Stock bumpers are for show only.  if you have been reading you know my first off-road Trip resulted in a winch and a bent rear bumper.  Time to get Rid of that junk…

Off to shop!!!

Just wanted a plain steel bumper with recovery points, none of those huge tire carrier things.  So I searched, and read reviews, and priced all kinds of different setups.  The general consensus was at least 3/16″ plate steel, and a personal requirement was a 2″ receiver hitch so I could pull my bike trailer or add a gear basket.  The finalists were:

1. Rugged Ridge  11546.01 Heavy Duty  at Quadratec for $269.99 + almost $50 shipping

2. Body Armor TJ-2931 – on Amazon $283.46

3. SmittyBilt SRC Classic Rear Rock Bumper w/hitch & D-Rings for $199 with free super save shipping

After reading the reviews I went with the cheap one form Smittybilt, and when it showed up at my office I was relieved to fit it’s 72 Lbs of steel were black texture coated just like the Rugged Ridge Rock Sliders, and the 3/4″ D-shackles were included.  It was crammed into the back seat of the jeep for the 15-mile trip back home from my office (yes, it was shipped to my office and I got all kinds of weird comments about having a bumper delivered)

Unpacked and leaned against the wall I swore I would make time to install it before the scheduled trip to The Rock Trails of Tolar that Sunday.  But alas, with cub scouts, Little -league practice, a whiny girlfriend, and the endless needs of my office, kept me from getting ‘ a round tuit’.

Time Warp – [I will make another post about off roading at Tolar – for now, know I made it back in one piece]

The next day I decided I wasn’t going one more day without the new bumper (especially after the 3rd or 4th time someone knocked it over in the house and almost crushed their foot or other important appendage).

Taking off the stock one was no sweat, and I soon realized why it bent – there were several bolts missing from the stock bumper >:-(   But oh well – it’s spare parts now…  the 1 page instruction sheet seemed easy enough — Drill some holes and put the bolts in.  at the going rate 8 holes should = 4 hours ?right?  NOT!!  After all day cramped under the rear end of trying to aligh 8 holes that didn’t match the template that I meticulously placed and drilled,  beating it with a deadblow, cursing, and throwing shit.  I gave up – Tied it on with some ParaCord from 42Solutions and called a mechanic.

the review I posted at amazon read —

“This is a solid steel armor plate for the rear of your Jeep. Bought it for my 2002 TJ was best priced ‘recovery’ bumper I found anywhere. and Amazon free super-saver shipping made it that much better. What the review left out –

Overall dimensions – 54″ legnth, 5″ height; D-ring mounts are a solid 1″ and it does include a pair of 3/4″ D-Rings rated at 4.75 Tons; hitch is very solid, and does have a gusset plate welded on the bottom that’s 10″x 3″ – 3/16 steel with 1″ holes for chain hooks.

Textured Powder coat appears very solid and matches my Rugged Ridge Side Armor sliders almost perfectly.

Mounts to rear cross-member and does require drilling (Do not hit gas tank on left-driver side!!!), but it also has tabs on the bottom that bolt through the frame rails. Lining up all the threaded bolt holes on the back of the bumper was nightmarish – recommend using a 1/2″ bit and hitting all the holes on cross-member before trying (even the outside ones that mount factory bumper), there are little backing plates to go on behind bolts that are not milled to very good tolerances and make bolting that much harder, as well as the body spacer rubber washers that are in the way just enough that you can’t get a socket on the bolt. Also found it handy to throw a ratchet strap over the spare tire and hook it to the D-Rings to support bumper while aligning. Get a big deadblow hammer for some “fine” adjustments.

I did not remove the gas tank and left off the inside bolts on the driver side. Maybe I’ll get those some day if I have to pull the tank for other reasons. After this, when I get a front bumper I’ll be paying to have it installed. I’m pretty handy and spent over 6 hours trying to get it lined up and beat back and forth. Would have been better with some competent help.”

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