Nd4SpdSe 2001 Frontier turned Expedition Trailer - "The Frontrailer"

Nd4SpdSe Mar 17, 2015

  1. Prime

    Prime Some Kind of In Charge? Admin

    Messages:
    33,781
    Location:
    Suffolk, VA
    Man. You have the best adventures.

    And I agree. Having a dedicated camping trailer is the goal. Like you said, it makes it easy to just hitch up and go.
     
  2. Nd4SpdSe

    Nd4SpdSe First Fill-Up (of many)

    Messages:
    306
    Location:
    Quebec, QC
    Heh, thanks.

    I love the X. It's as much of a toy as it is a tool, a tool for life really, and you can do great things if you use it. It's got a great capacity, ability and capability to do many things and enrich one's life. Some people complain about the hobby about modifying vehicles as a waste of money and time, but there's many, many things that you can't put a price tag on. It's stuff like experience and experiences that make it all worth while. The stuff we learn, places we see, the people we meet along the way and thereafter the stories we have to tell.
     
  3. Nd4SpdSe

    Nd4SpdSe First Fill-Up (of many)

    Messages:
    306
    Location:
    Quebec, QC
    For those that see them posted on the Facebook Xterra groups, Manny has been making up illustrations of members trucks in his spare time. I asked him to do mine, and he was more then willing to, admitting he wanted to before I asked him.

    [​IMG]

    I think they turned out absolutely great! If anyone wants any Frontrailer paraphernalia, or from other members trucks, you can check out his shop, and probably easily contact him to get him to make you stuff of your own.

    https://www.teepublic.com/t-shirt/2536732-2003-nissan-xterra

    Also, a few new things have arrived!

    A great find thanks to my good friend Fred. A Xantrex 2000w pure sine wave inverter. I know it's been part of my plans for this trailer, but hasn't been a priority. I was thinking about the Canadian Tire 1000w model for the price (when it comes on sale) thinking that it'll be handy, but I don't want or need a large amount of AC power, nor want to include many systems that depend on it. I did want to go the pure sine wave route for it's efficiency, especially the trailer being more dependent on battery power and slower recharge capability. But $200 for a lightly used (about 6 months) Xantrex is a steal when they sell for about the C$600+ range. It's not the most robust version for cold under freezing and humidity, but I'll just be smarter on the installation. I don't see myself really needing this in the winter, and more for extra functionality in the summer, which will be why I'll be connected to the same battery as the Webasto. Besides, if I need something, I do have the 1500w modified sine wave in the Xterra that does that job just fine. To be honest, I have no clue when I will be installing it, and exactly where and how, but it's no rush, and I'll let it simmer and figure it out.



    [​IMG]



    The piece I was most anxious to get was my Dexter 1000psi electric-hydraulic brake actuator. I know the trailer is illegally heavy for the truck without brakes. It does tow and brake fine, and I would just call it fine. This piece is the last of the "big 3" pieces, the more expensive parts of the trailer build. First being the awning, and the second being the Webasto. Ordered it from the USA and picked it up across the border. It cost me about half the price then buying it locally in Canada. It cost me about C$680 while everyone locally wants C$1100+, with tax puts it over C$1200. Amazon Canada they have it for C$999. Huge difference. I'll still need to get a brake controller, and I'll redo the entire brakes on the axle, including the cylinders since they've never been used in the last 3 years of my ownership, and the truck sat for a year prior to that, I'll do it some good to do a proper refresh so that it's not for nothing. I'll still need a brake controller, and that Redarc Tow-Pro Elite looks like the perfect option for use and install. I'd like winter to get the heck out of here ASAP so that I can pull the trailer into the back yard and spending some nice time outside in the sun and making up the braking system. I'd like to get this up and running for an overland meet in Quebec the weekend of 15-17 of June since it may have to do some real off-roading, depending on what they decide. I still have like 3 feet of snow in my back yard, urgh...


    [​IMG]
     

    Attached Files:

  4. Nd4SpdSe

    Nd4SpdSe First Fill-Up (of many)

    Messages:
    306
    Location:
    Quebec, QC
    I also got the next big piece for getting functional brakes on the trailer, is to actually have a way to control them. I've been thinking about installing a brake controller in the Xterra almost since the start, but not only did I have no need, but I couldn't really decide on where to install it without being in the way. It's been more on my mind since I started the trailer project, knowing I had plans for brakes eventually. She toes it well, but illegally overweight for not having brakes, and the braking could be better for panic stops. Although I still hadn't figured out where to install one that my knee wouldn't hit it, or get in the way of my center cubby storage since I do find it handy, especially since I did install a deeper version from a Frontier since removing the OEM Rockford-Fosgate amp that was behind it when I upgraded the stereo.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    First day of the year in shorts! While we did host a mother's day lunch for the girlfriend's family, I did get some time in the afternoon to start prepping to get some work done before truly starting the seasons. Weather is on the up and time to take advantage of it!

    [​IMG]

    The reason why I went with the Dexter was the size and shape. It gave me the best mounting options for my setup, and so far, everything is going exactly as planned. It fits nicely underneath the floor for the tongue storage tray.

    [​IMG]

    Test fitting the brake actuator. I was thinking that the best place to mount it was going to be here, but I wasn't sure how it was going to work out. Ironically and gladly, it fits perfectly! This is a tray I had made to mount and secure a single battery when I had first started this project. I had left it there after making a proper battery tray and moving them up towards the front, thinking there was no real reason to remove it until I had to. Well it couldn't of worked out better with only a small modification to cut away a small piece just to clear the hydraulic line fitting.

    [​IMG]

    Picked up most of the braking components. Drums, pads, spring kit, cylinders and the line with a few fittings. I'm still missing the flex line and associated fittings, but should come in within the next day or two.

    [​IMG]

    First time the wheels have been taken off in a few years. Time to get this started.

    [​IMG]

    What was left of the original braking system. Wasn't sure how I was going to go about doing this when I had planned for this build, but left it in case. Now, it'll all going to get removed, brackets and all. Time to start anew.

    [​IMG]

    I have no idea what's the state of the brakes, and they haven't been used in over 4 years. I've had it for over 3, and the truck sat for a year prior.

    [​IMG]

    Brakes were about half way worn. Seems to of have no leaks, but the parking brake system (which is totally different them from the Xterra) is completely jammed. The whole system does look old like it sat, not surprised

    [​IMG]

    Everything removed. Bolt from the brake cylinders snapped of course, all of them. Will be giving it a quick clean up with the wire brush. I don't want to jinx myself and spend too much time on cleaning it up and painting it until I have it all working and am happy with the system. I'll give it and the axle a whole bunch of TLC one day. Probably the day I work on the suspension and will have the axle completely unbolted at that point.

    [​IMG]

    A whole new kit installed, on both sides of course. I removed the parking brake hardware, but will be keeping it in case. I'm undecided if I use the hydraulic system for the parking brake, or rebuild the cable system.

    [​IMG]

    Tension adjusted and the drum installed. I'm not a fan of the color, looks more green in person. I'll have to clean those up and give it a coat of black caliper paint.

    [​IMG]

    Time to work on the hard lines. Here's the original one, the shorter section runs to the passenger side

    [​IMG]

    I'll be centering the brake distribution block, so each side is equal length. It makes it easier to mount and install, and I don't need as long for the flex line. I'm not sure if there's a difference and having it center will reduce any natural biasness from one side to the other, but it definitely won't hurt.

    [​IMG]

    It's been about 3-4 years since I first and last touched hydraulic lines. I redid the clutch line for the Xterra those years ago. The first took me a while to figure it out. The other (drivers) side was much quicker.

    [​IMG]

    And the lines connected to the distribution block, which is part of the flex line. It's an aftermarket replacement for the OEM Frontier brake flex line. I used a nut to use as a spacer to raise it to clear the top of the diff. I'm not a fan if doing that, looks half-assed, but again, I want to make sure it all works before getting into the finer details.

    [​IMG]

    The original line went in back of the diff, while I decided to run it so that it's not the furthest point to avoid any rubbing, like on the spare tire. I may redo them to follow more of the curve of the diff, but again with little experience, I want to make sure it works and especially, that my flares don't leak.

    [​IMG]

    I also grinded away the clearance necessary for the hydraulic output of the brake actuator, cleaned it up with a wire brush and primed and repainted it.

    [​IMG]

    I finished up the hydraulics Monday like I wanted to. You may excuse the odd loop. I decided to run the main line inside the tubing with the wiring to protect it, but was worried that if I was to have a leak, that the fluid would follow the line, so I made a "drip loop" in case. There's nothing to say I can't do back and redo the line, and it may be here where I would "T" into for a hydraulic hand brake. I honestly don't know if this is possible. With the information that I can find on hydraulic parking brakes, they either have their own reservoir and people use install a second set of calipers (largely referring to drift cars), or there are versions that let the fluid pass through when not in use. The issue I have with this is the brake line I would have to run up to the tongue and back. Maybe I'll rebuild the cable parking brake setup, but I'll let this idea simmer for a while in the meantime. Fortunately all went well and I was surprised to of only had one leak where the hardline joined to the flex line. Despite trying a few tricks to fix it, I ended up having to chop off my flare and do it again from scratch. It's probably from working underneath upside down. Once that was redone and tightened down, all was good. My girlfriend ran the pump to help me bleed the system and all seems good so far. I'm actually really anxious to try this out, really see what it's like to tow the trailer that can brake. but the next step is to get the controller installed in the Xterra.

    [​IMG]

    And yesterday evening I worked and completed all the wiring. Was hot but a bit windy. It's not going to be nice the next few days to decided to use this day to finish this up. Picked up the wiring I needed after work from my local trailer supply shop and got to work. The E/H actuator uses standard trailer wiring colors, which pisses me off cause I hate using black for power. It wanted power directly from the vehicle source. White is connected to ground. Blue of course went up the harness to the 7 pin trailer connector that will get feed from the brake controller. I also had another 7 pin connector on hand, so I replaced it. The old one was showing some signs of corrosion on the pins, so I figured it was a good time to swap it out to ensure a good clean connection, and I also did a much better job at sealing up the wire end and retaped up the wire loom.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Yellow is for the breakaway switch, so I ran a pair of yellows up to the tongue to the switch. From there, one was connected to the yellow on the E/H actuator dedicated to the breakaway function, and the other was connected directly to one of my batteries. Specs lists a battery of a minimum of 9Ah, so my car battery will more then suffice. I may work a system in the future to use power from both batteries as an extra redundancy, but that'll be when I do a total reorganization of the electrical system. This is all designed to be expandable and reliable, but it's not the permanent setup since I'm still making it up as I go along.
     
  5. Prime

    Prime Some Kind of In Charge? Admin

    Messages:
    33,781
    Location:
    Suffolk, VA
    I hate you. I love your build. But I hate you. You're building my dream trailer. If I can ever get a front end wrecked 2nd gen Fronty, I'm doing all of this.
     
  6. kirk

    kirk I once rented two prostitutes at the same time Supporting Member

    Messages:
    15,049
    Location:
    Allen, Texas
    Man thats fantastic. I get happy every time I open this thread. Like he said, you have the best adventures.
     
  7. kirk

    kirk I once rented two prostitutes at the same time Supporting Member

    Messages:
    15,049
    Location:
    Allen, Texas
    Also, thank you for all those pics that allow me to live vicariously through you. Fantastic.
     
  8. Nd4SpdSe

    Nd4SpdSe First Fill-Up (of many)

    Messages:
    306
    Location:
    Quebec, QC
    With the brakes technically done, it was time to get some work done on the truck. I was working pretty crazy (as always) for about 2 weeks trying to finish up the truck while working on a haunted maze for our gang of the haunted house for family-friendly event. I reinstalled the roof rack with the newly installed rear light bar and signal bar, installed the Red Arc Tow-Pro Elite brake controller and new connector on the truck side. The event was great exposure for us, but it took up 2 weekends of my time; one for prep, the other for the setup and the event. We were suppose to have 2 days to setup, but because the city screwed up with not finishing the road, one entrance was blocked off and the fire department forbid us from using the school gym they were setup at. They paid for a tent, but setting that up took up a day, so we only had 1 day to setup this all up. We finished around 2am, went to bed around 3am, and was up bright and early at 7 to be there to finish up and open for 9:30am. We rested up Saturday night. The event finished at 4 Sunday, but EVERYTHING has to be taken down and removed from the tent that night. We finished after midnight, so we'll say that Monday, I didn't have the energy to work on anything.

    I'll just glance over it, but I had started a project to convert the truck over to an electric power steering pump back in late 2016 but ran out of time, and 2017 was a write off for any projects, and I made it my priority to get that done this year. I had a two week window to sort out the new belt and pulley to bypass the old pump (shares the belt with the water pump and radiator fan) and extend the hoses. The hose being actually the hardest part. I did get it completed and so far it's working quite well. More information on the conversion can be had here:
    https://www.xterranation.org/index.php?posts/461059/

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    From there, I managed to score a set of Pathfinder manual locking hubs for a great price. It coincided well with the upcoming overland event, and figured it would work out better then the auto hubs if I have issues getting stuck with the trailer. They didn't come with the studs, but I picked up (shorter) bolts instead. Oddly the ones designed for the Xterra are longer, and thus stick out more and tent to get damaged by rocks and such unless your running offset rims. I have no clue why they made more then one version since they're very much compatible, and plus shallower.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I drove the truck to work the next day. Leaving in two days, I wanted to make sure everything is OK and not find this out on the trail.. I took Friday off to get a bunch of last minute stuff done, including getting the skid plates from the mother-in-laws garage and install them. A last minute modification to the trailer was to install a water pump. A few weeks ago, a good friend of mine wanted to borrow my Martin hot water heater for a weekend at his new cottage. Well I'm sure you know where this is going and indeed, the pump came back broken. Apparently still somewhat functional, but broken. Well the day before we were leaving, my girlfriend asked if I was bringing the shower kit. I guess I forgot to mention it and she wasn't impressed. She hates it when we/I lend out stuff cause it never comes back in the shape it left. In the what, 3 years I've had this heater, I lent it out once. It's frustrating. She really wanted the shower for "feminine hygiene" reasons. While it was always part of the plan, I guess this would be a variant of a "forced upgrade". So part of my errands of Friday was to purchase and install a new water pump. I'll deal with cleaning it up when I replace the hot water heater with an Eccotemp L5. This will do for now.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And around 9pm, we were ready to head off. I stopped off at the gas station to fill up the Xterra, fill up the tank in the Frontrailer, and also the 20L jerry can. The water tank was full plus another 20L, and I also had a bit of wood. After a little over 3 years of work, this will be the trailer's first real test. It's the first time it'll be used in the environment for what it was designed for, and will full weight. I'm both excited to finally get back out on the trails, get out camping for the first time this year, but also nervous. I'll find out if my design and setup actually works as I had planned and hoped it would.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
  9. Nd4SpdSe

    Nd4SpdSe First Fill-Up (of many)

    Messages:
    306
    Location:
    Quebec, QC
    Fortunately it was a little over an hour away for us, so it wasn't too bad for the fact that we left late and would get a good night sleep. Oddly, in almost 10 years, this is the first time that I'm camping and that I'm not the only person using a roof top tent.

    [​IMG]

    We didn't pack the warm sheets, but I didn't think we would need to for mid-June, but by 5am, I had to pee, and it was chilly and the tent was filled with condensation. While up doing my business, I figured this would be a good time to hook up the heater, considering it takes less time to setup then it was to actually pee. Would give a little warmth and especially to dry up the inside of the tent before packing up.

    We were 35 vehicles in all in all different overland configurations. We all met up for a briefing of the events of the weekend and explained the two trail options. Not knowing what to expect nor the limits of the trail, I was planning on following the main group on the easy but long trail since this was essentially the inaugural overland trail run for the trailer. After chatting with a few people, they said that the hard trail wasn't bad and it was just the beginning obstacle. With that, I thought, what the hell, let’s make this fun! Trial by fire! This would especially be interesting since the trailer is in fill overland mode, meaning that the fuel tank is full as well as the water tank, minus what we used for dishes the night before, but we also had a 20L jerry of fuel and a 20L jerry can of water as well. It’ll be essentially in full weight, somewhere around 2800lbs would be my solid guess, but it could be more.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We had stopped on the road with some people going straight, and some people going on a trail to the left. I asked what was happening and this is where the group split for the different runs; left is hard and straight is easy. After chatting with a few people, they said that the hard trail wasn't bad and it was just the beginning obstacle. With that, I thought, what the hell, lets make this fun! I could of sworn in the info and briefing that we all were going to fuel up on the way out, but this wasn't the case and only as few people did. I didn't was to lose the group nor my friends and kept with the pack. At the stop I took advantage of the time to air down using the speed bleeders and added a 1/4 tank of fuel from the main tank in the trailer.

    [​IMG]

    And off to start the day!

    [​IMG]

    The first obstacle was the trail entrance. It was tight and we needed to turn. Most needed some help, a few trucks made it look easy (helps if you have a heavy foot) like my friend in his Tacoma, or the guy in the Tundra. The stock Tacoma and 4Runner had a particularly tough time here, but would be their story from the start to the end of the that section of the trail. It would of been a fairly easy obstable for me as well but I got caught up on my driver’s side leaf spring hanger and needed a slight tug off the rock. The trailer followed with no issues and took a line to compensate from the start. From the video, it looks like it squeezed by.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Mud was my enemy on this trip, as was most us of. I could get anywhere if I had traction, but if I had to paddle through, the trailer would be an anchor. They said when they scouted the trail a few days ago there was only one, but there was several to contend with and I needed a tug a few times throughout the day on this section.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Nd4SpdSe

    Nd4SpdSe First Fill-Up (of many)

    Messages:
    306
    Location:
    Quebec, QC
    I was starting to get frustrated since I hate having to ask for help, and took a few bypasses around some of the mud holes where I could. The stockers in the back where complaining that we were tearing up the trail by the time they got though. They weren't wrong.

    [​IMG]

    The picture that follows was an interesting detour. By buddy in the red Taco was pulling people out and he was looking for a detour to get ahead and help out. He asked me to walk ahead to find him a clear path around. There was some parts that was grass/moss with mud hidden underneath so I was looking for a solid path for him. After getting him through, I thought about it for a bit and looked at the 3-4 sequential mud holes (where the Wrangler is pulling out the Cherokee in the pictures above) and wanted to avoid being a hassle for the others and decided to go for it, but was worried that I’d be on my own if I got stuck; the consequences of my own actions. I figured by now that all was going well as long as I had traction, so I’ll just follow the path I led my buddy on. It wasn’t as easy I thought out to be. It’s not easy to see the tracks of a single truck’s path. On the first start of the detour, I needed to go up a rock covered with grass, but I took it to the right where my buddy went up, but it wasn’t smooth like for him and with the running start I took (for the trailer) we jumped up and so did the trailer. That caught me off guard. From there the bypass went well, but there was a point I lost his track and went too much to the right where the truck leaned to the side from being on a slope and then girlfriend screamed. From that I totally lost track on where I wanted to go. I think it was the issue of me not going where she thought I was going to go. No choice, I had to keep going, but my girlfriend at this point wasn’t comfortable with it and for the first time ever, stepped out of the truck. She did record a bit (will be posted later) but the video doesn’t do it justice, but does it ever? I pointed the truck uphill and after a few attempts (losing a bit of traction from a rock) and repositioning, I got up and over and back down another hill and rejoined the trail. I was ecstatic, what a run, what a rush!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We all then rejoined back on the forest road.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The Cherokee did some trimming that day

    [​IMG]

    From there, we took some much lighter trails. From the pictures, it looks like this is where the easy group passed by in their part of the trip. We stopped for a late lunch, waited for the easy group to join us (they took a detour and went to a lake) and eventually we headed off to the spot planned for the group to camp for the night.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We didn’t want to open the awning, so we tried to make a make shift shower under the tent with a tarp. My RTT doesn’t have an annex. I don’t remember them existing back 10 years ago, but I didn’t know all that well about them back then either. I’m always torn about getting one or not, but maybe one day I’ll add one.

    [​IMG]

    And cooking up some steaks for supper. A well-deserved meal.

    [​IMG]

    And a fire. I wanted to stay up late, but it’s been a rough few weeks. My body wasn’t having any of it, especially when you’re sitting and relaxing, so I and decided to shower and rest up.

    [​IMG]

    The next morning people were slowly making their way out. Some having longer distances then others. I followed some Land Rovers until we split leaving the park and jumped on the highway to head home.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I left I had over a quarter of a tank left I think, and decided to stop off the highway eventually, and fuel and air back up. I wasn’t really worried, I was going to use the fuel in the tank of the trailer anyway. I’ve already paid for it and I don’t want it to get old and go to waste. I spotted a good exit to stop and just as we hit the ramp, the fuel light came on. We stopped at a gas station for the air pump to save time, and transferred the fuel while we were doing that

    [​IMG]

    I forgot about thinking to time the fuel up, but we figured from the messages my girlfriend sent when we stopped, took less than 15 minutes, which is much better then the 40 minutes that I calculated with the water bottle test I did earlier this year. I need to revisit that test. What I found interesting that despite that I put in a “1/4” tank of fuel, I still managed to go from the fuel light on to touching the fuel line in what was left in the tank before the it started to sputter. I of course don’t want to burn out the fuel pump.

    [​IMG]

    And a stop for ice cream before arriving back home

    [​IMG]

    In the end, it was an amazing weekend. I couldn't be happier with how the truck and trailer performed. I didn't feel the trailer other then in accelerating and when I got stuck in the mud. It just did it's own thing and followed without and complaints and never hindered any obstacles. It never jostled the truck which I would like to attribute to the off-road coupler and the soft and long truck suspension absorbing the bumps. The only thing is that the truck is missing just a bit of power under 1000rpms to get going. Gearing would help and maybe even going with a smaller S/C pulley might make up the difference. I was happy that nothing broke, especially on the trailer. I was put through it's paces and took it like a champ. The weight had me worried. It's a common concern that's been pointed out since I started the build. Considering it's weight, I wasn't worse off compared to the FJ towing a lightweight military trailer, and still did much better then the stock trucks. In the end, I'm extremely pleased of the performance of the setup.
     
  11. Nd4SpdSe

    Nd4SpdSe First Fill-Up (of many)

    Messages:
    306
    Location:
    Quebec, QC
  12. BEEFY

    BEEFY Skid Plates

    Messages:
    1,284
    Location:
    Prince George, BC, Canada
    Looks like it was a great time. The trailer sure seams to work good.
     
  13. Prime

    Prime Some Kind of In Charge? Admin

    Messages:
    33,781
    Location:
    Suffolk, VA
    Looks like an awesome trip! Great to see your setup in action.
     
  14. Bushnut

    Bushnut Test Drive

    Messages:
    28
    Location:
    winnipeg
    what size were the bolts for the warn hubs? length and thread pitch?
     
  15. Nd4SpdSe

    Nd4SpdSe First Fill-Up (of many)

    Messages:
    306
    Location:
    Quebec, QC
    I ended up cheating and got them from work, there the mechanic's shop are supplied by Fastenal. What I ended up doing is measuring how much the bolts stuck out of the bottom of the stock auto hub and compared that to the length I needed if inserted in the manual hubs since they obviously don't run the entire length of the hub. I had brought the bolt with me to compare size and pitch.
     

Share This Page