Reaver's 03 Xterra XE "Gamora" build thread

  • Hi Guest, you may choose a LIGHT or DARK theme that works best for you with the "Style Chooser" button at the bottom left on this page!
  • HTML tutorial

reaver

Rank IV
Member

Member I

1,080
Caldwell, ID, USA
First Name
Brian
Last Name
McGahuey
Member #

23711

I just realized I don't actually have a build thread going....

A little back story.

I got into overlanding after buying a 2004 Chevy Colorado z71 (which I still drive almost daily). I went on many awesome trips with it, but discovered it has some major weaknesses that are VERY expensive to correct. After a trip last September where I made SERIOUS use of my skid plates (as in, probably would have had to do a field repair of oil and transmission pans), and having trouble fitting everything I need in it easily, I decided it was time to look at buying an SUV that I would use for overlanding.

I thought about several vehicles, but ultimately picked up my well maintained Xterra in October 2019 with 135k on it. I had a full list of maintenance records from the previous owners, including the timing belt, and water pump being done at 110k.

I drove it daily most of the winter to see if anything felt off, or needed my attention, but everything seems to work perfectly.

This is what she looked like when I brought her home.

20191024_181434.jpg

Bone stock, we took her out the weekend before Thanksgiving for some sight seeing. She kept up with a new ranger and a third gen TRD pro tacoma.
20191116_121137.jpg

I picked up a midland mxt275 on cyber Monday, and mounted it on top of the bcm. I ran a shielded cat6 cable through the center console, and added a port on the dash to plug the speaker into the radio. I misjudged where to drill the hole the first time,so there's a 1 in hole in my center bezel.

20200117_151751.jpg

After that, I removed my mud flaps, and took it for a run in February with the SW Idaho Overlanding group.

Still stock as far as suspension goes.

20200125_111359.jpg

Since it's starting to warm up now, things are starting to move a little bit more. I've got shackles, and an idler Arm brace waiting to go in. But, I took advantage of the wife and daughter going out yesterday morning to build a modular sleeping platform in the back yesterday.

20200307_122212.jpg

The goal here is to be able to utilize the back seats WITHOUT having to remove the platform. I think I'm going to cut the front sections in half, and do a bi-fold system, since they're too long in their current state to hinge backwards. I also need to build some support for the very front of the platform, as well as add tie down points to it.

I've fashioned some attachment points on the rack with some d-rings, so I can clip a tarp for a make shift awning.

That's where she sits as of right now. I'll update this thread as I go!
 

reaver

Rank IV
Member

Member I

1,080
Caldwell, ID, USA
First Name
Brian
Last Name
McGahuey
Member #

23711

It's been a few months since I've updated this thread. I've done a ton of stuff to the rig during that time.

I scored a set of sliders of of somebody on xterranation who was building a new set.



I was also able to score a Lokka for the front diff for $200 (also off xterranation). The previous owner decided to SAS his rig, and pulled the Lokka out of his 4.9 front diff for me. I've not put it in yet, as I'm not even remotely in a hurry to get it installed. That's one I'm going to have done by a pro.

I also decided to pull the trigger on a weld together rear bumper kit. I bought a hardcore offroad kit, and then a buddy and I fabricated a rear swing out tire carrier to mount on the bumper, so that I could carry extra gas, and put my spare on the back.



I then painted the bumper using rustoleum bed liner paint, added dual smittybilt jerry can holders, and got the tire mounted up.



Last weekend, @M Rose and I worked on building an auxiliary electrical system for the rig. During the trip where the above picture was taken, we did some night runs, and I found out that I really need some upgraded lighting. I also wanted to add the ability to charge my power pack when the vehicle is running, but shut off the charger when it's not. Not to mention a fridge purchase down the road, and charging camera batteries once I get all that stuff. There are still some bugs to work out on the electrical, but everything I need is there.







We used ethernet cable for the switch wiring, since it's a really low amp current. This makes it so we only have to run a couple of cables to power all the switches (I only have two installed ATM).



Installed a circuit breaker to completely disable the system if need be.



Running the big 4 gauge wires under the center console to the back of the rig.



The bundle of wires coming up from the rear passenger section, and past the seats. I still need to get some wire loom to protect it.



Relay box and fuse box temporarily mounted to the side of my sleeping platform. This will get moved when I build the drawer system to replace the current setup.



12v outlet and dual USB's added at the bottom of the center console. These activate when the truck is running. The stock port above is on all the time.



Switches mounted at the bottom of the center stack.



And finally, moved the midland mxt-275 to under the seat, instead of under the center console.



That's all for now. I need to work the bugs out of the electrical, get a couple of lights (focused on the front for now), and then work on my drawer system.
 

reaver

Rank IV
Member

Member I

1,080
Caldwell, ID, USA
First Name
Brian
Last Name
McGahuey
Member #

23711

After using my el-cheapo sleeping platform for a bit, I've decided that to really make the best use of the space (or lack there-of) that I have, I really need a drawer system. I've been working on designing an updated system that will make camping with the family, and solo much easier.

I've come up with this:



The rear passenger seat will be removed completely, and replaced with storage cubby, and drawers that extend to the floor, that will be accessible through the passenger door. The bottom drawer will house tools, air compressor, and other various items. The opened hatch above the storage drawer in the rear is an access hatch for my aux fusebox and relays.

The rear drawers will run on 24" locking slides, and the front drawers will ride on 20" slides (I haven't decided whether I want to do locking or not).
 

reaver

Rank IV
Member

Member I

1,080
Caldwell, ID, USA
First Name
Brian
Last Name
McGahuey
Member #

23711

I just realized that I've not updated this thread in quite a while!

I built a new drawer system for the X back in October.

Drawer system skeleton, with the top and bottom being 1/2in plywood, and the vertical supports being 1x8 boards.



On the drivers side, I have a master on/off switch for the rear ports, 4 USB ports (for charging cameras and phones), volt meter, and an additional 12v outlet.



Passenger side has another 12v outlet, 2 additional USB ports. The first switch is for my water pump. The second switch turns my inverter on/off. Third switch is currently open.



Water pump, inverter, and all electrical is accessible from right behind the seats.



My electrical is all centralized on the passenger side of the system.



My dad helped me with the drawers, as he has a table saw and router. Got them both done in a day.

 

M Rose

US Northwest Region Director
Benefactor
Member

Pathfinder II

4,861
La Grande, Oregon, USA
First Name
Michael
Last Name
Rose
Member #

20990

Ham Callsign
KJ7MFV
@reaver Im so proud of you my Padewon. Great job... Kallie wants you to help her build one... she’s over here listing all kinds of things she wants in her drawer system.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Dusther210

reaver

Rank IV
Member

Member I

1,080
Caldwell, ID, USA
First Name
Brian
Last Name
McGahuey
Member #

23711

@reaver Im so proud of you my Padewon. Great job... Kallie wants you to help her build one... she’s over here listing all kinds of things she wants in her drawer system.
Haha. I'd be happy to. I've not really tested my plumbing system yet. I don't want to run water through it until it's no longer at risk of freezing.

Besides, I still owe you for all that help with the electrical system.
 

M Rose

US Northwest Region Director
Benefactor
Member

Pathfinder II

4,861
La Grande, Oregon, USA
First Name
Michael
Last Name
Rose
Member #

20990

Ham Callsign
KJ7MFV
You don’t owe me a thing for the electrical system... seeing you not scared of it any more is way more satisfying than anything else.

I can’t wait to see the drawer system in use with water and all.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Dusther210

reaver

Rank IV
Member

Member I

1,080
Caldwell, ID, USA
First Name
Brian
Last Name
McGahuey
Member #

23711

There's a few modifications I'd like to do to the relay layout. I'd like to replace my 4 standalone relays with a relay box. I'm thinking this one:


That will allow me to clean up the wiring a bit, and make swapping relays a bit easier.
 

M Rose

US Northwest Region Director
Benefactor
Member

Pathfinder II

4,861
La Grande, Oregon, USA
First Name
Michael
Last Name
Rose
Member #

20990

Ham Callsign
KJ7MFV
There's a few modifications I'd like to do to the relay layout. I'd like to replace my 4 standalone relays with a relay box. I'm thinking this one:


That will allow me to clean up the wiring a bit, and make swapping relays a bit easier.
That looks like a good solution.
Wish it wasn’t snowing here I really need to get the transmission mated to the Bronco... I have just a little bit of prep work before the transmission is ready to go in.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Dusther210

reaver

Rank IV
Member

Member I

1,080
Caldwell, ID, USA
First Name
Brian
Last Name
McGahuey
Member #

23711

That looks like a good solution.
Wish it wasn’t snowing here I really need to get the transmission mated to the Bronco... I have just a little bit of prep work before the transmission is ready to go in.
I know that feeling. I have tons of stuff I want to do on Gamora. Figure out how to install a 180amp alternator, replace the centerlink (happening next weekend), paint the drawer system, build a roof rack, install heavy duty tie rod adjusters, and buy and install a lift. I hoping to install my front locker this year as well.

So happy I got a new job so I can afford all this stuff. Lol.
 

M Rose

US Northwest Region Director
Benefactor
Member

Pathfinder II

4,861
La Grande, Oregon, USA
First Name
Michael
Last Name
Rose
Member #

20990

Ham Callsign
KJ7MFV
You have a good idea of where your build is heading. I’m sure you will get most, if not all, of it accomplished this year.

I too have a laundry list of things I want to do to my rig... b u t . . . New radio came out late January that has my name written all over it... so my build is going to be put on hold for a while after I get it running...
 
  • Like
Reactions: Dusther210

reaver

Rank IV
Member

Member I

1,080
Caldwell, ID, USA
First Name
Brian
Last Name
McGahuey
Member #

23711

You have a good idea of where your build is heading. I’m sure you will get most, if not all, of it accomplished this year.

I too have a laundry list of things I want to do to my rig... b u t . . . New radio came out late January that has my name written all over it... so my build is going to be put on hold for a while after I get it running...
After those items are done, the only other remaining items on my build list is a rear arb locker, skids, and some more lights. I'm still debating on whether I want to do a front bumper or not.
 

reaver

Rank IV
Member

Member I

1,080
Caldwell, ID, USA
First Name
Brian
Last Name
McGahuey
Member #

23711

So my steering has been pretty wobbly for about a month or so. A common issue with these rigs is the Centerlink going bad. I just finished replacing mine, but haven't had a chance to test drive it yet.

Also, my truck is fixed, so I can start driving that again.
 

reaver

Rank IV
Member

Member I

1,080
Caldwell, ID, USA
First Name
Brian
Last Name
McGahuey
Member #

23711

Test drove the X the other day, after replacing the centerlink. SO MUCH BETTER. Taking it on a pretty long run tomorrow. We'll see how she does. I'm expecting LOTS of mud, and very likely NOT reaching our destination. Will make for an interesting video.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Dusther210

Dusther210

Rank V
Member

Pathfinder III

2,164
Palisades Park, NJ 07650
First Name
Dustin
Last Name
Helms
Member #

24720

Ham Callsign
KD2UNH
This is awesome!! Sweet truck!! Such a cool build!

How is that Lokka? Did you get it installed yet? If not, are you trying to sell it? Lol

I got to get on Xterra nation...
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: reaver