Adding custom bumpers is a great way to improve the look and functionality of your pickup or SUV. If you own a new vehicle and have a fat wallet, there are more choices than you can shake a stick at—pardon the pun. However, if you own an older truck or don’t want to give up the left kidney that most aftermarket bumpers cost, you might be inclined to feel that you’re out of luck. Fortunately, that’s not the case.
Beginning in a small garage in Lewistown, Montana, MOVE recognized the need for a simple and affordable do-it-yourself bumper solution and set out to remake the industry. Today, it has grown into a large operation with dozens of employees, utilizing the latest in computer-aided drafting, design, and manufacturing technology.
Need a bumper for a ’91 Isuzu Trooper? Or an ’18 Ram 2500? They’ve got both and almost everything in between, including fitments for the Mercedes Sprinter. Best of all, they start at just $395 for a classic front or rear unit. A full deer-smasher with light and winch mounts brings the price to just shy of a grand, which is still half the price of the nearest competition.
To see just how easy it could be to build our own bumpers, we dragged our Miller 211 out of the garage and set to work. Opening the box to bolting the finished product on took less than a day. Of course, your mileage may vary depending on skill level, but for the price of admission, this project shouldn’t scare anyone.
MOVE’s approach to custom, heavy-duty bumpers shows that putting in the effort up front can yield great results and personal satisfaction in the end.
| MOVE’s DIY bumper kits are reasonably priced, easy to assemble, and available for a multitude of vehicles. We built its new Precision Series rear bumper for an ’02 Silverado HD in just a few hours, with little more than basic fabrication tools.
| Bumpers ship out from the company’s Lewistown, Montana, facility nested neatly in one heavy box. Our rear bumper consisted of 11 different pieces, which together weighed nearly 50 pounds. Each MOVE bumper uses a common centersection, with the outer pieces being application specific.
| The first step in assembling the bumper, after verifying all the pieces were present and correct (and after reading the directions, of course), was to prep each piece for welding. We used a 4½-inch angle grinder to gently remove the mill scale from the areas to be welded.
| MOVEs Custom DIY Truck Bumpers Prep
After prepping the weld surfaces, we laid the centersection and two sidepieces on a flat surface and tack-welded them together. It’s important to get a solid tack-weld so the pieces don’t shift while moving the bumper, but they shouldn’t be so aggressive as to prevent slight changes from being made, if necessary.
| MOVE makes no bones about it—its kit are designed for people with some amount of fabrication and mechanical ability. The product line is also fairly universal—and infinitely customizable. As such, the instructions are fairly basic as well. Case in point, be sure you retain all of the factory hardware until the build is complete. Seen here on our Silverado, the MOVE brackets attach fine to the factory framerails, but they need to utilize mounts removed from the factory bumper.
| MOVEs Custom DIY Truck Bumpers Mounts
| With the main pieces tacked together and the mounting brackets loosely attached to the frame, the next step was to align the bumper and brackets by hanging the bumper in place. A second set of skilled hands comes in handy at this point.
| Once in place, the mounting brackets can be welded to the bumper. Building in this fashion ensures that the unit remains level. If the brackets were added off of the vehicle, it would be nearly impossible to achieve a perfect fit.
| MOVEs Custom DIY Truck Bumpers Weld Brackets
| MOVEs Custom DIY Truck Bumpers Weld For Perfect Fit
| After burning in the mounting brackets, the next step was to add the additional closure and design panels. We tacked first and fully welded each piece. MOVE intends for these welds to be made with the bumper on the vehicle. Doing this allows the vehicle to act as a jig, keeping the parts straight during the process.
| MOVEs Custom DIY Truck Bumpers Welding
| Welding all of the outside joints took us about an hour to complete. While there are quite a few linear inches of welding needed, none of it is particularly difficult.
| With the exterior welds cooled, we removed the bumper from the truck. Since our plan was to grind the outer welds smooth for a more finished look, we chose to fully weld the inside as well, which is totally optional. The inside can be left bare, have small welds added, or be fully welded as we did.
| MOVEs Custom DIY Truck Bumpers Inside Weld
| Because each bumper uses a common centersection, some customization is to be expected. For us, we needed to provide clearance for the factory trailer wire harness plug. We chose to mirror the contour provided on the MOVE centersection and move it over 3 inches with our handy Miller plasma cutter.
| MOVEs Custom DIY Truck Bumpers Centersection Modification
| We decided on a clean, smooth look for the bumper. This meant grinding off the welds with varying degrees of sanding disc on our angle grinder. We probably spent more time smoothing the contours and removing welds than actually laying beads.
| Finally, several coats of paint and primer were applied to give the newly minted bumper a touch of class and protection from the elements. Powdercoat or bedliner would be more durable, but they didn’t quite fit our timeframe or budget.
| MOVEs Custom DIY Truck Bumpers Final Paint