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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Keeping the bumper mounting bracket meant that I could use the stock mount for the temp sensor. *I ran the wires along the front of it securing them with zip ties.*





At this point my four day weekend was over so I had to be finished and reassemble everything and continue later.*







 

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Next was the wiring. *I took the solenoid out of the box and removed the controller plug to mount separately. *





I had also ordered the solenoid relocation kit with the winch. *So I had enough wire to move the solenoid to the outside of the frame rail right under the passenger side headlight.*

Looking from the inside out.*



Looking from the outside in. *Once all the wires were ran.*



Here is how it looked all wired in. *All that was left was to slip the boots over the nuts. *I gave all electrical terminals a very nice coat of dielectric grease.*

 

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The controller plug I ran across the bumper with the temp sensor wires to the drivers side of the Matrix. *I filed out the top large hole and pressed in the plug. *Then ran the wires straight back under the grill.*



In order to access the clutch lever I cut a hole in the top of the grill. *Down side it that you have to pop the hood to get to it, but this way it looks clean with no visible holes. *Plus let's face it, this is a Jeep with QD2! *How often will I be stuck and have to access the clutch lever!*



Looking straight down you can also see I had to trim one side of the lever for it to turn without hitting the grill. *It still works perfectly fine this way. *The lever is very easy to reach and manipulate.*

 

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Last thing to do was instal the line. *I did not want to use the heavy steel cable that the winch came with. *So I acquired 100' of synthetic line. *I bought 18' of VX Fire Sleeve and installed it on the end of the line. *This sleeve will withstand up to 700 degrees. *Even though I have heard that the EP9 works fine with synthetic and will not get hot enough to adversely affect it I wanted over kill. *I also used 20' of 1" tube webbing for a chafe guard. *



I secured the end of the line to the drum and prepared to spool it in. *I needed to do this with weight applied so I decided to pull myself up my drive way using my Beast of an XJ as my anchor. *The problem was that my drive way is only 50' long which meant that I needed to use a snatch block. *I ran the line from the WK at the end of my driveway, up to the XJ through a snatch block, and back the the WK attached to the Matrix. *It worked Beautifully!*





Once the line was in and attached to the Matrix.*



A shot of the winch nestled in place hiding safely behind the bumper. *

 

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Lastly I decided to remove the Superwinch bubble sticker off the solenoid box and applied it to the bumper. *It gives a hint of the Awesomeness lying in wait!*





I hope this has been beneficial and knowledgable for those of you hoping to do the same.*
 
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