Replacing a Idler arm with a D21 Steering box

Silver dude Dec 19, 2017

  1. Silver dude

    Silver dude Sliders Founding Member

    Messages:
    922
    Location:
    machesney park IL
    Swapping the idler arm for the d21 steering box provides many advantages in the terms of strength and durability. The steering box is sealed with a oil bath, meanwhile the Idler arm is exposed and needs frequent greasing. The steering box is easily twice as strong both in weight and in design. Running a steering box avoids the need for a idler arm brace or costly bronze bushings.

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    Parts list:
    1990-1986.5 D21 Manual steering box. This item is typically found on Regular cab 2wd short box Hardboby pickup trucks. It needs to be this specific year range as all boxes newer than 1990 have a larger spline. The larger spline spaces the box 10mm further out than the current idler arm so it's not recommended. Using another Xterra box for example would offset the idler pivot 10mm further way from the frame. I'm unsure of the effects of such a swap. The 1990-1986.5 box power steering or manual is a replica of the Xterra idler arms geometry.

    1989-1986.5 D21 Pitman arm. This part needs to be off of a 4wd Hardbody or any Pathfinder with power steering. The arm for the 2wd manual box is shorter in length and will not work.

    Steering box bolts. When you pull the box save the bolts.

    Tools:
    Hack saw or Sawzall
    Welder or JB weld
    Sockets and wrench to take fasteners off I think 19mm and 27mm


    Start with your steering box.
    [​IMG]

    Put it in a vice and use a pipe wrench to remove the lock ring.
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    Use a punch and hammer to rotate the cover out.
    [​IMG]

    Inside you will find a worm drive and bearing.
    [​IMG]

    Lift all items out and discard.
    [​IMG]

    Then you can begin the reassembly. You have to plug the hole left in the box now that the shaft is gone. I removed the rubber seal dropped a fender washer in and filled it with welds. You could likely use JbWeld or other sealant. The box itself is not under pressure and the oil level is below the hole. Alternatively you could probably remove the rack gear by taking the balls out of the cages on the back and reinstalling just the worm shaft. Just make sure its not left open.
    [​IMG]

    After reassembling the box. Note the bolt holes. The two lowers are on the same plane while the two upper holes are at a slant angle. To mount this left side steering box on the right side, modifications to the mounts must be done to reverse the angle. Using a hack saw or sawzall you can slot the holes as shown to bolt up.
    [​IMG]

    Ready to install.
    [​IMG]
     
    Cptpackrat likes this.
  2. Cptpackrat

    Cptpackrat Bumpers Installed

    Messages:
    1,126
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    Gillette WY
    solid writeup, any final product pictures?
     
  3. Muadeeb

    Muadeeb Bastard Admin from Hell Admin

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    This should be required for beast mode. Good job
     
  4. Silver dude

    Silver dude Sliders Founding Member

    Messages:
    922
    Location:
    machesney park IL
    Thanks
     

    Attached Files:

    kirk likes this.
  5. Prime

    Prime Some Kind of In Charge? Admin Super Moderator

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    That's a glorious 1st gen mod. Nicely done!
     
  6. BEEFY

    BEEFY I Smile when Gasoline Can Freeze

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    Verry cool
     
  7. Edwin562

    Edwin562 Test Drive

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    Whittier,CA
    Nice write up. Just to get an idea, how much did it run you to get the parts at the junk yard? Is it possible that these parts can be ordered new say by a 3rd part such as LKQ? wondering since my local junk yards, all Nissan trucks/SUV are stripped within a day or 2 from the day it arrives, its ridiculous.
     
  8. Silver dude

    Silver dude Sliders Founding Member

    Messages:
    922
    Location:
    machesney park IL
    $32 for the steering box on ebay. $11 for the Pitman arm on Amazon warehouse deals. $18 for used bolts on eBay.

    All can be bought new or refurbished at auto-parts stores. Can be pricey though. I know the pitman arms average $100 the boxes $200-300.

    Search manual steering gear Nissan on ebay.

    I was hoping to find some at my Lkq but in the Midwest most of the 80's era trucks are already gone due to rust.

    I'd recommend car-part.com. They had a few in my area.
     

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