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Discussion Starter #1
So I've decided to make a custom rear tube bumper and I've been researching Aluminum as an alternative to heavy steel. My initial thoughts were to do 1.75" DOM steel tubing but is aluminum that much weaker than steel? The weight savings alone would make up for the cost difference in materials. I am looking to eventually tow a light trailer with the bumper (+/- 2500lbs) and have recovery points so it has to be able to support the weight of my truck.

A few companies make aluminum sliders for jeeps and winch bumpers so it can't be that problematic, right?

here's a few links:
http://aberleindustrialmanufacturing.com/aberleoffroad.html
Teraflex 004637310 - TeraFlex RockGuard Rock Sliders for 07-09 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited JK 4 Door - Quadratec

The bumper will of course bolt up to the frame via stock mounting points and be similar to the Calmini pre runner rear bumper but with more bedside protection and a hitch receiver...thoughts?
 

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Interesting concept.

As I followed both links, the comment that sticks with me is "pound for pound aluminium is stronger than steel." Another way to visualize that would be if you have a pound of bricks and a pound of feathers, both weigh a pound, but that are a lot of feathers!

The aluminium I have used in the past was 1.5" square tubing. Made a trailer frame out of it. Due to my engineering design flaw, where it was welded at the front for the tongue, it actually became weaker. It would probably be worth discussing with a fabricator, maybe even the companies you linked to?

Keep us posted with your findings. It would be a potential different avenue for some.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I noticed that the bumper was a cast bumper so obviously no weld spots to potentially weaken it. In my opinion, the DOM steel tubing seems like a bit of overkill in 'most' situations. There are of course exceptions but as far as towing, mild offroad recovery and every day driving I don't see much of a downside.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Yeah, tubing won't be much different but I'm guessing the steel would be at least 25-30% heavier. Penski, have you ever tried any aluminum in your fab work? I know you fab everything yourself, so you probably have the most experience here. My business has a metal fabrication shop so I have access to all the tools and expertise but they don't fab car parts.

I initially came up with the idea from looking at front bumpers and the sag problems they cause on the stock suspension. Using 1/2" aluminum plate instead of steel plate would get rid of all these problems. (750lb springs with coilovers, etc.) If the rear bumper works I was going to start on a front winch bumper. For the price of a Shrock bumper I'm almost positive I can fab up something in aluminum, strong enough for my needs and still have cash left over.

Here's another company that makes an extremely light weight Dodge Ram bumper: Denver Off Road Aluminum Winch Bumper

The other thing I have in the works is custom Roof rack mounts for the bed of the truck, completely clamp on and removable (also in aluminum). I'm hoping to have these done in a few weeks.
 

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aluminum is very hard to weld i tried it on the tool box it came out ok but personally i wouldnt try to make a bumper
i just made a tube front bumper for the 2nd gen to cut down on weight , i would say it weighs about 50lbs but still very strong
 

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Google is shooting this idea down. Do a search on "aluminum tubing vs steel tubing strength". Short answer on several pages was, steel was better route to go.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
a 50lb front bumper is pretty damn light! Once my mock up is done (I'm using PVC because it's cheap and easy to handle) I'll talk to my fabricator and see if it's possible.

Google has some funky responses but this page seemed very informative (I know it's boat hulls but the strength differences and flaws are there): Aluminum Strength vs Steel Strength

Fatigue seems to be the worst part of aluminum so with anything structural (chassis, etc) the integrity of the metal essentially deteriorates. I wonder how fatigue would effect bumpers, other than a regularly used recover point or trailer hitch I don't see any other part of a bumper that would fatigue due to daily stresses
 

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Something that popped up in my searches was that once welded, it was significantly weakened and would need re-hardened.
 

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Can I ask you a serious question? Are you crazy?

The first link has the most sic bumper I have ever seen! It looks sooooo sharp, and its refined look plus its actually made by an ENGINEER! Not some hillbilly round stock tubing bumper that bubba down at the hog farm welded up for you. Your needs will not exceed, that bumper. Are you ever going to need to pick your truck up....by the bumper!?! I think not. Dont make your great looking truck look like a desert rat, or like some redneck mountian truck.

Your truck is sweet, keep it that way.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
my metal shop is run by an engineer with a handful of Govt military contracts, in no way is he an amateur...I'm taking him my mock up in the next few days, if he says steel, then steel it is. I was just curious to see if it had been done already.
 

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Sorry, I should have worded that difrently. Cosmeticly speaking, The first link is hands down the best looking, Plus it is shown by the photos that its strong. Any tubed bumper reguardless of who makes it will... well let me say it this way. Bubba down on the farm, will make a tubed steel bumper. Why because he can make some thing to resemble what your fab shop will make. He will NOT make a cast aluminum bumper, why, because that would be impossible.

I guess what i'm saying is at a glance, that one from the first link will get a double take, often. The tubed one, you'll get complements on it when people come up and look at it closely.

IMO the aluminum looks 10x better and will work for what you want. To me.. thats a win, win!
 
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