2003 Atomic Orange Nissan Xterra 4X4 Overland Build (Codename : Tigger) Picture Heavy

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ryno9562

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So i finally decided to start a build thread on my Nissan Xterra. He is a 2003 Nissan Xterra XE 4X4 Auto in the incredibly rare Atomic Orange (only 993 ever built). At the time of purchase (February 2020) he only had 127,000 but kinda sorta neglected by the previous owners. I managed to scoop this rig up for $2650 so no complaints thus far. There is some rust but runs decent, 4WD works, a/c and heat work, shifts smooth so overall not too bad.

Condition as purchased:

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Current state: As of 158,000 miles

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Current specs and mods:
3.3l normally aspirated S.O.H.C V6 (vg33e)
4spd auto
Traditional 4x4 with hi/lo floor shifter
R200 front differential and H233B rear axle with 4.90:1 final drive
Warn premium manual locking hubs (29091)
PML (Poor Man's Lift) along with full chassis overhaul
Camping Set-up (Tepui Kukenam 3 & Smittybilt Awning)
Rear Differential Breather Extension Mod
Rear tire carrier bumper

Future mods (as the wallet permits):
Performance exhaust with ceramic coated headers
Stage 1 cams
5.14 gears with arb lockers
Front bumper with 8000lb winch
Rock sliders
Skid plates
Snorkel
Drawer system

I will do my best to document the progress of this build so please follow along.
 
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ryno9562

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PML (Poor Man's Lift) along with full chassis overhaul

Well here he is all fixed up and riding like new again!

Before
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After
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The additional height in the rear was intentional. I do tow a camper with this vehicle and did not want the rear squatting too much when towing. While pulling my camper and loaded with gear for three adults for a week it pulled great and still had about 1/2 inch more height in the rear. I will also note that my local repair shop was able to get the suspension in alignment with no issues. Don't mind the mud lol. My back seat driver tricked me into going down a really nasty dirt road with a mud hole half the length of a football field. He thought i would get stuck but i sure proved him wrong lol.

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Here are some pictures of the progress. I torched out the original lower control arm bushing to replace with urethane. and basically replaced the entire suspension and steering with all new parts, I had to remove both torsion bars so I got all new hardware related to those (going with hd ones along with 4x4parts.com UCA in the near future), replaced 2 broken wheel studs on passenger front, new upper and lower control arms, Rancho 5000x shocks all 4 corners(love these shocks by the way), adjustable rear shackles, new GREESABLE tierod ends and adjusters, new center-link, new GREESABLE idler arm (IAB coming very soon), replace bearings and races, new pads and rotors. I was determined to not have to go back in there in the future. Due to not having a lift or air tools at my disposal and also having to work around work schedule and parts shipments it took my fiance and i 1 1/2 months to do this rebuild. I had to take a saws-all or grinder to almost every bolt in there due to this vehicle being in the north for most of its life. Overall i am very happy with the outcome and i love the tires that i chose.

6BA4A39B-CB5B-400E-BF5F-4AC8EB74CFA0.jpeg DD4CA837-C970-4276-9E75-C77A8B566838.jpeg 90300828-875F-43E0-AE9C-0623B24932BC.jpeg 41D50225-945F-4343-9BEF-FFC6C93787A3.jpeg
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As you can see i could not remove the pitman arm or the lines due to the rust so I had to get a new pitman arm and nut and all the hard and soft power steering lines had to be replaced. iam probably going overboard with this rig but i want it right and 100% reliable.

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My fiance helping me reinstall the cv shafts. The scissor jack was there just as a helper when setting the torsion bars.
Yes we did have the vehicle on 3 ton jack stands. I might be a little crazy at times but I am not an idiot.

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Yokohama GeoLander X-AT 265/75r16 Load Range E
Very minimal trimming needed to fit these tires

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After all this work it drives like a brand new vehicle. The best part is it's paid for!
 

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ryno9562

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Camping Set-up (RTT & Awning)

So i did a thing! (March 2021)

After dragging my 1998 Coleman Cheyanne Pop-up 150 miles to the beach and burning almost a whole tank of gas, I said "time for camper to go by-by"

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So as you can see, it was not a bad camper just didn't have a need for it anymore. So up it went to Facebook Marketplace for $2500. In less than 10 hrs someone came to my house and gave me $2000 cash for it! OH YEAH!

The next day i find a Tepui Kukenam 3 and a Smittybilt 6ft Awning on Facebook Marketplace and sealed the deal! i found out when i got there that the owner was a fellow Overland Bound Member!
Trotto17 #0511 This was my first in person meet with a fellow member.

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I needed better crossbars because the factory Xterra ones are junk so i got the Yakima Timberline Towers, SKS Lock Cores and Round Bar SL Adapters mounted up to the factory rails then the tent bolted to the crossbars.

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I also needed a way to mount my awning. Luckily, Nissan Xterra & Frontier factory rails are a common 2 inches in diameter so i got some 2 inch exhaust clamps and drilled out the L brackets that came with the awning to match. This ended up being a perfect fit with the awning tucked up nicely just underneath the tent. YEAH BUDDY!

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Tent & Awning in action

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ryno9562

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Rear Differential Breather Extension Mod

So this is a common mod in the 1st gen Xterra community. The 1st gen Xterras had 2 factory options for rear diff breathers. Iam not sure what determines which vehicle gets what.

Option 1: Better of the two, this one mounts to the underside of the rear floor. roughly about 30" of fording depth.


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Option 2: The crappy one which is right on top of the axle tube. The one mine came with. Only allows for about hub deep water.

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Now on to the mod

Parts used are as follows:

Basic Worm Gear Fuel Hose Clamp. I used the smallest one from this pack.
Nissan Breather Hose Connector 38323-C6010
McMaster-Carr Low-Pressure Hydraulic Hose 1/4 ID x 7/16 OD About 8ft
McMaster-Carr Sintered Bronze Filter 1/8 NPT Male
McMaster-Carr 1/4 ID x 1/8 NPT Female

I started out with swabbing out the breather for the new connector from Nissan.


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I then ran the hose up inside the drivers side of the frame and out behind the shackle.

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After that I fed it up behind the drivers side taillight housing and drilled a hole big enough for the hose to fit through in a plastic tab on the back of the housing. When you do something like this make sure the hose does'nt rub on anything or touch any part of the exhaust. also make sure there is enough slack to allow for full droop on the suspension.

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Overall this was a very easy and inexpensive mod. this was specific to my vehicle but I'm sure the basic Idea of this can be adapted to work with any vehicle.
 

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ryno9562

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Rear tire carrier system

So back in September I was chillin' at the house watching some Youtube and cruising Facebook marketplace when i stumbled upon a wrecked Xterra being parted out in Gainesville, GA and this is the first picture I see!

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Yes! That is a Shrockworks Rear Tire Carrier Bumper. So I immediately called the business that listed it. These guys are awesome by the way.

Mom's Truck Parts Warehouse
1619 Gibbs Dr
Gainesville, GA 30507

When I asked the guy if the rear bumper was still available i got the biggest s*** eating grin ever!
Guy on phone: Yes sir, $150 without the tire.
Me: I'll be there this Thursday!
Guy on phone: Ok, I'll have my guy remove it and have it ready for you!

I had just struck off-road bumper gold! This was so worth a 3.5 hr drive! These bumpers are hand build one at a time to order and almost $1500 shipped with a 3 to 6 month lead time. The build quality on their stuff is top notch. 3/16 in plate steel with integrated and reinforced 2 in receiver rated to 5000 lbs. I was not letting this one slip through my fingers!

Oh yeah, don't worry. I did get a better tire for the spare hahaha!

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reaver

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Good looking first gen!

The first thing I would do is make sure the timing belt gets changed, if you haven't done so already. Being an interfere engine, if it breaks, it could take the engine with it.
So, if you're unable to confirm that it was done before 105k,id do that before doing anything else.

Sliders have saved my bacon at least once. I bought a hardcore offroad weld together rear bumper kit for 200 bucks (plus 80 bucks shipping) and a buddy helped me weld it together. Bought a tire carrier hinge, and steel to build a swing out. $500 total and a day worth of work. If you have the ability to weld, or know someone who does, it's a great option.

I'd also recommend getting an idler Arm brace from 4x4parts.com. The idler Arm on these isn't super strong, and is prone to bending without some reinforcement. The stock Centerlink is also prone to wear as well, and the best replacement is a Grassroots center link. Otherwise you'll likely be replacing the stock one about once a year.

These are fantastic rigs. Every bit as good as a 4runner,in my opinion. The only weak link is the steering. Centerlink, idler Arm brace, and if you want, some heavy duty tie rod adjusters, and you've fixed the steering weakness.

Gonna be following your build.
 

ryno9562

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Timing belt was done by p.o. and I do plan on beefing up the steering down the road. Eventually I will be getting UCA and IAB from 4x4parts. I got all my urethane bushings, Rancho 5000x shocks and adjustable shackles from them already. I'm currently rebuilding the suspension as we speak. Should ba done in a few days. After today I don't go back to work until Jan 8th so hoping to get some wheeling in soon. I have a camping trip planned for gulches offroad park on new years weekend.
 
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reaver

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Brian
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McGahuey
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Ham Callsign
GMRS WRMV941
Nice! I got like 12 pages of service records with mine when I bought it.

I'm really looking forward to seeing this progress.
 
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