Testing The Water For A Group Buy On Steering Kits.

xEndlessfight503x Feb 18, 2020

  1. xEndlessfight503x

    xEndlessfight503x Bought an X

    Messages:
    94
    Alright guys,

    As Total chaos and Calmini have dropped their steering systems and our steering systems aren't getting any better I am working with a Fabricator to get something similar to the Total chaos kit rolling. Is there any interest? It would be under the $1000 mark. What features would you guys like?

    So far:
    -Solid center link, no geo changes
    - Braced, double shear pitman and idler
    -Heim joint DOM tie rods, Maybe ball joints for the salty boys?
     
  2. TheCrabby1

    TheCrabby1 Sliders Supporting Member

    Messages:
    810
    Location:
    Burtonsville, Md
    You should research Calmini in this forum before you order ANYTHING from them. I wouldn't from what I've read. It's a shame cause some of their stuff looked good .
     
  3. xEndlessfight503x

    xEndlessfight503x Bought an X

    Messages:
    94

    Yeah, I have seen these issues, which is a big part of why I am looking to build some stuff instead
     
  4. Prime

    Prime Some Kind of In Charge? Admin Super Moderator

    Messages:
    38,455
    Location:
    Denver-ish
    This sounds awesome. If I was still 1st Gen I'd be all over it
     
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  5. xEndlessfight503x

    xEndlessfight503x Bought an X

    Messages:
    94
    Thanks, Prime.


    Someone has to do something now that all the big boys have moved on and the first gen is becoming more common to actually wheel hard
     
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  6. reaver

    reaver First Fill-Up (of many)

    Messages:
    225
    Location:
    Caldwell, ID
    I might be interested, depending on quality, and final cost.
     
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  7. paulforeman02

    paulforeman02 Test Drive

    Messages:
    20
    NOT necessarily suggesting you have to do something different, but have you read anything about the Grassroots4x4 center link upgrade?
    Here's my process. The one additional thing that could be done would be making an adjuster to fit 1-ton GM tie rod ends. Would require a 7-degree taper reamer to ream out center link and spindle.

    The OEM idler/pitman should be kept, because the aftermarket ones all suck (I've tried proforged, MOOG, etc), and bent them all. None of them are built nearly as well as the OEM ones.

    Anyways, this would be something you could put together as a bolt-on kit (minus the GM tie rods if you go th

    Steering Upgrades

    This post includes installation of the following:
    Background: The steering on the 1st gen Frontier and Xterra is a notorious weak point of the vehicle. The problem is that the drag link has a ball joint in it where it attaches to the pitman arm. This make the steering really smooth, but it allows the drag link to twist when it takes a side-load impact from the tires via the tie-rods. The tie rods force the drag link up and it rotates on the ball joint. The problem comes in on the other side. The drag link attaches to the idler arm via a ball STUD, so it doesn't twist relative to the idler arm that it is attached to. All the twisting force is thus translated through the drag link, directly into the steering idler arm, which bends it upwards. The tie rods then collided with the frame when steering back and forth since the idler arm has been bent upwards. This probably don't happen much on smooth roads unless you hit a curb, but while wheeling, side-loads on the tires happen quite often. Here are some pictures of the problem:

    Bent idler arm; again, note damage to frame above arm from tie rod end collision during steering.
    [​IMG]

    SO, not a great design overall. It's weak, and the aftermarket idler arms only make the problem worse. If you do ever need a new idler arm, I would stick to OEM only. They are much thicker and prohibit bending. My original OEM took me 2 years of wheeling to wear out, and it was the original one. I've done 4 aftermarket ones this last year alone.

    For quality/size comparison, see OEM on left, bent aftermarket on right.
    [​IMG]
    Grassroots4x4 drag link:

    So I got a new drag link. It looks like Bryan over at grassroots4x4 cuts the ball joint and ball stud off and replaces them with some sort of off-the-shelf bearing. Due to this, however, it requires that the user drill out the pitman arm and idler arm to a 5/8" straight hole instead of the tapered hole that accepts the factory drag link.
    [​IMG]
    Modified steering arms:
    I decided to machine out the idler and drag link to 3/4" and use a bronze 3/4"O.D., 5/8" I.D. bushing to reduce the hole. This is probably completely unnecessary, but I did it thinking that, on the off chance the hole in either of the arms wallows out over time, I can just replace the bronze bearing then instead of having to modify an additional steering arm.

    Machined the factory pitman and idler arms this way. Made the hole 0.753" diameter to accept the 0.750" O.D. bushing.
    [​IMG]
     
  8. paulforeman02

    paulforeman02 Test Drive

    Messages:
    20
    Using bearing retainer, I staked the bronze bushings into the arms and ground them flat on the ends. I did this for both the pitman and idler arms. This step probably isn't necessary. I probably should have just made the thru-hole the right size for simplicity, but I wanted to try out the bushing thing.
    [​IMG]

    Bandit4x4 Bronze Idler Arm Bushings
    These were really simple. Pushed the old delrin bushings out and pressed the new bronze bushings in. Bandit4x4 recommends Teflon-based grease for the idler install, which is what I used.
    4x4parts Idler Arm Brace:
    I've been running this brace for the last 2 and 1/2 years, but I kinda messed the old one up while attempting to modify it during this project to accept an experimental idler arm. So I just went ahead and ordered a new one. Brace and bronze bushings pictured here.
    [​IMG]
    Putting it all together:
    The Grassroots4x4 link uses grade 8, 5/8" bolts, as mentioned. Bryan at Grassroots4x4 drills holes in them to accept a cotter pin.
    [​IMG]

    I added some grease to everything to make it go together more smoothly. Additionally, I installed the heavy-duty tie rod adjusters from 4x4parts.com. Simply un-thread the old ones and threaded the new ones in. I forgot to get new left-hand nuts, so I'll put some new ones on later. The old ones work fine, I just wanted to use a higher grade nut instead.

    Modified pitman arm installed with Grassroots 4x4 Link.
    [​IMG]

    Idler-arm-side; idler arm brace, tie rod adjuster, Grassroots4x4 link, and Bandit4x4 bushings all visible.
    [​IMG]

    Conclusion:
    After about 2 months of driving around on the road, as well as beating on it while snow wheeling in some deep frozen ruts, I can tell the setup is much stronger. I went and played around on some rocks/snow/dirt this weekend and it was really solid. It's definitely less street-friendly, and the steering is a bit tight at first, due to the bearings in the drag link, but it has loosened up over the first bit of driving. A good alignment will help.
     
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  9. xEndlessfight503x

    xEndlessfight503x Bought an X

    Messages:
    94
    @paulforeman02

    Thank you for all the info but I dislike how the grassroots center link changes the geo of the steering, plus I'd like a full kit that is built to work together.



    That being said, there is still someone out there building steering kits so I will not be pursing this any further.
     
  10. paulforeman02

    paulforeman02 Test Drive

    Messages:
    20
    Nice. Who still makes a kit? I'd be interested in the case that I build another truck, or in case the grassroots link ever give me trouble.
     
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  11. xEndlessfight503x

    xEndlessfight503x Bought an X

    Messages:
    94
    I am trying to track down his info now, but it's Mark something and he is frequently in the 1st gen Xterra den group on facebook.
     
  12. wild.coast

    wild.coast Test Drive

    Messages:
    47
    Location:
    British Columbia, Canada
    Anyone has an OE idler arm for sale??

    Nissan stopped making the high quality ones, now they sell a cheaper version which is the same as the aftermarket cheap ones. Ugh.
     
  13. paulforeman02

    paulforeman02 Test Drive

    Messages:
    20
    Junkyards are probably going to be your best bet. I agree, the aftermarket ones are no good.

    FYI, I have the bandit4x4 bronze bushings in my idler arm and they are supposed to last longer than the delrin ones. Not sure if that's true, but you can always give it a try to make it more robust.
     
  14. wild.coast

    wild.coast Test Drive

    Messages:
    47
    Location:
    British Columbia, Canada
    My challenge is that I'm running the Total Chaos aftermarket steering with an aftermarket idler arm, which re-uses the Nissan idler arm bracket/pin. My pin is worn down, so I need to find an original Nissan replacement.

    Here is what I'm dealing with:
    [​IMG]
    Newer Nissan/Aftermarket arm on the left, you can see the pin is half as thick and they just use nylon bushings (that will wear out in months, ugh). On the right is the original idler arm bracket/pin (25.5mm diameter). My total chaos aftermarket idler arm below (red one). It uses teflon lined sleeves for the bushings:

    upload_2020-4-27_10-10-57.png
     
  15. HolyGhost

    HolyGhost Bought an X

    Messages:
    126
    When I get back in the shop I will check the donor X to see what size shaft it has on it. As far as I know it was never swaped the whole time I had the yellow X. Would you be willing to trade for the newer style? I would still need that X road worthy.
     
  16. wild.coast

    wild.coast Test Drive

    Messages:
    47
    Location:
    British Columbia, Canada
    Alright, update on this little saga of mine. Figured this might be useful for those who have the Total Chaos King Kong Steering system and also have a worn idler mounting pin...

    Looks like those TC teflon sleeves (i.e. bushings) are 1" ID... so odd considering they are sliding onto a Nissan part, which is metric! Anyway, had a machinist in town fabricate a 1" OD metal sleeve to slide over the newer style thin pin to step it up to the right size:


    [​IMG]
    He machined it to 1" OD, and it fit perfectly with the TC bushings; slid on smooth, nice and tight and no play, finally!!

    [​IMG]

    He just pressed it on and added Loctite just in case, no spot welds or anything. Nice simple job if you have the right machine tools or know someone who does.

    I'm still super puzzled by Nissan pins. I've talked to several folks who were certain they had the original Nissan idlers on their trucks and those had the thin 20mm pins... so I do wonder if my truck was modified somehow when the steering was installed? I didn't install it originally... Odd. Anyway, resolved now either way. Hello no-sloppy steering!
     
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  17. reaver

    reaver First Fill-Up (of many)

    Messages:
    225
    Location:
    Caldwell, ID
    Nice dude! I'm glad you got this resolved.
     

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