What’s in a bumper? That which we call a winch & flood lights!

Day 1 of my front end install has gone fairly well I think. That is, of course, if you ignore the fact that it took me 4 tries and X hours more than it ever should have to get the bumper attached properly. This day finds me looking at another fairly heavy box of parts in the form of a winch, some D-rings, and a set of lights. I hate to admit it this early in the build, but I may have been a bit hasty in picking up the exact same product I had on my TJ in the form of my IPF 968 lights. They look fantastic and I really enjoyed them on my TJ, but on my JK I think I should have shopped around a bit. More on that in a few posts when I get into lighting, but in the meantime each light screws on with one bolt to each of the front tabs and presto change-o!

For this build, I went with Smittybilt’s XRC X2O winch in 10,000 lb. test. Much like [most] everything else, I didn’t just pick this winch willy nilly. I’ve owned a Smittybilt before as well as a Warn, and quite honestly was beyond thrilled with my Smittybilt which gave me absolutely no problems and a lot of easy use. As water crossings are one of my favorite obstacles, I decided to give Smittybilt’s more waterproof products a go. I was torn on the issue of synthetic vs. steel line. I like the weight savings of the synthetic line (18 or so lbs?) but I like the durability & cost of the steel line a little better. In the end, going with what I know and the cost savings won out my decision.

Smittybilt Winch*Image shamelessly stolen from jeepforum.com since I didn’t take an unboxing picture of my winch.

Prepare the winch by mounting the winch controller onto the winch in the desired location and connect the three color coded cables from the control box (yellow to yellow, etc) to the winch drum. The little bitty cable is the ground for the control box. Make sure everything meets with the dogs approval before proceeding.

Work approved by the dog.

The rest of the install is really pretty damn straight forward. There are 4 bolts that go in 4 holes in the bottom and “ta-da!” you’ve got yourself a winch! If there’s one small trick that I’ve learned in my years of winch installs, it’s this: Take a small piece of tape (duct, masking, packing, anything) and cover the hole where the 4 square nuts slip into. So, carefully (I SAID CAREFULLY!) lower the winch into the mounting location and line up the holes, thread and tighten your bolts. If it’s your first winch install, just trust me on the tape trick to make your life easy.

Installed WInch

Wiring is really up to you. The thick red wire goes to the positive terminal, the thick black wire goes to the negative terminal. Me personally, I used to dabble in car stereo install when I was a younger lad and learned to ❤ zip ties & run cables super-secret squirrel style when possible. “What am I looking at?” you might be asking me about the pic below. Exactly!


Next we’ll be installing the d-rings. Wait, hold on to that tomato… don’t throw it at me yet for wasting your time. The only reason I’m taking the time to describe installing d-rings is for 2 handy little pieces of rubber. Have you seen d-rings that just flop about all over the place on a thinner piece of steel like my bumper? You know you have. Well, it drove me NUTS for years. The solution was a piece called a Ballcock Shank Washer from the plumbing department and cost me a whopping $1 apiece. I picked up 4 (2 for each d-ring) of them as you can see in the pic below, and since then my d-rings haven’t slid, rattled, unscrewed, nothin. They just hang there as they should.


My work this weekend is finished. All the bolts have been tightened, all the cables have been zip-tied in place or out of the way, the winch has been tested, the lights… I hate to admit it, but at this point in time they are just a hood ornament. I’ll get to the wiring in just a bit. The turn signals in the bumper… I looked at ARB’s provided wiring diagram and wiring harness under the supervision of the dog. Ironically, both the dog and I got the same level of information from it and the turn signals will go unwired for the time being. Now what the hell am I supposed to do with this box of extra random bolts that came with all my goodies?

Completed Install


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