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Picture of How to Build a Rear Bumper With Swing Out.

A few caveats:

1. This is for a body on frame vehicle. The project was specifically designed for 2013 FJ Cruiser.

2. Check your local laws for legality.

3. If you are going to do this you will have to make modifications to fit your vehicle.

Okay, now we got that out of the way, most SUVs now do not come with a tire mounted on the rear of the vehicle little lone a metal rear bumper. This is fine for most people but if you plan on taking your vehicle offroad a metal bumper has saved me a lot of body damage, the rear swing out was mainly to hold gear for me as my FJ came stock with a rear tire carrier but getting that tire out from under a vehicle is good for 2 reasons. (1) While a vehicle is in 4wd you really should have the same size tire on all 4 wheels. Most people I know get larger tires when they decide to build a vehicle for offroading and the spare under the vehicle doesn't get changed. (2) When someone blows out a rear tire in mud and the vehicle drops on to its frame it is a long, dangerous process to get the tire out from underneath the vehicle.

Tools used in the project.


Angle grinder




Chop saw

Skill saw


Socket set

Clamps, lots of clamps

Step 1: The What, the How, the Why, the Plan.

Picture of The What, the How, the Why, the Plan.

The what

You want to build a bumper to protect your vehicle and to carry stuff not on my roof rack or inside the cab.

The why

(I know its out of order but it sounds better as a title)

I want to protect the vehicle is an easy one. I don't want the tire below the frame, up on the roof rack or in the cab. I also don't want to store extra gas up on the roof or inside the cab and occasionally it would be nice to have some recovery gear and maybe some drinks outside the vehicle so I don't have to dig in it all the time to get anything.

The how

The bumper can protect the vehicle, I also want it to wrap a bit around the sides so if I slide into anything it hits it instead of the body. The tire can go on a tire carrier and I can make a gas can holder kinda like a shelf so I can put a cooler there if I don't need gas.

The plan

Ask yourself these questions and it will help direct you to your plan. In my case, at first, all I wanted was bumper the swingout came later, about 4 months later.

The bumper needs to be strong enough to take a hit on something, it won't save you from a 40 mile an hour crash but backing into a tree or falling onto a rock it should do fine. This needs to anchor onto the frame of your vehicle. You also need to choose what part of the vehicle gets cut off to make room for this bumper. Adding a swingout adds a lot of stress to a bumper that makes you need to anchor the bumper on both the top and bottom of the frame.

My plan for this project was a simple sketch with some ideas written on it to keep me on track. The idea was to have a very simple exoskeleton type bumper. I opted to use square tube because that is what I had on hand as left over from my trailer build the year before. This should let me have a strong light bumper that would give me the ability to expand on it later if I wanted.

CrazyCaseys533 months ago
Thanks for documenting your build. I’m curious what material thickness you used for the tire carrier’s 2x2 swing arm? Thanks for your time!
PliskinAJ (author)  CrazyCaseys533 months ago
Everything I used was 1/8" thk.
felix_hancock7 months ago
Question on how you attached your bag to the Tire? Do you have any issues with the bag possibly falling off or reposition to an awkward angle that might cause a loss of items within the bag? Love the idea but just worried all my stuff would be lost while i drive 10 or 20 miles down the trail.
PliskinAJ (author)  felix_hancock7 months ago
I have never had an issue with the bag, its designed to go on the rear tire by a company named Trasharoo. I normally leave it on for trips and take if off since I don't need it but I have on the low-end 5k miles with it on the back of my FJ or my wife's 4Runner and nothing has fallen out.
Ahh, Got ya. Thought it was like my Frost River Bag (Check them out they are great bags i will check that link out. Looking for something like this on my 73 Scout 2.
Great build. It's exactly what I'm looking at building for my '85 VW Syncro. I"m super interested in how you attached the gas strut to the swing arm. Any interest in posting a follow up description with photos? I'd super appreciate it. Again...awesome design and execution!
Peter Murphy
Prince Edward Island, Canada
PliskinAJ (author)  parkwardenpete8 months ago
Unfortunately, I didn't document the gas strut well since it was a quote on quote quick fix. There are a few strut calculators out there on the web. I drew up the arcs with autocad to figure out the approximate length I would need. I don't remember if I want to say I got the strut from Orr & Orr and they had a fit kit that came with the 2 ball joints that bolt to the arm and the bumper.

The arm is a 1" angle tab with a single hole in it. The Bumper side is a 2" x 1/4" thk flatbar that I drilled in 3 holes in it so I had some adjustment if needed.

The main thing I was worried about was position extended so it doesn't hit my door. I clamped on my swing out point and swung the swing out to the extended position and clamped it stationary. I just pivoted my strut with the bumper plate attached until it made contact to the bumper. Tacked it in and then checked for any binding. Once that was checked I welded it in.
Disasterific8 months ago
Nice all-terrain tires their as tough as nails.
winter-taco8 months ago
did you purchase a spindle/bushing kit for the pivot? if so, from where
PliskinAJ (author)  winter-taco8 months ago
I ordered it from AtoZ fabrication. It is the Mega Spindle.
JamesA418 months ago
Interesting latch design. Thanks for sharing the build details... looks awesome.

I have the materials I salvaged from some treadmills and an Air Walker (not sure what brand... looks like Proform) that I think I am going to use for the truck (or last few years I've been wanting one as a kitchen cargo shell tail to lower drag on the Prius too though not as long as in the link).

I'm thinking to make a shell to lower drag and keep the height around the top of the bed with extra height since I usually have a cap. The plan is to make a Mike Basich style topper with actuators in each corner and two for the back of cap to lower down to the bed top to reduce drag. For the walk through in the spacer/roll bar area I plan to have three hole ports for a rotor and antennas for communications and radio direction finding. I'm thinking sticking with the aluminum cap material since I picked up another cap for free that I took apart for materials and don't need as heavy a load on top where at most I'm keeping the rack for loading above the solar panel if I need to haul longer materials.

The plan is to keep the tailgate swing out, at least the bottom, to be the steel frame to be safe. I also got from the salvage yard another Reese hitch for the front so I can swap the winch easy. I picked up a Millermatic 141 for this project (I have new or salvaged body panels to replace also)... how do you like the 200?
PliskinAJ (author)  JamesA418 months ago
Before you start using the material from a treadmill cut a section of it and see how thick it is, it might be a bit too thin for main supports.

As for the miller 200 I love it. It can do just about everything mig, tig, stick, flux core and AL weld mig and flux core. The automatic settings on it make welding cheating easy and it is small enough I can take the machine as a stick machine and put it in my passenger seat.
Will do. I was almost thinking about buying a hardness tester also... then I saw how much they are. Will have to find where I can use one. Might do some load testing also just to see failure potential... if does fail... since looks like I have enough material for two at least. The pivot point construct and material on the Air Walker was what first got my attention.
AndrewA1678 months ago
That's a nice job you did on your bumper. I'm not in need of such a bumper on my Jeep (I ended up buying one because I needed the full-sized tire carrier more than anything), but your other tips on using "scrap wood templates" and the angle finding for bends, plus some of the other stuff, will make me take a copy of this for future review.

I did have a question, though, about a tool I saw pictured - what are those small "tables" you are using for support for welding/cutting; you show them in a couple of pictures on step 2, with a sawzall and grinder laying on top (they've been painted yellow from over-spray it looks like, but in a later step you show one that looks brand new - so you must like them)?

They look kinda handy. They also look kinda expensive, but I was curious on the brand and model?
PliskinAJ (author)  AndrewA1678 months ago
They are Husky X-Horses you can get them at Home Depot for around 30 dollars. I have 4 of them and have been using them for years. I have moved all my stationary tools to a dedicated table but I still use the X-Horses for project holding.