A new '92-15 Ford E-Series/Econoline front bumper option

mk216v

Der Chef der Fahrzeuge
Even though I currently have an aftermarket bumper(a custom stubby JCR Jeep bumper fab'd by Brad to fit the E350; a very well done fab job I must say), I was looking for something a bit different, and with full width protection.
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As many of you know, the options for Econoline front bumpers are slim pickin's;
--UJOR aluminum tube; http://www.ujointoffroad.com/bumpersextras.html
--Aluminess; http://www.aluminess.com/ford/ford-vans-1992-2007/front-bumper/ http://www.aluminess.com/ford/ford-vans-2008-2013/ford-van-08-13-front-bumper/
--TrailReady; http://www.trailready.com/bumpers/ford_econoline.html
--Buckstop; http://buckstop.biz/vans.html

None of them were quite what I was looking for aesthetically(ok, I'm really picky).
When I heard that Michael at MG Metalworks was looking to create his own bumper for the E-Series, I contacted him to see if he was going to offer one for the earlier vans like I have. Thankfully he was aiming to do just that! He had already started on bumper sketches, incorporating some very unique features which I also was looking for in my bumper. However, the cost of a full custom bumper built from scratch was starting to really add up--superior engineering & fab work isn't cheap.

We threw some ideas around and one stuck; take an existing bumper from one of(if not THE) highest quality, best engineered bumper companies in the world, and see about adapting it to the E-Series. After sorting thru a few possibilities on the ARB website, looking at schematics and measurements on Ford body builder, taking lots of measurements of my ('07) van and his ('13) van, an ARB bumper was chosen.
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Take a look at the ARB bumper production video here. Impressive stuff!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yqHL7Uo4_s

Seems that the early '92-07 vans have frame horns that stick out further; '08-15 are tucked under the grille more. MG went to work CAD-designing a "starter" adapter plate to mate the ARB to the E350 frame horns;
ARB adapter.jpg
Notice the truss design for strength, but also for proper airflow to the radiator/condenser.

He started by removing my stubby bumper;
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Taking a look at the new ARB as is;
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MG's CAD-designed laser cut adapter plate mounted;
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Some modifications were made and round1 of test fitting for the '92-07 Econoline begun(I cannot tell you how excited I am to get this bumper on!! :wings:).
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mk216v

Der Chef der Fahrzeuge
MG went to work precisely measuring the proper depth of the bumper to the early front end. More of his adapter pieces were added;
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Seeing how the 30" Rigid E1 looks;
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While I could have fit a 40" E1 on there, it would stretch past the bottom of the grille, so it was decided to stick with the 30".

While ARB states that the Warn 16.5Ti(the winch I was originally thinking about, thanks to advice from Chris at UJOR), is meant to fit into this bumper, in my winch research I decided on what I feel is an even better option, the ComeUp Seal Gen2 IP68 Waterproof Series' 16.5S(bolt pattern is the same 10.0" x 4.5" as the Warn); http://shop.comeupusa.com/p/seal-gen2-16-5s-12v-winch?pp=12
ComeUp used to make many of the Superwinch's for Superwinch, and I'm told that ComeUp is the #1 winch line in Australia, and Asia too I believe.
One of my search and rescue teammates works at ComeUp USA and schooled me on some advantages of it vs the Warn 16.5Ti;
ComeUp 16.5S vs Warn 16.5Ti
5.8hp vs 4.6hp
343:1 vs 315:1
1/2"x82' synthetic vs 7/16"x90' wire
132lbs vs 138lbs
Contactors vs solenoids(pretty unique difference when it comes to long term reliability)

The ComeUp 16.5S fitted to the ARB(might be the first time this was done--was the first Chad at ComeUp had heard of one going into an ARB);
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Whoops, having some contact issues with the T-handle up against the bumper, and thus the bolt pattern is a bit off;
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Good thing this isn't MG's first rodeo! Taking matters into his own hands, the aluminum end cap was removed and re-clocked to put the T-handle at the bottom of the bumper(the only good option). Notice the beefiness of the gears;
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There, that's a bit better;
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He clearanced the bumper for the new T-handle position (ace fab work here by MG--watching this guy in his element is simply incredible!);
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However, since the '92-07 bumper frame horns are sticking further out than the '08-15's do, and in order to allow the best approach angle possible on the '92-07, the bumper needs to suck in towards the van as much as possible, while also keeping in mind the correct aesthetic for the side bumper "wings";
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mk216v

Der Chef der Fahrzeuge
But because the big beefy ComeUp winch is back there, MG's custom truss-bumper adapter needs to be further modified, leaving only a pair of bumper adapters to remain;
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And that's where it's been left off for now. More to finish another day, more pictures to come...
 

brian94ht

Chateau spotter
This thread should be titled "How to: Using an engine stand to test fit a bumper solo"

What's under the towel? Looks like mini forklift blades. I may have come up with some better uses for mine in its off duty time.

Awesome job!
 

mgmetalworks

Explorer
This thread should be titled "How to: Using an engine stand to test fit a bumper solo"

What's under the towel? Looks like mini forklift blades. I may have come up with some better uses for mine in its off duty time.

Awesome job!
Under the towel is my home-made transfer case rebuild attachment for the engine stand.



Perfect height for me to lift all the gears out of a t-case but it's just a tad too tall to be the perfect bumper support. We have to put the van on the lift for the extra couple inches. I have a few attachments for my engine stand. It's a handy tool to have around.
 

mgmetalworks

Explorer
Reminder what the same bumper looks like on the '08+ front ends...





Not as much trimming to do to fit the bumper to the newer vans but it's really not that much more work for the older vans either. I think the bumper works pretty well for both.
 

mk216v

Der Chef der Fahrzeuge
The bumper is "hey, that's not so bad" lbs

and the winch is "Holy s**t! Where's the chain hoist" lbs

:)
Only because you kept taking the heavy end of the 132lb winch, saying that "both sides are about the same." That is until the last time we had to move it and you said "Whoa, your side was much lighter!" :sombrero:

Will get an official weight of the entire assembly before install.
 

mk216v

Der Chef der Fahrzeuge
Reminder what the same bumper looks like on the '08+ front ends...





Not as much trimming to do to fit the bumper to the newer vans but it's really not that much more work for the older vans either. I think the bumper works pretty well for both.
Biggest amount of trimming will be for the early van's "bumper side wings." Notice how well the bumper fits the '08+ fender flare arch!
I'll probably have the body shop re-shape the front section of the front Bushwacker flares, to mate up with the bumper wings the best they can.
Will be going with a satin black powdercoat for the bumper.
More to come in a few weeks...
 

tgreening

Expedition Leader
I understand your dissatisfaction with bumper choices for old vans, but I'm having trouble seeing where its going with this adapter. Would it not have to be modded for every bumper, or is this going to be specific to this ARB bumper and that's the end of it? If so is the ARB going to need modding for all installs? Some of the plainer Trail Ready bumpers I found to be less offensive than most after market bumpers, and unless I miss my guess it's a bolt on affair. Is it cost effective to buy this adapter, buy an ARB bumper, and spend the time/pay someone to modify it all to fit, or is this being done just because that's what you want, cost be danged?

Don't misunderstand, I think it's going to look good and MGs fab looks to be first rate, but from a consumer standpoint I'm not sure where its headed or what the ultimate selling point is.
 

mk216v

Der Chef der Fahrzeuge
I understand your dissatisfaction with bumper choices for old vans, but I'm having trouble seeing where its going with this adapter. Would it not have to be modded for every bumper, or is this going to be specific to this ARB bumper and that's the end of it? If so is the ARB going to need modding for all installs? Some of the plainer Trail Ready bumpers I found to be less offensive than most after market bumpers, and unless I miss my guess it's a bolt on affair. Is it cost effective to buy this adapter, buy an ARB bumper, and spend the time/pay someone to modify it all to fit, or is this being done just because that's what you want, cost be danged?

Don't misunderstand, I think it's going to look good and MGs fab looks to be first rate, but from a consumer standpoint I'm not sure where its headed or what the ultimate selling point is.
A very good question, and I guess I didn't very well explain my vision of the ARB setup, or certainly MG's vision as I understand it from him.

To directly answer your first question, the MG adapter(early set like mine or late like his) will allow this specific off-the-shelf ARB "Sahara" bumper to be bolted onto the E350 chassis...
Yes, some trimming of the ARB bumper will be needed for the correct fit(MG's already started on templates for DIY'ers), but a DIY'er comfortable with a few tools will be able to do that (MG can chime in and list the best/most readily available tools for the proper job). A welder would need to weld 2 of the ARB brackets into a different location on the inside of the bumper, but AFAIR that's it (again, MG can chime in more here if I'm missing something).
ARB states the Warn 16.5Ti winch will fit without modification to the bumper, so no mods to the bumper would be needed there. I've just decided to go with the ComeUp 16.5S and wanted to document here what MG's had to do to make that work.

Yes, any of the 4 bumpers I listed are bolt-on. However, have you looked at TrailReady weights? 180-230lbs!!! The ARB DEFINITELY does not weigh even close to that, I'm guessing the ARB weighs maybe 100lbs'ish? As it's considerably lighter than the ComeUp winch at 132lbs.
Or how about the Buckstop or Aluminess or TrailReady prices? ~$1850 to $2000 to $2500-3000 retail; http://bumpersuperstore.com/c-964550-truck-bumpers-trail-ready-ford-e150-e250-e350-e450.html
The ARB is $1385 retail(yes, quite amazing really), and nothing against TrailReady/Buckstop(I believe they might actually be the same company, in OR), but personally I put considerably more stock in the engineering/history/background of ARB more than anyone in the industry, based on how long they've been building "bull bar bumpers."

Add in whatever MG's precision laser cut/Tig-welded bumper adapter is going to sell at(again, MG can chime in with that), some of your own DIY time(or a local fabricator's) to trim the bumper based on MG's template, move/weld those 2 ARB internal brackets, add in touch-up paint or powdercoat(after your trimming), and my loose calculation has the total cost of the higher quality, better engineered, better looking(IMHO), and unique "custom adapted" ARB front bumper at considerably less than certainly TrailReady's retail, or perhaps near their online sales price. I also think the big diesels are going to appreciate ARB's allowance of direct airflow to the radiator/condenser much more than Aluminess flat faced plate-style for example.

This was my vision, and I believe it was MG's too, which is why I entrusted my van to him for the R&D; not re-invent the wheel with the trickest bumper out there, loaded with a myriad of small hidden details, as that bumper would end up being $3500-5000 for a one-off. Instead, take the best engineered and highest quality bumper from the manufacturer with the most experience in the industry, and allow a DIY'able fitment of said bumper onto the E350. I think by the time MG is done with this initial R&D and setup of both the early and late version, this vision will be well planted and available to others, at an overall cost that's right in line with the other 4 bumpers currently available.
 

GNTY

Adventurer
I think this looks great. I give you two coodoo's for taking this on and making it an option. As great as the other bumpers are and being an owner of aluminess in the past, I just wanted something different. I actually talked to ARB a couple of times about a year ago about the need to enter this market but they had no future plans to. I would have been all game for this if i had seen this a week ago. I just commissioned another bumper manufacturer to build me two bumpers with some personal tweaks. I will post more on those in a few weeks. But just wanted to voice my support for this, the few mods needed to mount on a E series after MG is finished with brackets still makes this a fantastic option for the DIY's.
 
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