R50 Pathfinder Progression/Trip Thread

RG5384

Observer
So I decided to start an online progression of my new(used?) pathfinder, as well as document the camping and wheeling trips I take it on, both for my future reference as well as to help anyone who may be interested in going to the same places. My relocation from Florida to the Mid-Atlantic forced an end to my 4 year love affair/obsession with my BMW 330i. Once I got a taste of the traffic and the roads up here, I realized that not only was a stick shift impractical, but my lowered coilover suspension would ultimately cause me back problems and at some point a shattered oil pan. Watching this car drive off was difficult, I had put over 3k into suspension components alone in the six months before we moved, and had plans to turbocharge it with the turbo techniques setup before the move as well.

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So, not to belabor my previous depression, in came my R50 pathfinder. I purchased it for 4200.00, it is a 2001 LE model with the bulletproof shift on the fly transfercase, and powerful but thirsty 3.5 liter VQ. I was looking for a 4runner(stupidly high mileage for the price point), Montero sport(looked at 2 that were majorly beat and rusted), or a pathfinder. This one just happened to come along for the right price/condition. I purchased it from it’s original owner, and it even had the original plastic covering on the driver’s side cloth floor mat(has all seasons on the floor), and on the passenger side secondary visor!

First repairs: After an initial inspection it was determined I had a blown CV boot,and a leaking rear axle seal. After a Saturday cussing in my parking space those items were squared away, including new rear wheel cylinders/drums and shoes. This meant all was set for it’s first off road campig trip to the George Washington national forest! This trip was to the Tasker's Gap in the North ranger district. We camped in a small town called Edinburg and had a very enjoyable 3 day weekend. We all decided we wanted to camp in the actual forest the next time as we didn't feel like we were remote enough camping next to RV's etc. However, this was a good chance to test all of our gear in a safe manor, as well as introduce our young kids into camping. We were not prepared, however, for it to be 37 degrees when we woke up. Instead of breakfast on the propane skillet we wimped out and warmed up over coffee at the Mcdonald's about 15 minutes away.
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After this trip I realized I was hooked, and the vehicle I purchased to not care about and “run till it blows” now has future modifications on the horizon. It’s next trip back to a different section of the GWNF(Flagpole Knob, much better trail system IMO) furthered this realization, and before I knew it I had purchased a used 2” AC lift kit, new KYB front struts, ball joints, new rear bilstein 5100 shocks, and a set of 245/75/16 General grabber AT2’s. I even went as far as on a cold Saturday morning(24*), took off the intake manifold to make sure that I didn’t have a ticking time bomb, loc-tited all of the power valve screws, and replaced the plugs. Other items of mention include:
-Fleury’s aluminum front skid plate-GREAT customer service, seems like a very solid product
-OEM transfer case skid plate-If it ever arrives from Nissan, apparently the bolts were back ordered? Odd.

More updates to follow once the suspension lift is installed. Trying to have it all installed by my next trip which is planned for the weekend of 3/13/15 to Rausch Creek in Pa. We will be doing many more camping and wheeling trips here once the weather warms up as well. It's latest adventure was not much of an adventure in a camping or off roading sense, but it required going out in the recent snow storm to pick up some fire wood. Those Grabber AT2's are impressive in the snow.
 

docwatson

Adventurer
Nice Pathy. I am sure you have already seen the other R50 build threads. Definitely worth checking out for some ideas if you haven't. They are very capable machines. Besides the lift, what other future plans you have for it?
 

RG5384

Observer
For now just to get all the parts installed that I have sitting in my basement! Still need to order manual hubs, After that any upgrades will be based on necessity. I have a feeling I will be adding a few removable storage items to make camping easier to load/unload. My extended wish list would be:

Self recovery: high lift and maxtracks( can't seem to find any good winch options, even looked at the portable ones)

Off road light bar

Lastly(for now!) either upgrade and stiffen the existing lsd or just put in a locker.
 

bushnut

Adventurer
welcome to the Pathfinder life. keep an eye on the front strut housing for the inevitable rust issues.
I've had my '00 R50 for 4 years now and I like it better now than when I bought it.
 

Dmski

Adventurer
Great looking ride at a great price. Too bad you couldn't keep both the BMW and the Pathy but good choice on your part. Looking forward to seeing what you do with the pathy.

There are quite a few on here with the R50 so definitely peruse those build threads. But I'm warning you, the minute you look into others builds is the minute your savings account magically disappears...
 

RG5384

Observer
I got my front struts assembled today. It was every bit as much of a pain as I expected, but really not much more. I ended up using a coil spring compressor to assist the mcpherson strut compressors which worked very well to compress the spring, then just removed the coil spring compressor from the inside before mounting. The only thing that has me a little nervous is I cannot rotate by hand the upper mounting plate now that the strut is put together. I imagine it is simply due to the force of the spring on the strut bearing, but i'm going to create a post on NPORA just to help ease my mind.

We currently have over 6 inches of snow outside, and next weekend is forecast to be very similar. It is looking like this is going to be difficult to get installed prior to March 13th.IMG_1653.jpg
 

RG5384

Observer
Thanks Rebelord, I have the w facing towards the wheel side and the arrow facing towards the engine. As far as I know that is correct? Part of me wishes I would have waited until I removed the old ones until I assembled the new ones, but that would negate the whole reason behind building a "Quick strut".
 

Rebelord

Semper Fi
The FSM states the notch is to be inboard, facing the engine bay. So, if you have it that way. Your good to go!
 

RG5384

Observer
yeah, it's got a bad habit of doing that! In truth I'm not sure why it keeps doing that, the photos aren't sideways before I upload them!
 

RG5384

Observer
Update: I've been lifted! I decided that provided nothing was falling from the sky today, that I would brave the cold weather and get the lift put on. When I started working on it the outside temp as about 22, and it warmed up to an actually pleasant 35 by mid day. Everything went very smoothly in the rear once I remembered to disconnect the sway bar(DA attack, couldn't figure out why I wasn't getting enough "droop" to remove the springs! I did have to cut down the metal tube inserts provided with the bilstein shocks as they were too long, that was irritating and unexpected.

Up front also went very well except for the sway bar links being seized. Luckily I was planning on replacing them anyways and between a Dremel and the previously mentioned hack saw was able to cut the bolts off. This did add about an hour time to the project, though. I was very glad I had decided to build the new struts completely before taking the truck apart, as it would not have been possible to complete today if I had to fiddle around with swapping strut components.

I've got an appointment to get it aligned tomorrow, and hopefully they will be able to bring the front to within spec, right now it is pretty goofy looking with all the positive camber. I'm hopeful as I did install adjustable bolts in each of the upper strut positions.

I didn't take many pictures during the install as it was too cold to take my gloves off, but I did snap one from inside of the process and then a completed picture as well. I'm sure I will have some more interesting ones after my run to Raush Creek in a couple of weeks.
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So, thats about it for now. I think I have decided to keep the step rails on as well as the front bull bar. I got lightly backed into twice last week from people parallel parking(I was sitting in the car, who knows how many times it normally happens!), and with the bull bar it does absolutely no damage to the truck. The step bar decision came last night when I saw both of my kids using(and needing) the step bars to safely climb in by themselves, and that was before the lift.

Upgrades still needed to purchase:
Manual Hubs
Center Skid Plate
Light Bar

Repairs that I need to continue to keep an eye on(nothing else is getting done until it either totally breaks or this freaking cold weather goes away):
Front differential seeping from output shaft
Oil leak from valve cover gaskets, and possibly small one from rear main
Figure out if i'm up for the challenge of rebuilding my rear LSD(totally shot, acts as an open diff).

Thanks For Reading
 

BirchHill

goat farmer
Looking good. If you choose to rebuild LSD do a detailed write up, Mine is in the same shape as yours.
 

Allof75

Pathfinder
Nice upgrade, I have no doubt if the alignment shop is worth their salt that they'd be able to get it within spec. Mine had no issues, and hopefully you get some time to test your suspension! :elkgrin:
 
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