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Premium Member
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Front Tow Hooks – L or R with Stow-able Shackle

I wanted matched bolt-on front tow hooks for my new truck. After a review of various options, I cobbled together this solution. For my overview of all the various front tow hook options available, see:

These tow hooks feature a silent and stow-able shackle on a universal bracket that bolts onto the frame on either the front left or right sides. Note that the ARB bumper I installed on my truck has collapsing mounts (compliance to Australian Design Rule 69/00 and operation of SRS airbag) and ARB recommends you do not mount rescue hooks to their bumper.

The first photo shows an overview of the brackets, shackles and parts, and how they go together.

First, an important detail. Look carefully at the “L” brackets and note the second set of smaller holes drilled in the base plate close to the vertical plate. These are drain holes to keep from trapping water, dirt and salt in the large adjustment slots of the ARP bumper mounting bracket that this tow hook base bolts up against. A section of the adjustment slots on these ARB bumper mounts protrudes past the edge of the frame, and, since this exposed area of the slot faces upwards, it will funnel water and, much worse, road salt, into the slots, where it would remain, without the drain holes.

The next photo shows that the distance / leverage between the mounting surface and towing pivot point has been significantly reduced when you compare this design with the OEM tow hook. I was not as aggressive here as I could have been. I suggest your goal should be to reduce this distance as much as you can in your installation. You can “cheat” a bit further if you don’t mind the shackle and tow strap rubbing a bit against the bottom of your bumper mount during rescues. Note, the critical dimension here is only the distance between the mounting bolt surface and the tow point. It might seem counter-intuitive, but moving the tow point (hole in the vertical plate) forward does not help. The forces on the bolts in the base plate remain the same when pulling your truck forward.

The next two photos show the tow hooks mounted on the truck under an ARB bumper, in deployed and stowed positions. With the interference fit between metal and rubber parts, and a dash of silicone grease selectively added during assemble (see notes below), the shackles move smoothly from one location to another and stay exactly where they are placed “forever”.

Here are the basic dimensions and assembly details for the bracket and shackle. See the photograph below of the foam core mockup with some dimensions scribbled in place. My version is made from 5/8” steel. The base plate is 5” long and 3.25” wide. The two 1/2” frame mounting bolt holes are 1.5” from the open long edge and centered on the 5” dimension of the base plate with a 3.5” center-to-center space between the holes. The vertical plate with shackle hole is 4 5/8”/ 4.625” high. With the addition of the 5/8” / 0.625” thick base plate, that’s a total height of 5.25” from the mounting surface on the frame (or ARB bumper bracket in my case) to the lowest edge of the tow bracket. The top edge of the 1 5/16” shackle hole is 2 1/4” down from the base plate’s bottom surface. I made the shape of this vertical plate symmetrical. I also wanted some extra “scraping” metal if I bounce the tow hook brackets off a curb someday, so my brackets stick down a bit more than necessary. You will note my brackets were shaped to match the narrow contour line drawn on the foam core mock-up.

After welding, grinding, descaling (vinegar solution), and sanding, the tow brackets and shackles were coated with the POR 15 process. The small sleeves of tubing and rubber washers were assembled dry. Then the shackle pins, inside surface of the assembled rubber sleeves, and the outer surfaces of the smaller outside rubber washers, as well as the inside surface of the shackle around the pin, were coated with silicone grease. This procedure keeps everything in place during assemble, but also allows sliding together the tight fitting metal and rubber parts. Once everything is together, the silicone grease also insures smooth operation. The rubber sleeves should also reduce shocks a bit during towing. After tightening up the shackle pins and verifying smooth operation, each pin was locked in place with a piece of thick electrical wire tying the pin hole to the adjacent arm of the shackle.

Parts List:
- 5/8” thick steel plate (weathered mill scale added clean up steps)
- CM Anchor Shackle, 3/4” Screw Pin, 6,500 lb. (Grainger # 2G796)
- OEM Tow Hook Bolts (Nissan 194 Bolt Flange Part #081B7-2452A )
- Stainless steel washers to go under the Tow Hook Bolts
- 1 3/8” OD X 1” ID Braided PVC Tube (Ace Hrdw)
- 3/4” ID Rubber Heater Hose (1.08” nominal OD) (Ace Hrdw)
- Large Rubber Washer, 3” OD X 1” ID X 1/8” Thick (Ace Hrdw)
- Small Rubber Washer, 2 1/4” OD X 3/4” ID X 1/8” Thick (Ace Hrdw)
- Two 6 inch pieces of insulated 14 gauge copper wire
- POR-15 Paint Kit

Starting with my pre-fitted foam core mockup as a guide, my friendly local metal fabricator cut and drilled the 5/8” plates, then welded and ground the basic “L” bracket parts. I then cleaned up, coated, and assembled the final tow hooks.

3520 Polley Road,
Columbus, OH 43221
Office: 614-921-8568
Cell: 614-256-4163
Home page for Mad Metal Welding and Fabrication,LLC

Now, if I want to drag someone out of a ditch, or someone needs to tow my truck, there will be no temptation to hook onto the ARB bumper, and the load will be shared across two hooks.

My next projects are solving some additional installation details with the ARB bumper and the Diamond Back bed cover. As I have mentioned in another post, ARB has not yet approved installation of their bumpers on 2015 Frontier’s. I went ahead anyway with their friendly coaching - hence a few final details I now need to solve. I will post these when I figure them out.


Premium Member
11 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Actually, I never added up the cost of these hooks until now. Frankly I was having too much fun putting them together and being pleasantly surprised about how well they actually worked when done (given the collection of everyday hardware items I threw together).

The most expensive parts are the two custom "L" brackets. If you have the welding skills and access to the metal working tools, then their cost drops down basically to the cost of the steel plate. Here is what I paid, as well as an estimate if you do the bracket fabrication yourself. In all cases, I am not considering the personal work finishing, painting, assembling, customizing pans as required, and mounting the hooks.

Tow Hooks with Stowable Shackles
$180 -- 2 X "L" Brackets (labor and raw steel)
$ 59 -- 2 X CM Anchor Shackle, Screw
$ 10 -- 2 X Nissan 194 Bolt Flange (reused 2 from OEM tow hook)
$ 14 -- 8 X Rubber Washers (2 sizes)
$ 4 -- 2 X Hoses (PVC & Heater - 1' each) ~estimate
$ 2 -- 4 X Stainless steel washers ~estimate
$ 10 -- POR-15 Treatment - part of one kit ~estimate

$279 -- TOTAL - If you have the "L" brackets fabricated for you

$130 -- TOTAL - If you fabricate the "L" brackets yourself ($279 - $180 + $31 for raw steel)

Referencing your other options outlined in:
You can compare the prices above to:
$ 50 -- To buy salvaged hooks off of a 1988-1998 Chevy or GMC 4x4 plus 2 bolts (first gen only), or
$ 50 -- to buy another right handed OEM tow hook plus bolts (from Nissan Parts), or
$120 -- or more to buy a left hand hook off of an old Navara (and have shipped to US) plus 2 bolts, or
$209 -- to buy a fabricated flat offset plate + 2 bolts + two shackles

Hope this helps your decision.
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