A Restyling How-To Winch Work: Install a winch tray and winch

Nov 15, 2010

A variety of winches with different pulling power for different vehicles is available from several manufacturers. Such winches and their accompanying trays are available for standard and heavy-duty work, and for enthusiast markets. As an installer and seller of winches, restylers and truck specialists should match up the needs of the user with the right winch product. So, always check with the manufacturer for guidance in this matchup.

Here, we offer an example of what it takes to add a winch and winch tray to a 2011 Ford Super Duty F-350 Lariat.

We use the MAX winch mount tray as the first component in the MAX winch mounting system. These trays are sturdy steel and provide a secure platform for mounting the Westin T-MAX winch we use for this demonstration. The trays are compatible with most major brand winches.

There are additional options, such as a polished finish faceplate or mounting bars for offroad lights, that can be used to further customize the offroad look and style.

>> Step 1: – FRONT BUMPER REMOVAL
In order to install this winch tray, the front bumper must be completely removed. To remove the bumper, un-clip the rubber splash shield at the back from the bottom of the bumper opening. All the fog light wiring disconnects at one junction just below the radiator support. Keep the factory bumper fasteners because they will be re-used. Only eight (8) total bolts need to be removed to take off the bumper: four (4) 18mm head bolts at the front and four (4) 14mm head bolts on the inner side brackets.

>> Step 2: – TOW HOOK REMOVAL
The factory tow hooks cannot be reused when installing the Westin MAX winch tray. We will be installing Westin offroad tow hooks at a later step. Remove the three 9/16″ bolts from the bottom of each tow hook.

>> Step 3: -¨INSERT STUD PLATES IN FRAME
Custom fasteners are provided to be used in many places where a standard fastener might not work well. These M12 stud-plates were developed to be used in the factory frame slots. Two are used per frame rail.

>> Step 4: – ATTACH PASSENGER-SIDE BRACKET
Here we have started to attach the passenger-side mount to the outside of the frame rail. Secure using the provided M12 nuts and series of lock and flat washers. The provided M10 fasteners secure that front hole.

>> Step 5: – SECURE BRACKET AT TOP
Using the remaining yellow zinc M12 fasteners, we secure the top of the mount at the factory tow hook location. The bracket “locks” into position to eliminate the possibility of the bracket misaligning under high loads.

>> Step 6: – TIGHTEN ALL FASTENERS
Because the front bumper is secured to the new mounts, all fasteners need to be tightened prior to re-installing the front bumper. We tighten all M12 fasteners to Westin’s recommended spec of 40-55 lbs./ft. M10 fasteners are torqued to 30-40 lbs./ft.

>> Step 7: -¨RE-INSTALL BUMPER
The front bumper gets re-installed to the vehicle with the ends of the winch tray mounts going through the bumper openings. It takes a little bit of maneuvering and the bumper attaches just the same as stock.

>> Step 8: – RE-USE FACTORY BUMPER FRONT FASTENERS
Re-use all the factory hardware for the front bumper. The new mounts provide the same mounting points as the factory tow hooks.

>> Step 9: – ALIGN FRONT BUMPER AND TIGHTEN
Re-align the front bumper as desired; then tighten all the factory hardware.

>> Step 10: – ATTACH TRAY ASSEMBLY TO BRACKETS
At this point we hang the winch tray assembly to the brackets using the black zinc M12 hardware. We only bolt the rear holes of each side at this time.

>> Step 11: – ATTACH BULL BAR
We install the Westin MAX Bull Bar to the tray. This line of bull bars is specifically designed to work with these MAX winch trays. Using the remaining black zinc M12 fasteners we attach the bull bar mounts to the front two vertical holes on the sides of the winch tray.

>> Step 12: – ALIGN TRAY + BULL BAR
Align the bull bar and tighten all fasteners on the tray. Tighten the M12 fasteners to Westin’s spec of 40-55 lbs.

>> Step 13: INSERT WINCH ATOP TRAY
Now, start mounting the winch to the tray. MAX winch trays are designed to accept most winches on the market of this size.

>> Step 14: FAIRLEAD
Attach the fairlead that was provided with the winch system to the winch tray, and feed the cable through without the hook attached to the cable.

>> Step 15: – ATTACH TOW HOOKS
Install the offroad tow hooks to the bottom of the winch tray.

>> Step 16:- ATTACH WINCH HARDWARE
Bolt the winch to the bottom of the winch tray using the supplied 3/8″ hardware. We torqued the four (4) winch bolts to 55 lbs./ft. T-MAX winches are also very easy to wire to the vehicle, usually only needing a battery and a ground.

>> Step 17: – ATTACH LIGHTING
The MAX Bull Bar is designed to accept up to three offroad lights at the top. We installed Westin’s offroad halogen lights; all wiring relays and switches are provided. This 2011 Ford Super Duty had the optional auxiliary switch panel, so we just wired the relay in with the factory junction box.

>> Step 18: – INSTALL DONE AT SHOP
The complete installation of the tray, bull bar, winch and lighting took about 2-1/2 hours. By not having to modify the vehicle in any way, installation times are shortened.