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Old 10-08-2011, 11:05 PM
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Omelet's Hidden Winch Build!

I wasn't sure exactly where to put this, so I guess this will do! *

This is my build thread for my hidden winch build. *I originally had it on another forum, but figured some of you would enjoy it as well! *I started taking measurements and drawing up ideas and plans back in Dec of 2010. *Then started cutting out the plate steel in Feb 2011. *And finally finished the complete build in May 2011. *

It all started from seeing the original Mojave and the hidden winch system that the people at AEV made for it. *



The only problem I had with it was that they mounted the winch up side down. *This means that when you get stuck and need to use the winch, you have to reach under the bumper to access the clutch lever. *That was not something I was wanting to do, because if you are stuck off road reaching under the bumper can get difficult at times. *Other than that I liked the design. *Made out of .25" steel and replaces the factory crossmember.*



So I decided to make a winch plate but mount the winch right side up. *I started by making measurements of my front end.*





I wanted to try and reuse the 4xGuard Matrix and do what I could to keep it intact incase I ever decided to sell it. *

From my measurements I made a quick sketch of the base of the plate. *It will go under the frame and use the four tow hook bolts as the initial anchor point. *

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Old 10-08-2011, 11:06 PM
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Re: Omelet's Hidden Winch Build!

Now that I had a basic plan I needed materials, most important a winch. *I decided to get the Superwinch EP9 because of their excellent track record and reasonable price. *I ordered one off Amazon for just over $500 with free shipping.*



Once it was un-boxed and on the bench.*



To make working with it easier and to shed some weight I stripped it down. *Took off the solenoid and then the cable which will be replaced with synthetic line.*



After taking some actual measurements it was time for the steel. *I was lucky enough to pick up a sheet of .25" steel for free. *It started out as 24"x42". *It wasn't in the best shape, so after prepping a section it was ready to measure, mark, and cut.*



For all of the cutting I used a 4.5" angle grinder. *So nothing special. *I used cutting, grinding, sanding, and stripping discs. *
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Old 10-08-2011, 11:07 PM
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Re: Omelet's Hidden Winch Build!

Here is the base that I cut out.*



I then cut two pieces 7"x2.5" for the sides where it will mount under the frame. *I figured if it sat too high then I could add these in to drop the plate down a .25". *I did end up using them in the end.

**

Next was the two side pieces that will bolt to the inside of the frame (4"x7") and the front where the fairlead will be mounted (12"x3").*



That was all the work I did in advance. Next I needed to wait until I had a four day weekend to waist on the build.*
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Old 10-08-2011, 11:08 PM
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Re: Omelet's Hidden Winch Build!

Ok, so Memorial weekend came and it was time for the build to begin. *I started by taking off the front of the Matrix but leaving the mounts on for now. *Then I removed the grill and bumper.*



Then I removed the bumper mounting bracket, the upper radiator support, and the frame end caps to expose the front crossmember.*



Here you can see the mounts for the Matrix. *



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Old 10-08-2011, 11:08 PM
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Re: Omelet's Hidden Winch Build!

Then I cut the crossmember off flush with the inner part of the frame. *I placed the base of the winch plate on my floor jack and lifted it up into position to check clearance.*



I forgot to take a pic of it with my phone, but the inner side of the crossmember (closest to the radiator) has tabs that are pinch welded to the frame rails. *I found the best way to deal with these was with a chisel and hammer after cutting the top, front, and bottom of the crossmember.*

I spaced the plate about an eighth of an inch (0.125") away from the radiator and drilled the four bolt holes to mount it into position.*

This is also when I found out that I would need to use those two pieces on the sides to lower the plate down far enough to get the bumper mounting bracket back in place without hitting the winch. *So I tacked those into place as well as the vertical frame mounts, the fairlead mount, and two other pieces for the front. *



I tacked the fairlead plate into place once at each end. *Then I pushed the bumper on to see if it was flush behind it. *I am not sure of the angle, but I had to tap the the plate forward a few times until I could feel that it was flush. *Then I laid a nice bead down on each side to insure that it would no longer move.*
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Old 10-08-2011, 11:09 PM
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Re: Omelet's Hidden Winch Build!

I still needed a few more pieces to complete the boxed winch plate that I had in mind. *So after a few measurements, cuts, grinds, and tacks, it was complete. *Then it was just taking the time to weld both sides of every piece.*

Then I mounted it back up and drilled three bolt holes per side going into the side of the frame. *Here is what it looked like looking into the frame rail with the bolts in place. *Also notice that I reused the tow hook bolt plate, but replaced the stock bolts which were too short with a pair of longer grade 8 ones. *I wanted to keep the captured bolt head idea but use longer bolts for the additional .5" of steel.*



And unbolted on the ground.*







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Old 10-08-2011, 11:10 PM
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Re: Omelet's Hidden Winch Build!

Here is a sketch of what every piece was cut to. *No poking fun! *I am no architect or engineer. *Some pieces needed a little grinding to get them to fit just right for a tight welding surface.*



Color coded for easy recognition.*



Next it was time to drill the four bolt holes for the winch. *The EP9 came with this wonderful sheet to make this easy. *I placed it where I wanted, taped it in place, and punched each mark to aid in drilling.*



After the four winch bolt holes were drilled, I marked and drilled the two holes for the other half of the Matrix mount. *Then it was time for paint.*
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Old 10-08-2011, 11:10 PM
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Re: Omelet's Hidden Winch Build!

After it had dried I did a test fit.*





The winch plate weighed in at 32lbs. *Not too bad. *The winch stripped down weighs 54lbs. *

After adding the Matrix mounts I bolted in the winch. *At first I forgot to attach the ground wires so I had to unbolt it and then put it back in. *You will not be able to get to the bottom of the winch to attach the ground wires later with everything mounted.*





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Old 10-08-2011, 11:11 PM
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Re: Omelet's Hidden Winch Build!

Now that I had the winch plate finished and the winch in place, my next concern was the hood latch/ upper radiator support. *I decides to use a piece of angle iron across the top of the winch, mounted to the sides of the crossmember that were still in place. *With just the angle iron on, it was hitting the top of the winch before it could rest on the crossmember ends. *So I cut four pieces of .25" plate (2 for each side). *This raised the angle iron up .5" and allowed about an eighth of and inch (0.125") of clearance above the winch. *I drilled two holes on each side for mounting. *Then I modified the two stock vertical supports to work with their new mounting position and welded them into place. *Painted it up and this is what I got.*



Then with it mounted.*







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Old 10-08-2011, 11:12 PM
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Re: Omelet's Hidden Winch Build!

Here are a couple of under belly shots.*





Now I took the bumper mounting bracket and chopped the front of it off. *Then I notched the sides slightly so it would rest right on top of the support I just made.*





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Old 10-08-2011, 11:12 PM
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Re: Omelet's Hidden Winch Build!

I decided to reuse the frame end caps too. *So I trimmed then slightly and bolted them back into place.*



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Old 10-08-2011, 11:13 PM
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Re: Omelet's Hidden Winch Build!

Next up was to mount the aluminum fairlead. *My original plan was to mount the bumper then the fairlead to give it a cleaner look. *But once I got to this point I realized I would not be able to get to the back side of the fairlead to secure the nuts. *And I would have to remove the fairlead every time I removed the bumper. *So I decided to mount the fairlead first and then VERY carefully cut the bumper to allow it to poke through.*







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