Heavy duty winch bumpers by BUCKSTOP TRUCKWARE


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Deerproof your truck with this heavy-duty anti-critter winch bumper
Featured in Four Wheeler Magazine, March 2004

by Ned Bacon
Photography by Ned Bacon

All our driver saw was a quick flash of brown and heard, more than felt, a slight "thunk" at the right front of his '02 Super Duty. In the pre-dawn light, on an empty mountain road, both the red Ford and the deer paid the price for being in the same place at the same time. You would think this all-too-common scenario would have little effect on a big, brawny, 7,000-pound diesel pickup. A puny 100-pound doe is no more than a bump in the road for our trucks, right?

Duck tape to the rescue! A little doe can cost you a whole lot of dough. The deer weighed just a hair over 100 pounds, but just look at the damage. The body shop got off with more than $2,400 to repair/replace the grille headlight, parking light, core support, AC condenser, right front fender and trim and a repaint of the passenger door due to a scratch caused by the flexed fender. The $420 allocated by the insurance company for a new OE front bumper was put toward the purchase of a real bumper, the Buckstop.
Well, think again. This little misfortune cost our insurance company more than $2,400 in repairs. The blow bent the flimsy OE front bumper ($420) just enough to also take out the right front headlight ($163), the parking light ($60), and a chunk of the plastic grille ($184). The core support and AC condenser, behind all that pretty plastic, was also tweaked ($371). Then there was the mangled right front fender and associated trim ($280), which flexed enough to scratch the paint on the right passenger door requiring a complete re-paint of the door, along with the new fender ($400+). In a final show of "Built Ford tough," the blue oval fell out of the grille.

We don't mean to bash Fords. We feel all the new pickups could be equipped with better frontal protection, at least in relationship to their bulk. For this reason alone, if you live and drive in deer country, you might want to consider a heavy-duty bumper for your truck, not to mention for protection such bumpers provide against all the other obstacles of everyday driving. The red Ford in this article is a daily commuter vehicle. Its 1-ton capacity is used to tow a racecar and heavy enclosed trailer on weekends, and its four-wheel drive is for dealing with winter snow. After he tagged the deer, saw the extent of the damage and the cost of the repair, not to mention the week of downtime while the truck was tied up in the body shop, the Ford's owner went looking for a better bumper. Buckstop Truckware came to the rescue.

Buckstop Truckware is located in Sherwood, Oregon -- big-time deer country. The company currently offers bumpers for Super Duty Fords, '03 Chevys and both the previous-generation and new-style Dodge Rams. As the name suggests, these bumpers are designed to stop deer from damaging your truck. But deer protection isn't the only thing the Buckstop has going for it. The bumpers can also accommodate up to a 15,000-pound winch, and have built-in provisions for 6-inch round auxiliary lights to help you see those obstacles coming. The bumpers are formed from CNC laser-cut steel and are fully welded into a one-piece unit. The main winch-mount section is 1/4-inch steel, while the outer wings are 3/16-inch. The massive tubular grille/brush guard protects both the grille and the headlights. It bolts to the main bumper. This is a nice feature in case the tubing gets damaged -- you won't have to replace the entire bumper. The bumper can also be ordered without the grille guard. All Buckstops are finished in a metallic silver powdercoat that complements most truck colors. Body color-matching or other colors are also available. Check out the photos below for more features as we install the Buckstop bumper on our fresh-from-the-body-shop Super Duty.

We were very impressed with the style and detail of construction of the Buckstop. The company has gone to great lengths to design a shapely product that complements the lines of modern trucks. Note how the bumper's main edge is rounded and the step up from the bottom of the grille to the bottom of the parking light is a continuous flowing shape.

From the backside you can see the one-piece, welded construction. The main winch-mount section is 1/4-inch steel, while the wings are 3/16-inch. Shipping weight for our bumper and grille guard was 315 pounds, but that included a huge wooden pallet that was required to hold the bulky thing and keep the powdercoating from getting scratched. Buckstop claims the bumper alone weighs 175 pounds more than the stock unit. The stock-sprung Ford settled 1/8 inch with the added weight -- a small price to pay for the added protection.

About the only pre-assembly required is to bolt on these frenched-in light buckets to the back side of the bumper wings. A mounting bracket is included for mounting an auxiliary light of up to 6 inches in diameter.

A floor jack works best to raise the bulky bumper up to the vertical frame mounts. Once you get two bolts started, it's a piece of cake to align and fit the rest of the bolts into place. The bumper attaches utilizing both the stock vertical mounts and also some supplied horizontal brackets that tie into the crash bar found on '01 and up Super Dutys. The OE tow hooks are incorporated into the mounting of these brackets.

This flush-mount cover/door is provided for the winch access hole found in the top of the bumper. The Buckstop can accommodate up to a 15,000-pound planetary-style winch. The designers had our application in mind when they designed our bumper. The owner of the Ford has no plans to mount a winch on this truck. With this handy cover, the bumper gives no hint that something is missing. Future plans call for mounting a toolbox in the winch space for tow straps, jumper cables and so on. The cover will also hide this box of goodies.

Another plus for the non-winch owner: This beefy license plate bracket is included and, better yet, two sets of holes are provided for mounting it. One set allows for the protrusion of a winch fairlead with the license mounted above it. If no winch is utilized, a second set of holes allows the license to be mounted over the fairlead hole, thus hiding it -- a thoughtful touch. Also note the 2-inch receiver mount located below the fairlead hole. All Buckstop bumpers feature this handy addition, great for moving a trailer around with the front of your truck or for mounting any of those accessory racks that require a receiver hitch.

Once the bumper is aligned and mounted to the truck, the one-piece grille guard is lifted into place. Alignment was perfect and it took only minutes to bolt it in place.

A look from the side shows the Buckstop doesn't protrude excessively from the front of the truck. The company claims the bumper actually increases the truck's approached angle and clearance in front of the tires. The only thing protruding now is the ugly, required-by-law OE crash bar fitted to Super Dutys after 2000.

An overall view of the otherwise stock Ford now shows a well-protected front end, which doesn't look too massive when mixed with the truck's stock height and OE wheels and tires. As always, a macho bumper like the Buckstop would look all the better with a 4-inch lift and 35s.

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