That proved a little harder than going to the local 4x4 shop and ordering a bumper. I needed a rear bumper and there are many options for front bumpers. It appears front bumpers are replaced more often than rear bumpers.
My search narrowed to two potential vendors. Vendor A provided a quality bumper for Dodge 2500/3500 and claimed their bumper would not fit a 1500 as mounting brackets were different.
Well, Vendor B claimed their bumper would fit all models and years of Dodge trucks. After a brief phone conversation with Jesse, I ordered an IronBull Bumper rear bumper for my Dodge 1500. Their products are built to order and have about a 3 week lead time for delivery. After the obligatory waiting period, I set out to do the bumper swap expecting a couple of hours effort to have the new bumper installed. Well, it didn’t quite work that easy.
Removing the stock bumper was a simple matter of removing six bolts. More complicated was removal of lights and trailer light connector plug. With the old bumper removed, I slid the new bumper in place and proceeded to unwrap it. The bumper was wrapped in layers of cardboard with plastic wrap holding it in place. The wrapping did provide excellent protection during transit.
Finally unwrapped, the bumper appeared ready to slip into place. Well, there was a slight problem. The mounting brackets were there but there was no instruction sheet. And, there was no way that bumper would fit. There is a slight modification that needs to happen if your Dodge is equipped with a factory tow package. Dodge tow package provides for a standard 2 inch receiver weight distribution hitch along with a support plate for attaching a standard tow ball mount.
The 2 inch receiver mount was not a problem. The steel support plate for the ball hitch mount was the problem and needed to be removed. So, grinder in hand, I proceeded cut the offending plate off the hitch support. It would have been easier with a torch.
Once the plate was removed (followed by a little clean-up grinding and a coat of paint) the bumper slid into position with no problems; considering it is a hefty 150 plus pounds.
The IronBull bumper provided new mounting brackets. They did line up correctly. However, the frame mount was not a straight piece of metal as it has a slight curve typical with providing increased strength with light metal steel. Adding a couple of washers provided a level surface for bolting up the mounting brackets. Finally, all brackets in place, it was time to lift the bumper and bolt it in place. It is a job best with an assistant.
At this point, it became apparent that the original bolts could not be re-used. I just happened to have Just Enough Extra Parts (I also have a JEEP) that included six 2 inch by 3/4 in bolts. With a little assistance, I managed to get the bumper bolted in place.
The IronBull bumper is constructed with grade A36 descaled premium steel for resistance against corrosion and the ultimate bond between the parent metal and finish coating. It's 3/16 inch thick to offer the greatest strength and coupled with the Black Shield it offers even more strength. The Black Shield material is similar to Rhino Lining and provides a durable finish.
That finish did provide a few challenges while installing the bumper. The bumper is completely coated as are the brackets. When loosely bolted together, they do provide a considerable resistance to movement. It means the final assembly will provide a binding that is not prone to being knocked out of alignment. And, it did mean the it was easier to align the bumper in position as there was some adhesion to help the loose bolts hold.
After a couple of trial and error positioning, I found that the top of the bumper needed to be about 1 and a quarter inch below the tailgate in order to allow the tailgated to open without resting on the bumper.
Aligned and bolts tightened, it was time to add the license plate lights and trailer plug connector. The bumper does have pre-drilled holes for the license plate. Again, I had to resort to my collection of bolts to find appropriate fasteners for the license plate.
The lights were another challenge. The stock bumper is a thin metal and the lights were held in place with a spring clip. The spring clip would not fit with the thicker bumper. I did have weather strip adhesive sitting on the shelf which provided the necessary glue for holding the lights in place. A clear silicone would also work.
The bumper does provided cutouts for additional back-up lights. That will be an addition for a later date.
Overall, the bumper is durable and with the "Black Shield" coating provides for a shield against future corrosion. While it is black, if desired it can be painted to match the body.
On the down side, it was more than a simple bolt-on installation. An instruction sheet noting the need to remove the steel plate, noting the alignment measurements, and the need to have new bolts would have been a nice touch and saved a little installation time.
On the up side, it is more durable than the stock bumper and does provide welded on D-ring holders. The “wrap-around” design will provide extra protection for the corners. The bumper does provide for mounting a winch. However, the winch would mount in place of the spare tire and cable would be hidden by the license plate.