ECR4: PROJECT DEFENDER
ECR 4 Winch, Bumper and more...
The recent addition of the Warn 9500HS (high speed) winch to ECR 4 took on a few changes since my initial designs. The original plan was to make a completely new bumper for the project from scratch, but once again an upcoming off road event meant a push to get things done. This time it was the Halloween Extreme Event in late October 2000. The ECR staff does most of the guide work for this event so that meant ECR 4 had to be ready and up to the task of winching and pulling trucks over really nasty stuff. So a winch bumper had to be made... now! Add to this dilemma the fact that I had gotten really used to ( read that as addicted! ) the Hella 4000 driving lights that ECR 3 had on it, and now found that driving ECR 4 at night with just headlights alone was like holding 2 Bic lighters out in front of the truck. The halogen hi beams just weren't cutting it. I had to have driving lights again, but... ECR 4 needed a high mounted winch to keep a steep approach angle, this means that the winch occupies the same space that the Hella 4000s used to. So what is the solution?? I've tried the Hella H4 headlight upgrade, but I hate the low beam pattern, and when going in deep water they fill up with mud and give your headlights the look of a blender making a chocolate "mud" shake. Lights on the roof aren't up to the task of off roading as hard as I do, one good limb and say good-bye to $350. worth of lights. The winch position was mandatory, but lights had to be on there as well, and they had to be in an area that was protected, and the bumper needed to be fabricated quickly. Good luck you say... so did I, at first.
The solution turned out to be this unit. A little radical, but now that I have been running it for a few weeks I have come to love it, and it gives ECR4 just one more thing for people to stare at when they see it. The unit sets 4, 100 watt halogen driving lights exactly where you need them and gives a light spread pattern that rivals a Lancia Stratos in full rally garb! The problem was to make it work with the bumper, and get the bumper built.
I had been running an ARB Defender winch mount bumper to keep the front end of ECR 4 legal up to this point, but always knew that the poor approach angle and low winch mount of the ARB bumper meant that it was destine for the scrap pile soon. I had already destroyed one ARB bumper on ECR 3 and didn't think much of them, but as it turned out, the ARB bumper just needed some "refabrication" to be just what the doctor ordered. The first step was to plasma cut off about half of the bumper and start working on relocating the winch higher, and cutting away all the useless steel that hangs down too low.
A plate and braces were made along the top plane of the bumper to support the Warn 9500HS winch and the roller fairlead was relocated to the upper part of the bumper.
Next the cut out areas were ground back and a new front skid plate was made from heavy gauge steel to be able to take my abuse. Recovery points were added and the edges of the bumper were modified to be shorter and then everything was made stronger with the appropriate brackets. As a cool touch we left the ARB side lights and logo in place.
This now left only one problem. The light beams from the 4 driving lights fell through the top cross bar of the bumper, so that had to be lowered. The cross bar was removed and a new one made to bolt in and out so that the lights can be removed and the bumper can be returned to a more stock ARB look when the driving lights aren't on. ECR 4's spare hood was modified, the light unit painted and the set up was installed.
The almost finished product ( seen above ) just needed to be wired up and then tested. A quick change plug was put on the light wiring, and ECR 4's original hood, now becomes the spare. That way if the lights need to come off, the hood and cross bar can be changed in just a couple of minutes, for a more stock look.
Those of you who know me, know my passion against messing up the interior of Rovers with odd looking, goofy switches and poor wiring, so in typical ECR fashion I installed the 4 lights with all the correct wiring and a nice clean, factory looking dash mounted switch to control the 4 driving lights (seen above with the correct "2" auxiliary light logo that illuminates when on). The lights switch with the Hi-beams when they are armed, so with one push of the hi beam lever you get a flood of light that boggles the mind and creates daylight wherever and whenever you need it.
In this image you can see the radical changes made to the ARB bumper's approach angle and the open run to the front tires due to the blade design changes made. The small front skid plate keeps the big rocks off the steering drop arm and the steering stabilizer without sacrificing all your approach angle like the Southdown and other huge skid plates. This Defender project started out by saying, "so you want it all?", and once again everything was able to be done so that it "all" could be had: A massively steep approach angle, HD steel bumper with a skid plate, fender protection, winch and driving lights.
Let ECR know if we can do any custom work for your Defender!
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