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Discussion Starter · #81 ·
Nice job! That rear bumper must weigh a ton.lolz

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You would be quite pleasantly surprised actually. The tire carrier from the hinge outward is steel, so it's got some heft to it, but I can carry the rear bumper with one hand quite comfortably. The aluminum really keeps the weight down. It cost me a kidney, but it keeps the weight down.
 

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Discussion Starter · #82 ·
Tried to help Jeep Girl change out her upper and lower ball joints on her 2008 Wrangler over the weekend.

NEVER AGAIN!!!!

First of all, let me state that not being a mechanic and relying heavily on things like this forum and YouTube for how-to knowledge greatly limits my abilities. Secondly, the vast majority of my wrenching experience comes from my previous vehicles, which have almost all been Nissans, Mitsubishis, and Toyotas. I am not familiar with with Jeeps, having only experienced them through helping friends on their repairs and mods. So that makes things more difficult than they need to be, right out of the hack.

But damn, Jeep Girl's ride is a major PITA!!! The previous owner really neglected the vehicle. He didn't do his basic driver maintenance, other than changing the oil, so there are a lot of things that need to be changed out and repaired. I swear, every damn bolt on that thing is rust welded.

And I can pretty much take apart my X with like three different wrenches. The Jeep needs what? 35 different tools?? Some metric, some Imperial, some hex bolts, some 12 point bolts. Who the hell designed that thing??? When I was shopping around for an adventure vehicle, Geoff the Wrench (a ticketed mechanic) really encouraged me to get a Rubicon. In addition to the hefty price tag, I was concerned about the build quality of Jeeps and how they often break down. He replied "sure, but they are easy to repair" I texted him last night to tell him what a filthy liar he was. (He laughed at me)

Just stating right now, for me, with my limited tooling and limited knowledge base, there is no way on God's green earth I could do on a Jeep the repair/mod projects I am able to do on my X. In addition to a higher asking price on the used car lot, a Jeep would have cost me much more, because many of the things I did on my own driveway with the X would have had to be done by professionals on a Jeep.

And FWIW, the how-to videos and Xterra forum write ups aren't as plentiful as the Jeep videos and write ups, but for my money, the Xterra offerings are more descriptive and more useful. It is truly quality over quantity. Working on that Jeep has really vindicated my purchase of an Xterra.
 

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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.
What's the part number on those 5165's? They are definitely WAY too long for your setup. Where did you get them? Did they have the proper bushing & sleeve in the bottom shock mount? I'm gonna be needing longer ones for my X since I just Titan swapped a few weeks ago.
 

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Discussion Starter · #84 ·
Like I said, I have no idea how I could have been so incredibly wrong in my measurements. But measuring tapes have always been my nemesis. I often joke that I could measure the same thing four times and get five different results. It has been a problem for me my entire adult life, and I don't know why. It certainly bit me in the ass here.

I bought them from Essex Distributors. The part number is 25-175783. Their length at maximum compression is 16.9" and their length at maximum extension is 28.5". Sleeves came standard with the shocks, but they weren't needed. The rubber bushings in the mounts fit perfectly on the shock mounts.

I've tried contacting Essex to see if I can possibly exchange them for a different length, but I've sent three e-mails to Essex and Bilstein USA and they won't answer. It's been a week now, and they're still on radio silence so I figure it's time to move on. Besides, the Essex website explicitly states no returns on items once they have been installed. I'll try and sell them on kijiji and cut my losses.

In the meantime, I'll most likely buy some Old Man Emu monotube shocks. I wanted external reservoir, but no matter what brand or retailer, I'm looking at 10 weeks lead time for shocks of that design and I don't want to lose my whole summer. In addition, I have to ask if I really, honestly need external reservoirs. I don't travel at higher speeds over washboarding or dips. Most of my wheeling is slow speed trail riding, so monotube should suffice. OME makes a good product too, so no worries on that front.

The only catch is that I'll have to buy some bumpstops to protect the new shocks. The OMEs will top out at 13.77" and at max articulation, my axle could compress the shock to under 12".
 

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Like I said, I have no idea how I could have been so incredibly wrong in my measurements. But measuring tapes have always been my nemesis. I often joke that I could measure the same thing four times and get five different results. It has been a problem for me my entire adult life, and I don't know why. It certainly bit me in the ass here.

I bought them from Essex Distributors. The part number is 25-175783. Their length at maximum compression is 16.9" and their length at maximum extension is 28.5". Sleeves came standard with the shocks, but they weren't needed. The rubber bushings in the mounts fit perfectly on the shock mounts.

I've tried contacting Essex to see if I can possibly exchange them for a different length, but I've sent three e-mails to Essex and Bilstein USA and they won't answer. It's been a week now, and they're still on radio silence so I figure it's time to move on. Besides, the Essex website explicitly states no returns on items once they have been installed. I'll try and sell them on kijiji and cut my losses.

In the meantime, I'll most likely buy some Old Man Emu monotube shocks. I wanted external reservoir, but no matter what brand or retailer, I'm looking at 10 weeks lead time for shocks of that design and I don't want to lose my whole summer. In addition, I have to ask if I really, honestly need external reservoirs. I don't travel at higher speeds over washboarding or dips. Most of my wheeling is slow speed trail riding, so monotube should suffice. OME makes a good product too, so no worries on that front.

The only catch is that I'll have to buy some bumpstops to protect the new shocks. The OMEs will top out at 13.77" and at max articulation, my axle could compress the shock to under 12".
How much lift do you have on the back? Sounds like you'd need the same 5165's I have right now: 25-176117 (14.2" Collapsed, 23.6 Extended). Also, there should be sleeve for the bottom shock mount rather than just having the bolt straight thru the bushing. There's likely a bit of play and that would end up shortening the life of those bushings and also might give a bit of a knock sound. Just FYI if you get 5165's in the future. There's a different bushing and sleeve you'd have to order and replace. Same sort of deal between the 5100's and the 5125's. The 5125/5165's are "universal" fit and not vehicle specific like the 5100/5160's are.
 

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Discussion Starter · #86 · (Edited)
I have 3" right now, expected to settle down to 2.5" once the leaf springs wear in.

I decided against the 5165's. They were my first choice, but Bilstein has still not responded to my three e-mails, and I am not willing to wait 8-10 weeks for them to get product to me. I bought the OME shocks instead.

Besides, I'm not 100% sure I need external reservoirs anyways. My trail riding is generally low speed, so monotubes will likely be able to dissipate the heat satisfactorily. If it turns out I'm wrong and the shocks wear prematurely, then I'll know for next time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #87 · (Edited)
Got the new OME shocks in the back. So far, the ride is nice, although I can't say I can fairly compare them since I have added leaf springs in the back as well. I still need to get get better bump stops before I take it out on the trail though.
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Discussion Starter · #88 ·
And I finally got around to putting a filter on the end of the rear diff breather. The original owner had just left the top of the breather tube open and stuffed it into the rear passenger side tail light. While I was farting around there with the bumper, I took the opportunity to finish that up before bolting everything back together.
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Discussion Starter · #89 ·
The snorkel is on!

It was a bit of a PITA to put on. I was unable to remove the front fender. I took out every bolt I could find, but there seemed to be some foamy type insulation that was acting as a sort of glue holding the fender in to the door. I decided I was better off in the long run leaving that seal intact, so I left it on. I was able to bend it outwards enough to get in there and get access to what I needed, especially with the tire removed.

The template that came with it says it is "just a guide" and they were not kidding! The holes were a good 1/4" out and three of them had to be widened by 50% to get the mounting bolts and studs to line up. Attaching the accordion hose wasn't too bad, although it took me a while to get it bolted back in, removing the airbox wasn't too bad either.
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There is an awful tight feeling in the chest when that drill bit first bites into the fender. You measure, remeasure, and measure yet again, to be sure as you can possibly be before cutting that hole, but no matter what you do in preparation, it's nerve wracking. I didn't drill any holes for the mounting bracket on the A pillar though. As one poster in the snorkel thread put it, I can buy a new fender. I can't buy a new A pillar. I have the higher bracket held together with some extra strength 3M automobile trim mounting tape, and so far it seems to be holding it very well. I also inserted a piece of polyethylene foam between the snorkel tube and the bracket to help support the 3M tape.

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And I also got the headlights upgraded to LEDs.

View attachment 132633

I know, I know, a lot of people think the halos are cheesy, but I like them. I'm pretty happy with how they turned out. I retrofitted LED bulbs for the headlights, and it was a mixed bag. The low beams are fantastic, probably the best vision I have ever had on the road. The high beams however were a disappointment. At their very best, at the most optimal adjustment I can manage for them, they are only not quite as good as the low beams. They just scatter light everywhere and the beam pattern is so dispersed they are of little to no value.

The simplest solution is to replace the high beam LED's with the highest quality halogens I can find, but I'm not sure if I'll ever get around to doing that. I've got a lot to learn about electrical to get to the point where I can do that swap by myself, and I don't fancy the idea of paying someone else to do it.

So the next step is to get working on the gear loft for the back seat and cargo area. I'll make the forward mounting brackets on Monday and hopefully by the webbing and mesh cloth Monday evening or Tues after work. In the meantime, the Radflo's are projected to arrive in mid-March and the Bilstein 5165's for the rear should be in before then.

Slowly going through the list of necessary parts. I guess the next thing I should be looking at is some camber bolts and then maybe some off road rims before tackling the front and rear bumpers.
Did you upgrade to LED's by replacing the bulbs yourself? Or did you order them with LED's?
 

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Discussion Starter · #92 ·
Two quick little additions in preparation for mounting the winch and the off-road lights and switch bank. First I installed an oil catch can.

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I had a difficult time finding a place to mount it. There really isn't a whole lot of real estate under the hood and no obvious place to put it. And it's deceiving because the connected hoses add a couple inches to the assembly, something to consider during fit up. I decided to whip up a quick and dirty bracket out of a piece of aluminum I had lying around and placed the can on the driver's side nestled to the side of the rad and in front of the air intake filter box. I routed the hoses around the driver's side of the motor and behind it. Thankfully I had some hose left over from an earlier diff breather project.

The catch can came with a little breather filter on it that wasn't necessary for my application, so I put it to use on the end of my front diff breather. Not a super necessary thing, but since I had the part anyways I put it to use.

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And today comes the electrical and switches install, and I am not at all looking forward to it. Electrical is not something I am comfortable with, and I am worried that some plastic piece will get broken when I'm effing around with the headliner to place the switch bank beside the bluetooth sensor. But no guts, no glory, right?
 

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Discussion Starter · #93 · (Edited)
Finally got the switches installed, the front and back off road lights installed, and the wiring roughed in for the front locker and compressor when I get those down the road. What a horrible, difficult, and complicated project. I don't ever want to get involved in something like that ever again. It took me three whole days! I don't know why, but all of these DIY projects take me forever and a day to do. Perhaps it's because my shop isn't laid out the most efficiently, maybe it's because I'm constantly confirming and checking references, maybe it's because I'm dumber than most people. I don't know, and frankly I don't care. I'd rather take a beating than take on something like that again. The next big project I'm going to pay a shop to do it.

At any rate, I started with wiring up all the switches.
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Excuse the picture from my garbage Samsung cell phone. The camera on that thing is crap, but it was what I had with me.

I installed the fuse box and the relays to the side of the glove box where most other people have. Not a lot of room down there, but that certainly seems the best spot.

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After a whole lot of grief and some life-saving help from Andrew, Jeep Girl's boyfriend, I got them in and everything working. It's a good thing he enjoys electrical, because I was ready to pack the whole thing in and hit the bottle. But I suppose he had a vested interest, because if we could get Huginn ready, we were all going to go out to the foothills and go on a trip to take Andrew on his first bona fide overlanding trip and give Huginn a shake-down cruise.

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We got the winch installed in the bumper (Coastal Offroad bumpers are made so that the bumper has to be removed to get the winch out as an anti-theft measure), and put on the Cooper STT Discoverer tires on the lightweight HD rims, loaded the gear, and we set out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #94 ·
The trip was to find a new camping spot along the Athabasca River. We found a couple potential sites via Google Earth, marked the co-ordinates, and set out to find them. Here is a picture of Huginn and JeepJeep in Whitecourt after fuelling up and getting some more coffee.
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The trails were nothing crazy, just abandoned oil & gas roads.
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I took a picture of the rig at an abandoned airfield we stopped to explore.
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Our original plans were a bust. The trails we hoped to take were completely grown in and didn't exist any more, but purely by chance down a short, rocky trail we found a campsite better than we could have ever hoped for.

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It was right beside a really scenic creek. The water was clear and the site was pristine. Usually when we find a place like this, it's full of garbage and we have to do a complete clean up before we can use it. But this place was spotless. The previous users had picked up all of their garbage and everyone else's too. That's a nice change of pace!

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Discussion Starter · #96 ·
We packed up in the rain Sunday morning and headed out to explore a couple more sites to future trips before coming back home. None of the other places we looked at had river access, so they were a bust, but we made sure to GPS the location of that creek site. That one is worth a return trip.

Since we didn't get to do a clean up of our own site, we stopped at another site we saw on the road coming in that was in much worse shape. It was full of the usual crap people leave behind: packaging from beer cans, old tarps left in the trees, various cans and bottles. We filled two giant garbage bags and bungeed them to my roof rack. There was an old broken BBQ at this place, and if I could have found a way to take that for disposal as well, I certainly would have. I hate it when people leave garbage behind in wilderness camping sites. My personal theory is they are doing it to mark their territory. By leaving junk and garbage behind they are saying "this place is mine" and by leaving it full of disgusting crap, they make it less appealing to others, and so less likely for it to be occupied when they come back. So when I go into these places and clean them up, I hope I'm F-ing with their heads a little. I hope I'm disturbing their sense of ownership. But even if these clean ups have no effect on those who litter, I'm going to keep doing them anyways. Cleaning up wilderness areas of garbage makes me feel good about myself, so I'm going to continue it as long as these other a-holes keep leaving it behind.

One last pic of Huginn on our way out of the campsite:

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Discussion Starter · #99 ·
With the suspension lift, my rear axles have articulation beyond what the Old Man Emu struts can support, so I needed to get some new bump stops. Not only are the stock bump stops too short now, they have all the cushioning power of a cinder block. I ordered some 4.5" urethane ones on line, and they arrived.

I thought I was so clever by spraying PB Blaster on the mounting nuts each day for several days in advance until I got the tire off and found this.
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The nuts were covered by several layers of accumulated dirt, grit, and mud so all my PB Blaster had been absorbed by the sediment and none of it had reached the intended destination. That said, not a single project I have ever tried with the Xterra has gone completely according to plan so why let that stop me? I scraped and blew off the accumulated grit, crap, and corruption and got the new bump stops ready to install. In order to match the bolt holes of the OEM one, I had to use a die grinder to widen the holes on the new ones by about 3/16".
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Geoff the Wrench told me that when it comes to rust welded bolts, "heat is your friend" so I broke out the acetylene torch and got the nuts and bolts very hot before applying the loooooong handled ratchet to them. They did break loose, so I gradually worked them back and forth with slow, gradual torque, loosening a bit, then backing off and tightening some, and then loosening again a little further, all with liberal application of PB Blaster.

In all four cases, I got the bolt about a 1/4" out before the bolt failed. I'm not sure why all four of them did that at roughly the same place. I was able to watch the bolt turn as I applied pressure, so I could tell immediately as soon as the shaft started to twist. Nothing would save them, not backing off, not another round from the torch, not pleading and harsh language. Thankfully since they all had about a 1/4" of bolt sticking out beneath the bracket, a quick upward tap from a heavy hammer broke the square nuts off nice and clean. I had read on the forum that this is pretty common, so I had some new nuts and bolts already on hand. Got the new bump stops mounted with no further trouble. I wish all my mods were this painless!
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Discussion Starter · #100 ·
So the next and final test will be a run this weekend to Ruby Falls. For those of you not from Alberta, Ruby Falls is kind of a "everybody goes there" trail. It's well known locally as a good solid entry level trail that is a lot of fun. It's challenging enough to be interesting, but not anything where you're going to risk ending up upside down and on fire or snapping axles. The forecast calls for more rain (which we really need) so I'll get a good idea just what I have with these Cooper STT Pro tires.
 
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