Steel vs. Aluminum for bumpers?


Very good point, especially if you leave it raw!
You can do your own anodizing. it's not that hard. Just need a tub large enough for the bumper.
"Welding aluminum is dangerous due to the VERY poisonous gas given off by burning aluminum."

Spoken by someone I assume doesn't weld? ANY metal getting welded gives off dangerous gasses. I've been welding for 30 years now; mild steel, stainless, aluminum, titanium. Stainless is probably the most dangerous because of the presence of nickel. A good welder learns to keep his head out of the smoke plume or holds his breath... until he can't (no breeze or sucker fan). Welding with TIG or MIG is always done "hooched up" so the shielding gas doesn't get blown away, and so *can* present an increased risk. But aluminum presents NO greater risk than other metals.
Actually, engineered properly, an aluminum *can* be as effective as steel, but it would have to be thicker, and gusseted well. The key word is "engineered PROPERLY". Might just have to play around with this when I get the time...


Since nobody makes anything that fits an Astro van, it isn't going to be an issue for me. )-:}


To settle the steel vs aluminum strength debate just take a look at semi trailers going down the hwy. you'll see that about 50% are made entirely from aluminum.


The material properties for these materials are well documented. Steel is a great material for bumpers but if a lot of it is used, the trade off is weight.

Common variety 6061-t6 aluminum has an ultimate tensile strength of 45,000 psi with a density of .0975lbs/in cubed
1018 cold roll steel Ultimate tensile strength 63,800 psi with a density of.284lbs/in cubed

For a rough comparison, this aluminum has 70% of the strength of the steel and has 34% of the weight. Using slightly thicker aluminum you can achieve the same strength of steel at almost half the weight.

4130 or chromoly steel is a lot stronger but only when it is heat treated. I don't think very many people are going to stick a bumper in an oven.


Home-brew steel bumper with Winch mount

Hey, a timely topic! Finally got the lead out of my B*tt, and decided to mount my new winch to my bumper. Since I saw this thread, I weighed everything before I put it together. Bumper, 55#; Winch mount, 25#; winch, 64#; cable feed rollers, 10#; all together should be 154# including winch, all parts out of steel. The bumper is C-purlin, prob 3/16ths , winch mount is "half I-Beam" at least 1/4", maybe more. I intentionally kept the bumper very minimalist, bec I was concerned abt weight. Would have loved to use aluminium, but a) don't have any lying around, and b) don't know how to weld it.



I live in Minnesota where dumping as much salt on the roads as possible in winter is a given. 4 years later, my Aluminess bumpers show no signs of any corrosion.

Tough? I was rear ended while stopped at a traffic light by a vehicle traveling in excess of 50 mph (police estimate). The truck frame was twisted like a pretzel and the driver seat back broken but I walked away from that accident with no injuries. The Aluminess bumper probably saved me from serious injury. All that and I installed them myself, as light as they are.


Der Chef der Fahrzeuge
I was set on Aluminess, although I wasn't keen on how far the front bumper would stick out on my '07. While their welds are very nice, their latch fitment on the rear bumper is poor. Lots of money to spend to not get the small details right.
So I'll be going with a custom set of aluminum bumpers where I can setup the design how I need.


We tagged a deer at 60-65mph yesterday in the van while on our way home from the San Juans just north of Ridgeway. I can give a Huge 2 Thumbs up for the Aluminess front bumper. It did the job and then some. Lower edge and the light 'bucket' got bent inward a bit but that was it. Zero body or frame damage. Happened so fast there wasn't even time to hit the brakes. Thankfully my Family and our beloved van Agnes came out AOK.

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