FJ Cruiser – Winch Mount – HF Apex Winch – How-To & Review

We try to keep up with the never ending winch design evolution in that we want to know what works with our winch mounts. The answer is ‘just about all of them’ but some just fit different than others, have different layouts, etc.
 
We get a lot of questions about Harbor Freight winches. I won’t get in to the debate about their quality but to say this. I know a lot of folks who use them and have done so very successfully. They have a 90 day warranty but are inexpensive. We have quite a few customers who run them in our winch mounts on various models.
 
One of the newest is the Apex with a semi integrated control box.
 
Here is a great write up and review from a customer of ours, Terry Pelt from Utah. Not just about the winch but our winch mount as well.
 
He mounted an Apex in one of our FJ Mounts, while roomy it is the smallest winch tub of our lineup but generally accepts most all winches, it’s the height above the winch in regards to the hood release brace that can get tight or interfere. Bottom line, it fits but I’ll let Terry lay it out in detail for you:

This is for the Harbor Freight Badlands APEX 12K winch.
1): If this winch is being installed and planned to be used on a regular basis, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND relocating the control box from the top of the winch to somewhere in the engine compartment. The clearance and limited access to the remote plug-in and the Wi-Fi control switch is ULTRA and SUPERTIGHT! Small user hands are beneficial if the control is left in the OEM location.

If relocating, DO NOT be tempted to just move the control box above the winch and in front of the radiator on your FJ – the box is too large and will greatly limit needed air flow to the radiator cooling fins. (Personally, I don’t plan on using my winch for more than flipping a Jeep back onto its wheels, or only in a dire self-recovery situation).

2): If you are going to leave the control box in the OEM location, it MUST be removed from the winch to place the winch body into the mounting tub, and ONLY AFTER trimming the center bracket that sticks out above center of the winch (as seen in my photos [and highlighted with circles and arrows in yellow]). After the winch body is mounted, the control box can carefully be wiggled under the newly trimmed center bracket to be re-installed.

3): The A/C line not only needs to be CAREFULLY and slightly bent/repositioned, but it will need a spacer placed between the mounting
bracket and plastic keeper that your instructions suggest and the A/C line (I deleted the plastic keeper and used a stainless steel strap bracket).

The A/C line also needs to be slightly elevated over the winch and behind the control box, and under the newly trimmed center bracket; it’s a bit ofa tight squeeze, but it can be done.

I finished my US Off Road mount (after sanding it with 600 grit and wiping it down several times with lacquer thinner) with 3 coats of Rust-Oleum Rusty Metal Primer (but I had no rust…..), followed by 3 coats of Rust-Oleum Custom Premium Lacquer Paint (Silver Gray color).

Fitment of your product was awesome; I really appreciated the improvements you have made to the original design (after watching some installation videos and seeing a couple of older US Off Road tubs in person).

Packaging for shipment was excellent. Even though the box had a large gash in the top, the tub was unharmed. I’m not sure how FedEx managed to make the shipping label bar code unreadable, but glad they finally caught it, fixed it, and got it delivered with only minimal delay.

Again, I suggest and HIGHLY RECOMMEND that if someone is planning to use this APEX winch allot, it is worth the time to relocate the control box.

Vehicle: 2012 FJ, 3” Old Man Emu lift, 285/70-17 tires, Ricochet Offroad skid plates (complete undercarriage armor), Tandem Offroad rock slides, Badlands APEX 12K winch… and of course a U.S. Off Road Winch Mount.


Also notice how well our mount works with the Ricochet skid plate.

And of course,  when you are ready to purchase a winch mount for your FJ or Tacoma, go here: https://www.usoffroad.us/store/winchmounts/

 

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