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GL Class (X164) 2007-2012: GL320CDI, GL420CDI, GL450, GL550

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Old 01-23-2019, 11:11 PM
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2008 gl450 x164
Winch

Anyone install a winch or hidden winch on the gl450?
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Old 01-26-2019, 05:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Jakehabing View Post
Anyone install a winch or hidden winch on the gl450?
No, but I'm interested in the topic.

I looked into replacing the eye bolt for the front hold-down, so I could put in an anchor shackle. Thus far I'm just using the factory eye bolt. I'm toying with putting in a second one; I could then just put a portable winch on a bridge cable between the two.
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Old 01-26-2019, 05:40 PM
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Hitch winch

So far the best idea I have had was to use a hitch mount. But this will only work for the back.
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Old 01-26-2019, 06:26 PM
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For some vehicles, you can get a front-mounted hitch. Maybe google around or check with hitch companies like Curt, Reese or Draw-Tite. If not, there's gotta be some secure mounting spots underneath where you could make a hitch and attach it. You don't really need to worry about tongue weight, so that makes it easier. 2" square tube is cheap and easy to get and it's simple welding. You could use 1-1/4" tube so it's a bit smaller and then an adapter to move up the 2".

But, it seems like the front eye bolt is pretty simple way to do it? Maybe there's no reason to reinvent the wheel?

Eric, just out of curiosity... what's the benefit to having a shackle permanently attached to a bolt, as opposed to just attaching the shackle to the eye bolt?
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Old 01-26-2019, 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by DennisG01 View Post
Eric, just out of curiosity... what's the benefit to having a shackle permanently attached to a bolt, as opposed to just attaching the shackle to the eye bolt?
I really didn't word that well. I meant to replace the factory eye bolt, which is pretty thin in the front, with one that is uniform thickness.

I'm no off roading expert, but I believe you want the shackle to lend directional freedom to the hook or whatever.

You'll definitely want to allow the winch attach point to be centered or to distribute the force between two points if off centered; that's why I said put it on a bridge cable between the two. To get a second hold-down, you have to drill into the bumper; I was hoping the bumper was made symmetrical, with a second hold-down welded nut on the other side, but pictures of bumpers being sold as salvage showed me there's only one. Bummer.
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Old 01-26-2019, 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by DennisG01 View Post
For some vehicles, you can get a front-mounted hitch. Maybe google around or check with hitch companies like Curt, Reese or Draw-Tite. If not, there's gotta be some secure mounting spots underneath where you could make a hitch and attach it. You don't really need to worry about tongue weight, so that makes it easier. 2" square tube is cheap and easy to get and it's simple welding. You could use 1-1/4" tube so it's a bit smaller and then an adapter to move up the 2".
Problem is, you'll wreck the entry clearance if you have a 2" receiver mounted below the front bumper. It really needs to be on or above the bumper.
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Old 01-26-2019, 07:50 PM
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If I wanted to cart around a winch I could just use a double cable drill powered winch, and use the eye bolt as an anchor point. It would work, but I like the idea of a permanently attached winch. I have been toying with the idea of doing a hidden winch, and having the mount custom fabricated, but I wanted to give a shout out to the community, hoping that someone already found a solution. I am grateful for all the interest and ideas, I like thinking outside the box.
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Old 01-26-2019, 08:45 PM
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Totally agree about losing a few inches of ground clearance - but it would only be in the very center... unless you could get the 2" square tube to exit THROUGH the bumper cover. However, if it did exit below, you could insert an angled skid plate into the tube - which may be seen as more beneficial than losing those 2" in the very center.

With the right welding skills and reinforcing (small triagular gusseting, for example) where the shackle welds to a grade 8 bolt, you could do it. But I think the tow eye is plenty strong? I mean, that's what it's meant for, right? Once you put a shackle into the tow eye, you get that freedom of direction you're referring to. BUT... the same thing is accomplished by the hook when it's attached to the tow eye.

I don't see any reason you couldn't try and figure out a hidden hitch setup. I'm not looking under my vehicle right now, but "assuming" there is enough structure under there, the only downside I can think of is that you would likely be inserting the winch's draw bar (the piece that inserts into the hitch) in a somewhat vertical fashion, which can create a lot of leverage onto the structure the hitch is attached to. Unless the hitch's square opening can be far enough rearward to allow the draw bar (roughly a "U" shape) to be inserted and the "U" wraps around the bumper cover.

Another thought... what if you created a hole for the hitch into the bumper cover where a front license plate would normally be? Then just put a vanity plate over it. Or, if your state require front license plates, you can eithe remove the plate when you go 4-wheelin' or use a flip down plate holder (hinged). If you go that route, what could you attach to... possibly cutting a hole in the "actual" bumper, as well?
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Old 01-26-2019, 09:14 PM
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My thought was to remove the aluminum bumper and replace it with a custom fabricated steel option that would have a place to bolt the winch to. Similar to how the rear hitch is installed. The aluminum bumper is remove and the hitch frame is installed. Any thoughts on this idea?
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Old 01-26-2019, 09:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Jakehabing View Post
My thought was to remove the aluminum bumper and replace it with a custom fabricated steel option that would have a place to bolt the winch to. Similar to how the rear hitch is installed. The aluminum bumper is remove and the hitch frame is installed. Any thoughts on this idea?
Ah, now you're talking fun stuff.
You'd put it on top of the bumper, right? It could either pinch the cover down or you just cut out a rectangular opening.
Just what capacity were you thinking of for the winch? Reason I ask is the aluminum is probably quite strong, especially if you were to run the winch mounting bolts all the way through. (It's a box section of aluminum, right?) You could also reinforce how the aluminum fastens to the steel bumper. Run long bolts through on either side of where the winch mounts.
What's more, you could simply test it. Hook up the winch to the base of a big tree and let it stall out. If it tears apart the aluminum, well, you were going to replace it anyway.
If you were thinking the hidden winch would be inside where the box aluminum is now, I doubt there's enough room, but I don't know much about winches.

Take off the bumper cover and check out what you've got to work with. It's not that hard to remove.
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Old 01-26-2019, 09:53 PM
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Now I remember looking into this. It's a box section of aluminum. Depending on the winch strength, and how you reinforce how it attaches to the aluminum, and how you reinforce how the aluminum mounts to the bumper, I bet you could get away with mounting the winch directly to the aluminum.
Extruded aluminum is really tough. You'd be surprised.

Also, you can't just get rid of the aluminum; it is actually functional. I think.

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Old 01-26-2019, 09:57 PM
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Originally Posted by DennisG01 View Post
But I think the tow eye is plenty strong?
The reason I wanted to replace the tow eye is it's pretty skinny steel at the end. It tapers down to something like 5/8 thickness. Not likely to fail, but a proper anchor point doesn't have such obvious weakness.

The hook in the tow eye gives freedom, you're right. People use anchor shackles because they're big, so you can hook all kinds of stuff to them, and they drop out of the way when you don't need them.
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Old 01-26-2019, 10:20 PM
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Does the tow eye screw into the bumper (Al tubular piece)? If it does, good. If it doesn't, I would wonder if the bumper is attached such that it can withstand a pull. Obviously it can withstand a push (running into another vehicle), but is it designed to be pulled on? Especially since it will be in the middle of the Al bumper - a strong pull could start to deform/bow out the bumper. But, looking only at that picture, it appears that the tow eye may go fully through the Al bumper (hence that hole on the vertical, right-hand surface of the bumper) and attaching the hitch to the bumper may not work. You could maybe spread the load over the length of the bumper with two pieces (front and back) of 1/4" or 3/8" plate steel - even come back and weld top and bottom pieces on for extra strength.... bumper cover may not fit just right, though. But I think your idea of replacing the Al with steel would work. Might lose a little "crumple zone" effect in an accident - assuming the bumper is designed to do just that. But it may be easier than shoring up the Al piece.

There appears to be a mounting point right in the center of the bumper... maybe a square hole through the middle of that area would allow the square hitch tubing to mount to something structural behind the bumper?
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Old 01-27-2019, 09:33 AM
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Ok here we go, size of winch 9000 to 10000lb pull, the gl is not a very light suv. Area needed for winch is 10x10x20 inches.
I have worked with aluminum before, I think it would buckle under the load of the gl.
yes the eyelet does not attach to the aluminum bumper but to more sturdy part of the car.
I am getting a technical drawing of the front, so I can study it and design my new bumper before I tear my car apart. If it shows that there is not enough room for the winch. Then its back to thinking outside the box, or in this case outside the bumper.
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Old 01-27-2019, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by DennisG01 View Post
Does the tow eye screw into the bumper (Al tubular piece)? If it does, good. If it doesn't, I would wonder if the bumper is attached such that it can withstand a pull. Obviously it can withstand a push (running into another vehicle), but is it designed to be pulled on? Especially since it will be in the middle of the Al bumper - a strong pull could start to deform/bow out the bumper. But, looking only at that picture, it appears that the tow eye may go fully through the Al bumper (hence that hole on the vertical, right-hand surface of the bumper) and attaching the hitch to the bumper may not work. You could maybe spread the load over the length of the bumper with two pieces (front and back) of 1/4" or 3/8" plate steel - even come back and weld top and bottom pieces on for extra strength.... bumper cover may not fit just right, though. But I think your idea of replacing the Al with steel would work. Might lose a little "crumple zone" effect in an accident - assuming the bumper is designed to do just that. But it may be easier than shoring up the Al piece.

There appears to be a mounting point right in the center of the bumper... maybe a square hole through the middle of that area would allow the square hitch tubing to mount to something structural behind the bumper?
Just to clarify: There are three components. The body-colored bumper cover, the aluminum box section which is a "bumper reinforcement", and the steel bumper, which attaches directly to the unibody.

The tow eye screws into a nut welded onto the bumper.

"Bumper reinforcement" is a misnomer. The aluminum is there as a crumple zone; it deforms before the steel bumper - which deforms before the unibody. Etc. Aluminum is a curious choice of material. They weren't concerned about weight. Maybe it's not elastic? Hot rolled steel isn't elastic either.

If the aluminum is cast or hot rolled, it could be very soft. If you hang that aluminum by a hook and tap it, you'll hear whether it's annealed. If it rings with a high pitch, it's cold drawn, which effectively tempers it. If you hear a dull thud, it's soft and is useless for mounting a hitch.
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Old 01-27-2019, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Jakehabing View Post
Ok here we go, size of winch 9000 to 10000lb pull, the gl is not a very light suv. Area needed for winch is 10x10x20 inches.
I have worked with aluminum before, I think it would buckle under the load of the gl.
yes the eyelet does not attach to the aluminum bumper but to more sturdy part of the car.
I am getting a technical drawing of the front, so I can study it and design my new bumper before I tear my car apart. If it shows that there is not enough room for the winch. Then its back to thinking outside the box, or in this case outside the bumper.
The cover really isn't hard to take off. I peeled one side back to get the headlight housing out.
While you have it off, paint the junk underneath body color and sell the cover on Ebay. Your GL will suddenly look like something out of Mad Max.

That size winch - I don't think you'll be able to mount it much of anywhere. There's a possibility you could put it behind the grille, but the hardware to accomplish that makes my bowels clench.

I don't know where you're planning on pulling your truck, but a 6,000 lb winch will pull it straight up the side of a building. If you're just hoping to do minor recovery, then a much smaller winch will do.

I'd start with figuring out what you are working with. A parts diagram is great but nothing beats sitting there and staring at the actual piece.

I'm real curious what you come up with. Keep us posted.
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Old 01-27-2019, 12:24 PM
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Thanks for the sizing on the winch. I was thinking of the gl weighs 7000lbs I would need a winch bigger then that, but maybe not, does anyone know how to properly size a winch to vehicle? I want use it to pull myself out but also help others who are stuck.
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Old 01-27-2019, 12:54 PM
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Terminology... Thanks, I didn't realize there was a full steel bumper underneath. I thought the Al piece was both the crumple zone and the actual bumper... mounting to the frame via two "stalks" sticking out horizontally.

Jake - ah, now I unerstand. You're trying to hide the WINCH, not the hitch. I missed that. Boy, I'm not gonna say it's not possible, but from the times I've been underneath, I'm not sure you're going to accomplish that. BUT, whenever I was underneath, I also didn't have the mindset of looking for a place to mount a winch.

Build a mock-up of the winch out of cardboard. Get underneath the car and see if it's a possibity.

The GL isn't all that heavy - I think it's about 5,500lbs... but Google can help you with that.

The general rule for winch capacity is about 1.5x the vehicle weight. I'm not sure I understand the need for that, but that's what the "experts" recommend... who are also, of course, trying to sell you a product. That said, it can't hurt to go bigger if space will allow. You can always use a pulley/****** block to easily double the winch's pulling power.
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Old 01-27-2019, 02:32 PM
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Just did some googling, rule of thumb is 1.5xGVW
GVW of gl is around 6400lbs, this would mean I need a winch that can pull 9600lbs. Or a 10000lbs. But also noted in research that if I am not always loaded down I could size smaller. I am thinking that the smallest I would go is 8000lbs, if the bigger to ones won't fit.
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Old 01-27-2019, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Jakehabing View Post
Just did some googling, rule of thumb is 1.5xGVW
GVW of gl is around 6400lbs, this would mean I need a winch that can pull 9600lbs. Or a 10000lbs. But also noted in research that if I am not always loaded down I could size smaller. I am thinking that the smallest I would go is 8000lbs, if the bigger to ones won't fit.
1.5x GVW for what, though? My friend got his truck stuck in the surf zone sand, and the tide was coming in. He hammered one of those t-profile fence stakes into the sand, hooked a come-along to it, and freed himself. If you exceed the winch's power, all it will do is stall. 1.5x GVW is basically worst case capacity; you can pull out from inside a pit. Most of the time if you're stuck, you just need a little boost to get your tires up out of holes in the mud or sand.
You'd also get a lot out of having recovery points like I mentioned earlier.
If it were me (and I'm seriously tempted to do this!) I'd put the biggest winch I could comfortably fit on the aluminum, reinforce the aluminum with steel, possibly a plate that spans from the aluminum to the steel bumper, hook it onto a tree, and see if it rips the aluminum apart.
Like I said, a lot depends on whether the aluminum is cold rolled or hot.
Here's a crazy thought, too: If you're really in a pinch, you can double the winch's force by putting a big pulley on the stationary anchor. Run the winch cable through the pulley and then back to your recovery shackle.
Edit: Damn, Dennis beat me to it:
Originally Posted by DennisG01 View Post
You can always use a pulley/****** block to easily double the winch's pulling power.
Bottom line is I wouldn't go to all this work for the extreme case. I'd install something for the 80%, not the last 20%. Just my take.

Last edited by eric_in_sd; 01-27-2019 at 04:45 PM.
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Old 01-27-2019, 06:21 PM
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Eric, that make a lot of sense, thanks.

one thing I am a little leery about is trusting the aluminum at all. That is why I am really looking into custom fabricating a piece outof steel to replace the aluminum one.
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Old 01-27-2019, 06:35 PM
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Splitting hairs a bit here, but I just googled a couple places to look for the GL's weight... The first couple I looked at all stated 5,300lbs. I think you're looking at "loaded" weight. Here's Edmunds: https://www.edmunds.com/mercedes-ben...eatures-specs/

I agree with Eric - most of the time, if not all the time, you're just gonna need a little extra push to get you out. For those times (which will be rare, if at all) when the winch isn't strong enough, you can figure out other ways to do it. The pulley being an easy one.
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Old 01-27-2019, 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Jakehabing View Post
Eric, that make a lot of sense, thanks.

one thing I am a little leery about is trusting the aluminum at all. That is why I am really looking into custom fabricating a piece outof steel to replace the aluminum one.
Sure thing; discussion is great, 'cause now I'm putting this on my list of things to do on my own GL.
Understood about the aluminum. Remember what I said about the "ring test" for the aluminum. When aluminum is cold formed, it becomes extremely tough. The cold forming basically tempers it. Aluminum beverage cans "crinkle" because of this tempering. If you have machined aluminum, there is a decent chance you have worked with annealed stock, which is soft. You and I might be pleasantly surprised.

Dang, now I really want to pull off that bumper cover and start on yet another project my kids will hate me for never finishing.
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Old 02-15-2019, 07:13 PM
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When I opened my hood last, I happened to look down. In the gap between the grill and the radiator, just below the horns, is the aluminum box, sitting right there. It would be a no brainer to mount a winch to that. You'd punch an ugly hole in the grille, but maybe you could leave the grille as is and remove it when you need to use the winch.
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Old 02-16-2019, 09:22 AM
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I thought about that too. But I was not sure if that would mess up the air flow to the radiator with the winch that close to it.
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