How to: DIY rear bumper and tire carrier

yellowx16 Sep 28, 2013

  1. yellowx16

    yellowx16 Need Bigger Tires Founding Member

    Rochester, NY
    Ok so i figured i would just put together a thread about how you can put together your own bumper with a swing out carrier for much less money and effort than you think. I am by no means a skilled fabricator or anything, and i just used basic tools you would have in a garage. This isn't really something for everyone, but i couldn't justify paying 800 or whatever for a new bumper, so i wanted to make my own. This isn't to dis any of the companies that make bumpers for Xterra's, they make some great stuff from what I've seen, and if i had the cash i might have taken that route as well.My dad was a big part in this project, and has built bumpers/rock sliders in the past. I want to thank Silver Dude, M3C.CA, and Xtacular for their help in answering a lot of questions i had! Ok…so on to the info

    Grinder (lots grinding disks and cut-off wheels)
    Welder (i used a Century stick welder, did the job fine)
    Welding rods, gloves, helmet (obviously)
    80 grit sanding blocks
    200 grit sandpaper
    Drill- used a drill press for most of the drilling but a bosch high-speed drill also came in handy for of a lot of other drilling too
    circular file
    tape measure
    My drawings aren't great, but i did the best i could, let me know if anything needs clarification
    Bumper dimensions and shackle and hitch location


    Bumper bends and heights. Took all of these based on the bumper corners to get accurate and tight fit

    Backside of bumper dimensions/layout

    Swing Arm

    Latch Catch

    Swing Arm:
    Affordable off-road pre runner 1 3/4" .120 wall 18" tall hoop (for tire carrier hoop)http://www.affordableoffroad.com42" 3x2 steel 1/4" wall
    16" 2x2 steel 1/4" wall
    2 curved pieces for Hi-Lift (mine were just some leftover pieces i had, not sure on bend angles, it is 1 3/4" tubing)
    1 Circular steel plate (found mine at metal scrap yard, 3/8" thick)
    6 M12x1.25 Wheel studs
    1 3/4" 7" long grade 8 bolt
    2 3/4" ID 1" OD bronze flange bearings
    1 Tire Carrier Latch (bought it from the seller separately, made for a JK bumper)
    46x16" 3/16" steel plate (had it bent to specs by a local metal shop using a brake press)
    2 1/4" thick mounting brackets (cut to contour inside of bumper)
    2 1/4" thick structural plates (cut same size and shape as mounting brackets)
    30" 1/4" thick C-Channel
    Swing Arm Hinge:
    2 3/8" thick rear leaf spring shackle mounts (the two i bought were slightly different and actually would have bolted right up on an Xterra)

    1. Started with piece of steel for the main part that i had bent to my specs/measurements, and began making the mounting brackets. This was really simple, all i did was traced the inner contour of the bumper onto the steel plate and cut and grinded it until it fit perfectly. Did this for all 4 mounting/structural pieces and welded them in.
    2. welded in the 30" piece of C-Channel in between structural brackets. This piece makes the whole bumper really strong and eliminates bumper flex i feel like.

    Test fit…
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    3. Cut holes in bumper face for Hitch and Clevis mounts, pretty self explanatory and simple. Welded the clevis mounts onto the structural pieces, and hitch onto the C-Channel
    4. Cut slits in end of bumper to slide the leaf spring shackle mounts, set them to desired spacing from bumper and welded them onto mounting bracket, with a small piece of c-channel separating the shackle mounts for added strength. Also added a few affordable off road gussets to the hitch for added strength.
    After all of these steps i had this:

    Here is that same progress painted and installed.

    Essentially i could have been done here, and skipped making a hinge mount for a swing arm, but the whole purpose of this bumper build in my mind was to be able to mount a tire and hi-lift on the bumper, so more fab…

    This took easily twice as long to do than the bumper itself. It took a ton of planning and asking questions. i knew i wanted to add my own flair to some otherwise common designs, so i changed up a few things from the norm.
    1. So i basically just started with a long piece of 3x2, and just started adding from there. First i drilled a 1" hole in one end for the bolt for the attachment point. next, i set the angle i wanted on the hoop for the sing arm and tacked it in place. Once i liked the angle that the tire would sit at i finished the welds.
    2. I knew i wanted a horizontal Hi-Lift mount, so i just found an old pre runner hoop my dad didn't want from his last bumper build and cut it in half to make little supports on either side of the hoop. These add strength to it, and gave me a place to mount my Hi-Lift. Welded those in place at same angle as the hoop
    3. Cut a 9" piece of 2x2 and welded it flush with the backside of the hoop at the top of it.
    4. Then cut a 15 1/4" piece of 2x2 and welded it from the swing arm up to the bottom of the 2x2 i welded in step 3
    5. Drilled 6x5.5 bolt pattern holes in circular plate, and welded it to the 9" long 2x2 piece
    6. Added some more gussets to the piece of 2x2 in the center and on the 2x2 that holds the tire
    7. Put in some 3/4 ID 1" OD Bronze flange bearings for the arm to ride on.

    [​IMG]At this point the swing arm itself was essentially done, other than the latch…[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    Not all of the welds were done yet, but you get the idea..

    Latch and Latch-catch:
    There are a ton of options for latches (hitch pins, t-handles, De-Sta-Co clamps) just to name a few. But again i wanted to do something different, so i went with a handle from a JK tire carrier. It took a lot more work to make the it work and to fab a latch catch to work in conjunction. These were the only things left to do on the bumper when i left for school in august. My dad finished them both up for me and did a great job. The inside of the latch slides into the 3x2, but isn't made for 1/4" wall 3x2, so it took a lot work to get it to fit. It simply just bolts in there. The Latch catch took a lot of planning, and according to my dad over 3 days of work. A ton of filing, and test fitting, but the mechanism works flawlessly now and sort of lock into place. Ive driven down the freeway many times since its been done and there is not rattling at all or issues with the latch.
    Here are some pics of the latch catch...[​IMG]

    So that is basically the whole process from start to finish other than painting. Total cost is always something that comes up in projects like these, and i don't really feel like breaking down each part individually, but all in all i spent ~350 in materials to build the bumper, and probably something like 30 hours of work on it. Anyway..Here are some finished pics of it, let me know if you have any questions!![​IMG][​IMG][/URL[​IMG][​IMG]
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2013
    Macland likes this.
  2. akinc

    akinc Skid Plates

    Dayton, Tennessee
    Always great when you can fab up your own stuff. No offense to the companies that fab. That's how most of them got started too.

    I wish I knew how to weld....,
  3. drbandkgb

    drbandkgb Titan Swapped / SAS'd Founding Member

    Nice work and write up man
  4. TKDx00

    TKDx00 Lockers Installed Founding Member

    S.Subs of Chicago, IL.
    This looks really good...nice work. I've got just 2 questions (at this time) because I'm remaking my bumper as well.
    1- Why use the 3/16" sheet metal instead of the full width C Channel?
    2- Did you notch the DOM tubing?
  5. Jack Stilts

    Jack Stilts Skid Plates

    I still can't believe how great that turned out. Awesome work!
  6. yellowx16

    yellowx16 Need Bigger Tires Founding Member

    Rochester, NY
    thanks guys!
    @TDX- you mean using a big piece of c channel and then just cutting it and rewelding to get the shape? it was easier for me to get a hold of 3/16 sheet, and I wanted really smooth lines, so it was much easier to achieve by just having someone bend it to my specs on a brake press. and I actually just slipped a toilet paper roll over the piece of tubing after I cut the roll to the contour and shape I wanted, traced it onto the tube and cut it out and grinded it to where I wanted it.
  7. TKDx00

    TKDx00 Lockers Installed Founding Member

    S.Subs of Chicago, IL.
    OK. The only reason I asked was that I planned to replace the plastic end bumpettes with metal. C8 channel all around. At 11.5 lbs. per foot, adding the weight of the sheet metal (in my case) wouldn't be needed. I really like the swing arm design and the placement of the jack. The notching question was just an inquiry for an easier weld connection on my part. I've got 2" OD x .120 wall tubing for the tire and 1" OD x .120 for the gas cans. Once again... really nice product. Hope mine turns out as good.

    I have a 2x3 1/4 wall for the arm but I'm considering going to a 2" OD x .250 wall. Round tubing is easier for me to work with.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2013
  8. Xterra Performance

    Xterra Performance Sliders

    Excellent write up man! Thats the stuff we need around here. Let me know if ever want to get into the bumper business! ;)

    Sent from the Shrock works waiting room
  9. yellowx16

    yellowx16 Need Bigger Tires Founding Member

    Rochester, NY
    @TKDx00 thanks, initially wanted to go with a full wrap around design like you're doing, I'm really anxious to see how that turns out. And i say go for round tubing for the swing arm, it'd be a lot different and would look great.
    @XterraPerformance Thank you! and i may be in touch with you in the coming months regarding that.
  10. Noltamsinned

    Noltamsinned Test Drive

    Batavia, NY
    This is an awesome write up man! its pretty cool seeing another person from upstate Newyork
  11. Dodge

    Dodge Test Drive

    Windsor Ontario
    Nicely done!

    Excellent work there.
  12. mantree

    mantree Wheeling

    Fort Collins
    This is my next project on my x... once I finish wireing and plumbing the air. I think I am going to build some heavy corners that will bolt to the bumper and be used as steps, but that will be after I get the bumper and swingout done.


    Hey I know this is an old post and I 100% do not mean anything by it, I really appreciate OP documenting this for us, however I did attempt to build this and I will say that the angles on the profile drawing for it to be bent up are not correct, the 90 is fine, but that 60 is not correct, if it was 60° the angle would be more acute then the 90, I'm guessing he took the measurement of 60 degrees from the top piece. I don't know for sure, I went to go grab my angle gauge and it was broken. Maybe if I remember to when I get the new gauge and I'll take the measement and redo the drawings for anybody that might be interested. I probably would have been kind of upset if it wasn't for the fact that the build I'm doing is really utilitarian and it still turned out okay, it just does not really blend in so well with the sides and didn't leave me a lot of extra room for error when mounting the cross piece for the tire carrier.

    That is of course unless I'm dumb and I'm missing something which is not out of the realm of possibility

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