Babe the Blue Ox - Supercharged 2000 Frontier Build + Adventures

paulforeman

Member
Well... That's not great.

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310082

Got swiped on the bedside this evening while driving home. Truck is drive-able but the bed is probably not repairable. Insurance may want to total the truck out because the bed is 1 piece and replacing it may be more costly than the actual value of the value of the truck itself (very low, obviously, with 255,000 miles) but I will probably keep it and take a payout of some sort.

What will it be next then? Replace truck and swap parts over? Repair? Leave it like it is? Flatbed build? Only time will tell. It's frustrating but also maybe an opportunity to make this truck even more unique.

I've always wanted a green one, so if anyone knows of a 2000 to 2004 in decent shape and green, lemme know, haha.

Check back later for more!
Cheers.
 
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paulforeman

Member
The Damage

Thanks to you guys who were encouraging about the damage. It isn't as bad as I initially thought... (Hopefully I didn't sound too dramatic before...). The axle, brakes, frame, and suspension are all fine. The tire only went flat because the other driver's tire broke the valve stem in my wheel. I had the wheel spun and it's still true and the tire checked out, and it isn't damaged.

Main damage is to the bed. I ordered a Shrockworks rear bumper a few months ago, should be here in a couple weeks. I am planning to get a new fender flare, sanding and painting the damaged section to match the truck, and modifying the Shrockworks bumper that I ordered to be a high-clearance style with a bit of under-bed bracing. Here's a picture of the bumper I ordered, as well as the basic idea of what I'm thinking I'll modify it to look like.
1572985382193.png 1572984783881.png
By doing this, I will be cutting most of the damaged bed off to make room for the bumper sides, so that's good. It's not worth fixing the damage "right" to me. For now, I put new tail lights in, pushed out most of the large dents, sanded the chipped paint areas, and put some bed liner over the damage to keep it from rusting this winter. Funny story, someone was selling a set of new, never-installed tail lights for my truck on Craigslist for $40 locally. Not bad for a set.

Here's a few pictures. The bedside isn't pretty, but it'll do for now.


So... on to the next adventure!
Cheers.
 
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paulforeman

Member
The fender flare came into Boulder Nissan today, so I went to pick it up and I installed it in the parking lot. Got the splash guard put back in as well. It's looking a lot better already, but I've still got a bit of re-shaping to do on the bed. Have a look.


Additionally, I got my hands on a brand new 285 70 R17 Wrangler Duratrac and got it mounted up on the last spare Toyota wheel I had hanging around. I got it on the truck this week to clearance some things. Going to be getting a set of 285's (~33") this week, although I'm not going with the Duratracs (it'll be a wicked spare if I ever need it on the trail!). Here's some comparison photos of the 265/70 r17 vs. 285/70 r17 (looks weird with the damage on the rear, and was still missing the flare, but use your imagination).


I'm pretty excited. I almost went with 33's last time I got new tires, and I wish I would have. Although my current tires have some life left yet, I'm going to use some of the insurance to go up a size. I'll sell the used ones locally so someone can finish off their life.

Also, the spare fits under the bed! With the tire butted up against the hitch, it still clears the axle (barely). It fits between the shackles too (again, barely), and with a bit of modification (chopping) to the tailpipe, it fits!


Excited for the small and big changes that are coming.
Cheers.
 

paulforeman

Member
New Shoes (285/70-R17)

Got the new tires on this week. One of my brothers works at Discount Tire in Oklahoma, so I went out to see my family and got a friends/family discount on a new set of tires. I went with the 285/70-R17 Goodyear Wrangler UltraTerrains. If you want to know my reasoning, feel free to message me. Here's a few shots of the new rubber below. I think that the 33's look just right on this truck. (Sorry for the poser shot. I had the tent opened to air out the condensation from the previous night of camping. I camped at a state park in Kansas on my way out to Oklahoma from Denver).



Had to flex it out a bit on the dirt pile to check my clearances. They clear pretty well with minimal rubbing on the front pinch weld, fender liners, etc. I'll trim them up soon.
These pictures are the closest points, front and rear respectively.


Exhaust Oops...
When I trimmed the exhaust pipe to clear the 33" spare underneath the bed, I didn't realize I had pointed it directly at the new leaf springs bushings. Here's what happened after my 12 hours of driving...

I put a new down-turn pipe on the end of my trimmed exhaust pipe (you can see it in the pictures above). Now the exhaust clears the tire and springs. Thanks to Amazon's next-day delivery, I was able to get another set of Energy Suspension bushings and pop one in. Good as new.

Lesson learned... oh well, at least it' wasn't catastrophic. Back home in Colorado now. Waiting on a few parts to come in, including my new rear bumper (Shrockworks) and a center link from Grassroots4x4.com. Once I get the steering link in, I'd like to go get some snow wheeling in and test out some of the recent upgrades.

Thanks for reading!
 
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paulforeman

Member
New Body Parts

So, I've been wanting to do this for a long time. It's not necessarily a good investment for a 20 year-old trail truck, but the paint on the hood was really bugging me. The original tailgate was also starting to rust out around the handle and bottom edge.

If you've been following my thread, you'll remember I'm running a hood from a 2003 Xterra to cover the supercharger (didn't like the hole in the hood + hood scoop modification of my factory hood).
Here's a few pictures of those things...
Tailgate had a bunch of small dents in it, surface rust, as well as rust on the inside (not visible). The silver filler plate that was put on by the previous owner was pretty corroded, so I painted it black, but I still didn't like the look much.




Post supercharger install, I cut the factory hood to fit over the blower and installed a cheap plastic hood scoop. Not too bad to look at from a distance, but I didn't like it. Plus the original hood had a lot of rock chips and rust spots near near the front and the paint was beginning to sun-crack all over.


So, I ordered a replacement tailgate on Amazon. It was free shipping and I had a $50 gift card, so the total came out to be about $60 out-of-pocket for the tailgate.
I dropped the hood and tailgate off at Painted OEM Parts in Loveland, Colorado. They stripped the paint on the Xterra hood and fixed a handful of hail dents in it as well. I had the new tailgate and salvage-yard hood painted to match the truck.

Results were better than I could have hoped for, and now I really need to do that filler plate under the grill... I'll do that one myself with a paint-match kit. Take a look for yourself.


I'm guessing this is the ONLY one of these hoods that has ever been painted in this color. Nissan only used the BW2 color in 2000 on a few vehicles, and both the Xterra and Frontier had flat hoods in that year. The raised hoods were only on Xterras from 2002-2004 when they were offered with a supercharger from the factory. I also ordered OEM stickers for the tailgate (frivolous? maybe...). I retained the original "XE V6 CREW CAB" decal, but added the "SuperCharged" emblem from the lift gate on the factory supercharged Xterras. I love how it came out. It's unique, factory look is pretty cool to me, being that the SuperCharged emblem wasn't ever installed on the Frontier's like this.

300


*spoiler on the new rear bumper... I'll do a short post on that too when I have time.

I've got a paint match kit to do the front filler under the grill and the side of the bed where I got hit this winter. I have high hopes for how those will turn out. Not sure when I'll get around to that. Might be spring/summer because painting in the cold doesn't work out very well.

Check back soon for a more detailed entry on the rear bumper and custom steering, which I just finished modifying and finished up the installed!

Cheers.
 
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paulforeman

Member
Paint looks good man and Im digging that new rear bumper!
Thanks @jpat30 ! Here's the short install "write-up" I put on the Nissan forum.

Shrockworks Bumper Install

Not much to say about this... but I did the install this last weekend as well. Took me about an hour by myself, but I would recommend 2 people... it would be a lot easier than what I did. Basically, I just removed the factory bumper and the trailer hitch I had installed before. I used some tie downs between the roof rack to the shackle receiver tabs on the bumper to hold the bumper up while I man-handled it around under the frame.


The bumper mounting rails on the Shrockworks have a bunch of different hole patterns (not really sure why... maybe the bumper mounting holes are different between the 98-2000 and the 2001-2004? Maybe they use this same plate on the Xterra? Not sure, but it took me a few minutes to figure out which ones to use, but figured it out eventually. Since there are so many extra holes, I may drill out a few more holes in the frame itself and add a few more bolts. I wish it was an L-bracket and mounted through the bottom of the frame rails too, but I could always make it that way later.



Ultimately, not a challenging install. I am really happy with the powder coat that Shrockworks did and the overall quality and look of the bumper. I may still get it modified to be like the "high-clearance" style bumpers I've been seeing around a lot. That would allow me to cut off a lot of the damaged bed-side before repainting it. That is another project for another day, however.



I'm excited for the next snow when I'm sure I'll get to do some around-town recoveries (did 5 during the last storm).
Thanks for reading.

Cheers.
 

paulforeman

Member
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:

Ball joint misalignment after side impact.
Note wear marks from tie rod ends on frame rail above.



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


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.


Grassroots4x4 drag link:


So I got a new drag link. Bryan over at grassroots 4x4 (as far as I can tell), cut 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.


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.

...continued...
 
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paulforeman

Member
...continued...

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.



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. Bronze bushings vs. delrin bushings pictured.


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.



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.


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. OLD tie rod adjusters still installed.


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


Conclusion:
After about a week of driving around on the road, 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. It doesn't quite return to center from +/- 45 degrees from center on each side, but I am just hoping the bearings will all loosen up just a hair over time. That's a small price to pay for straight, reliable, strong steering if you ask me. Overall, super happy with how everything turned out and now REALLY hoping I don't have to touch anything in the steering for a long time.
If you read all of that, cheers to you. I know it was kinda wordy, but I wanted to include the technical details for people who are interested.
More to come!
 
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paulforeman

Member
Been busy, this post is mostly about my other vehicles....

Well, working on switching jobs and moving across Denver is time consuming. I've gotten a few small projects done on the truck though and went through a bunch of maintenance items that have been needing my attention. I'm going to post something of an update soon. But as a brief update, I switched up my exterior lighting setup a bit. My 3 year old, $20 Amazon light bar wasn't cutting it. Got something a bit more mall-crawler, and went mall crawling to test it out.



Most of the chrome on the reflectors of the old light bar had flaked off and it wasn't even as bright as my headlights. New flush mount rear lights in the Shrockworks bumper too.

Finally, made a few adjustments to the rack, but I'll add pictures of that later.

But in other news, I've done a ton of work on the suspension and steering on my wife's V8 4Runner and it's driving buttery smooth. Sway bar bushings, tie rods, upper and lower ball joints, upper control arms, sway bar links, etc. 5th gen TRD coils in the rear. Add the Bilsteins on top of that and it makes for a really smooth ride on and off road.


Also, I picked up a daily driver last week (and by "picked up," I mean that I've been looking for the right car for about 9 months and couldn't find just the right thing... Jumped in this one as soon as I found it. It was in state too!). It's a 2005 Acura TL with only 90k miles on it with a 6-speed manual. Basically 1 owner (2nd owner only put 10,000 on it in the last 3 years). Overall, in really great shape. I'm excited to stop commuting in the truck and save it for the snow/skiing/trails. Got the TL all cleaned up and waxed. It rips pretty well and it's a fun, smooth, quiet car to drive. I haven't owned or really even driven much of small cars in the last 3 years, so it's a really nice change.


Stay tuned... Hopefully I'll have more about the truck coming soon.

Cheers! (getting some flack from my friends who read this forum about using "cheers" on my posts. Maybe I'll switch that up, but probably not...)
 
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paulforeman

Member
New LED's

So, I ordered some LED's from ExtremeLED in Denver. I've never really wanted to spend a ton of money on lights, because LED's have gotten so cheap,and even the cheap ones are pretty good. That said, I've had a set of RUN-D lights for 3 years and besides some paint fade, they're still as bright as the day I got them and they haven't leaked at all. My cheap Amazon light bar and rear flush mounts, however, both needed to be re-sealed for water entering around the lenses, the paint is peeling badly, and the chrome on the reflectors of the light bar have all peeled off inside so the light is not really projected well at all.

So, even though I was skeptical of the markup at first, I'm glad I got something a bit better. They're not nearly as expensive as Baja Designs or KC HiLiGHTS, but they do have a lifetime warranty, they're local, and they're actually really bright and seem, so far, to be much better quality than the ebay/Amazon specials.

I got some side flood lights (they call them "scene lights"), rear flush mount floods, and a 44" amber/white combo light bar.
Rear flush mounts went in pretty easily. I mounted them inside the corners of the rear bumper hopefully just far enough to be protected when I drop the bumper onto rocks on the corners.

Mounting these, I drilled corner holes, then used a grinder to connect the holes. This just makes for nicer corners on the holes if you measure correctly. I didn't and had to grind off some more. They have a good pattern, not too bright, so using them while camping and walking around the truck is not so blinding, and they look really clean.

Side lights mounted up in the same spot as before. Used a stainless steel L-bracket to mount them to the rack and even used the existing wiring harness pigtail (same connector as my old lights). They are the same fixture as the rear lights, just different mounting hardware and face plate.




Finally, the light bar. It's a single row, which is lower profile than my old one. It fits really tightly between the side plates on the roof rack, but it fits.


Got out to do some snow wheeling last week and tested out the new steering modifications and the new LED's. I'm pleased to say that both were a huge success. I purposefully beat on the steering just a bit to see how it would handle it and it was solid. No bent parts, no slop. The LED's are awesome too. Fun to be able to see better when wheeling in the snow and dark.


Anyways, I think we'll go out again next week to test out some snow chains I just picked up. Haven't run snow chains on this truck before, so I'll be excited to see how quick *(slow) I can get them on.

Cheers.
 
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