Jwelch's 1st Gen Build Thread - That Escalated Quickly

Jwelch Feb 18, 2020

  1. Jwelch

    Jwelch Test Drive

    Messages:
    43
    Location:
    Michigan
    Current Point of Build
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    2002 Gen 1
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    j10 dana 44 with spartan locker and 4.88 gears SUA with OME 2.5 medium duty leafs with some leafs added/removed and a 5" shackle
    Stock rear h233b with 4.9 gears with a leaf added
    15X11 steel wheels with 4" of positive offset with weld on beadlocks
    35/12.50/R15 Milestar Patagoinia M/T's
    Custom front winch plate with 13,000lb x-bull synthetic line winch
    Custom Rear Bumper
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2020
    Fromfrontier2Xterra and TerryD like this.
  2. Jwelch

    Jwelch Test Drive

    Messages:
    43
    Location:
    Michigan
    I've decided to start a thread as im finally starting to work towards the goal of a capable rig. I first picked the Xterra up in Michigan in Nov 2017 for $3000 to replace my recently totaled 2002 Impala. The xterra was completely rust free had 160k on the clock and had 4.9's from the factory.

    Everything in red is just some basic failures I had, skip it if you only want to hear about building it

    The following summer was the first time I was able to wheel the x, at silver lake, and this was one hell of a break in for it. First due to the fact the previous owner, a college student who rarely to never drove, so the entire cat back part of the exhaust was rusted through due to the moisture in the system. So after making a few rounds and airing it out a few times the entire cat back exhaust fell off the hangers and snapped just behind the cat and fell of only being held in the by rear axle. So after going back to camp and pulling the exhaust off. We loaded her back up with 5 people and went back out. Just after cresting exit hill and turning towards the lake I realised the temperature gauge was pegged. So after letting it cool for a few minutes we popped the hood and instantly realized that the clutch fan was jammed up against the top of the shroud so after thinking the radiator support collapsed I realized that the driver side motor mount was ripped in half. These motor mounts are just studs that have rubber overmolded around them so the way it ripped it was almost like a ball and socket and the motor had shifted over to where the upper part of the mount was jammed off to the side of the lower mount. So rather than having to get flat towed out of the dunes, I let the motor cool down, started it up and neutral dropped it into reverse which shifted the entire motor over and allowed the clutch fan to operate. I then limpped it back to home. After acquiring a new motor mount I went about trying to figure out how to take it off only to realize that you have to drop the two two crossmembers that hold up the front differential to remove the motor mount. So rather than spend 6 hours to drop the crossmembers with the basic tools I had I took it into a shop to be replaced.

    After fixing all of this I drove it for the next two years with no issues. That is when I moved in 2018 to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan .The x did well on its first run with my local club, It did a stocker run with a few good rock faces and a couple mud holes without any struggles and only came back with a slightly bent running board

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    Through the spring of 2019 nothing changed on the X it was stock all year and didn't bring it on any runs beyond that run. However the next summer I got the itch to finally start upgrading the x. First I needed to get rid of the old almost bald all terrains and went with a set of 265/75/R16 Goodyear Wrangler DuraTracs which is about an inch taller of a tire than stock, and the largest that will fit without cutting fenders or a 2in body lift. Next I needed to figure out my Recovery situation as one of my biggest concerns is always getting stuck without another vehicle with me so I went ahead and bought a 13000Lb x-bull synthetic line winch. And after much searching for bumpers for the front of the X I decided it would be cheaper just to build a winch plate than to buy the cheapest winch bumper at $1000. So I took off the front bumper and busted off a m10-1.25 bolt in the frame rail in the process. I then did some cad(cardboard aided design) and figured out how I wanted the winch mount to look and then drew it up in inventor.
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    The plate is designed to not only bolt to the frame rails on either side it also it designed to be welded to a 1/4 wall rectangular tube that bolts in another two spots to the front of the frame rails for a total of 6 mounting bolts. So I had the designs laser cut out of 1/4 steel plate for $50 and after testing the fit of each plate I realized that I made the bolt holes for the winch slightly to small and also that I made the width of the plate about 1/4 to narrow. I made up that gap by taking two 6 inch sections of 1/4 inch angle iron welding it to the side plates and then the center two plates and burned that in. I then filled the remaining gap with 4-5 separate passes on either side. Next was to get out the snapped off bolt in the frame rail. After screwing around with it for an afternoon I ended up just drilling out the bolt and then re-tapping the hole. I then went and got 6 new series 8.8 bolts and some paint and primer. After giving the winch plate a good coat of paint and primer I very difficultly got the plate to slide back over the frame rails and fit the stock bumper over the winch plate threw the winch on and bolted her up.
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    The winch plate ends up looking pretty well hidden. So after pretensioning the line I went out for a run on some trails. This year I have brought the x on a few run's and have been doing quite a bit of wheeling beyond that. My first club run I ran the x on this year was ravines(self describing) and it showed how more than ever the x needed either some more flex or a locker as there were two spots that I need a small tug to get over. I finally decided to get a locker after I tried to go up the trail to the right of a large washout and was just spinning two wheels and even after using maxtrax and some momentum I almost made it but the lack of all the wheels spinning left me high and dry so after winching up the remainder of the hill I went home and ordered a Lunchbox locker for the front.
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    So this Weekend I finally got the locker in from australia and borrowed the garage at a buddy's garage and went ahead with the install(Prepare for typical wheeler ufckery). So in order to pull the carrier on the x you have to drop the whole pumpkin which requires 20 bolts which you can't fit any power tools on. So after a few hours of unbolting stuff my buddy helped me lower the differential out and get it up onto the bench. So then after removing the diff cover, and the carrier bearing caps the whole carrier magicly flew out and fell onto the floor. So after pulling the ring gear off of the carrier a allen wrench was used as a punch to punch the roll pin out (Not by my choice). Which promptly snapped off inside the carrier, after trying to punch the pin and allen key back the other way we went and got longer punches. Then trying to punch the pin and allen key out the other way we go that punch stuck in the carrier as well adding up to a pretty messed up carrier.
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    So we packed up for the night as we didn't have any other ideas, as well as two rally teams needed the garage later in the night for lspr.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2020
    TerryD likes this.
  3. Jwelch

    Jwelch Test Drive

    Messages:
    43
    Location:
    Michigan
    The next morning my buddy was able fix the problem he created by cutting down one of the punches and use it to press out the roll pin and stuck allen key and punch.
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    After that pulled the cross pin and spider gears and started to put the locker in.
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    After spending 10 minutes trying to get the locker to fit into the housing we took the advice of another write up where you have to grind down the passenger side stub shaft retainer nut 20 or 30 thou.
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    Once this was done the locker slid right into the carrier, put in the pins and springs and reassembled the pumpkin making sure to torque everything to spec and locktiting the ring gear. After that me and my buddy wrestled the diff back up into the x bolted everything up she was good to go. Today I went and ran a deep muddy trail(bypassing the deeper holes to prevent hydrolocking), the lokka performed flawlessly but really shows that x needs not only a rear locker but also a lot more flex.

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    So next is to either delete the rear sway bar or get disconnects, as well as figure out some sort of rock sliders and under body protection as at the current height the belly drags pretty often.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2020
    TerryD likes this.
  4. Jwelch

    Jwelch Test Drive

    Messages:
    43
    Location:
    Michigan
    This past weekend was another eventful weekend, friday I went and picked up 20 feet of 4' wide and 1/4' thick steel for $61 to start building a rear bumper as my current rear tow point is a hitch receiver which sits another 6 inches past the rear of the vehicle meaning anything larger than a slight incline I drag the rear of the x.

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    So friday night I pulled off the rear bumper and hitch and started to try and design and rear bumper and realized that I didn't have the time to finish a rear tow point by 10Am the next day for wheeling so they were bolted back on at the end of the night.

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    It was also discovered that the clunk in the front end that I thought was my skid plate rubbing on my sway bar is actually the steering idler arm flexing upward into the frame allowing 1-2 degrees of movement in the right hand wheel. I went and wheeled through ravine like this(As this clunk has been around since the first week I was back in the Upper Peninsula) but I have a new idler arm and an idler arm brace on the way to prevent this weak point on the x from being an issue again

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    But we did manage to remove the rear sway bar which did give a little bit better flex for the run through ravine on saturday as well as I removed the plastic mud flaps that catch on stuff.

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    Before(Fall 2018 pre any modification or Scratches)

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    After

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    Saturday after wheeling I got the bumper and hitch off again and starting to fab up a new rear bumper I got the pieces for the center section all cut up, with a clevis point on either side that will be bolted to the frame by 3 grade 8 bolts on either side. I am also going to chop up my hitch setup, once the center section of the bumper is welded together, to up the connection to the frame to 6 grade 8 bolts on either side for a total of 12 grade 8 bolts (There is no kill, like overkill) which means hopefully this is going to be the last rear bumper on the vehicle for the rest of its life.

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    Next weekend will be welding up the center section and start to design the corners as I did incur some trail damage (will add image in next week) where I came down on a root in the back left that dented the panel up a couple of inches. So the x is definitely going under the knife :chain: and going to chop about 6 - 10 inches up and then build that bumper to wrap around and be a sudo corner rock rail to prevent this from happening again. These are only sections of the body that come down past the frame to allow the plastic fender to be mounted so there shouldn't be much issue chopping it off.

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    The corners are going to be challenging to build as I want the bumper to follow the body line fairly closely (1/2' to allow for deflection bumper if I set the whole weight of the vehicle on it) so I might need to do some cad work to make it not look super wonky as well as figure out a spot to run a support from the ends of the wings of the bumper to the frame to help strengthen it. If anyone has any suggestions as to how to do this simply i'm open to them because at this point i'm looking at each corner weighing almost as much as the center section of the bumper.

    This is how the x sits as of today.

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  5. Jwelch

    Jwelch Test Drive

    Messages:
    43
    Location:
    Michigan
    It has been a little bit longer than I wanted it to be for the next update but here it is.

    The bumper was not finished in time for poker run due to my stupidity so I just threw the hitch back on and dragged the rear during poker run. Overall the X did great at poker run, it made it to every single card with little issue other than the top of the hill at card two which I needed to winch the last foot or two.

    Screengrab of the X with at wheel in the air:
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    The X did incur minor damage during poker run. While trying to reposition at the bottom of the entrance of a ravine, I fat footed the throttle and brake and crunched my driver side mirror.

    Nothing much else happened since poker run. So now I have some time over thanksgiving it was time to give the X a wash as it had three months of wheeling and driving worth of dirt and salt all over it. After two hours of power washing and scrubbing the X looked as good as the day I put UP pinstripes down both sides of it, with each scratch glistening in the sun :D :D . Now that the X was lookin all fancy I decided it was time to fix my mistake and get the bumper to fit correctly. So after about an hour with a grinder and a sledgehammer I managed to get the two mounting/d-ring plates off the rest of the bumper. After this I threw the two plates onto the frame-rails and mounted them up so that each d-ring hole sat at the same height from the ground, which I then ground the rest of the bumper to sit level and lower than before so that I have PLENTY of clearance rather than 1 micron :chain: . So now that that Is ready to be re-welded I still need to deal with the rust that is starting to form in the back left fender before it gets worse and also how I will mount the license plate on this new bumper without having it in a spot that will either block the tailgate or get bent up by the ground.
     
  6. Jwelch

    Jwelch Test Drive

    Messages:
    43
    Location:
    Michigan
    Thought I would do a short progress update as the progress is slow in nature. The bumper is FINALLY able to be mounted and have the tailgate closed. I spent about 4-5 hours last sunday(12/8) welding the bumper back up and adding the additional 6 mounting points to the bumper. So now with 6 mounting points being welded on and the other 6 on two plates that don't rely on my welding to support the d-ring tabs. So the frame SHOULD fail before the 12 1/2' grade 8 bolts or the bumper does. In other words if I am tearing the frame in half on a 4000lb vehicle something is terribly wrong.

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  7. Jwelch

    Jwelch Test Drive

    Messages:
    43
    Location:
    Michigan
    Here is a sneak peak at the Next step.

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  8. excuses4excursions

    excuses4excursions Test Drive

    Messages:
    16
    Location:
    Knoxville, TN
    Lovin the build and the work you're putting in! Looks like a lot of fun. The winch plate is the direction I'm thinking of going as well, cant swallow spending $1000 on just the front bumper when the vehicle itself costs barely double or triple that. Do you have any designs or measurements I can pass along to a local fabricator?
     
  9. BEEFY

    BEEFY I Smile when Gasoline Can Freeze

    Messages:
    2,881
    Location:
    Prince George, BC, Canada
    Nice looking build
     
  10. Jwelch

    Jwelch Test Drive

    Messages:
    43
    Location:
    Michigan
    @excuses4excursions Its been 8 or 9 months since I made the cad file, If I remember correctly the only thing that you will need to correct from the original design is that the winch plate and fair lead mount were too narrow by 1/4-1/2 inch so take new measurements for yourself from the outside of each of your frame rails to ensure that that width is correct. Also double check the hole diameters and positioning for your winch and fairlead. Otherwise here is a step file of the assembly!
     

    Attached Files:

  11. Jwelch

    Jwelch Test Drive

    Messages:
    43
    Location:
    Michigan
    So now after nearly 3000 miles of being on the road over the past two weeks I am back downstate. It has definitely been an interesting time with all this COVID-19 crap, but at least now I have time to work on the x. I want to throw a thanks to my buddy RJ for bringing down my bead locks and axle, saved me another trip up to the upper peninsula. So there is quite a list of things I want to get done before our clubs annual may run.

    On the X before may run
    _________________________

    -New Tie-rod ends
    -Heavy Duty Tie-rod adjusters
    -Lower ball Joints
    -Get rear bumper mounted
    -Chop the rear quarter panels
    -Mount Lights
    -Ham Radio Mount
    -Tire carrier of some sort

    Parts that need to be prepared for the SAS
    ________________________

    -Strip Down dana 44
    -Determine what needs to be replaced
    -Get Ring & Pinion
    -Get master rebuild kit
    -Replace all of the seals
    -Paint axle
    -Paint Rock rings for beadlocks


    So with all of this new time I have started to break down the axle. This will be photo heavy post a little light on the text.

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    First off I finally I cleaned up the bumper I made and painted it So now it is just figuring out the license plate situation

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    I heard about the stay at home order in michigan at 12 on monday and within 30 minutes I was on my way to pick up my beadlocks and my axle from RJ. Thanks again to RJ. Tuesday I unloaded the axle and started to tear apart the axle.

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    Got the axle up on jackstands to start pulling it apart

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    I decided to start pulling apart the driver side first as this hub didn't want to actuate. You might be able to spot one of the problems

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    Once I got the whole hub and what not apart I pulled the shaft and noticed that the previous owner went full bore on tacking the u-joint caps. I also noticed that the stub shaft retaining clip was just sitting in the hub.

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    So I took the hub apart and found that the chrome coating had degraded and the hub oxidized to a point that counter-bore is to big to properly actuate. So then I had find a new hub body and after reaching out to a few people and doing some research I found a set of some New old stock warn hubs for $80.

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    Today pulled apart the passenger side and cleaned up the rest of the hub parts from the driver side and found that this ring in the hub had cracked off. As well as I found that the passenger stub shaft retaining clip was missing entirely.

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    After I got both the shafts pulled I was able to pull the carrier and pinion out and able to see the damage of the pinion bearings going out.

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    The marks on the carrier from the pinion.

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    All of the damage on the ring gear.

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    Damage to the bearing race, but everything else seems to be in good order including the carrier bearings.

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    So all in all I have broken down the axle started some finishing touches on the center section of the bumper. As well as determined I need new locking hubs, all new seals for the hub assemblies. I'm hoping to start on some of the work on the X in the next few days. Hopefully I will be updating fairly often as I have quite a bit of time on my hands. I also went through and fixed all the massive images
     
  12. Jwelch

    Jwelch Test Drive

    Messages:
    43
    Location:
    Michigan
    Made some more progress on the X.

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    Finally got the bumper mounted yesterday, it really is crazy how much taller it makes it look from the back

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    This is the before picture from today's project.

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    Started off by taking off this vent for the cabin, I am going to have to figure out how to make up for this. As I will not have anywhere for pressure to go. If Anyone has any simple ideas I am all ears. Been thinking of integrating it into the back side.

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    Finished cutting for the passenger side, it really does make the X look so much more aggressive.

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    On the driver side when I made the initial cut I found that mud had been collecting here due to the rust hole.

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    Finished cut on the driver side

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    There was a surprising amount of scrap for just chopping the corners.

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    Good after photo of the cuts.

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    Got the new hubs in for the D44 really starting to make me itch for the swap.

    Over the next few days will be designing the wrap around for the rear bumper and start on the ifs upgrades for alumni run.
     
  13. xEndlessfight503x

    xEndlessfight503x Bought an X

    Messages:
    110
    Dang, you really are making progress quick. I look forward to seeing where this goes.
     
  14. 13ADVX

    13ADVX Bought an X

    Messages:
    151
    Location:
    PA
    moar! build threads like this make boredom more manageable.
     
    reaver likes this.
  15. Jwelch

    Jwelch Test Drive

    Messages:
    43
    Location:
    Michigan
    So it has been a lot longer than I wanted it to be since I last updated this but a lot has happened.

    So as I am getting closer and closer to getting the X SAS'd (Tomorrow I'm picking up the last piece before the resale value on the X disappears) so I started to take the front apart, about 3-4 weeks ago at this point, to not only stop the rust that has started on my winch mount but to allow start figuring out how the front leaf hangers are going to mount. Yes I did decide on leafs, this is mainly due to what I can responsibly send on the swap, as well as what tools I have access to at my house to properly build this suspension.
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    It seems like this plate is a great spot for mud to build up without easy access to the winch plate.
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    The bare front of the x
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    I spent some time doing some CAD(cardboard aided design) and came up with something that should sit almost at the same height with the frame rail and protect the body of the X
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    Another angle. I do plan on having a runner that shoots to the frame from the front end of the corner slider.
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    So jump forward a week or two and my ring and pinion showed up as well as the rebuild kit, and my parts from barnes to mount the suspension (which I will go over later in this post). Lets just say the lesson with setting up these gears was 1.I need an impact 2. Buy a bearing puller before you touch the carrier 2.5 Buy a press before you touch the carrier 3.Don't get mad at the carrier. So first off I tried to used the spacing that was in the axle before. Which in this case didn't even allow for the assembly to spin. So I first tried removing some pinion shims which gave this crappy pattern.
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    So I went to O'reilly's to rent a puller for the carrier and come to find out they don't rent bearing splitter pullers, or the proper clamshell type. The owner of this branch recommended to use a 3 jaw puller. Which was one of my first big mistakes, listening to someone at an auto parts store. So after trying to use that I snapped the bearing cage and the puller wouldn't bite anywhere else. At this point I was pretty pissed off which was a bit of a mistake because I ended up going to town on the bearings with a grinder, 30 minutes later I had gotten both of the bearings off.
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    So then I made some shim adjustments and installed my new bearings on by heating them up in the oven and then using my 9lb purse to press them on. The pattern still wasn't quite right though.
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    So I had to bite the bullet and buy a bearing splitter puller to properly take the bearings off without ruining them. I bought the harbor freight splitter kit, got home, neither of them fit. So the next day I went back and picked up the larger bearing splitter. Now the bearings only took a few minutes to take off, so obviously I spent 30+ hours doing that! :x
    After a few days of spending 3-4 hours on it a day I finally got the pattern right. I can't seem to find the photos, but the big chat approved.

    Next I repainted the winch plate and mounted it up. I think some tube will be attached to this in the near future? :D
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    Repainted the fairlead to hide the X-bull logo and mounted that and the winch back up.
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    Next I had to find a way to mount the license plate for a bit because my mom didn't enjoy being left without a street legal vehicle, so I was back to driving the X.
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    So back to what I got from barnes I got a set of 5/8" u bolts, 5 inch 3/8" thick shackles, shackle hangers, and spring hangers with a plate welded to the top to help mount it outboard of the frame(more on this in a bit) I also put a 220 outlet in my garage so the stick welder I have kicks ass now, Im using 7018 rod at about 120-125 amps and using plenty of passes.
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    I cleaned the axle and diff cover up and painted them, its starting to look like something!
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    This is the bracing I was talking about with the spring hangers. It is braced with all 1/4" plate and will be finished welded all the way around the mounting surface.
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    So for now this is all I have done for now, but tomorrow I am picking up a set of old man emu 2.5" lift medium duty yj leafs that are claimed to have only have 100 miles on them. We will see if they really are in that great of shape. So friday is now day zero for the SAS, the ifs should be cut out by the end of friday night. Saturday I am hoping to have the axle holding the weight of the vehicle and then sunday will be figuring out steering as well as what I need to get the brakes going. The goal is to be able to drive the X with the 44 under it by tuesday. Then at some point next week I will need to modify one of the transmission crossmembers to allow the front driveshaft to droop down without contacting the crossmember. I am hoping the drive shaft that is in the X, which surprisingly already has 4" of slip for some reason, will be able to work for at least alumni run after which I will most likely have a double cardigan joint added at the T-case to allow for full axle droop.
     
    Bklyn.X, reaver and xEndlessfight503x like this.
  16. xEndlessfight503x

    xEndlessfight503x Bought an X

    Messages:
    110
    Nice chunk of work, my man. I am stoked to see another X SAS’d. That axle turned out nice after paint
     
  17. reaver

    reaver First Fill-Up (of many)

    Messages:
    281
    Location:
    Caldwell, ID
    Nice man! Can't wait to see the finished product.
     
  18. Jwelch

    Jwelch Test Drive

    Messages:
    43
    Location:
    Michigan
    First off here is some before photos just showing the height before the swap and measurements to trim pieces to allow me to know the total lift at the end

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    April 24th: Cutting the ifs out took WAY longer than expected and I definitely wish I had something other than a 4 and 1/2" grinder to cut it out. A sawzall would have made this take 3-4 hours less time.
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    On either the 25th or the 26 I was able to test the leaf springs and learned they were too soft so at some point early the next week I picked up a few colorado leafs to add to the pack I had gotten. And at some point later in the week I went and got a set of xterra leafs to fix another great surprise I found cracked rear leafs!

    April 30th: Got the X sitting on its own weight in SOA and it sits way too high this is about 12 inches taller than stock height. Which for running my planned tire size of a 35 this would be way too high up.
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    It was the same day I realized that my duratracs and stock rims wouldn't work due to them contacting the high steer arm meaning I needed to get a set of tires for my bead locks quickly with alumni run quickly approaching
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    May 1st: I cut off the spring perches to convert it to spring under to fix the ride height
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    Because time was starting to get short to make a trip I had planned to my other residence I had to reinforce the perch I cut off rather than ordering a new one.
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    Finished axle with perches welded on as well as the new shock tabs to mount them on top of the axle to keep the out of harms way.
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    Removed the lokka from my old ifs diff to sell it. Still looked brand new.
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    May 4th Finished the spring perches
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    Cleaned the frame rail up to the level I needed to make it functional for my trip
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    Rear leafs installed with a new secondary leaf as mine had cracked and an extra leaf that is an xterra main leaf with the eyes cutoff
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    Removed the front driveshaft, this also illustrates why the transmission cross member needs to be modified,
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    Next got the differential side flange off the U-joint and spent some time working the slip part of the driveshaft to lube it up as it has sat at one length for the past 18 years. I also welded the draglink so the next day I could install it
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    May 5th: This is when things started to fall apart with two days left to make it on my trip to my second residence I was starting to worry about making it. So the tires had to come to finish it in time, they did thankfully so I ran out to the hardware to get 3 more bolts for my beadlocks and a few other things to help finish the X. Come to find out the set of tires I initially ordered still hadn't refunded me, and I had already ordered another set. Needless to say I can't afford $1400 worth of expenses at once. So I spent a lot of the rest of the night figuring out the refund and it turns out paypal is just slow even though it had been a week since the order was claimed to be refunded. After not really getting anywhere with that I mounted the tires on my beadlocks and I can definitely say I am happy with how they look, and can't wait to properly air down without worrying of slipping a bead.
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    Getting an idea at the final height
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    Between the last photo and this photo there was quite a lot of work I had to install the draglink which required removing the pitman arm and drilling it out for the tapered inserts for gm 1 ton tre's, but due to the refund snafu that parts still are not here to the time of this post. So I had to go to the store not only to get the socket to get the pitman arm off I also bought a pickle fork and pitman arm puller as they are fairly cheap and its nice to build out my tool portfolio a bit. Lets just say the nut was on the steering box just a little tight, like snap a 1/2" drive breaker bar tight. I had to go buy a 3/4" drive bar and use a 6' piece of tube to break it free, and it required a breaker bar the whole way to turn the nut off. Then I pulled the pitman arm off with the puller and decided to just drill the pitman arm out to a diameter just less than the greatest point of the taper to get me through the weekend. I then mounted up the steering and torqued down all of the U bolts to ensure that they were tight enough for a test drive. So after this I took it for a test drive, and man did it not got well the master cylinder doesn't flow enough fluid(Known issue when SAS'ing a gen 1 xterra) so the pedal goes almost to the flow before it is stiff. The steering was so loose and wandering that it is unsafe to drive quickly. I first found that the draglink was sloppy due to the lack of a proper taper, so in order to remedy this I shimmed the holes so the taper would keep the tre's from shifting in their holes. And then it was a bit better but still wandering a bit. Which after having someone else actuate the steering you can see the entire axle shift under the car. Which after looking at it made it seem like the shackle were too long allowing better leverage on the bushing. So I tried the middle hole on the shackles I have and the shackles inverted within 100' of my garage, even with a bump stop behind the shackle to prevent inversion. So when you are going at any sort of speed it requires a very large amount of steering input to actually get any output. This along with not having the front driveshaft in as well as not having the rear lifted yet is what made me decide to not go on my trip. So moving forward I am going to take a few leafs out of the front due to it riding very stiff, spend some time getting the spring retainers tight, and maybe move the shackle hanger to allow a shorter shackle to be run if the first two do not solve the issue.
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    So this is how it sits as off now you can see the lean in the photo.
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    I honestly am surprised at the width I thought it was going to be much wider but I am glad it's not, they are sticking just enough that I can still build fenders out to cover them.
    [​IMG]
     
  19. xEndlessfight503x

    xEndlessfight503x Bought an X

    Messages:
    110
    Looks killer, my man! Nice job. I think i missed it but what springs are you running in the front?


    I think you confirmed my suspicions in regards to having to go SUA to avoid the Grave digger lift.
     
  20. Jwelch

    Jwelch Test Drive

    Messages:
    43
    Location:
    Michigan
    I am running yj old man emu 2.5" lift springs with the smallest leaf removed, I then added a colorado secondary leaf and added spring clamps to the rear of the pack. For spring over you might be fine with the bonney kit, my shackles are 5" and the shackle hanger is welded under the frame. So with the kit sleeving the frame effectectivly raising the spring hanger and using a shorter shackle you might be fine, although you will still sit quite high. I have about 4.5" of suspension lift up front with spring under, the photo of spring over had 12 inches of suspension lift total. With a shorter shackle and a sleeved frame in spring over I could see you getting a minimum of about 6"-8' of suspension lift but also get heaps more travel overall.
     
    xEndlessfight503x likes this.
  21. Jwelch

    Jwelch Test Drive

    Messages:
    43
    Location:
    Michigan
    Things are starting to go right on the X. First off the steering issues are almost gone now, the first fix was finding out that the high steer arm was reamed out for the gm 1 ton drag link end not tie rod end(Same taper just deeper) so once I got a drag link end it not only solved the looseness in the drag link it also solved my issue of the drag link being slightly too short. Next I removed some leafs from the front pack due to it riding like a rock and being taller than I really wanted it to be. So I removed the smallest leaf in the OME pack and went down to only one of the colorado leafs, now it rides a lot better and sits at a more desirable height. Next I had to add a spring clamp at the back of the pack near the shackle due to the spring clamps on the pack already not doing enough to keep the leafs from acting independently. So now once I get a steering stabilizer, adjust the steering box, and change to a wider shackle hanger the steering will be better than factory.

    Tuesday I was wondering just how much flex I can really get out of the X now, so I jacked up the front tire.
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    The other side jacked up
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    So I am not actually running out of flex just stuffing the rear tires, so the plan has always been to lift the rear another 2" to restore the factory 1" forward rake. This should give me a bit more flex out back.
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    Wednesday I picked everything up to try and get 4wd. The first big hurdle is to get the transmission crossmember cut and hooped to allow the driveshaft too droop. A week or so ago I made an attempt at it but realized I didn't have the right steel on hand and put it off. I had previously welded a 1 3/4" square tube in the shape I needed the hoop to be and I went off of that. I took 1/4" thick and 1 3/4" wide bar stock and braced both sides and finished welded the whole outside of the hoop. I then cut the cross member and installed it to test the clearance on the driveshaft. This is the point I got to before I had to call it a night to be able to drive it too work in the morning. In the next few days I will add some more bar stock to make the crossmember look a bit less hacked. The driveshaft will have to be extended to about 2-3" to get it in the correct spot in the range of slip as right now it is almost at full extension at ride height.
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    Overall the build is finally starting to come together, after a bit of trimming right behind the front tires to allow full steering lock, and extending the front driveshaft the X will be fully operational.

    This is the Next Project list, in no particular order, going forward to get it ready for fall wheeling.
    _____________________________________________________________

    Cut off Shackle hangers
    Weld wider Shackle hangers back on
    Extend Rear Shackles
    Install extended rear brake line
    Extend drive shaft
    Trim front fenders
    Cut and weld Bumper mounts to fit stock bumper
    Trim front bumper and Install
    Rivet on rear quarter panels
    Break down old hub assemblies
    Build Tire carrier
    Build wrap around for rear bumper
    Build Rock Sliders
    Fix Exhaust leak
    Install steering stabilizer
    Rebuild Steering Box
    Build splash guard for engine bay
    Install fog lights
    Onboard Air
    Fix AC
    Bigger Master Cylinder (Possibly Rear disc conversion?)
     
  22. xEndlessfight503x

    xEndlessfight503x Bought an X

    Messages:
    110
    Looking good! I plan on running the 98 dodge 1500 master cylinder. I found some info here on XN that showed it to be a plug-in-play operation minus changing out the flare nuts.
     
  23. BEEFY

    BEEFY I Smile when Gasoline Can Freeze

    Messages:
    2,881
    Location:
    Prince George, BC, Canada
    I did the dodge on 1500 master on mine. Was easy to swap and works well.
     
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  24. xEndlessfight503x

    xEndlessfight503x Bought an X

    Messages:
    110
    Excellent. Did you use adapters or did you change over the fittings into the booster?
     
  25. BEEFY

    BEEFY I Smile when Gasoline Can Freeze

    Messages:
    2,881
    Location:
    Prince George, BC, Canada
    I cut the old flares off. Put on the correct thread fittings and then re flared the lines.
     
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  26. Jwelch

    Jwelch Test Drive

    Messages:
    43
    Location:
    Michigan
    So lets just say I haven't got more than a week without wrenching on the X since the last update, from the outside it looks the exact same but the driveability and reliability as a rig have been refined.

    Completed items on List
    __________________________
    Extend Rear Shackles
    Build t-case flange to old sae flange adapter
    Trim front fenders
    Cut and weld Bumper mounts to fit stock bumper
    Trim front bumper and Install
    Fix Exhaust leak
    Install steering stabilizer
    Fix AC
    Bigger Master Cylinder out of 99 ram 1500
    Fix the shaking while driving 62-75mph
    Rebuild front spring hangers
    Build shorter Shackles for front
    Front Bump stops
    Reseat beadlocks and add more balancing beads
    Build new front driveshaft out of Xj driveshaft extend and add old sae flange

    Plan to complete tomorrow(Definitely not getting completely done)
    ______________________________
    Build new shock towers and install new shocks
    Disassemble Double cardan joint and clearance flange and h yoke to allow more operating angle
    Repack front axle bearings
    Remove passenger side valve cover and determine what is needed to get rid of the horrible lifter tick that sounds like a rock bouncing around in the cylinder
    Order rear axle shims to correct pinion angle compared to T-case
    Clean up frame rails from the initial crappy job when rushing the SAS
    Install extended rear brake line for the additional travel from the longer shocks
    Extend rear Bump Stops
    Trim front fenders more


    Right at the end of may I headed up north with a less than ideally setup vehicle and learned a lot, the stock front driveshaft was not only too short but did not have enough angle to even get close to full flex without binding. Also I do not recommend driving 8 hours with 3 shocks unbalanced tires and basically straight piped.

    I have spent the summer just trying to dial in the X as a vehicle that is not only good off road but also comfortable to drive up to houghton. The X is finally almost there just today I finally got the right amount of balance beads in all the tires and it rides fairly smooth other than the underdampened axles. A Lot of the play in the front end has been taken up by lowering the front leaf hangers and running shorter shackles which was compounded by the steering stabilizer making it a very controllable for a first time SAS leaf sprung vehicle. Last week I finally got my exhaust taken care of after a year of ruining my hearing I had a shop install a new Y pipe and flowmaster super 44 that dumps at the axle. The only part of the exhaust that I had to do was to cut off the secondary cat on the driver side as my front driveshaft would contact the cat whenever I hit a bump so a sawzall and flex pipe fixed that. The brake issue was solved with a 99 ram 1500 master cylinder that pushes more fluid allowing my foot to not go straight to the floor when I want to stop at all. The front driveshaft scenario was finally almost solved by using a xj front driveshaft with a old SAE Double cardan flange that was then shortened. Then I had to build an adapter from the nissan T-case flange to the old SAE flange which is the closest 1310 Double cardan joint flange to the nissan flange. The rear shackles are something that allowed me to get close to level and are 1/4" plate that still need to be cross braced. At silver lake I snapped a rear leaf due to me not extending my bump stops like an idiot so that was replaced last week this definitely has me looking into doing a short are wishbone 3 link in the rear. I'm going to do a photo dump in no particular order. The busted spider gears are from my buddies 06 frontier after beating on it at silver lake for 4 years. We had to pull the axle shafts to pull the carrier out and remove the spider gear and ring just to get him home, I think he is still driving around in just front wheel drive after about a month, I think he just got an axle today to replace it.



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    It's been a lot of work to get to the point it is and it is finally getting to the point that I feel it is almost presentable and driveable, almost. Im hoping to start posting regularly again now that im to a point that i'm not only wrenching on the X.
     
  27. Jwelch

    Jwelch Test Drive

    Messages:
    43
    Location:
    Michigan
    Of the items on the list I only got a few done

    I build new shock towers and mounted some longer travel and differently valved shocks for the front as well as looking into the mysterious rattling the was coming from the passenger side of the motor. I originally thought it was a stuck hydraulic lifter so I removed the lifters and cleaned them with some solvent and put it all back together to be met with the same sound. Which really could only mean one thing on the VG33E Timing Belt. After about 2 hours I got it stripped down enough to see the timing belt and sure enough it was extremely loose. I can't believe how lucky I got that it did no skip timing as I have driven probably near 2000 miles with this sound but it has just recently gotten much worse. So after running around and finding parts for a few hours I was able to get it all back together in about 4-5 hours, as I initially tried to keep the radiator in slowing my progress but found that It was much quicker without it. Now the X runs like and top and I can finally move onto better things than worrying about a random sound in the motor.

    Tomorrow I am hoping to get the new rear brake line and rear shocks on which should give me about 3 inches more of down travel.
     
  28. bottobro

    bottobro I'm a pretty girl! Supporting Member

    Messages:
    2,954
    Location:
    Long Island NY
    Looks good!
     
  29. reaver

    reaver First Fill-Up (of many)

    Messages:
    281
    Location:
    Caldwell, ID
    Man, this thing is fecking rad. I'm not gonna lie.....all these SAS'd first gens are making me question keeping the IFS (though for what I'm doing with it, IFS is more than sufficient).
     
  30. Jwelch

    Jwelch Test Drive

    Messages:
    43
    Location:
    Michigan
    This is going to be a photo dump more than anything, the X had had a lot of maintenance as it has been wheeled quite a few times since I last posted drummond island being one of the hard of them.
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    All of this wheeling has allowed me to find more faults with the build. The first being that I am going to move my tie rod down to my knuckles off of my high steer arms for two main reasons and one bonus one. The first being to allow more up travel as I currently run with 1.5" of bump before my tie rod would hit the oil pan. This also opens up room for me to fit a track bar to fix by steering angle issue. Whenever the hubs are locked in it halfs by steering angle due to my enormous scrub radius and the locker, so it push's the axle over rather than turning the tire the track bar will stop the steering from pushing the shackles over. The tie rod being lower also allows for much easier building of a hydro assist ram because I can run it in line with the axle tube. This will come in the next few months when I rebuild my steering box I will tap it for the hydro assist.Also thanks to one of my buddies lifting his JK I managed to get my hands on a set of 2 door Jk coil springs for free which might be making an appearance on the X this winter :eek: .
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2020
  31. reaver

    reaver First Fill-Up (of many)

    Messages:
    281
    Location:
    Caldwell, ID
    I frigging love your build man. I really don't need to sas my x, but seeing how yours looks makes me really want to.

    I do have a question though. I love your winch plate. How much coaxing would it take to have you make me one just like it, but with some shackle tabs on there?
     
  32. Jwelch

    Jwelch Test Drive

    Messages:
    43
    Location:
    Michigan

    At the moment I am not in the position to make more. First off with the SAS my winch plate got welded to the frame (Hoping to reverse this come winter so the possibility might go up) so that is stopping me from building another as I wouldn't be able to test fit it. Also where I am living currently steel and laser cutting services cost more than when I built it. So without doing any hard math I would be at about $200-$300 for a non welded winch plate kit to someones door (Factoring the cost of my time). At that point I would want to do a small run of them to try and keep costs down so I would need a few people wanting them.
     

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