I have had the idea of a hitch receiver or even a winch mount for the front of our 2002 Ford F150 4×4, for quite a while. This idea became pretty strong. I would find myself, when I had a spare moment, sketching out on paper different possible layouts. Waffling back and forth on whether to incorporate a winch from the start, and incorporate a hitch receiver, or just go with a hitch receiver. Do I use the recovery hook mount points on the underside of the frame rails directly under and behind the bumper; or do I do something more drastic, and attempt to mount in the frame rails through the bumper — actually physically cutting through the bumper.
I opted for a non-invasive, no bumper modifications path. I removed the existing recovery hooks from the truck. As a side note, if you need to remove the recovery hooks on your 2002 F150, complete remove the bolts nearest the bumper, but simply loosen the rear bolts just enough to free the hooks. There is a captive nut rail inside the frame that would be a total time suck to get lined up again if those rear bolts were to be fully removed.
I realize that I could have just bought a front receiver mount, but what is the fun of that. If I exclude new tools and cutting wheels/discs that I had to purchase, this was a relatively inexpensive project.
Materials and Costs
The 2″x2″x1/4″ steel tubing was a Craigslist find. I bought 48 feet of the material for $150. Throw in maybe $15 for gas, it was a two hour, round trip, adventure to get the steel tubing. This project used 29″ of tubing. At roughly, $0.28 per inch, the center rail cost $8.30. The 3″x3″x1/2″ angle steel was free. I had originally found this in an outbuilding when we bought our property. It was roughly 48″ long when I found it. Over the last few years, I’ve sliced off a piece here and there for projects. There was a smidgen over 32″ left.
Total materials cost was around $50.
I used a 6013 welding electrode — because that is what I had on hand. The Jepson abrasive chop saw was something that I did not have, but was able to get it from a person on Craigslist for $35. Bimetal hole saws, a titanium coated metal drill bit, new abrasive cutting wheels, a 15 mm deep socket and 6″ extension all could have added to the overall cost of this project. However, I tend to think of these sorts of purchases as being amortized into the future. I will definitely get more use out of all these things on future projects.
Here’s a video that captures much of the work.
There are still a few things that need to be done, but they can wait until spring: knock off the bits of weld splatter, grind and smooth the welds, and powder coat the entire assembly. Recovery shackles will also need to be added, too.