Drive Out’s bakkie project con­tin­ues here on the pages of go! Drive & Camp, and this month we’re do­ing an­other im­por­tant off-road mod­i­fi­ca­tion: a rear bumper with heavy-duty tow bar.

Go! Camp & Drive - - Contents -

Afew months ago we were given a brand new Mazda BT-50 3.2 4x4 SLE dou­ble cab au­to­matic as a long-term ve­hi­cle. Ev­ery month we make a new off-road mod­i­fi­ca­tion to the Mazda and talk about the im­por­tance of said mod­i­fi­ca­tion, how and why it was done, and how much it costs. The first mod­i­fi­ca­tion was a set of tough BF Goodrich T/A tyres, be­cause the re­place­ment of a ve­hi­cle’s stan­dard tyres with proper of­froad tyres is the first thing you need to do if you want to say good­bye to tar. Over the next two months we’ll re­place the bakkie’s stan­dard bumper with steel bumpers, and be­cause the bakkie will be do­ing a lot of tow­ing, we’re start­ing with the rear bumper.

Why a new bumper?

A steel back bumper isn’t (re­ally) made for im­pa­tient minibus taxis on your tail. A rear bumper de­signed for off-road­ing ful­fils a few im­por­tant roles. Firstly, a steel bumper is a lot tougher than a stan­dard rear bumper – that’s why it can en­dure bumps and scratches much bet­ter. A good prod­uct, like the 4-mm-thick Iron­man steel bumper that we put on, also pro­vides side pro­tec­tion in the form of steel pipes that curl around the rear cor­ners of the load bin. Then it has re­cov­ery points with which you can tow the ve­hi­cle if it gets stuck, as well as points for a high-lift jack. And then probably the most im­por­tant thing: A steel bumper im­proves the de­par­ture an­gle of your ve­hi­cle so you can tackle higher ob­sta­cles with­out painfully scrap­ing your ve­hi­cle’s tail or tow bar over the rocks.

To the work­shop!

Jo­hann “Tyres”Viljoen and his com­pe­tent team at 1st Align­ment Cen­tre in Bel­lville, Cape Town, did the in­stal­la­tion. To re­place the stan­dard bumper and tow bar, the elec­tri­cal wires are dis­con­nected and the whole unit is re­moved. The new rear bumper is then, just like the one it re­places, bolted se­curely to the bakkie’s chas­sis. Iron­man’s rear bumper is built es­pe­cially for the Ford Ranger and Mazda BT-50 (the T6 mod­els were de­vel­oped to­gether) and there­fore the bumper fits on the bakkie like a glove. Then the park­ing sen­sors from the old bumper are mounted in the new one. For this, Jo­hann and his team had to drill holes in the bumper, which took an hour or two’s labour. Th­ese holes can be made in the fac­tory, says Jo­hann, so al­ways make sure the in­staller knows if your ve­hi­cle has rear park­ing sen­sors that you don’t want to lose. Also find out if your ve­hi­cle will need a spe­cial wiring loom or plug. It wasn’t nec­es­sary with the BT-50, but some ve­hi­cles’ stan­dard loom and plug might not be com­pat­i­ble with a new bumper. Lastly, the new tow bar was in­stalled. The BT-50’s stan­dard bar is a strong prod­uct that can tow 3 500 kg and carry a down­ward force of up to 300 kg (just re­mem­ber, only 100 kg is per­mis­si­ble on pub­lic roads in South Africa, but in off-road con­di­tions you can load more if nec­es­sary). Iron­man’s bar can han­dle up to 350 kg down­ward force on the ball and its max­i­mum tow­ing weight is also 3 500 kg. And be­cause the bar is in­te­grated into the bumper, the BT-50’s de­par­ture an­gle is also sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter than be­fore.

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