Jeep Upgrade: New Superwinch and Rokmen Steel Bumper
Superwinch Talon and Rokmen Mercenary steel bumper install and review
If you’re serious about four-wheel drive action, adding a winch to your Jeep or 4x4 hits the top of the list when it comes to recovery. It’s no secret that remote trails and destinations don’t see too many tow trucks or traffic. Out here you’re on your own. That’s why it’s recommended that at least one of the vehicles in your group have a recovery winch for those sticky situations. It’s easy to get hung up on a rock, slip into a ditch or slide down a ledge too steep to climb out of without help.
Tom Severin, owner of Badlands Off-Road Adventures, knows all about this too well. The man has set up rigging and pulled more winch line than most would ever fathom. He has also helped many distressed 4WDs back on the trail over the years. Tom goes off the beaten path often, many times leading a group of Jeeps and 4x4s into desolate country. Out there he needs equipment that is at the ready when a situation arises.
When he added the Jeep Wrangler TJ Unlimited to his stable (a limited production 2004-2006 Jeep with a 10-inch longer wheelbase, also known as the TJU or LJ), there was only one recovery winch he really trusted for the job—Superwinch. With plenty of years of service on his other 4x4s and the solid reputation from professionals, it was an easy decision to make. He ordered up the Superwinch Talon for the Jeep, along with a steel winch bumper from Rokmen. We met up with Severin to see how it all came together and worked on the Unlimited.
The Superwinch Talon is an impressive piece of equipment. Here are specs for the Talon 12.5 SR installed on Severin’s Jeep Wrangler LJ:
TALON 12.5 SR
Part# 1612201 12V DC/1612301 24V DC
Application: Vehicle Recovery/Off Road/Commercial Truck & Trailer
• Rated Line Pull: 12,500 lbs (5,670 kgs)
• Motor: Sealed 6.0 hp (4.48 kW) Series Wound
• Gearing: 2-Stage Planetary & 2-Stage Spur
• Gear Ratio: 148:1 • Vented Sealed Submersible Solenoid with 3-Year Warranty
• Free spooling Clutch: Pull and Turn
• Brake: Automatic/100% Load Holding (outside of drum)
• Synthetic Rope 3/8in x 80ft (9.5mm x 24.4m)
• Hook: Heavy Duty/Clevis Pinned/Latched • Hawse: Blue Anodized Aluminum
• Remote: 15ft Sealed Ergonomic Hand Held w/ Coiled Cord • Dimensions: 24.57in L x 6.2in D x 10.95in H (624.2mm L x 157.5mm D x 278.15mm H)
• Drum Diameter: 2.5in (63.5mm) • Drum Length 8.75in (222.25mm)
• Mounting Bold Pattern: 10in x 4.5in (254mm x 114.3mm)
• Installed Weight: 68 lbs (31kgs)
• Shipped Weight: 81 lbs (37kgs)
• Limited Lifetime Warranty: 3-Year Electrical
Synthetic winch lines are the craze right now, but only a few winch models are actually engineered to rope them. The Superwinch Talon features a steel drum constructed with high-tensile strength material to resist the unique loading characteristics of synthetic rope (rated at 17,600 lb.). Some other features include an ergonomically-shaped hand-held sealed remote that meets IP67 standards—keeping out water, mud, snow and dust. It links to the Talon using a military-style twist-lock plug and a 15-foot coil cord that retracts to 4 feet.
When it came to mounting the Superwinch Talon on the Jeep LJ, Tom chose the Rokmen Mercenary winch bumper. This 1/4 inch thick steel bumper is laser cut and CNC formed for extreme precision and durability. The winch tube guard is made from .120 wall 1 3/4 inch DOM tubing. It uses a super solid Shackle-Lock design to secure both recovery points on the bumper, in addition to being fully TIG welded around the front and inside for added strength. All Mercenaries are shipped bare steel and fit 1997-2006 Jeep Wrangler TJ/LJ.
When installing parts and accessories on his 4x4s, Tom likes to use Anti-Seize lubricant. This highly refined blend of aluminum, copper and graphite lubricants can be used during assembly to prevent galling, corrosion and seizing due to weathering or chemicals. Anti-Seize by Permatex is salt, corrosion and moisture resistant and has a temperature range of -60°F to 1600°F (-51°C to 871°C). Applying Anti-Seize to the bolts and hardware will make future disassembly of parts much easier.
Since the Rokmen winch bumper is delivered with a bare metal finish, it had to be prepped and painted. Tom used semi-gloss black paint that can easily be touched up in the future. Having a clean and primered base will ensure rust doesn’t surface on the bumper. Once the bumper was set for installation, the Superwinch Talon was easily mounted on the winch bumper using four bolts and a wrench.
With the Superwinch mounted on the bumper, it was just a matter of lifting and sliding it over the front rails. It bolts up to the Jeep frame using four Grade 8 bolts on top, and another four on the bottom. The Rokmen uses existing bolt holes on the frame, making installation a breeze. It helps to have two people when mounting the bumper—much easier on your back.
For added protection, Rokmen also offers a steering box skid plate that mounts directly onto the Mercenary winch bumper. It does not interfere with the sway bar, suspension or tire turning radius. It’s constructed from 3/16 inch steel, TIG welded and delivered bare steel or powder coated. Tom added this extra armor to his Jeep LJ in preparation for the Rubicon trail.
Wiring for the Superwinch Talon is pretty straightforward: you need to route heavy gauge cable to the battery terminals for ground and power. In some cases the solenoid box (top/left) may need to be relocated, which requires additional wiring work. On this installation, the planetary winch bumper design of the Rokmen Mercenary worked perfect. We had no clearance issues with the winch body, clutch lever or solenoid.
While routing the cables through one of the grill slots, Tom and his friend Snoopy decided it would be a good idea to add some sort of isolator to prevent the grill from rubbing with the cable and possibly shorting out. An old water hose was cut and shoehorned into the slot, giving the cables much better protection.
Noodled and fastened with zip ties along the inner fender apron, the power and ground wires make their way to the top of a deep cycle Optima Battery. Each wire has its very own terminal for a worry-free winch power source.
Before winding in the blue Superwinch synthetic line into the drum, Tom decided to install a Factor 55 Winch Safety Thimble on the end. The Factor 55 ProLink shackle mount is engineered and machined in the USA from lightweight billet 6061 aluminum and provides a safe means to easily attach a standard 3/4-inch screw pin shackle to existing winch cable and synthetic rope eyes. The front of the ProLink provides a precision shackle mounting hole and a massive 1.2-inch-thick mounting tab. All ProLink products come equipped with titanium pins and rubber guards.
Installed, rolled and ready for work, the Superwinch Talon fits nicely on the Rokmen Mercenary. The 46 inch wide bumper is designed to keep the winch low, allowing more air flow into the radiator. Its ramped face and swept back sides also provide excellent approach angles and an unobstructed tire contact path. Tom really likes rollers, so he bolted one up to the TIG-welded fairlead mount. He was able to reuse his Jeep off-road lights using two light mounts on each end of the bumper. He’s got two more light tabs on top if he should ever need more candle power.
Out in the field, the Superwinch Talon is a smooth operator. The 6.0HP motor delivers a safe and quick 62 FPM line speed with low 75 amp draw. It’s already hard at work teaching students how to safely use a recovery winch, powering the line on one of Tom’s many multi-point riggings. He expects many years of service from the Superwinch Talon based on other Superwinch recovery winches he has used in the past.
Rokmen Off Road
Badlands Off-Road Adventure, Inc
With over 40 years of off-road experience, Tom Severin operates under his business Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc. He is a certified professional 4WD Trainer by the International 4-Wheel Drive Trainers Association and a Wilderness First Responder (WFR). He is a member of the California Association of Four Wheel Drive Clubs (CA4WDC), United Four Wheel Drive Associations and the BlueRibbon Coalition. He also is a certified UFWDA and a CA4WDC 4WD instructor.