Project Ford E350 Tow Rig: Part 3 – Step into the light…
close up of end of light bar showing mounting bracket
This is the mounting bracket that comes with the Lit LED light bar.

It can be rotated slightly to adjust where the light gets thrown, but it needs to mount on a flat surface. The bumper on the van is definitely not flat, and where the old driving lights were would not work for mounting the light bar.

angled view of wide oval opening in front bumper
Fortunately, Ford gave us this nice large opening in the front bumper.

Yes, we would be blocking some airflow to the transmission cooler, but fortunately we have an awesome Edge Insight CTS2 dash to help us know when to take it easy!

tape measure and mounting bracket on pavement
The first step was to take a bunch of measurements of the space inside the bumper and of the brackets and of all the spare metal bits we had laying around to figure out how we would end up mounting the light bar.

We needed to get the mounts up off the inside of the bumper enough so that the light bar would sit centered in the hole and still offer some adjustment up or down depending on the light pattern. Granted, it wasn’t critically important because the light bar can only be used with the high beams (it’s not a fog lamp). But we wanted to light the road and not the engine bay, so we measured and mathed and thingsed and stuffed.

using a chop saw on a metal u bracket with sparks flying
My buddy Christian happened to have these metal channel bracket things sitting around.

They were just wide enough for the light bar mounting bracket to sit on and just tall enough to get the light assembly where we needed it. We chopped off some pieces.

metal u bracket in vise with hole being drilled into it with hand drill
Then we drilled holes to allow bolts to pass through the bracket and the bumper.


  1. Spray Boeshield in all freshly drilled holes for rust protection. It will save you a lot of frustration down the road.

    1. @DocWalt we had looked at that option. The bottom of the E350 bumper is not flat and also is not wide. It actually steps down to a lip which reduces the mounting area. If you look at the picture where the light bar is installed, you can just make out the nuts on the bottom side of the bumper. When it’s just the nuts under there, it’s not a problem. In order to install the entire light bar below the bumper and still have sufficient adjustability, we would’ve needed a more complex mount. Then you have the difficulty of dealing with the wiring having to get around the lip and so on and so forth.

      We also considered on top of the bumper where the old lights were. But, again, the lack of a flat surface would’ve made constructing the mounts more difficult.

      I agree that there is a definite airflow sacrifice here. In towing performance thus far we have not seen any issues with the transmission temps, and the light bar is more blocking airflow to the extra trans cooler than the radiator. The vans are not intercooled. Once the summer comes on and we make longer tows we’ll get a better idea as to whether or not it’s a problem. Fortunately it’s just four bolts to undo and one wiring connection and the light bar is removed if it turns out to be a problem.

      There’s also the roof 🙂

    2. Isn’t this a diesel? Can’t see how you would need that much cooling unless you were running it during the day in the middle of the desert.

      1. It is a diesel, but it’s used primarily for towing, so the transmission cooling is somewhat important. It does routinely get into the 90F range here in the South East, and there are a couple of decent mountain climbs depending on which direction you head (for example, Monteagle between Chattanooga and Nashville). That being said, I’d think that this is not going to make a meaningful difference in cooling. Fortunately I have the Edge CTS2 Insight display to tell me if something is wrong!

  2. Wow, the light output from the headlights looks great! Hopefully you got em aimed right 😉 Give that red wire +12v im guessing and you got yourself some cool DRL!

    1. @3phase_power – I actually didn’t hook up the DRL. I am not a huge fan of them and I would’ve had to hack up some wiring to get something to work. The van has enough of a hackjob of wiring going on, I don’t need to add to it 😉

  3. Oh wow! Eric, I think you’ve given me my next project for my E450 tow vehicle. Have you tried the 5 star tuning upgrade on your E350 that I did four years back (mine is gas). Long term analysis – I really like it! The mini LED project that I did was to change all of the E450 RV’s interior lights to LED – literally a night and day difference on brightness plus a huge saving on the duration of charge held by the RV cabin batteries. Plus I replaced my outside ‘porch’ light with two LEDs. I put one at the front and one at the back. Now if I need to do some night work on the car, I’ve got superb lighting.

      1. @Frank Ewald Which 5Star upgrade are you referring to? The Van is a weird 7.3 Powerstroke in that the ECU is different than the Ford trucks of the same years and some of the PIDs are different. This is why the Edge programmer (Evolution) version of the Insight wasn’t used — Edge claimed they couldn’t program the van. I do have a much older Edge tuner that came with the Van and I have supposedly programmed it for “towing” (Level 1) mode. I’m not entirely sure how much difference it made because I never really compared it back-to-back.

        As for the interior lights, I am definitely considering upgrading everything to LED. It is quite dark in there.

        As for back-up, well, you’ll have to wait and see! (pun intended)

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