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Upgrading your 1984-2001 Jeep Cherokee XJ with a winch and bumper can make a dramatic change to its capabilities and appearance.

The OR-FAB HD front winch-mount bumper for the Jeep XJ is precision laser cut, CNC press-brake formed and hand welded and ground for a precise fit and maximum trail appeal.

The first step is to remove the six bolts from the factory bumper.

Here you can see the three bolts on each side that secure the bumper to the frame.

The cross-braces that extend from the bottom of the fenders to the bumper mounts are also unbolted and removed.

Jeep XJ's also have a front air-dam that is unbolted and will not be reused.

Following the instructions, OR-FAB trimmed the bottom portion of the front fenders, using the bottom edge of the grille as a guide.

With the trimming done, the heavy duty bumper mount plates are installed.

OR-Fab decided to use Warn's M8000S winch. An excellent value, it provides fast winding and when equipped with Warn's Spydura synthetic line, weight is reduced and the line is easier to use in the field.

Using the provided hardware, the Warn winch was installed into the OR-Fab winch mount inside the bumper.

Warn provides a bracket that mounts the control box onto the top of the winch. In this application, it required some minor trimming to make it work on the OR-FAB bumper.

OR-FAB trimmed the front mount of the bracket and used the trimmed piece as an extension for the rear mount.

Here you can see how the bracket was easily cut, drilled and attached to the winch.

Following the instructions from Warn, we attached the wiring and prepared the bumper for installation onto the Jeep.

It takes two people to support the bumper with the winch mounted in it, and set it up against the new mounting brackets.

The mounting bracket bolts are provided in the OR-Fab kit and secure the bumper to the factory and additional mounting locations on the Jeep's chassis.

Warn provides heavy two-gauge battery leads that are routed from the bumper and attached to the Jeep's battery.

Once installed, the Jeep XJ not only looks great, but now has recovery capabilities and clearance for up to 37-inch diameter tires. The winch control box is easily accessible and does not hinder airflow to the radiator. The OR-FAB bumper also comes with two D-ring mounts. The Factor-55 winch thimble and OR-FAB fairlead were added as custom options.

Adding a winch to your 1984-2001 Jeep Cherokee XJ is a great upgrade that provides a means of recovery and enhances the appearance of the vehicle. Many Jeep XJ owners like bumpers with a slim design that mounts the winch low, so that it won’t block airflow to the vehicle’s radiator. But they also want one that can withstand trail abuse. These are some of the reasons why the OR-FAB HD front winch bumper is a popular choice for these vehicles.

The OR-FAB HD front winch bumper is manufactured from 3/16-inch thick steel plate,and features a tapered “V” shaped design that easily slides off rocks and ledges. The ends of the bumper are tapered to provide clearance for up to 37-inch diameter tires. The bumper features an integrated winch-mount that is designed for a remote-style winch, so it won’t block airflow to the radiator.

On a recent trip to OR-FABs facility in Chino Valley, AZ, we looked on as they installed the bumper onto a 1995 Cherokee. OR-FAB used a Warn M8000S winch, because it can be operated with a wired remote and has an 8,000-pound pull capacity. The winch weighs 80 pounds and features a 4.8-horsepower motor with a three-stage planetary gear set that provides smooth, fast, and reliable operation. The winch also comes with 100 feet of 5/16-inch wire rope, but is also available with Warn’s Spydura synthetic rope. The Spydura synthetic rope reduces the winch’s weight to 55 pounds and provides easy handling on the trail for folks with a bit more winching experience.

The installation began by unbolting and removing the factory bumper, bottom air dam, and corner fender cross-braces from the vehicle. Because the OR-FAB bumper is a full-width design, some trimming of the front fenders is required to provide added tire clearance and for proper fitment of the bumper. The instructions give detailed guidelines of where to cut; but essentially, the fender is trimmed following the bottom of the XJ’s grille back towards the wheel well. Once all the trimming is done, new OR-FAB mounting brackets are bolted in the factory locations.

But before the bumper can be mounted, the Warn M8000S winch must be assembled and bolted to the OR-FAB bumper. Following Warn’s instructions for installing the winch,  the supplied nuts and bolts were used to secure the winch to the winch mount. The mounting bracket for the Warn control box normally sits above the winch motor, but in this application, the bracket was modified slightly (trimmed and an additional hole drilled), allowing the control box to sit slightly above the motor for easy access on top of the bumper. Warn also supplies a fairlead and a winch hook for the end of the cable.

Once the winch was mounted into the OR-FAB bumper, it took two people to lift the assembly and secure the bolts onto the Jeep’s frame. Warn also supplies large two-gauge battery wire leads that were routed to the XJ’s battery, and once attached, the installation was complete. The next step was to wind the Warn Spydura synthetic line onto the winch drum.

The OR-FAB bumper also features two heavy-duty D-ring mounts and comes with two D-rings. While the Warn winch comes with a winch hook, we upgraded to a Factor-55 winch thimble. Warn also has winch thimbles and other winch accessories that make it easy to properly and safely hook up a winch line.

Follow along in the slide show above for step-by-step details on our bumper and winch installation.

Author: Dan Sanchez

Dan Sanchez is the president at DS Media, an agency that specializes in content marketing and online advertising and PR strategies. Sanchez is also an author, editor, and regularly contributes to a number of automotive enthusiast and B2B publications.