Project 4Runner

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I have been wanting to put a winch bumper on the 4Runner for a while now but until last month had not seen any bumper designs that I liked.  Aesthetically I was looking for a plate style bumper that didn't look bulky.  I have always felt the tube style bumpers have an unfinished look about them, maybe because of all the suspension components they expose. I stumbled across a thread on the forum that talked about adapting an All-Pro Offroad Apex bumper made for a Tacoma for use on a 3rd gen 4Runner. The pictures I saw looked appealing so I finally bit and ordered a bumper. Here's what it took to get it installed.

Some before pictures.  Going into this I knew the Savage skid plate up front was not going to work with the new bumper due to the elimination of the front frame cross member it bolts to (more on that later).  If you want a bolt on solution, All-Pro offers a set of skid plates that will supposedly work with this bumper.  I figured I would adapt the Savage skid plate to fit.

The bumper arrived and it looks like a quality piece.  There are braces where I would want them and the welds all looked very well done.  I purchased the optional light bar protector but no other options.  The bumper came with two small turn signal lights which will mount in the outer light holes.  The inner set of holes are sized for a 4" driving light.

I pulled the front bumper off and set it aside.  The first step is to remove the cross member in front of the radiator/AC condenser.  I did this carefully with a grinder and .06 thick cutoff wheel. Note the A/C hard line on the driver side.  While test fitting the bumper I noticed it was going to interfere with the Apex bumper.

I marked the bumper where the A/C line was going to hit and cut a notch out of the bumper using my grinder and cutoff wheel. I was able to then invert the cut out piece and re-welded to the bumper making a pocket for the A/C line. I clearanced the bumper way more than needed but wanted to error on the safe side.

Next, the two frame horns need to be cut back 3".  This measurement does not have to be precise (if you install the frame caps as described below) and ended up being inline with the factory weld for the front body mounts. These cuts are required to get the bumper setting far enough back to line up with all the mounting holes it requires to attach to the frame. In this picture you will notice the nut that is welded to the body mount tab.  There is another nut behind the body mount and both of these should line up with the outer tabs on the bumper.  You can also see the leading nut inside the frame rail, that and the nut behind it are also used to mount the bumper. A cap is provided to weld in the end of the frame rails which provides a 5th mounting hole for each side (don't weld these in yet). While test fitting the bumper I realized there was no way all 5 of these holes were going to line up.  Not sure of the frame is different on different model year 4Runners but I knew some mods would be required to make this work.

I ended up having to cut off the forward mounting tab on the body mount which would allow the bumper to set far enough back to be flush with the frame horns and allow the two mounting holes on the underside of the frame to line up with their respective mounting holes on the bumper.

At this point I could attach the bumper via the 4 mounting holes on the underside of the frame.  I noticed there was room to get my welding torch in to the frame caps to tack them in with the bumper bolted in position so that was the route I went. The holes on the threaded frame caps are not centered so test fitting the bumper is also the only way to get them lined up with the holes in the bumper due to the fitting required to get the frame caps nested in the frame (try sticking them in and you will understand). So, once I had the frame caps fitted so they would slip into the end of the frame I set them in the frame then the bumper was lifted into position and attached via the 4 mounting holes on the bottom of the frame rails.  Next I installed the screws for the front fame caps which pulled them flush with the front bumper.  Making sure the bumper was setting level with the bodywork (use a Jack to hold it up if needed) I then tack welded the frame caps in position by sticking my weld torch thru the 4" light holes.

The bumper was then pulled off again and the frame caps final welded in place. You can also see the forward facing tabs of the front body mounts are removed and some extra weld thrown in for goof measure.

Here is a side view of the body mount.  Since neither tapped hole would line up with the slotted tabs on the bumper I drilled a new 1/2" clearance hole thru both the bumper tab and body mount bracket centered on the body mount bracket with the bumper attached via the other 6 mounting holes.

With the bumper mounting completed everything in the front end was painted flat black to blend better with the bumper.

Now it was time to figure out how to adapt my front Savage skid plate to work with this new bumper. With everything in place there is a roughly 3/4" gap between the Savage skid mounting flange and the bottom of the Apex bumper.  The All Pro bumper did come with a radiator guard that shares the 4 lower frame rail mounting bolts with the bumper.

After test fitting the All Pro supplied radiator guard I decided the best course of action was to make a hybrid front skid plate by notching the Savage skid to fit around the All Pro radiator guard. The above pictures shows the Savage front skid tack welded to the All Pro radiator guard.

Cutting the Savage skid to fit was surprisingly easy.  First I cut the front portion out using my plasma cutter.  I followed the welds where the front meets the sides and then left 3/4" across the front edge. Next I drew a vertical line down the center of the speed hole closest to the front of Savage skid and then another line tangent with the bottom of that first hole running forward.  I then made a square cut along my lines.

The finished hybrid skid plate after painting.

At this point you would think the fabrication would have been done but I overlooked the winch solenoid pack.  We proceeded to mount the winch and lights before bolting the front bumper on for the last time.  A few hours later after some wiring I realized I did not have a spot for the winch solenoid pack and the short wires it came with pretty much dictated I was going to have to cut the bumper to make a spot. I was able to extend the relief cut on the top of the bumper towards the passenger side which allowed me to mount the solenoid pack using the supplied bracket.  I notched the grill to make plugging the controller cable in easier.

The supplied turn signal is on the left.  I filled the 4" driving light holes with a set of Inspired Engineering Revolver LED flood lights.  They came complete with a harness/relay/fuse holder and switch all ready to bolt in. I had hoped to be able to use these as driving lights on the road but they are way to bright and will be off-road only.  A 19" generic E-bay light bar sets on top of the bumper and is comprised of a mix of flood and spot LED's.

I went a different route with the switches and ditched the supplied ones for these Contura models complete with legends. Minor filing of the stock switch mounting holes was required to get these to fit in the dash.

The finished package.

If I had one complaint it would be that the sides are set up for use with fender flares and since I don't have flares there is a 2" gap between the back of the bumper and wheel well.  I may make a filler panel down the road to neaten it up.

Along the way I also installed a battery box since the factory hold down did not do a very good job holding my AGM battery. The box is attached to the truck via 3 tabs that I welded to the factory sheet metal,  Due to its size I had to come up with a smaller overflow bottle since the stock one would no longer fit in front of the battery.   I had this small catch can left over from a previous buggy project, we will see if it is big enough.

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