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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I needed to install a towing setup when I first bought our FJ since the primary focus of our purchase was to tow our 16’ Airstream to parks, unhitch and go on 4wd trails. Although the camper isn’t 4wd capable, it’s wonderful to come back to that day or after tenting on longer trail journeys. I opted to install a bumper hitch since it offered a greater egress angle than the lower sitting aftermarket receiver hitches that are readily available for the FJ. Not a huge difference, but every little can help in tight situations and to be honest, I think it just looks better. Since both the aftermarket and Toyota’s bumper receiver are all rated at 5000 lb capacity, there wasn’t anything to be gained there other than the other’s being slightly easier to install than the bumper receiver. DIY’s on the forum aided on install of the hitch, harness and controller and as the saying goes, I’ve been a happy camper.

Last year, for reasons too lengthy to get into, I updated our axle on our little Airstream from a 3500lb axle to a 4300lb one. I’ve used a weight distribution hitch from day one of towing and after the axle upgrade, I was back to the CAT scales to make any adjustments to the WD setup if needed. Although probably not necessary, a slight change was made to get a little more weight to the front axle by utilizing one more link on the chain but this caused a little extra stress on the rear hitch and I began to notice a slight upward tilt to the hitch as it was installed in the receiver. Since we have an upcoming journey, I decided to pull the bumper cover to investigate and discovered that a couple of the bolts holding the hitch to the rear bumper cross member were loose and a third just spun. Not bad, but enough that I decided something had to be done.

My initial thoughts were to weld a bead around the hitch to the bumper to reinforce for the loose bolts and possibly have some triangle gussets added to the rear cross member where it attaches to the side rails to minimize any up and down flex of the rear bumper rail. Since I don’t do welding, I took the FJ to a shop that I’ve used over the years when I need something done right. They’re not race shop prices, but far from the least expensive either - but if you want it done right, they’re the place to go to. Dropped off one evening and they called the next day that it was ready. Cost a little more than I had hoped, but the build quality it beyond my wildest expectations! The first photo is the stock bumper hitch of course, but as you can see from the following picts, the new hitch configuration is a home run. I now have the strength of having the hitch hooking up to the frame side rails plus triangulated to the original rear cross member mounting. And where the hitch connects to the frames side rails, there were no holes drilled as original mounting holes were utilized – two bolts towards the rear and the front bolt was a stud fished through a hold that was already in the frame so there was no drilling that was needed. And since there was no welding done to the frame members at all, if needed for who knows what, the whole hitch will un-mount from the FJ. Not sure if there will be enough room for that additional fuel tank that I have always wished for, but any concerns I might have had about a hitch failure are long gone.

I wanted to share this with the community in the hopes that anyone else that may be considering a bumper hitch for stout towing loads should take the photos with you to a local fabrication shop and have them make up something like this. My out of pocket was a little under $400 for just the upgrade, but I will never be concerned about a hitch failure that’s for sure. Now it’s back to the scales to check my WD hitch setup again and make sure the settings are good. I’m guessing that I’ll dial it back a little as there will be a little less rear flex and more weight back to the front axle as it should be. Now I’ll be an even happier camper!


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