Front Bumper Ideas - Thoughts, suggestions? | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Front Bumper Ideas - Thoughts, suggestions?

Cali' Explorer

Well-Known Member
December 14, 2003
Reaction score
City, State
Sacramento, CA
Year, Model & Trim Level
'97 XLT 5.0
Hey all

Well, since I've been driving the X around lowered for quite some time now, I am definately sick of it. In the next couple of months the X will rise again to stock height and higher. Due to a couple of unfortunate incidents (read accidents), I am in need of replacing both the front and rear bumpers. I was going to pay someone to make some custom off-road bumpers for me, but I decided I have the engineering expertise, the welding knowledge and the contacts, why not just make it myself?

Below are 3 different angles of the bumper I am currently working on in Solidworks. The plan is for the Bumper to look similar to the ARB one's with a few extra goodies. One, a nice cut out of text that says "EXPLORER" in the front (for air flow of course), another being an area for a winch to mount, the last being multiple frame mounts. I plan to make the bumper a bolt-on that should hopefully be far stronger than the stock bumper.

Take a look at the pics and tell me what y'all think and if you have any suggestions.

PS: If anyone has either the Ford or Explorer fonts, I'm looking for them.

Perspective View:

Top View:

Front View:

Side View:

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Looks pretty cool, what's the projected date of completion? I'd love to see the completed project!

Thanks for the kind words.

As of yet, I don't have a specific date of completion. All the parts currently are designed based on guesstimations, hehe. I haven't had a chance yet to actually remove my front bumper and take numbers (I've designed watch you see here in about 2 hours last night and an hour today).

I would be very surprised to see it completed sooner than 3 months as money is tight right now and the plan is to either make it out of Stainless or 4130 Chromoly (which will be lots of $$$).

For now, I am just working on the best overall design I can make... and I figure if it spurs someone else to make a similar one or whatever, that'd be great.

Also, just as a side, once I am done, if anyone wants the dimensions of all the parts to have a similar one made up... I will gladly offer them up.

I also plan to design a similar rear bumper, rear axle diff skid plate and rock sliders that will bolt to the frame and fit under the stock Fiberglass step that comes with the X's with a body package, so you can get the protection of Sliders but have it appear totally stock.

Looks great:thumbsup:. Be sure to post pics whenever you get it done.

Looks GREAT! But if it were me, I'd wrap it around the sides a little like the factory bumper. Keep the wrap a little shorter for better tire clearance, but similar look. I love the font cutout too, but you might sacrifice structural with that much cutout? Maybe do the cutout and weld a solid plate behind it to keep the stout feel, but the custom look?

Thanks again guys for the kind words.

Sberkel, it actually will be wrapped like a factory bumper. I may have forgotten to mention that I'm only about 60% completed with the design. I plan to add a wrap around the comes back and tapers up to the Wheel Wells. I also plan to add a full "Skirt' all the way around the bottom that's angled like the current skid plate so that if you were to hit a rock, you would slide up and off the bumper instead of hanging or hitting body.

As for all the holes. the holes that are cut in it currently really shouldn't affect strength too much, I made sure to leave enough material so that wouldn't be a problem, and I plan to add additional structural bracing to the backside to further strengthen the bumper. The air holes are mainly there because I have the 5.0 in my X, and as such have a huge radiator of which this bumper would cover about 50 - 60 % of. So I cut all the air holes in the Skid Plate and the "EXPLORER" into it to allow additional air flow through the radiator.

Also, I was thinking about it last night, I think I am going to build the mounts that mount to the frame so that they also effectively box the frame in the frame. This should add some additional strength to the front end. If you check back to this thread from time to time, I will be updating the above pictures one my web server to the latest version, so you can see the updates quick and at a glance.

Thanks again all, keep the feedback coming, it always helps.


hey cali, what's the word on your design?
if done right, this could be a very popular bumper.
here are the first thoughts that popped into my head...

are the square pockets on each side for slim foglights? i guess the upgrade from the round stock fogs would be worthwhile. if the holes were round and placed in the center of the side section (how much harder to fab?) then the bumper would have more of a stock look. i say that because you mentioned making rocksliders that would keep the factory trim.

any thought of making it compatible with a front hidden hitch? that would provide a license plate mounting point as well. you could also but a basket or bikes on the front for trips.i dont think it would be hard to incorporate.

some offroad light mounts on the top would look good, not that they arent easily added later by drilling some holes.

if you havent already, you might read this thread.
it starts off kinda slow, but has some good tips and ideas.

i'd like to see you pull this off so i can borrow your dimensions :p

The word right now is that the design is on hold until the end of next week (Next week is finals at school, so as such, I am very backlogged between work and school).

The square pockets I put in were to match the Stock foglights on my X which comes with Rectangular Fog Lights. It would be very easy to modify the design to accept the Stock Round Fog Lights as well (although I would need dimensions from someone on the size and mount location on those fog lights).

In addtion, making a change to the Design to accept any size fog light would be easy on my part if you were to send me the dimensions of the Fog Lights ahead of time.

I haven't thought of making it compativle with a front hidden hitch as I didn't know of anyone that made one for the X. In addition, I would think it would be stronger to integrate the hitch into the bumper as opposed to making room for it so to speak. One I have the final version done with actual dimensioning, I will be offering to modify the design (to an extent) for those interested in using, these ideas would be good for such people, but I don't see a reason to do it now as I would personally not use such and option (I plan to mount the Winch Externally).

It will include Off-Road lights on top, I will be adding some tubing around the Head Lights and integrating some Off-Road Light mounts in that area so that they Mount in Line with the Head Lights and in Between the Head Lights and the Ford Logo in the middle of the grill on each side.

I will read that thread when I have a chance, but for now, I must run to class. Thanks, and hope to hear from you again.

WOW - after reading the update, I really like the idea for this bumper....keep us updated Cali!

All watching this thread, I posted a minor update. A couple of changes, first, I added both D Ring mounts. I also added a steel plate to go between Mounts to increase the strength and rigidity of the whole assembly.

Also, added side angles to the left hand (Driver's) side of the Bumper. I still have to add some of the lower fairing stuff, but its starting to come together slowly.

The biggest problem with this design right now is that its current weight is about 80 lbs. The main reason being that I am designing the whole thing out of 3/16" Steel. I have thought about making some of the top panels and other non-critical panels out of 1/8", but I'm not 100% sure yet.

Keep the comments coming as well. There won't be many updates for a couple of weeks because of finals, but once those are all over, I plan to pull off my Bumper to start taking actual measurements and get the mounting situation all figured out.

i think 1/4 and 1/8th are plenty stout for a front bumper. ARB bumpers are all 1/8" steel and i have seen them take hard hits with minor deflection. you might use some 3"16 for the main section in the middle and use 1/8" everywhere else. remember that gusseting will make the 1/8" take hits that will bend ungusseted 3/16"

That's useful information, I didn't realize that ARB's were 1/8" all the way around. I will probably make the main front panel 3/16, along with the lower skid plate (as those will be taking the brunt of the force), as well as the Winch mount, and the rest out of 1/8" with some 1/8" Gussetts.

The next big thing will be designing the Mounting setup. I plan to utilize the original mounts, but I'm looking into tying it into the lower frame, maybe near the radiator mounts or something. I want to use all existing bolts, but I also want to reinforce it more than the stock bumper is so it can take real impacts without bending/breaking.

hmm thats very similar to the design i had in my head for my first gen, would you mind if i used your drawings to modify and make a bumper for my truck. good luck with it it looks great

Xzibit A-
No problem man... Its not like the design is copyrighted or anything. If you have any questions and what not shoot 'em my way. Keep in mind though, this isn't done yet, there's still a lot of deflection and strengthening I need to do.

sweet ill let you know how it goes, i know im going to have an enclosed winch like the arb's, also are you going to leave to three sided or are you going to box he whole bumper(close up the back),

I don't plan to box in the back. My feeling on that is it leaves a place for water to culminate and rust. I plan to add gussetting to the back to strengthen it, but boxing IMHO would cause more harm that good due to rust and inaccessibility to keep parts of bumper (such as, being able to bolt lights or accessories through the bumper).

Definitely post some pics of your bumper once you get it done, be nice to see.

Not a welder here (novice - taking class on it) would it be possible to take a quarter-cross-section of tubing to give the edges a little rounding to match the factory 2nd gen body lines? I'll see if I can mock up what I am talking about....

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sberkel, it would certainly be possible to use a quarter-cross-section of tubing to get the edges rounding. THe problem is, with it being more pieces, it reduces the strength more. 2 Pieces butted and welded give more strength than the same shape being 3 pieces. If you're main purpose is the rounded stock look, you could have the inside angled and have the rounded edge on the outside purely for the look, but there's a certain point at which matching the factory lines isn't worth the loss of strength.

But, anything's possible. Its certainly not possible, you'll just want more gussetting on the backside to strengthen it back up.