4x4 Labs swing arm attachment DIY kit fail? (1 Viewer)

Joined
Aug 26, 2017
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Fort Polk, LA
Hey everyone,

So I originally purchased my 80 with a 4x4 labs non swing out bumper. It was a true non swing out, the tubes on the side protection went into the spindle holes.

I purchased the dual swing arms, 3 can carrier, and tire carrier all built by labs. I then had a local welding shop, weld the spindles on. It’s been about a year and a half since I added the swing arms.

The spindle weld on the tire carrier side partially cracked possibly due to weight of the tire, from there being a slight bit of play in the arms even when latched shut, and the slight angle in the spindles(see photo). It was re welded/ touched up and has been holding up great for a year now.

Is it worth removing the bumper, removing the welds and re welding it perfectly perpendicular/level?

Removing the bumper isn’t an easy task because PO welded 1/4 inch steel plates onto the frame rails where the labs bumper attaches to make it an extremely snug fit. Last time I removed the bumper, I removed all the bolts and the bumper didn’t budge at all.

Local welding shop is about 75 an hour if I remember correctly. I see about 2-3 hours of labor to cut, grind, re weld. Ideally I’ll have the shop fab up the tubes on both sides and weld them in. As the current tubes were cut off to open up the spindle holes.

Biggest issue is that I’m super ocd and the angle of the spindles borderline makes me lose sleep at night. Now if there is a structural integrity issue as well, then that would push me to re do the spindles ASAP.

636AD645-63EB-4744-97F6-E07209B1DBD0.jpeg


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Lexington KY, Boston MA
Not sure why they are slightly angled like that, but I don’t think that would really matter much. Try to eliminate as much movement when closed as possible to prevent the welds from failing again.
 
Joined
Jan 14, 2012
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Fontana, CA
 
Im not familiar with the 4x4 labs bumper but most swing arms rest on some kind of a derlin (hard plastic) at the opposite end to keep the load of the spindle most of the time. Does yours have this?

Also, if your spindle is a bearing type and not bushing, you might just need to tighten the nut?

I made sure this wouldn’t happen on mine.

9C5194F0-359C-450D-80AB-05525324A471.jpeg
 
Joined
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Messages
198
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Fort Polk, LA
Not sure why they are slightly angled like that, but I don’t think that would really matter much. Try to eliminate as much movement when closed as possible to prevent the welds from failing again.
So theres a little triangular piece that stops the arms from swinging straight into the hatch lol. That piece was welded slightly too far forward so there was a little bit of play in the arms regardless of how much I tightened the latch. I remedied this issue by adding rubber to dampen it while taking up the slack.
 
Joined
Aug 26, 2017
Messages
198
Location
Fort Polk, LA
View attachment 2471570
[/QUOTE]
Im not familiar with the 4x4 labs bumper but most swing arms rest on some kind of a derlin (hard plastic) at the opposite end to keep the load of the spindle most of the time. Does yours have this?

Also, if your spindle is a bearing type and not bushing, you might just need to tighten the nut?

I made sure this wouldn’t happen on mine.

View attachment 2471570
So there’s no support on the opposite side of the arm. The spindles are the only support, but that’s how they are designed and have been for nearly 2 decades. Wish I knew how to weld because I have access to a Miller for about 10 bucks an hour.
 
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DFW
I just finished a 4X4Labskit a few months ago. The spindles should be perpendicular. The other thing I notice from your photos is the bottom of the spindle should be bottomed out against the bottom plate - at least mine was - to allow the spindle to be welded at the bottom and top. Mine did not abut the side like yours is shown. I suspect it may have not been assembled correctly by the original owner. The assembly instructions leave a lot to interpretation. It took two experienced, (relatively) smart guy three days of tacking, welding and grinding to assemble the bumper.
 
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Feb 9, 2013
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2,900
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Colorado
 
I have a related question, would you go a different route if you had to do it again? I bought an 80 with the basic rear 4x4 labs, the full side tubes attached. I’m thinking of drilling a hole in the top, and building on top of the bumper, with a beefy C-Channel style mount for the spindle(s).

BB8C524E-2BA9-4C7C-BB96-2396658C8137.jpeg
 
Joined
Aug 14, 2019
Messages
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Location
DFW
I have a related question, would you go a different route if you had to do it again? I bought an 80 with the basic rear 4x4 labs, the full side tubes attached. I’m thinking of drilling a hole in the top, and building on top of the bumper, with a beefy C-Channel style mount for the spindle(s).

View attachment 2471938
Starting with a bumper that was built without swingouts puts you at a significant disadvantage. If ordered with swingouts there would be holes already cut in the top plate to accommodate the spindles, which would reduce the chance of misaligning them. I can't visualize what you are trying to do to install spindles, but you may be better off selling this bumper and starting over.
 
Joined
Apr 9, 2013
Messages
1,214
 
I have a related question, would you go a different route if you had to do it again? I bought an 80 with the basic rear 4x4 labs, the full side tubes attached. I’m thinking of drilling a hole in the top, and building on top of the bumper, with a beefy C-Channel style mount for the spindle(s).

View attachment 2471938
I think that bumper looks terrible and you should get rid of it immediately. In all seriousness, if you decide it's not working for you, just PM me and maybe we can work something out.
 
Joined
Jan 14, 2012
Messages
617
Location
Fontana, CA
 
I have a related question, would you go a different route if you had to do it again? I bought an 80 with the basic rear 4x4 labs, the full side tubes attached. I’m thinking of drilling a hole in the top, and building on top of the bumper, with a beefy C-Channel style mount for the spindle(s).

View attachment 2471938
You'd be fine and more so if you decided to brace it up top as well. I'm unsure of how much room you to weld from the inside but I wouldn't be worried about mis-alignment. Just tack it and go form there.

I'm really unsure how much meat there is to weld that spindle inside the bumper. look to be less than 3 1/2"
 
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Starting with a bumper that was built without swingouts puts you at a significant disadvantage. If ordered with swingouts there would be holes already cut in the top plate to accommodate the spindles, which would reduce the chance of misaligning them. I can't visualize what you are trying to do to install spindles, but you may be better off selling this bumper and starting over.
Yeah you might be right about starting over, And selling it.... good suggestion. Basically, I would build on top of the bumper due to limited access welding inside the bumper at this point. I really like the 4x4 labs and how it wraps the underneath side of the rear with the plate.

This would be welded on top of the bumper in the corner.
7AF510ED-7432-474B-A0F9-041896322822.jpeg
 
Last edited:
Joined
Feb 9, 2013
Messages
2,900
Location
Colorado
 
You'd be fine and more so if you decided to brace it up top as well. I'm unsure of how much room you to weld from the inside but I wouldn't be worried about mis-alignment. Just tack it and go form there.

I'm really unsure how much meat there is to weld that spindle inside the bumper. look to be less than 3 1/2"
Sorry I don’t Want to thread jack, last reply ... hopefully it’s relevant for the authors question. It’s very tight in that corner, so I don’t think welding inside the bumper on a spindle would do much. It looks like I can cut the side tube, and build on top of the bumper, with the 4xInnovations kit, in the corners. I’ll have to weigh the cost time of using this bumper or starting over with a new rear kit with swings.

554E77B1-C6D3-4978-AB7A-A27C793D53B4.jpeg


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Yeah you might be right about starting over, And selling it.... good suggestion. Basically, I would build on top of the bumper due to limited access welding inside the bumper at this point. I really like the 4x4 labs and how it wraps the underneath side of the rear with the plate.

This would be welded on top of the bumper in the corner. View attachment 2472154
I know that spindles are common, and a perfectly acceptable swing out design but this style you pictured is much better in my opinion. I used that exact hinge when I built my rear bumper.
 
Joined
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Fort Polk, LA
Yeah you might be right about starting over, And selling it.... good suggestion. Basically, I would build on top of the bumper due to limited access welding inside the bumper at this point. I really like the 4x4 labs and how it wraps the underneath side of the rear with the plate.

This would be welded on top of the bumper in the corner. View attachment 2472154
So here's my recommendation in hindsight.

Big question is are you able to weld? Just like Tex said, the instructions are not 100% clear. They are like 80% clear lol. So if you pay a shop to build it for you, you will pay not only for the weld time, but likely the time it takes for the fab guy(s) to figure out whats going on and how to build it. In my case the welder didn't quite do it perfectly, and I wish I had sold mine and bought a new one built by Labs, the way I wanted.

I bought the vehicle with the plain bumper just like yours. It costed around 1250 to get the built swing arm kit after shipping. The basic bumper without swing outs costs about a grand PLUS shipping.
So you're looking at: 1000 bumper + 1250 for swing arms w/ tire carrier and 3 can carrier + whatever cost it takes to have a welder tac it all up and weld it. In my case it was 220 to have a guy weld it and then another 60 for him to re weld the section that cracked about 6 months later.
Keep in mind you'll need to cut a section of the top tubes and expose the holes for the spindle. The holes are there, for all the bumpers so rest assured there is no drilling needed. You will need to cut the top and bottom of the tubes because they are welded right into the holes.

Do not attempt to weld it all together without removing it from the vehicle. I did that originally, and the welder tried to weld through the bottom of the spindle through the hi lift jack hole. There's barely any room to weld through the hole. If you remove the bumper, you can weld about around 270 degrees of the bottom of the spindle and obviously 360 degrees up top. The spindles have angled bottoms and are designed to sit flat again the bottom plate in the bumper so you can weld the bottom of the spindle and the top of the spindle.

Looking at the photo of the spindle you attached, I would 100% advise against using that type of spindle on the labs bumper. That spindle is designed to be welded to a vertical surface, not a horizontal one. I don't think you could get a bulky spindle like that enough surface area to weld onto the top of the bumper. There is no 90 degree vertical sections on the bumper which limit some of the other swing arm options. I go with dedicated labs spindles and arms if you are dead set on adding them to your current set up.

The labs bumper is a great design and it hasn't changed like like 03 or 04. Apparently they used to used 1/4 steel prior to that, and they changed it to 3/16 due to the 1/4 being overkill and too heavy. All in all, I'd start from scratch if I were to do it again. There is a 14 week lead time for built bumpers so that would definitely influence the resale value for a used one, especially in Colorado where 80s are plentiful.
 
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As mentioned above the spindles need to be angle cut at the stub so it can be welded to the inside of the bumper. I didn’t do that when I welded it up do to laziness to remove bumper. The whole tire would shake. I’m assuming the spindle failed near the welds?

I ended up removing the bumper and welding it up. I would like to see the inside of the bumper to see what they did.
 
Joined
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Messages
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So here's my recommendation in hindsight.

Big question is are you able to weld? Just like Tex said, the instructions are not 100% clear. They are like 80% clear lol. So if you pay a shop to build it for you, you will pay not only for the weld time, but likely the time it takes for the fab guy(s) to figure out whats going on and how to build it. In my case the welder didn't quite do it perfectly, and I wish I had sold mine and bought a new one built by Labs, the way I wanted.

I bought the vehicle with the plain bumper just like yours. It costed around 1250 to get the built swing arm kit after shipping. The basic bumper without swing outs costs about a grand PLUS shipping.
So you're looking at: 1000 bumper + 1250 for swing arms w/ tire carrier and 3 can carrier + whatever cost it takes to have a welder tac it all up and weld it. In my case it was 220 to have a guy weld it and then another 60 for him to re weld the section that cracked about 6 months later.
Keep in mind you'll need to cut a section of the top tubes and expose the holes for the spindle. The holes are there, for all the bumpers so rest assured there is no drilling needed. You will need to cut the top and bottom of the tubes because they are welded right into the holes.

Do not attempt to weld it all together without removing it from the vehicle. I did that originally, and the welder tried to weld through the bottom of the spindle through the hi lift jack hole. There's barely any room to weld through the hole. If you remove the bumper, you can weld about around 270 degrees of the bottom of the spindle and obviously 360 degrees up top. The spindles have angled bottoms and are designed to sit flat again the bottom plate in the bumper so you can weld the bottom of the spindle and the top of the spindle.

Looking at the photo of the spindle you attached, I would 100% advise against using that type of spindle on the labs bumper. That spindle is designed to be welded to a vertical surface, not a horizontal one. I don't think you could get a bulky spindle like that enough surface area to weld onto the top of the bumper. There is no 90 degree vertical sections on the bumper which limit some of the other swing arm options. I go with dedicated labs spindles and arms if you are dead set on adding them to your current set up.

The labs bumper is a great design and it hasn't changed like like 03 or 04. Apparently they used to used 1/4 steel prior to that, and they changed it to 3/16 due to the 1/4 being overkill and too heavy. All in all, I'd start from scratch if I were to do it again. There is a 14 week lead time for built bumpers so that would definitely influence the resale value for a used one, especially in Colorado where 80s are plentiful.
Thank you for all the information and your experience. I am able to weld and have the tools to add to a bumper or start from scratch. I am leaning to ordering a whole rear diy kit with swings, since this existing bumper is nice, already powder coated, and I prefer two swings to store a tire, 2 cans, and something to hold my swag.
If I end up using the style spindle & brace I posted a photo of, I would add triangle brace on the vertical edge to stiffen it a bit. I’ll be sure to update the post when I finish. Thanks!
 

lumbee1

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Here the tutorial I used when building my 4x4 Labs kit.

The swingout bumper has holes cut in the shell and you are expected to make the round tube on the wings match the profile of the wings. There shouldn't be a gap.
 
Joined
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Messages
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Fort Polk, LA
Here the tutorial I used when building my 4x4 Labs kit.

The swingout bumper has holes cut in the shell and you are expected to make the round tube on the wings match the profile of the wings. There shouldn't be a gap.
So if you don't specify, the non swing out variants come with the tubes welded into the spindle holes. So you need to cut them out in order to weld the spindles in later down the road. However, you can request a non swing out bumper with the tubes welded to the wings and exposed spindle holes.

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