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  1. Time to give this subforum some love... In a couple weeks, I will have owned my Pathfinder for 10 years. I bought it as a birthday present to myself, having traded in a 2008 Wrangler 2-door several months prior for an SUV that could actually fit two baby seats (unlike a 2-door Wrangler). My kids just turned 10 and 11 the other day, so I'd say we're way past that point. Time flies. I purchased the truck with just under 166K miles, and in another 400 miles it'll reach 200K. It just turn 20 yrs old. Some milestones here. You could say I've done a few things to the truck over the years. As it sits today, it's got front and rear air lockers plus 3.97:1 crawler gears, among other things. I've finally sorted a few gremlins that have plagued me for the last year-plus. Sold the bumpers a few months ago; need to build new ones. But right now, I've been hankering for something significant, and if I don't spill it here, it may never happen. So, here goes! I think it's time to SAS my truck. I've been stewing on this for a long while. In August 2021, I bought an incomplete SAS project from a guy that included a Dana 44 axle, a bunch of new parts including matching gears for both the D44 and H233B diffs, an Xterra TX10, and even the 2000 Frontier everything was destined for. I mainly bought the SAS parts for $1000, but the truck with a blown headgasket was only another $700 so I bought everything. The axle was rebuilt (sorta). The truck overall was disgusting, but at some point I at least considering repairing the truck and possibly completing the SAS on it. I literally gutted the interior to clean out layers of filth in the form of dog hair and caked-in dirt to clean everything, but in the end, I didn't need a 3rd truck and sold it to a buddy. But, here I am with all the SAS parts still...and then some. Since then, I have properly rebuilt the Dana and bought and sold a few other parts towards the project. I've not officially started it yet, but I plan to soon especially since a few suspension and steering parts are already due for repair and replacements. At a very high-level, these are my project goals/objectives: Keep costs low. To date, I'm already in $2500 in parts (factors parts bought and sold), and another $500 in tools/consumables. I expect to spend another $1000-$1500 in parts and tools, but also probably recoup another $1200 in parts. $5K seems like a reasonable cap. I am tracking all my transactions. I've also bought several parts either on clearance, or from others who've abandoned their SAS projects. Restore gearing. I swapped in 4.63s long ago, but as we know, this is the end of the line for R50 owners. SAS opens up gearing options, and this might be the number one reason for me. Keep the ride reasonable. I am not doing this to go overboard on lift or tire sizes. In fact, I expect and want to end up a little higher than where I am (currently about 5" of lift between OME HD and 3" SFD up front, and 9448s and 2" spacers in rear for 6" lift). I do not ever expect, nor want, to run more than 35" tires, and I have plenty of life left on my 33" tires. Build confidence in parts. I've never had trail failure with CVs, TREs, shocks, springs, bearings, hubs, etc., which is great. But...I'm also at my max comfort limit. Without any beefier steering and suspension part options available, it may just be a matter of time. The axle, suspension, and steering options I have in mind will give me a ton more confidence. Not regress on things. I expect everything I install will be better than what it's replacing, though probably the most debatable part might be my choice of leaf springs vs. IFS in terms of ride comfort. But going to a straight axle will inherently change the ride comfort, regardless of the suspension type chosen. Breakdown of components: Axle: The D44 I have is from a 1981 Jeep Wagoneer SJ. It's the "narrow-track" version with a WMS-WMS width of 60.75". According to my notes, I measured 62.25" WMS-WMS on my current stance, but can't recall if that includes the 3" worth of wheels spacers I use (I don't think it does). So, this should be pretty close, and if I have to run spacers again, no sweat. It's also a low-pinion axle; the high-pinion R200A is preferable here, but the slightly larger D44 gears might make it an even trade-off. Suspension: The axle is set up for spring-under-axle (SUA) using leaf springs, and that is the approach I plan to take. I mulled over all the other suspension types, and while something like a linked or radius arm setup seems great, it's simply out of budget. I've read no shortage of past and current comments about how dumb leaf springs are, how dumb they are on a truck/unibody with 4-link rear, how old-tech they are...blah blah blah. I'm not trying to ignore such advice and comments, but realistically, it's how I want to allocate my money and effort, and it aligns wonderfully with what I want out of a finished truck. That said, the SUA approach greatly simplifies a lot of things for me and that's why I like it. I plan to use OE leaf springs for the Wagoneer (I have new Dorman units). With an offset center pin, they should allow me to move the axle about 3" forward from the current driveline. Instead of shackles, I will use leaf spring sliders. Mounting everything will be a challenge. I intend to make a subframe that uses the existing subframe mount points and has the provisions for the front leaf eyelets. The rear sliders may be incorporated into a new or modified transmission crossmember. Plan to make everything from scratch to keep costs down...plus I have a CNC plasma table and small press brake, so there's that. I will also not do a traditional u-bolt setup to attach the axle to the leaves. Instead, planning to make a u-bolt eliminator kit to minimize parts hang-down under the perches. I'd love to do a RA or linked setup, but the decision alone instantly adds $1K-1.5K to the budget between joints, coils/coilovers, and material. There are savings here and there, but it's not significant. I've also considered going to a spring-over-axle (SOA) setup, but this will also greatly introduce costs, namely needing to buy a high-steer knuckle, potentially needing to "cut-and-turn the C's" to correct pinion and caster angles, and also adding about 5" more lift than what I want. Gearing: I will be going to 5.13 gears. On 33's, it'll be about -3% over-geared, but on 35's, it'll be about +1%. The axle originally came with 5.89's installed and in-box for the H233B, but I sold those. Too much for my needs. Differential: I already run an ARB in the R200A, so of course I'm locking this one. Axle came with a Spartan lunchbox locker, but I sold it and bought an ARB instead. In between, I bought an Auburn eLocker/LSD combo (LSD when it's not locked), but it arrived with all sorts of damage so I returned it. Hubs: Axle came with old Warn Premium hubs, but bought some new Mile Markers on the cheap from Amazon Warehouse. Warns will serve as backups. Brakes: The axle came with all new/rebuilt brake parts, which is great. They're beefy. However, this setup means defeating ABS braking since this is axle is 40+ years old. Many people won't care and just plan to delete or omit ABS, but I don't like defeating or ignoring systems, especially not considering how pleased I am with the braking performance on my truck with the rear discs. Plus, I think the speedometer factors vehicle speed by the wheel sensors, since there isn't a speedometer pinion on the t-case. To get around this, I'm going to mimic a setup a guy uses where he machines down the Dana hub to accept a tone ring and use Hummer H3 rotors and calipers on it. A new caliper bracket adds the provision for the wheel sensor, and it's a perfect a solution. In my case, I would do pretty much the same, except I will keep the R50 calipers. Comes to find out, an H3 rotor is the same thickness as the R50 front rotor, and the diameters are very similar (H3 315mm vs R50 300mm) to the point I can just move the caliper out a little. Also worth noting is that on the Dana hub setup, the rotor is mounted behind the hub, kind of like our R50 setup. In taking this approach, the rotor will install over the hub, which will increase the WMS a small amount (about 1/2") and make rotor changes easier. Steering: The axle came with a 3/4" Heim steering kit, which is pretty beefy. But, I didn't like that it was essentially going to be a straight bolt in a tapered hole on the knuckle. No way that won't wallow out in time, and it seems most people suggested modifying the knuckle to make it double-sheer. Instead, I'm going with a GM 1-ton tie rods. These are beefy, too, and I have less worries about shearing. I will have to ream out the knuckles and pitman to get things to work, but I have the reamer. The kit also included 1.5" OD x .25" wall DOM tubing, and although the previous owner already got the tie-rod to the perfect length for the setup, I'll need to cut off the ends to weld on new bungs for the GM setup. For the steering box, I'm planning to use a one from a 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee (WJ) 2wd. This will sit inside the chassis rail. Would've been nice to stick with Nissan and use a Frontier or Xterra gearbox, but those sit outside the their frames and I didn't feel like cutting through the wheel well. Fortunately, these WJs use metric fittings, so hopefully adapting the lines won't be difficult. Shocks: TBD. I have three pairs of shocks once fitted to R50s, including the last two longer sets from my own truck while lifted. I plan to use them if possible to keep costs down. Mounting them will be a challenge. Easiest approach would be making new plates that mount where the strut does, but I think it'll be too high up from the axle. I don't want to make the mounting tabs from it extend too low, but I have other ideas in mind. Subframe/Motor Mounts: This will be the most complicated part. Won't know my exact approach until the OE subframe and everything else is out. I also plan to make some new motor mounts using poly bushings I have around. ... Right now, I'm waiting for an engine support bar to get delivered sometime next week. I may start pulling things off the truck and get this going very soon.
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