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Discussion Starter · #61 ·
And after much deliberation and delay MOD DAY IS FINALLY HERE.

I wanted to do all of this at once, suspension and bumpers together, but fate has intervened. Geoff The Wrench is going to be leaving town for a few weeks, so if I want to get him to do the wheel alignment, I need to install the new suspension RFN. So, I watched a bunch of youtube videos, scoured the How-To's in the forum, and off I went. Here's what it looked like when I began:

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And all the parts to install:

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Discussion Starter · #62 ·
So far it hasn't gone too bad. I started with the front driver's side. The stock strut came out without much difficulty. I sprayed the bolts with PB Blaster every day for the last three days, and nothing was seized or so stiff a quick go with the breaker bar couldn't handle it. The biggest problem was getting the stock UCA out. I decided I didn't want to try cutting the bolt out, so I undid the steering linkage to move it out of the way. WHAT A COLOSSAL PAIN IN THE A$$!!!

I do not recommend that. The nut came off after a bit of cussing, but getting the linkage apart was even worse. And once it came apart, it really didn't move that much to the side. Removing the UCA mounting bolt was still a huge struggle. And the biggest grief of all was putting the steering linkage back together again. If I had to do this again, I would just cut the bolt and be done with it. Mucking about with the steering was a huge delay, and for all I know, I put something out of whack.

I shaved a lot off the coil bucket with an angle grinder, but I took off a lot where it doesn't even come close to the ball joint boot, and not nearly as much where it does. I focussed more on the front of the bucket instead of the side. But I have a lot of clearance between the boot and the edge of the bucket anyways, so I should be good. When I do the passenger side tomorrow, I'll definitely know where to remove the most metal.

So now, the first wheel is done:

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Had to stop as it was getting rather late, but I've got all the tooling laid out ready to go for bright and early tomorrow morning, including tablet for the videos and the How To section.

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I need to finish off the passenger side, which should go much faster now that I know more of what I'm doing, and then on to the rear suspension. Have to replace the stock struts and take apart the leaf packs to add some leafs. I'm a little worried about that, as I've never taken apart a leaf pack before. Wish me luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #63 · (Edited)
Well the suspension lift is finally done. It took longer than I wanted (which it almost always does), and it was a huge amount of work, but it’s finally done. I’m glad it’s not something I’ll have to do again, because the constant getting up and down and crawling underneath the truck on my driveway is hard on a middle aged body.
Getting the stock rear shocks and leaf springs off wasn’t incredibly terrible. I was able to get the impact gun on almost everything, and what I couldn’t (like the shackles) the breaker bar was able to handle. The hard part was pulling the leaf pack apart, cleaning up the individual leafs, and adding the new components before putting it all back together again.
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Discussion Starter · #64 ·
What really ate up time were two C clips that have to be welded to the bottom of the leaf packs to prevent the leaves from splaying out to the side. This was originally going to be done in my friend’s shop where he has a MIG welder. But I forgot about that when I undertook this at my house. Thankfully, my neighbour has an old Miller buzzbox he let me borrow for the evening. I haven’t welded stick in about eleven years, and the only electrodes to be had were in pretty rough shape. That 7018 had been exposed to atmosphere for at least a decade and wasn’t much use for anything other than tack welds. Thankfully that was all I needed, as the alignment shop can put proper welds on tomorrow.
But after a lot of time and effort, I got the old leaves cleaned up, integrated with the new ones, and the whole pack liberally prepped with dry moly lube before installation.
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This is me looking old and tired, one down and one to go.
 

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Discussion Starter · #65 ·
I also lost a lot of time with the Bilstein 5165’s. First, I put the reservoirs upside down. Then after correcting that, I thought I should change the big hose clamps that mount the reservoirs so that the screw tensioners were to the inside and not visible. So I took them all apart and did them again. And then I got underneath and found out there was no room for the reservoirs where I had originally placed them once the shocks were in their mounts, so I ended up doing them a third time. Crap like this is why my wrenching projects take so long.

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Discussion Starter · #66 ·
But after long, long last, I finally got it all done and put back together, and made it to the alignment shop. At least nothing fell off on the way there.

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Discussion Starter · #67 ·
I didn't notice a huge difference after the work, but when I compare the before and after pics, side by side, I can see the difference.

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I'm not sure if I got all the lift I needed in the back. I may have to invest in some bigger shackles. We'll see for sure when the wheel alignment is done and the 33" tires are on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #68 ·
Got him back from the alignment shop today and had the 33" KO2's mounted. I wasn't a huge fan of the Duratracs on winter roads, so we'll see how the KO2's suit me. I have Coopers other rims for when I go trail driving, but that's not happening until I can finally get those bumpers sorted out. If everything goes according to plan, that will happen this weekend (touch wood).

Very stiff in the back end with those new leaf packs. That's to be expected with no weight on the back end though. I'll know for certain how the rear suspension performs once I'm all loaded up with camping gear.

Anyways, here's a pic of the vehicle with the new suspension and tires.
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Discussion Starter · #69 ·
A few updates since my last posting.

On the minor details, I added some wind deflectors to the doors.
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Discussion Starter · #70 ·
And finally got started on the welding for the Coastal Offroad bumpers and rock sliders.

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So far, the fit up has been excellent. My welder has been especially impressed, and now he wants Coastal Offroad for his vehicle. All the parts go together almost perfectly, with no rude surprises or gaps because of a poor fit. I didn't think of this when I ordered the bumper, but it is very fortunate that I bought a weld-it-up-yourself item. My vehicle was in a minor accident in 2012, and the body work on the front passenger fender wasn't perfect. There is a slight misalignment where the hood and headlight meet. Had I purchased a ready made bumper, it is almost certain that passenger side would have given me fit up problems.

That's not to say that I didn't have to do my due dilligence when the parts arrived. There were a few pieces missing from my order. When I contacted CO, they replied within two days and sent the missing parts promptly, so no concerns about the customer service. But like all things you buy remotely that come in a whole bunch of smaller pieces, you have to account for every piece because no matter what it is, or who you bought it from, there is probably something that was forgotten. I also ordered a pair of LED lights for the rear bumper that were not shipped, so I've just asked for a refund on those.

I hope to have everything finished by Wed, and hopefully painted up and ready to install by the end of the week. Got a notice from the post office of a package, which I hope is the ladder and snorkel, so it should be an interesting weekend. Still need to buy the switches for the winch and the off road lights, which I haven't even ordered yet, but I'll rough the wiring in and connect everything when I've finally learned enough about the electrical to get all the fuses, relays, and such in place and connected.

So far, I'm thrilled with the appearance of the bumper, and can't believe how light it is. I can pick up the entire bumper and move it around with ease.
 

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Discussion Starter · #71 ·
Front bumper is done! Took one of the LED front lights to make sure the ones I purchase locally match up. I have to take the bumper off to mount the winch anyways.
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Discussion Starter · #72 ·
Almost done the rear bumper and the rock sliders. I hope to have the full project finished by Monday.

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You can see the opening for the footwell in the side skirting of the bumper. That is not a standard feature in the Coastal Offroad bumper and I asked them to put it in. They did so for a very modest fee, but didn't include the pieces to construct the footwell box. I had to buy a couple pieces of 4" 5052 aluminum flatbar which we will cut up to make the box to fit in there. We also wanted to add a few gussets to the top of the winch plate of the front bumper, because Jeremy the welder and I both like to over-engineer things.

I am also abandoning my original idea to bolt on the rock sliders instead of welding them to the frame. My initial thought was to convert them to bolt on, so I could remove them for repainting and rust removal, but I don't think that is going to be practical. Due to the location of the cross members underneath the frame, and the difficulty in drilling through the frame in so many spots, I think overall it will be more trouble than it is worth. Over the long run, I will have less trouble just masking off the Xterra with plastic sheeting and cardboard and removing the surface rust and repainting the rock sliders with them on the truck.

We're just finishing the exterior welds for the rear bumper now and should have all aluminum done by today. That will just leave the swing out tire carrier and the mounting of the rock sliders for the weekend. Fingers crossed it all goes well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #73 ·
We got the rear bumper done, minus the painting, but that was a as far as we got. Just ran out of time and energy to get the rear bumper completed, and never got to the last rock slider.

On the plus side, the front bumper is completely finished. Stick a fork in it. The more we thought about the winch mounts in the front bumper, the less we liked the original design. Maybe that single 1/4" plate is fine for steel, but neither of us saw how that would be sufficient with aluminum so we took the bumper off again and welded in another pair of gussets that are closer to either side of where the winch is going to sit.
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We also completely welded in the inside edge of the winch mounting plate, as opposed to the stitch welding pictured here.

We almost got the rear bumper completely finished. We made a mistake with the latch for the spare tire swing arm release, in that when we mounted it as per the diagrams, we didn't think that having the release latch handle facing upwards, the way the instructions picture it, would interfere with mounting the tire. The problem with the Coastal Offroad kit is that it doesn't come with actual diagrams. It comes with illustrated instructions, and there is a difference, particularly when the instructions come with generic, non-Xterra illustrations. We should have measured the location of the release latch handle, and we didn't, and found much to our chagrin that will we have to cut it off and mount it with the handle facing downwards in order for it to fit. Unfortunately, I didn't think to get a picture of this fiasco so you could all see what I'm talking about. I guess I was just too tired and done with the day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #74 ·
On the plus side, we were both pretty concerned that the hinge for the swing arm would really flex a lot with the weight of the spare tire on it, and it didn't flex or strain at all. The hinge area held the weight of the 33" tire like a champ, so that was a considerable weight off my mind.

We were also able to make the footwells in the side skirts. I don't have a picture of the completed swing arm, but here's right before it with the footwells.
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Thankfully, other than the aforementioned problem with the release latch handle, the swing arm fits with the Gobi ladder that finally arrived.

We're going to meet to take another crack at it all on Tues and hopefully get all the welding done then. If nothing else, I'll at least be able to drive it home and paint the remaining pieces in my garage. I'm going to have to do some serious trimming of the front fascia to get clearance for the winch, which I'm really not sure how to do. I just don't know how I'm going to have room for the control module of the winch, and the plastic grill piece together. I might have to grab one from a wrecking yard and keep it as a spare in case I wreck my original with all the cutting and bending. I also have to run the wiring and install the switches to connect the winch and the front and back LED lights that are in the bumpers. That's going to be a pile of work in and of itself, and I barely even know where to begin with all of that. Electrical is definitely not my strong suit, and I'm still in the research phase of all of that.
 

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Those shocks are way to long. They are fully compressed and your axle is a loooong way from the bump stop. You will either destroy them or rip off your lower shock mounts.


But after long, long last, I finally got it all done and put back together, and made it to the alignment shop. At least nothing fell off on the way there.

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Discussion Starter · #77 ·
Those shocks are way to long. They are fully compressed and your axle is a loooong way from the bump stop. You will either destroy them or rip off your lower shock mounts.
You are 100% correct.

I don't know how my initial measurements were so wrong, but I'll chalk it up to inexperience in never having done a suspension lift before. The Bilsteins were indeed far too long and the ride was awful. I consider myself very lucky that I didn't seriously damage something. In my defense, the mechanics who did the wheel alignment didn't catch it either, nor did the shop that installed the axle shims to correct the pinion angle. Both shops took it for a test drive afterwards, and like me, attributed the rough ride to the thicker leaf packs.

But there was a problem with the fit up of the rear bumper in clearing the exhaust, so we fit the OEM jack under there to just push the exhaust down 1/2" while we took the bumper on and off. As we were down there underneath the vehicle, we noticed there was zilch for travel in the shocks, which explained why the vehicle rode like a lumber wagon. As soon as I got the vehicle back to my house, I removed the shocks and thankfully my stock 5100's still fit.

So I'm back to the drawing board for the rear suspension. There is a little bit of damage on the black plastic end caps of the shock where the shaft enters the cylinder from when the shock bottomed out, so there is zero chance I'll be able to return them. I suppose I'll try and sell them on the local used market and someone with a really big lift will get a good deal. I'll have to get under the vehicle with my jack and the 5100's and find out what my maximum compression and articulation is with the new leafs. If my OEM shocks are close to being maxxed out right now, I'm afraid of damaging them by over extending them if I do any off-roading. I may be confined to tame city streets until I can get some new 5165's, and given the long lead time of the previous order, my summer off-roading plans might be scuppered :cry:

Oh well, it could be worse. At least I didn't tear off a shock mount, and FWIW, the bumpers and rock sliders are finally finished and can be painted and mounted. I'm really please with them and I'll post pics as soon as everything is done.
 

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Discussion Starter · #79 ·
Still plenty of work to do. Got to wire up the switches, relays, fuses, wires, and god knows what else for the winch and the front and back lights. (I installed the front lights to make sure they fit with the extra brackets we put in for the winch plate, but left the rear bumper empty.)

I can't tell you just yet if there is any difference in my fuel economy with the new armour, as I've only had it all on for a day or two now. I don't notice any difference in the ride quality. The bumpers are very light though. I can easily carry either one of them with one hand, and could remove them by myself without a floor jack if I had to. That will change once I get the winch on the front though, and I'm going to have to do some extensive trimming of the front fascia to make room for the winch control box. But I'll worry about that once I'm ready to wire up and install the winch.

I am also looking around for shocks that best fit my rear suspension. I removed the driver's side shock yesterday and with my jack got the distance between the upper and lower shock mounts at maximum compression and maximum droop of the axle. Even with a piece of dunnage under the axle, I ran out of room on my 3T floor jack before the axle came to the bump stop. But as best as I can estimate the shortest a shock would have to compress is between 11" and 12". The maximum a shock would have to extend is 22". Of course, I'm not finding any shocks out there that have that range of movement. I'll comb the forums a bit for further info to find out if it's better to sacrifice droop to prevent my shocks from topping out, or if I should just extend my bump stops and get a shock that allows maximum articulation of the rear axle.
 
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