Article and photos courtesy of Matt Sanderson, AKA
Some of the most useful tools that you can have on
your 4x4 can be the bumpers. They can provide protection for the body, a
safe place to use for a high-lift jack, a spot to hook up a strap, and
finally, a place to stand on. The stock Blazer bumper and in a lesser way
the stock truck bumper is not up to the task at all.
4x4 Iron had all the answers I needed. They offer a
few different options in rear bumpers and opted to go with the rear tube
bumper with the optional side armor. Since I planned on tractor pulls in
the future, I also had them install the optional receiver hitch.
Shortly after I made my request, Tim from 4x4 Iron
called me up and had me take some measurements. There can be many
different factors that affect how these bumpers will fit onto a vehicle.
Some of things that needed to take into consideration, was the fact that I
had already cut my frame back some and I had a 3” body lift. To make use
of the optional side armor, the body needed to be trimmed up behind the
rear wheel. I used a sawsall and cut strait back from the wheel well
opening as high as I could without cutting the floor of the bed. Tim had
me make several measurements in different places and then he was off to
weld up my new bumper. In the meantime, I had to get my old one off.
I had given up on my stock bumper several years back.
With no place to hook a strap to and looking like a smiley face it was
retired. I had cut the frame back several inches and welded up a 3” by
3” square tube. It worked much better but with the addition of the body
lift, it was looking somewhat lame. One thing to note, cutting back the
frame will cause you to loose the function the tailgate springs. This
tended to make the gate heavy to open and close but it was easy to get
used to. With a soft top installed, the rear window and all of the
hardware can be removed making the tailgate quite a bit lighter. I would
recommend cutting back the frame. This enables the bumper to be tucked in
closer to the body and it looks much better anyway. Using a combination of
a sawsall and a grinder, I was able to remove the old bumper. Before I
could install the new bumper from 4x4 Iron, I needed to do some wiring
relocating. The wire loom for the rear lights ran through some holes on
the outside-rear of the frame. The brackets on the new bumper will be
covering these holes up. Simply unplug the loom and reroute the wires over
the top of the frame and reconnect the plugs again. I was now ready for
the new bumper.
|4x4 Iron bumper
The bumper was pretty popular down at the shipping
company where I went to pick it up. Five guys helped me load it up and
thought I was going to put it on my dually! I got it home and busted it
out of the packing crate and positioned it to put on. First impressions
were very positive, the bumper looks strong and the welds look smooth. The
receiver hitch is flush with the surface and the safety chain hooks are on
the back of the bumper for a clean look. There are also two mounting
points for clevises that are very beefy. The side armor has support tubes
that angle back to make it very rigid. The idea was to put it on a floor
jack, move it into place, and use C-clamps to hold it while I did the
final positioning and whole drilling. As it turns out, the tolerances were
so tight on the frame mounts; I ended up using another floor jack and a
five foot piece of posting to bang it into place, then I hit a snag.
On the back of the bumper, with the addition of the
receiver hitch option, there are two loops welded so that there would be a
place to connect the safety chains. These loops bumped into the
crossmember that supports the rear of the gas tank. As I understand it,
this was the first bumper that they had built for a 3” body lift and
only an 8” drop in the center. Normally with a 10” drop or without the
body lift, the loops would fit under the crossmember. With the loops
hitting this, it was not quite in the position that I wanted it. To fix
this, I simply took the sawsall and notched the frame on each side of the
loop and bent in the notch for clearance. I was then able to slide the
bumper in until the back of the receiver hitch hit the same crossmember.
This was as far as I wanted to go so I called it good. I spent a lot of
time placing the bumper right where I wanted it. I ended up raising it as
high as I could and in as far as possible. I would have liked it to slide
in a little further but that would have entailed notching the crossmember
more. With it in place, I drilled two ½” holes on each side and
installed the four supplied bolts and I was done. After painting it black,
I was ready for the test drive!
than the bumper
This is a good looking bumper. It was a major
improvement over the square tubing that I was using before. The side armor
provided some nice piece of mind for some of the narrow trails that I like
to run. It tucked up nice and high and did not get in the way of ground
clearance at all, departure angle was good also. The bottom of the bumper
was level with the bottom of the frame and then tapered up from there.
Getting it to drop down on a rock was challenging. I was able to find one
though and it took it fine. I was also able to just drop down onto the
side armor with no damage at all. Before this bumper, that stunt would
have crushed up the body and most likely would have hung up on the old
bumper. This one just slide along until I was through. The mounting points
for the clevises came in very handy. No more wrapping a chain around the
frame in the mud or the snow for me. If the clevises rattled, I could not
hear them over the engine and the tires.
Overall I am very happy with this product. I was
planning on having somebody here build me something for the front, but
after seeing the quality in the construction of the rear bumper, I
will have to see what 4x4 Iron has available for the front as well.
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