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

Jwelch Feb 18, 2020

  1. Jwelch

    Jwelch Test Drive

    Messages:
    14
    I have been lurking on Xterra Nation for some time now and decided it was finally time to copy my build thread onto here.

    Current Point of Build
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    2002 Gen 1
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    Factory 4.9 Gearing
    Front Lokka
    265/75/r16 Duratracs
    Custom front winch plate with 13,000lb x-bull synthetic line winch
    Custom front tow point
    Removed Side steps, Mud flaps, rear plastics
    Custom Rear Bumper (Wip)
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2020
    TerryD likes this.
  2. Jwelch

    Jwelch Test Drive

    Messages:
    14
    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:
    14
    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:
    14
    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:
    14
    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:
    14
    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:
    14
    Here is a sneak peak at the Next step.

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  8. excuses4excursions

    excuses4excursions Test Drive

    Messages:
    11
    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:
    2,677
    Location:
    Prince George, BC, Canada
    Nice looking build
     
  10. Jwelch

    Jwelch Test Drive

    Messages:
    14
    @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:
    14
    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
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    -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:
    14
    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:
    65
    Dang, you really are making progress quick. I look forward to seeing where this goes.
     
  14. 13ADVX

    13ADVX Bought an X

    Messages:
    106
    Location:
    PA
    moar! build threads like this make boredom more manageable.
     
    reaver likes this.

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