Over the past 2 years I’ve had an AEV JK Premium Front Bumper installed on the Jeep, and to the surprise of many, it was commonly seen without a winch. All of the questions I’ve been asked accumulated in the “Do You Really Need a Winch” write-up I did back in January and anyone who followed the article is probably familiar with all of the controversy it generated.
As many of you are now aware, I finally gave in after realizing I would eventually run out of good luck. So I had our friends down at Forge Specialties install a Superwinch Talon 9.5iSR.
I’m not going to get into the whole Superwinch vs. Warn debate in this post, because it’ll take more than a few hundred words to discuss and mostly because I
don’t want to deal with all of the Warn Fanboys today want to focus on the install. I will tell you though that my main reasons for going with the Superwinch are: it’s a fantastic product, I’ve had great experiences with them in the field, many people who know much more about 4×4 driving than I do use them (i.e. Bill Burke, the Uwharrie Off-Road Training Center, Overland Experts), and they’re priced very reasonably.
So this install is going to be in a slightly different style than what you’re used to reading, mostly because I had my bumper installed before I put in the winch.
First you’ll start by obviously removing the bumper from the truck. AEV has some of the best instructions available with great photos and customer support, I’m not going to describe how to do this in detail because you can find everything you need to know here.
Since I already had the bumper installed, all you have to remove is the bumper itself, the fairlead bracket, and the plastic filler panel that sits right below the grill. All of the other brackets and hardware can stay in place.
Next you’ll need to obtain an AEV Winch Mount if you don’t already have one and then go about relocating the vacuum pump. AEV provides you a bracket that mounts to their winch mount for this purpose. You can find all of the in depth directions again here at AEV’s website.
Once you’ve relocated the vacuum pump, you’ll put the winch into the combined winch mount/fairlead bracket and use AEV’s hardware to secure everything in place.
Finally, you can trim the plastic filler panel, but we didn’t reuse mine because it seemed pretty pointless. If this matters to you, by all means install it, but it doesn’t serve any functional purpose. Also be aware the fitment of the winch is tight, so make sure you complete all of your wiring before mounting up the bumper. I also had the guys at Forge install a solenoid for the winch so I could turn it on and off using a switch inside the Jeep, the main reasoning behind this is it prevents anyone from coming along and using your winch, and I also don’t like to leave accessories on 24/7.
There seemed to be a lot of confusion on the forums about which winch (try saying that ten times fast) would actually fit in the bumper. AEV recommends a Warn 9.5cti, but from my research it looked like any 9,5000 lb winch with an integrated solenoid (permanently fixed to the top of the winch) will fit as long as it has similar dimensions to the Warn unit (this isn’t a guarantee). Don’t be that guy that tries to jam a 12,000 lb unit into the bumper because there is only about 1/8″ of clearance between the winch and the bumper with the Superwinch unit installed.
So far I’ve been really happy with the look of the winch on the Jeep, it definitely let’s people know I’m a professional Overlander. Seriously though, it looks pretty awesome with our custom fairlead from Jim at Research in Recovery LLC.
This spring I’m sure I’ll put the winch to good use pulling out Toyota’s and Land Rovers, you can expect a full review after we finally get a chance to put it to work.