with Bill Johnston
Do It Yourself Rear Bumper
We all know how the stock Samurai bumpers are little more than glorified light brackets. If you take your zook off the beaten path - you should think about making a change. There are many aftermarket manufacturers that offer a strong alternative to the stock bumpers. But if you are the 'Do-It-Yourself' type, there is another alternative.
I looked at many bumpers that were out there, and decided I could build one to suit my needs and keep it easy to maintain. I made a trip down to the local truck stop to pick up some lights. I figured that if I used a common tail light that could be found on any major highway - then I wouldn't have to travel far to get that spare part after an adventurous trail ride.
I started with a 5' length of rectangular steel tube that provided the 'beef'. Although the holes for the lights could be cut using a large hole saw or a handheld jigsaw, I chose to throw the bumper onto the C&C machine. This allowed me to trim the ends at the same time the holes were cut. I know this isn't something that everyone has in their garage... but it sure made it easier to cut though the 3/16 steel!
*note* If you want to do something similar, but lack the access to drilling or cutting tools necessary to cut these holes, you can pick up a 'Bumper Blank' from Glenn at Rocky Road Outfitters at a surprisingly low cost.
I chose to use three lights on each side to make it easier to wire with the stock harness. I also cut out the center hole for a 2" receiver that I planned to flush mount for a clean look. The steel was going to be beefy enough to take the abuse, but I was worried about the small area between each light. If a rock were to hit the light I could replace it on the trail if I needed to, but if that small section of metal in between got hit there would not be be much support behind it. The answer to this problem was welding in a 3/8" support rod in between each light. Click on the four frame picture to the right to see how that problem was solved.
Next I turned my attention to the zook. I removed the license plate mounts and some tow hook tabs I had welded on in the past. The 2" receiver should provide enough of a mounting point for hooks later. I also removed the stock tow bar loop. Don't lose the mounting bolts for the loop, I used them to attach the new bumper to the frame. Stock mounting points sometimes have quite a bit of strength, so don't discount them until you check them out. Something else to consider later... dropping the stock tow bar loop allows a better departure angle, but it takes away some of your gas tank protection - so plan on adding additional skid plate protection for a safer trail ride.