body Chassis on December 12, 2016
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Every once in a while when we are out wheeling, there’s something about a rig that catches our eye. It’s usually because it has a custom part on it that gets our attention because it serves a specific function and looks good doing its job. When such a part brings a sense of affordability into the picture, it’s even more attractive.

Such is the case of the winch bumper we recently saw on the fullsize Bronco of Jon Barricklow, owner of JB Custom Fabrication in Salem, Oregon. He couldn’t find any bumpers he liked, so he built a simple, yet cleanly designed, no-nonsense, low-profile heavy-duty unit made from 3/16-inch steel. The bumper received so many thumbs-up from other ’86-’96 Ford F-150/Bronco owners that Barricklow began offering it as a finish-it-yourself (FIY) kit for $399 (including basic shipping) at time of print. What’s cool about the FIY winch bumper is that it can save wheelers a considerable amount of money compared to bumpers that come ready to bolt on.

JB Custom Fabrication’s fullsize Ford Bronco/F-150 winch bumper kit comes with the bumper shell prebent. Filler panels and support gussets are all tabbed and laser cut for perfect fit. The VR-10S is a brand new winch model for Warn.

Weld And Paint

Barricklow ships the raw steel laser-cut-and-bent bumper shell, which is predrilled to accept a Warn winch, with gussets and trim pieces so the buyer (or shop, if you choose) can do the welding and finish work. The inner support gussets are already tabbed so they fit smartly into place, making it easy to assemble and weld.

Mobile Diesel Service’s fabricator/welder, Thomas Smalley, found fitting the JB bumper pieces to be a very easy task. The parts are marked and tabbed.

Two and a half hours is all that’s needed to be prepped for paint, spray-on bedliner, or powdercoating. At least that’s all the time it took Thomas Smalley when he welded one of JB’s bumpers to go on a ’91 Bronco at Mobile Diesel Services’ shop in Sutherlin, Oregon. (Your time may vary depending on the experience level of the person doing the welding) We chose to farm out the welding and powdercoating on this bumper, in part so we could document actual costs if a wheeler were to choose to have all the work done for them. We ended up having $799 invested in the bumper ($399 bumper cost, $150 labor for the welding, and $250 for the powdercoating), but if you have welding experience and choose to apply your own paint or finish, your cost would obviously be much lower.

When finished, the JB FIY winch bumper looked sharp and it bolted right up to the factory Ford bumper mounts. There’s no doubt it’ll provide the strength to handle a hard pull from whatever winch you might have mounted to it.

First Look: Warn VR-10S Winch

Installing the JB Custom Fabrication FIY winch bumper allowed us to get a closer look at the equally new and sleek Warn VR-10 heavy-duty winch that we mounted to it. Warn says the VR-10 is a hot-rodded version of the M8000. The VR uses Albright contactors, cone brake, a stronger redesigned tie-plate, and new clutch lever.

The Albright connectors are used by hardcore off-roaders because they are sealed and far more durable under heavy use than standard winch relays. Warn says the VR-10’s load-holding cone brake can hold a full-rated load in extreme winching scenarios including winching backwards.

We mounted a VR-10S (synthetic rope version; $669 at time of print) onto the JB bumper with a hawse-type fairlead. We chose the rope model to help keep weight down on the Bronco’s front suspension. Warn also offers the VR-series in steel rope models for $499 at time of print.

JB provides a detailed schematic that helps the DIYer weld the heavy-duty winch bumper parts together in a short amount of time.
A nice touch with the kit is the gussets have tabs that fit into CNC laser-cut notches in the bumper shell for a tight fit and easy positioning prior to welding.
Thomas ran full-length beads along each gusset and along the exterior break-lines of the bumper shell itself. He used shorter stitch welds along the inner edges of the bumper for added strength.
Here’s the winch bumper near completion. Thomas sanded the outer faces of the bumper and made sure any pinholes in the edge welds were filled.
An electric grinder with a floppy disc proved to be the ideal tool for finishing the bumper prior to it being sent to Double R Powdercoating.
We also sent the JB bumper brackets and the factory brackets that bolt to the Ford frame to Double R Powdercoating because they will both be visible when the bumper is installed.
It helps to have a second pair of hands when installing JB Custom Fabrication’s winch bumper. It’s not that heavy, but it’s still more than one person wants to try mounting by themselves.
The synthetic rope used on Warn’s VR-10S winch attaches to the side of the drum with a special screw and collar. The rope is a small step below the quality of Warn’s premium Spydura.
We added small “wings” to fill in the gap between JB’s bumper and Warn’s new VR-10S rope winch. We also added the shackle brackets to complete our little custom touches.
Ready to rock and roll. Now we have 10,000 pounds of winching capacity and a clean, sleek, stout winch bumper to help hold the load and protect the front. And if we want to add lights, the JB Custom Fabrication winch bumper has plenty of room to do so.
Warn’s new VR-10S rope winch is a modernized, hot-rodded version of the venerable M8000.


Warn Industries
Clackamas, OR 97015
JB Custom Fabrication
Mobile Diesel Service
Double R Powder Coating & Fabrication

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