Winch plate---Weld or bolt on? | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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It's Always Something!
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Elite Explorer
August 1, 2008
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94 & 95 XLT's
Hey all, I really need your practical experience in this.

Weld or bolt on winch plate?

Looking for your opinions on what you think is better, and why.

A new front tube bumper is being fabbed for the Black Hole (2nd gen), and the winch plate will be added between the front frame rails. The plate will be cut to fit, and either welded on permanently or bolted on. Welding is the plan right now, but I just thought to ask if there are any viable reasons to not weld, and just weld on side plates to the mounting plate and bolt it on instead.

Winch plate is 1/4" and will be mounted flush with the ends of the frame rails. The bottom of the plate will need to be flush with the bottom of the frame rails to give the room for the height of the winch to fit.

One more question, does anyone have a picture of where to gusset the crumple zone on the 2nd gen frame rails for strength?

Thanks in advance! :D

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If it restricts access to other componets, I would go with bolt-on. Are you mounting the winch hortizontal or vertical? From the description of the plate it will be hortizontal.
Welding is stronger, but what is it going to interfere with, if anything?

Just my .02

Here is a picture of the area it is going on. There is a pipe cross member in this pic, but has been removed. The brush guard has also been removed. The winch plate will be going in the same location.
This will not obstruct anything.


Mine is bolted in that same location.

Then I would go with the extra strength of a weld, that's a dang good spot for a winch.

If you pull too hard, or hit it, will it bend your frame if welded?

Using the vehicle to pull a winch line could cause a impact load and snap the cable, it don't matter if it's wire rope or syn. Only the winch should be used to pay in a load.

A hard enough impact to bend the frame wouldn't matter if it was welded or bolted, the bolts have to be strong enough to handle the payload anyhow. Bolting it in gives 4 points of stress. IMO, a solid weld is just stronger.

(BTW, mine is bolted and not welded)

Mine is bolted in that same location.

How did you bolt yours on?

I vote bolt on though. You never know when you may need to remove it to fix something else.

Id weld it on for strength and so it doesn't get stolen, i see too many winches getting stolen around my way, its a shame that people are that scummy. My friend had an xrc8 bolted on his XJ and it got stolen, somehow the police got it back, now the plate is welded to the frame and the bolts that mount the winch are welded to the plate. yea its a pain to cut and re-weld if it has to be removed but worth it if there is a chance of a 300+ dollar item getting stolen.

There will be a 1/4" skid plate protecting the front & bottom of the winch plate. I'm not worried about hitting it.

I have seen bolt on done 3 ways. 1st-plates welded to the sides of the mount plate to box it in, then bolted to the sides of the frame rails. 2nd-the winch plate is cut the width of the frame rails from outside edge to outside edge. Then the front & back lips notched to fit in between the rails, than bolted to the underside of the frame rails. 3rd-the plate sits on top of the frame rails and bolted to the frame rails.

For me to bolt it to the rails, the bolts will have to go all the way thru, and the nuts on the outsides of the rails. The horns are being removed, and a 3/8" plate is boxing the rails. There will be no access inside the frame from the front any longer. The tow points will be welded with 1" bar stock to the 3/8" plates. The bumper will be bolted to the 3/8" plates as well.

I always go for bolt on first if practical. 2 or 3 1/2" bolts per side will be fine. If not then weld it in.

As for the point tgreene92 brought up about theft there is a simple solution. I tack weld a small piece of angle iron over the bolts that way you cant get a wrench on them. Or give Tuffy a call and get the bolt locks they sell, they are nice and I use them on my aux. lights.

i just picked up a winch plate for a tj from a friend and was just going to cut/grind on it to fit in between the frame rails and weld it in place,bolting would be nice but welding it in seems like alot less work :D

bolt it in , in case it has to be removed .
mine is bolted and it works great,

yea never really thought of covering the bolts,that is a simple solution ill use when i get a winch. i have seen bolt locks cut however, not sure how, but it happened to some dude i know, it was for a spare mounted on his roof. guys must have been determined cuz it was a full 35'" spare.

I welded the my winch mounting plate to the frame (1st gen ), added a piece of rectangular tubing at the rear to help strengthen the plate, also welded receiver tubing to the frame for recovery attachment points. The bumper is bolted on.



That looks pretty unique Mike. Do you have any problems hitting it on approach at all?

Since I have the 2nd gen, the crumple zones need to be reinforced some. I have decided to weld a 2"x3" carbon bar behind the winch plate, close to the rad support as possible. The winch plate itself will probably bolted on to the frame rails, and the bolts will go all the way thru the rails. I was after more frame support with welding the winch plate on, but I think the crossbar will take care of that. L brackets made of 1/4" should be plenty strong for the winch.

The 3" Body lift will allow the winch to fit tucked in behind the ends of the rails.

Edit: I didnt see your 2nd pic edit until after this post. I see how your set up is now, looks awesome! Nice work!

I've managed to drag the license plate off on a couple occasions :p: The plate is even with the bottom of the frame, everything but the shackles are tucked up above the frame. I welded mine because it was a simple solution, faster than drilling holes thru the frame...kinda lazy I guess :p: The winch is set back as close to the rad support as I could get without modding the plastic shroud. I didn't want the winch blocking the airflow to the radiator.
I think your idea/design will have plenty of strength...the body lift will give much needed room for the winch, making it easier/cleaner to install.

Mine is in a near similar location.

My plate is a bolt on and a welded on as well.

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Properly bolted is better than welded. Weld strength is dependent upon the welder. Improper welding weakens metal. When we build metal buildings we bolt everything.

I am a professional engineer I would recommends bolts.