Saturday, May 20, 2006

Front Reciever - Tire Carrier - Bike Rack Project

This is not actually a new plan project for me, I had planned to actually make this back when I had originaly thought of putting a smaller camper on my half ton because the under bed carrier on it was a homicidal thing that waited to drop the tire on the unsuspecting victim. For those of you that have that neat little crank down setup for your spare tire, be very thankful. The old Dodges did it the painful way. One big piece of metal with a couple tabs on it that went up inside the spare's rim that was balanced between two sets of bolts. To lower it, you had to undo the bolt, while basically laying underneath it, and lower the tire down, which would wobble back and forth as you did so. Trying to put the flat back up there would usually bring you close to wanting to scream at the sky. Ya know a spare tire carrier is a bad idea when it takes two of the guys and a rolling floor jack at the local Les Schwab to put the spare tire back away.

Basically, I had wanted to have a tire carrier for my pick up that mounted on the front, however, I had come across two major problems.

First off, no one made a front reciever hitch for any Dodge's prior to 1994 anymore, much to my annoyance.

Second, most of the existing tire carriers were either expensive for just the carrier, which didn't provide any method of carrying bikes up there as well. Or the tire carriers were really close to the front grill restricting airflow through the radiator.

With these two problems in mind, I got ahold my buddy who runs his own metal fab shop and designed up a solution.

To view a larger version of any of the pictures, simply click on them
and you'll be taken to a larger version.

The Front frame members of my W-250 don't provide too many places to tie into for a reciever, so, we used existing holes on the C-channels that supported the front bumper. Using a 2x3 rectangular tube for the outer frame tube and the necesary size to slide inside it at the joints with the plate steel we made the hangers out of we framed the hitch frame to disappear behind the bumper entirely, with only the reciever hanging out just below the bumper. The reciever is made by Valley Trailer here in the good ole USA and is a nice 2x2 reciever hitch meant for being mounted to steel step bumper. If ya look in the pictures above you can see we made a mounting plate and gave it structural reinforcements to prevent warping from extended weight being put on the reciever.

In the picture above on the right you can see the carrier mounted into our reciever hitch. For the stinger we made it out of 2x2 tube with 1/4" side walls, nice heavy piece of metal, that we capped on the end that went into reciever. The upright is made from a 2x4 steel tube, giving us plenty of rigidity and upright strength without needing to add additional gusetting.

As I mentioned above, my goal was to be able to carry my spare tire as well as have a removal bike rack for the front. If you look at the picture on the right above and the one on the left below you can see a set of loops set on the back of the upright. These both double as a nice set of hand holds to slide the carrier in and out both with the tire on it and without, but also are meant as the hooking loops to fasten bungee cords to to secure the bicycles on the front.

The whole carrier is locked in place with a reciever pin by Master Lock that has a nice keyed lock on the end to prevent easy removal by unwanted hands.

The tire slides onto three thread pegs and is snugged down securely with three heavy bolts. Since the mounted tire completely obscures the front license plate, the addition of a mounting plate in the center of the tire allows for the truck to remain legal by keeping both plates visible. This combination also makes for a little more annoyance when trying to steal the tire as it requires first a ratchet with the right sized hex head to remove the license plate then another one to remove the three nuts that secure the license plate mount, then the other three below it that secure the tire itself. Now, granted at night in a place where no one's watching, they probably could still steal it, but it won't be a fast process.
To keep from bending the license plate, I cut small spacers out of rubber vaccum line we had at home, which fit snuggly on the threads and work great as a vibration reducer.

The bike rack like the carrier locks in place with a 5/8" shank locking reciever pin (Not shown in pictures) The cross member on the bike rack has notches cut out of the C channel to accomodate the use of various bike locks including the solid metal U bolt type.

In the last picture you can see my rather heavy bike put on the carrier for demonstration. Normally when traveling long distance, I remove the saddle bags to keep them cleaner, but the placement of the bikes keeps them just low enough to allow the headlights to work as good as they would with my older bike rack that mounted on the front bumper.

Total cost for this project $182. $150 was the price for the reciever frame, tire carrier and bike rack including labor costs. $32 was the reciever itself from our local Bi-Mart. If you're interested in getting one similar built, PM me and I can give you the contact information for my buddy, he can make them as customized as wanted.