Front mount hitch | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Front mount hitch


Active Member
December 31, 2008
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City, State
Lenoir City, TN
Year, Model & Trim Level
2001 XLS 4wd
In my efforts to make my Explorer a better off road vehicle, i've started with things it needs the most.....RECOVER POINTS! ;)

Not really bashing it, but I have gotten stuck twice and needed a tug, one from the front and one from the back. I got a set of hooks mounted on the back frame ends. No biggie there, drill and bolt on.

I plan to put a winch on the front, but don't want to do the square-ish metal/tube bumper. The stocker is fine as this is my daily driver. The front mount receiver will serve dual purpose. Currently in my broke $$$$$ state, it'll be my recovery point. Future will be a removable winch mount. Far far future maybe rigging up a receiver for the back to make the winch usable at either end.

My cousin gave me this universal Class III hitch and a wheelin' buddy helped with his plasma cutter and welder. He's the same guy that I plan to turn loose on the front end Dana 30/3-link swap possibly in March(depending on $$$$$).

As for the hard part.....I found some white mesh and decided to make a cosmetic grill to purdy it up. :D:p: With that receiver kit were some thick metal brackets. I'm going to see if my buddy will weld me up some sort of bottom radiator/condenser guard for that area. The brackets are thick and the perfect length, they'll just need a bridge joining them frame to frame. I've had some small dings on the lower fins of the radiator, and I want to resolve this issue ASAP.






(Last outting, no receiver/grill)

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thats pretty sweet!!!....does that bracket get in the way of anything that may need need to be removed???

thats pretty sweet!!!....does that bracket get in the way of anything that may need need to be removed???

I thoroughly thought of that before I screwed myself over with that!!! The trans cooler lines are kinda snaked up over the bar, but they aren't crimped and could be R/R'd if need be in the future. It's also far enough forward(we believe) that it won't get in the way during a SAS(say for a panhard bracket/bar.

Watch that drawbar as a recovery point... Though the receiver may hold the full load of the vehicle, the drawbar may be the weak point. I wouldn't have welded it to the frame either, but to each his own.

....aaaaaaand how would you have done it differently?

Use a towing and recovery drawbar like the Warn recovery bar many people use. It's guaranteed to handle the loads where that drawbar is likely rated for no more than 6000 lbs.

On the hitch, I would have mounted a pair of plates on each end that allowed the unit to be bolted to the frame.

Forgot to mention that I love the location of your mount though... The Draw-Tite folks should take notes on that... (i.e. it shouldn't come out so far below the frame that it drags!!)

May I inquire as to why bolting vs. welding? I'm just curious. Welding seemed quicker as it provided no obstructions(that I could see)from accessing damagable parts.

And +1 on the location. Thats kinda why i'm reluctant to install one in the rear. They hang so low.

Two reasons I recommend bolting: First, if the hitch was to get tweaked with it welded in place, the odds of being able to straighten it are pretty slim. If you could remove it, it makes it much easier to reinforce it off the vehicle. Using it as a recovery point, it's going to see a lot of strange loads in all kinds of directions, so I prefer to have the option of removing it. Second, the mounting plates allow you to distribute the forces applied to the frame rails over a much larger area than the 1" of frame immediately around the welds.

I guess there's a third reason: Offset frontal impact. In the event of a catastrophic collision, tying the two frame rails together with a welded bracket changes the way the front end absorbs impact, and it may not be for the better. Bolting it would probably provide a lesser degree of rigidity, allowing the front end to crush more like it was intended.... Yes, I know, unlikely, but I'm a 'just-in-case' kinda guy...

For the rear, if you buy a good one, they don't hang more than 3" below the rear bumper.... The drawbar sticking out might, but that's an easy thing to solve... Just make up a nice short skid plate for it and it'll work well... The spare tire on mine hangs lower than the hitch used to.

Good info, thanks!