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  #1  
Old 09-27-2012, 11:08 PM
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2004 F150 DIY Hidden Winch Mount build

I am not a hard core off roader any more, mostly out of practicality. Even though it's 8 years old now, I hate the idea of taking a truck I paid tens of thousands of dollars for through a bottomless muck hole intentionally. I do however drive my truck places where traction fails, and a good tug from another truck just isn't either effective, or possible due to interference of objects such as trees etc... You see my truck is more of an overgrown family pickup / hunting / fishing / camping machine. I needed a winch that would be reasonably priced, and not obnoxiously huge. I really didn't want to have a cradle / front hitch arrangement due to weight / carrying that weight in the mud etc... A hidden setup was really what I wanted, but the Warn system has some serious drawbacks. Most notably...

#1. It's EXPENSIVE!
#2. Short cable / drum capacity (only 50')

With the Engo winches getting such rave reviews from both the press (not a super reliable source) and owners, combined with good size, and an unbeatable price tag (less than the Harbor Freight 9K winch on sale), I opted to go that way.

My inspiration for my mounting system came from THIS thread.

What I didn't notice at first was the owner / builder of that truck has a body lift on it. Now I am NOT slamming you body lifted guys, but I have mentioned my previous body lift experiences. I just don't want a body lift, now, or in the future... So that leaves me with a bumper 3" lower than the posters, meaning the roller fairlead would be in the middle of the bumper...

After looking it over, I am satisfied that structural integrity of the front bumper won't be sacrificed by mounting the additional metal (thus bracing where the hole will be) of the roller fairlead. This appears to be a fairly common way of mounting a winch on other trucks.

Nissan Frontier...
Click the image to open in full size.

Toyota Tacoma
Click the image to open in full size.

Jeep Grand Cherokee
Click the image to open in full size.

Jeep Shoebox Cherokee
Click the image to open in full size.

Dodge Ram
Click the image to open in full size.
(I like the Ram install as it is closest to what I am doing on the F150, I will make every effort to insure my fairlead isn't installed crooked though... )

There are just the first few examples. I am not sure yet what to do with the front license plate. I understand there are mount options to attach the license plate, removably directly to the roller fairlead. Whatever I come up with it MUST work better than the license plate in the windshield routine my coworker with the FJ Cruiser is using...

The channel mount from Harbor Freight came in as well. I think I mentioned that. It is WAY stouter than I expected from them... I have already measured and marked where the cuts are going, and started on the first cut. I am using what tools I have. I am more of a woodworker than a metal worker, so the metal cutting I can do for stuff this thick is somewhat limited, and cutting the hole in the bumper for sure will be hired out or done by a metal working friend of mine. But I am cutting the upright sections that are in the way out, using a cheap Black and Decker angle grinder, and Harbor Freight cut off wheels... Throws a TON of sparks off!

I will be making the installation along the same lines as the inspiration thread I posted, but obviously mounting the roller fairlead to the bumper.

I still need to determine exactly HOW big the hole for the cable to pass through needs to be, and get the hole, and the bolt holes cut in the bumper. Not even sure where I would START to look for someone to do that. Unless I could make the hole in the bumper smaller than the fairlead enough that the fairlead would COMPLETELY cover the hole, including any discoloration of the Chrome on the bumper, then I might take a whack at cutting that hole...

Sorry if I am boring you guys with this. I have a reason for this thread. I learned that a descriptive post, illustrating project steps and well titled makes it easier for someone that is trying to do the same thing get tips on getting the job done, and honestly, I hate to tell you guys, but the Nissan, Toyota and Dodge guys have y'all whipped in that regard... I guess mounting a winch to an F150 is something a lot of folks expect to be a straight bolt on affair. I admit I wanted it to be... I guess owning one of the worlds most popular vehicles makes you assume better aftermarket support. Whereas the other guys don't assume the availability and just get creative...

Anyway, I have passed the hours that I can work on this tonight. Tomorrow is some time I can work on the mount. I am excited to get progress done. Hopefully at least ONE Of you will be able to get something out of this thread / build.
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  #2  
Old 09-28-2012, 09:56 AM
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Quickie update. Already called Harbor Freight, they have the cutoff wheels I need. I get off at noon so I am running over there at noon and grabbing those wheels so I can keep going with this project.

The prior project that I saw done here, was NOT primed or painted, and to me, that is an incomplete project. I have the primer already, and will grab a fresh can of gloss black rattle can paint. I can't see firing up the compressor just to shoot a simple winch mount plate...

What cutting I was able to do with that thick grinding wheel last night beat me up pretty good. I am positive I was using the wrong kind of wheel as I was using a basic grinding wheel, not cut off type... Hoping the cut off wheels have a thinner kerf so I can have less cutting effort...

I'm not sure if I had a stroke of genious last night, or just a stroke, but either way, it occoured to me that I could simply take and lay out my area to be cut out in the bumper using tape to identify the border areas, and then take the cutoff wheels, and remove whatever is inside the border, that will work great for the crosswise, but cutting up / down not so much, Maybe an abrasive blade in a jig saw?

This metal work, ugh...
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  #3  
Old 09-28-2012, 03:59 PM
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Another update. I went to Harbor Freight and picked up those cheapo cutoff wheels. Great bargain, and have already cut out the pieces on one side. These things seem an awful lot like those cutoff wheels that Snap On sells for the die grinders. Pretty well made considering they were produced in Russia...


The trip to Harbor Freight is a 45 minute drive from home, 20 minutes from work, so I don't waste the trip if I don't have to... I used the opportunity to snag one of the famous purple HVLP guns and a stand for it. I already have a HF conventional gun and it works fine. I wanted to try HVLP though to see if I can keep from producing such a cloud of overspray...


The first two upright pieces are cut off now. I need to cut the other two out, and clean up the edges etc... grind down where the cut wandered so it sits flush, but the hard part is done.


Now I sit at the computer, waiting for the gearbox on my cheapie B&D angle grinder to cool off. I don't think I hurt the thing running it that hard / long, but it is a piece of junk grinder from a piece of junk MFG... I just want to finish this job up and stash that grinder away again for a while...
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  #4  
Old 09-28-2012, 04:15 PM
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Pretty freaking awesome! Keep up the great work
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  #5  
Old 09-28-2012, 11:22 PM
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I'm still trying to wrap my head around the tranny cooler issue. The lines are funny formed hard lines, to short jumpers of flex, back to hard line. To top it off the cooler is spaced a couple of inches away from the radiator, and mounted fairly low.

After seeing that body lifted truck, I know I can at least as far as the frame to body is related, afford to move the line up 3". I can do that by laying my hands on the mounts from a wrecked truck, I have access to that. Clip as long of a straight section out, cut the original, extend it with the graft 3"...

I can take that tubing, with a bender, and reroute it, or at the very least, again, from wrecked truck get the line, so that I have a copy to work from, and get a new one made to meet my needs...

Why Ford engineered this thing the way they did baffles me, but oh well. Engineers have to deal with managers far too often...
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  #6  
Old 09-29-2012, 11:58 AM
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Regarding the license plate issue, why not use one of the flip-up license plate holders mounted on the fairlead? The same kind you see on trucks with the hidden hitch behind the license plate. Seems like it would be easy to do, and would hide the fairlead from the front view.
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  #7  
Old 09-29-2012, 12:13 PM
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I was planning on one of those roller fairlead license plate brackets from 4wheel parts.

Click the image to open in full size.

http://www.4wheelparts.com/Exterior-...pn=RUG11238.05

Due to the nature of the varying angles of pull, I think it would be better to have a completely removable plate / mount than one that swings out of the way...
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  #8  
Old 09-29-2012, 12:52 PM
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MJPN101
This looks interesting I am doing the same thing just waiting for my winch plate to arrive. Cant wait to see the final product!
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  #9  
Old 09-29-2012, 12:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbhost View Post
I was planning on one of those roller fairlead license plate brackets from 4wheel parts.

Due to the nature of the varying angles of pull, I think it would be better to have a completely removable plate / mount than one that swings out of the way...
That was going to be my other suggestion, but it looks like you have it covered. Final suggestion is just to move to a state that doesn't ruin the look of the front end with those silly license plates. . . nothing like seeing a porshe/corvette/etc running down the road with a giant air-deflector hanging front and center, ruining the smooth body lines, lol.

Last edited by SoonerTruck; 09-29-2012 at 12:56 PM.
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  #10  
Old 09-29-2012, 04:34 PM
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All things considered, being required to have a front plate is a small government annoyance compared to other states... I like not having to have flares if I don't want them. (I do actually WANT a set, I don't want the DMV telling me I MUST have them...).

But back to the winch install project.

Being too lazy to post pics, but the cutting, grinding, priming and painting is done. The weather has turned quite foul on me, so measuring for the bolt holes isn't going to happen for today. I am at a stuck point but at least I have, unlike the inspiration project, my plate is primed and painted, not pretty as I soaked it plenty good and didn't bother sanding between coats. My intention was rust protection, not appearance. It's under the truck where it is going to be exposed to all kinds of crap, who cares what it looks like?

I have to cut the bottom tube off of the brush guard, or eliminate the brush guard. Now this thing actually gets used at the deer lease to protect the truck from the bump gate, so it earns its keep. I figure I will get a friend of mine that welds, to weld in a brace. Need to determine the best location still...

Well, if the weather keeps doing what it's doing, you won't see many updates from me on this project for a couple of weeks. I have other non truck projects going on too. At the very least, this will give the paint a good chance to cure while it is still warm enough in Texas for the garage / workshop to act as a kiln curing that paint!
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  #11  
Old 09-30-2012, 01:14 AM
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Pics from what I was able to get done today...

Okay this part was yesterday, I got it all smoothed out ground flush, and wiped down, at least the part I was actually wanting fresh finish to stick to, and primered. You can see there is still LOTS of dust in between, but I honestly don't care. I was priming and painting to prevent rust, not win any shows...

Left side.


Right side.


Then I hit it with 3 relatively heavy coats of Duplicolor Truck, Van and SUV Universal Gloss Black rattle can paint. Again, not to be pretty. You can see the dull circular areas. Those are actually swirl marks from me letting the grinder dip too low... No structural problem, just ugly...

Left side.


Right side.


By the time this dried enough for me to get back outside with it, the downpours started. SO the project is on hold for now... A pity, but what can you do right?

Doing this, I discovered the lens on one of my Pro Comp lights took a beating last time I was off road I think. I managed to kick up a long piece of driftwood on the beach that I didn't think did any damage, but I had the lens covers on... Looks like I cracked it... I still have the set of Pilot lights in my tool box. I am going to see if I can get away with swapping out the lens assembly only. It worked in the past with some KC Daylighters I had on a Baja Bug in college, swapped the innards of a set of Pilot off road lights to get them working again... (rock damage off road in Arizona on that one..)
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  #12  
Old 09-30-2012, 08:34 PM
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Got a chance to mark the bolt holes and realized the bumper bracket is in the way... More cutting and now it fits... I need to figure out how to mount the solenoid...
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  #13  
Old 10-01-2012, 12:59 AM
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I had to notch the plate to clear the bumper bracket. Here I am test fitting the winch, setting up the solenoid etc... The cables are a bit short, and the long ground cable for the battery isn't obvious where it connects to the winch or solenoid. Also there is a long skinny wire coming off the solenoid with a large ring terminal that looks like it should go to one of the lugs on the motor. I have a request for support into Engo, I hope and pray the respond soon...

The white dots are where I have marked for the bolt holes. I fear the holes might be bigger than my biggest drill bit. I need to pull one of the bolts to verify for sure...
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  #14  
Old 10-01-2012, 12:20 PM
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Just got off the phone with Joel Aho @ Engousa, nice guy, really helped explain how the winch wires up. It appears there is a bolt in the bottom of the motor that I need to unbolt, and bolt the skinny wire along with the loose long ground lead for the battery.

You know, had this been an old Jeep CJ, this thing would have been mounted up and working the same evening that box came in... Nothing to compliate the install there, just unbolt the tow hooks, bolt the winch together to the plate, with the wiring in place, bolt the plate, and your town hooks back town, torque it, and run the wiring, mount up the fairlead, and done deal...
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  #15  
Old 10-01-2012, 09:59 PM
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No photos yet but it's drilled, test fitted, and in primer. The nut insert thing in the frame rails has dropped inside though. I suspect I am going to need to pull the bumper to retrieve it. This is both good, and bad. This would allow me a LOT better access to the area I am working in, and allow me to get things installed a piece at a time instead of having to shove a whole winch and mount assembly into place all at once...
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Old 10-01-2012, 09:59 PM


 
 
 
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