Babe, the Blue Ox - Nissan Frontier Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-14-2019, 05:46 PM Thread Starter
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Babe, the Blue Ox

Welcome to the bulid in progress of my 2000 Nissan Frontier XE V6 Crew Cab.
Color: BW2 (Denim Blue)

Current State:

Exterior Modifications:

- ARE V-Series Topper with lots of custom interior work
- 3" suspension lift
- Rocky Mountain Racks custom aluminum roof rack
- Thule tracks on cab of truck
- Thule tracks on topper roof
- ARB Bull Bar + 9500lb winch
- Custom rock sliders from First Choice Fab. in Denver
- Offroad Town LED DOT approved fog lights
- Offroad Town rear bumper flush mount LED's
- Amazon Special 32" rack-mounted light bar
- RUN-D side LED flood lights
- RUN-D front spot/ditch lights
- 265/70/17 Wildpeak AT3/W tires
- 17" Toyota FJ Cruiser wheels. (yeah, I made it work!)

Performance Modifications:

- Clutch start cancel.
- Supercharger installed from 2003 S/C Xterra.
- ECU Swap from 2003 S/C Xterra.
- Updated MAP sensor.
- K&N Air Filter

Interior Modifications:

- JVC bluetooth head unit
- Cobra CB
- LED dash lights conversion
- Custom cup holders for larger items
- Infinity door speakers


- 5-speed manual transmission
- Warn manual locking 4x4 hubs
- Stock gears (4.385:1 or something like that).

In Progress:

Mainly maintenance. At 245,000 miles, it's starting to take a lot of work to keep it going right. Just finished up all 4 brakes (drums, rear wheel cylinders, etc), wheel bearings, alternator bearings, idler bearings. Got 1 more exhaust manifold to do. Figured out how to make Toyota wheels fit. Partly for style but partly for the sake of interchangeability with the group I wheel with and with my other vehicle, which is a 2004 V8 4Runner).

Going to sand and paint the hood to match this Spring!

SO, here it is. My name is Paul and so the name "Babe" was suggested to me long ago by a friend who aptly noted that, like Paul Bunyan's Blue Ox, I am named Paul and the Frontier is like my Ox (conveniently, blue). I've had the truck for about 2.5 years. I originally got it as a work truck for my previous job and didn't really foresee ever using it for off-road playing (other than the usual mountain biking and camping trips, etc). HOWEVER, after one of my friends took me out wheeling, (he's in a pretty tricked out '03 Tacoma), I was hooked. I don't have a lot of pictures of the truck as it was when I bought it.

Like I said, wasn't planning on modifying it a lot, and didn't take a lot of pictures early on. But I'll add some "before" shots here, of the few that I have.

This was the first time I took her out wheeling near Idaho Springs in Colorado.

She got a lot of use hauling bikes around to different MTB trails throughout Colorado and Utah.

Stay tuned for more! I'm going to start going back to chronicle, in retrospect, some of the build that I have pictures of. I'll keep updating these until I get to how it is currently. I'll try to keep it as organized as possible. Hope you'll enjoy!

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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-14-2019, 06:14 PM
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Very nice looking! they say it's always cheaper to keep an old vehicle running than replace it. sure isn't as convenient though, ha ha. really like that color.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-19-2019, 10:08 PM Thread Starter
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Mostly Accessories + TIRES

Alright, here we go... back to the beginning.

This update will briefly cover work done from July 2016 - March 2017

I still can't believe I didn't take a picture of the truck the day I bought it (I probably snapchatted it but never took an actual picture... what a millennial). The un-molested truck still sneaked into a few pictures (I'll put them below). I bought the truck with ~160,000 on it in July of 2016. More miles than I wanted, but it was owned by a dealer mechanic for the previous 11 years and was up to date on all maintenance, including timing belt, etc. The only (and I mean ONLY) issues with the truck were a cracked windshield and a periodically dragging parking brake. No matter, I replaced the window and ignored the brake.

I originally purchased the truck for work with no intentions of modifying it. That notion lasted approximately 2 days. The truck had a few off-road goodies on it from the factory. Gas tank skid plate, leaf spring mount skids, 4.636:1 gear ratio, and a limited-slip rear differential (it doesn't work too well anymore, however). I could tell that I would eventually need some performance and suspension modifications to keep up with the rugged terrain in Colorado, but I didn't dive in head-first into modifying the truck. It was still my work truck at the time.

So instead, I started doing some preventative maintenance and small experimental upgrades/mods/accessories periodically. Since the truck didn't cost me much, so I was aggressive with my cutting and hole drilling during my experimental phase.


Repacked the front hubs bearings
Front brake rotors and pads.


- Picked up some S/C Frontier wheels locally off Craigslist.
- 255/65/17 Wrangler All-terrain Adventure (with Kevlar sidewalls) mounted up on the new 17" wheels.
- 235/75/15 Cooper Discoverer M+S snow tires on factory wheels for winter, as I was doing a lot of driving in snow for work. (Best snow tires I've ever driven on a truck or SUV to this date).


- Cheap roof basket from Amazon onto the factory roof rails. I liked that the basket was low-profile and fit between the rails.
- I used some 3" u-bolts wrapped with some old climbing rope sleeves to attach the basket.
- Custom-mounted a Thule rack over the bed for skis because the short bed was too short for my pow skis.
- LED light bar on the roof rack and a shovel, naturally.
- Flush-mount LED's in the rear bumper.
- Driving/off-road LED's in the front bumper. (also did a factory fog light install using the factory wiring harness).
- Converted all the dash lights to bright white LEDs which worked out well with the blue tint on the instrument cluster.
- Installed my JVC head unit with hands-free voice control for my phone. So much more advanced than the rest of the tech on the truck!

Remember, I at the time, my truck was primarily being used for work (Civil engineering consulting, so I did a lot of field work).


Went out to Georgetown, Colorado. Ran Argentine Pass as far as we could. Trail was still snowed in during late March, and I had already switched out my snow tires for the all-terrains. I also got to test out some of the recovery gear I had been collecting on my bud's 4Runner. At this point, I had installed a Thule Tracker II foot pack to the edges of my bed for a quick and easy removable bed rack for skis, camping, etc.

Drove the truck out to Oklahoma to visit my family. I did a lot of the drive at night in the Spring and the LED's really helped me lookout for deer (yes, I turned it off if there was oncoming traffic). Check out the LED lights in the dash too. I used white lights but the blue tint in the dash made for a really nice color of blue.

That's it for now. I'm going to try to get better at re-sizing photos for hosting so that they fit the page better. Cheers.

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Interior + Exterior LEDs

Here are some images of the LEDs and factory fog lights I installed back in January of 2017, including the interior and exterior lights. I added factory fog lights and OEM switch to the steering column in the truck. I tried a couple different bulbs in the factory fog lights. The LED's didn't fit well, thus had a bad fog pattern and the 100 Watt bulbs just started to melt the fog lamp assemblies, so I ended up keeping the factory 55W bulbs as fog lights:

I eventually cleaned up the wiring and added a fuse block behind the glove box for all the LED's I had added:

Rear lights, side lights, front driving spots, and a lightbar. All the LED's are listed in my first post on this thread:

I think I used this picture somewhere else in this thread, but I think its worth re-using. My brother took this shot and it did some editing to bring out the mountains in the background. Really good work.

The lights all came out really well. I ended up drilling a small hole in the roof under the feet of the factory rails on the truck. That way, I was able to run the wires through the rails to the back of the cab for the side flood lights. It came out very clean with almost no visible wires anywhere outside the truck. The result was really nice for wheeling at night and for setting up camp when we roll in after dark.

Stay tuned. I'm working on compiling more photos as well as keeping up with current maintenance and upgrades on the truck.


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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-29-2019, 01:21 PM Thread Starter
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Topper + 2017 Adventures

Alright, I'm still trying to filter through all the old pictures and hit the highlights to get up to current speed.

First thing I did after getting the new tires, I went out and did a few trails around Colorado and Utah and some spring camping.

En-route to Moab, UT, we ran part of the Dotsero Crater loop and played in the gravel pit for a while:

In Moab, I did a bit of wheeling. I was recovering from double foot surgery (would not recommend), but was able to drive, so we did some easier trails that are off the beaten path:

So what did I learn? Well as we drove over Vail Pass on the way to Moab, it was raining. While we were in Moab, it was dry and dusty. On the way back, it was raining through Grand Junction. Although our gear was all packed in locking boxes, some of it still managed to get wet and all of it managed to get covered in Moab dirt. So that's when I decided that, although it would limit my ability to use the truck bed for hauling stuff, I wanted to get a topper. I also wanted on-board-air for airing down, filling up air pads, stoking fires, etc.

I went with an ARE V-Series topper and had it color matched. I ordered it from Suburban Toppers in Denver. I had them install Thule tracks on the cap for rack options down the road if necessary (ended up being glad I did that!).

This is the day I got the topper. I added a Thule Tracker II foot back and cross bars that had previously been mounted over the bed. I think I showed a picture of that setup in an earlier post.

Adventures of 2017

We had a lot of fun the summer of 2017 and put a ton of miles on the truck. I had some modifications and repairs to do along the way, including redoing all the steering components. Here are some post-topper but still pre-suspension lift pictures. I also built a north-short style bike rack with the help of a college class-mate and use it for transporting bikes now.

June 2017 - Crested Butte Trip:

July 2017 - Telluride Trip:

This is Sarah, my girlfriend at the time, and now my wife! She and Babe are the dream team for sure.


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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-29-2019, 05:48 PM Thread Starter
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Alright, I'm going to write this as if I did it all at the same time. I did most of it 1.5 to 2 years ago, but sorting through pictures, receipts, etc, I haven't been able to figure out what order I did it all in.

After doing some more wheeling and daily driving, I realized I desperately needed to redo all the suspension. The shocks were toast and I felt the rear springs hitting the bump stops when hauling more than about 100 lbs around town for work. So I ordered up some parts, pieced together my lift, and got to work.

Front Springs:

In the front, I installed 20% stiffer torsion bars from 4x4parts. They hold up the ARB Bumper and winch pretty well.

4x4parts Lift Torsion Bars

Rear Springs:

I have a 2.5" lift Add-A-Leaf (AAL) from 4x4parts and some extended, adjustable shackles from Summit Racing.

I did the AAL by removing the whole leaf pack and installing it. I know a lot of people remove the overload springs when doing and AAL. I could have re-used the factory u-bolts if I did that, but I decided to keep the overload springs and use longer u-bolts.

I added the adjustable shackles to be able to adjust the rear end to match the front as I got it all sorted out of the months to follow. The shackles have larger bolts (1/2") than the factory shackles (M12 = 0.4724"). No problem; I drilled out the rear eyelet in the leaf springs and the eyelet in the frame mount with a 1/2" drill bit, greased up the bolts, and bolted her up.

I've had the shackles adjusted to various heights over the last 2 years to compensate for topper weight, front lift adjustments, larger tires, etc. In retrospect, I'm extremely glad I went with these. They were only $14 and have worked really well for the last 2 years.

4x4parts 2.5" lift AAL
4x4parts U-Bolt Kit
Summit Racing Adjustable Shackles


Again from 4x4parts, I have Bilstein 5100 Series extended shocks. I RECOMMEND GETTING THESE FROM 4WHEELPARTS INSTEAD!. I had to replace the rear shocks when they blew out and 4x4parts doesn't offer a warranty. I called up Bilstein and they said that these particular shocks are not intended for the Nissan Frontier, so they are "custom fitment" and thus they only offer a 90-day warranty. I got my replacements from 4WP and they offer a 5-year unlimited x-treme supreme can't-beat-it warranty or whatever, and they will replace them for free if they go out again.

Front Shocks:

Rear Shocks:

4x4parts Bilstein 5100 package

Additional Parts:

I added upper control arms, ball joint spacers, and differential drop bushings to the front suspension to get a bit more travel out of the linkage. These parts are all available on 4x4pars as well.

Differential Drop Bushings:

Energy Suspension Diff Drop Bushings

This install is really annoying and difficult. It's hard to get everything lined up and get the differential back in straight. If you get it crooked, there will be extreme vibrations from the front drive shaft as it tries to line up with the crookedly mounted differential. I got it eventually, but its not fun or easy.

Front Upper Control Arms:

Steering Idler Arm Brace:

UCA and Idler Arm Brace Kit

Post-Lift Photos:

Freshly installed, ready to hit the MTB trailhead:

More rear wheel travel:

More Front Wheel Travel (Spoiler on the ARB and Winch install):

That's about it for my suspension. As always, feel free to shoot me a message if you have any additional questions about my build. I'm working in retrospect for these first few posts, so I may have missed a few things!


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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-29-2019, 05:53 PM Thread Starter
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ARB and Winch Install + 2018 Adventures

Installed an ARB Bull Bar winch bumper and installed a Smittybilt XRC 9.5K winch in March of 2017 The install went pretty well and I was able to get it installed by myself using jackstands and my jack. I got the bumper and winch from 4WP in Denver. I got the ARB because at the time, it was the best option for me. Looking back, I still like it but probably would have gone with an Addicted Offroad tube/plate hybrid bumper. Maybe I will still someday.

Installation day:

ARB Bull Bar for Nissan Frontier
Gen 2 Smittybilt XRC 9.5K

I peeled the chrome off the grille, painted it black to match the bumper, and hit the trails to test out the winch and some of the gear I had picked up to go with the winch. We used the winch and saw to clear 3 trees off of Democrat Mountain trail in Colorado. Didn't make it to the top. The trail was still snowed in in March.

The winch works great. I've had to use it several times for self-recover and other people. For the price, I'm satisfied. Not as powerful or smooth as a Warn, but it's a heck of a lot cheaper than a Warn winch.

2018 Adventures:

May 2018 - Sangre de Cristo Mountains:
Found some amazing views and lakes up Hermit Peak in the Sangres. The trail was rough and long, but not too challenging. Fun times.

June 2018 - Ptarmigan Pass + Wearyman Creek
Got a chance to break in the new sliders on Wearyman Creek. It's gotten gnarly!

July 2018 - West Tennessee Pass + Chalk Mountain:
Did some hiking outside of Leadville, CO. There are some very beautiful lakes in the Mount of the Holy Cross Wilderness.

August 2018 - Georgetown, CO area.
My youngest brother buys his 1st 4Runner:

September 2018 - Mosquito Pass
My friend Nick buys a 4Runner:

October 2018 - Idaho Springs, CO
Another one of my brothers buys a 4Runner:

October 2017 - Littleton, CO.
Honorary 2018 post since I'm on a role, but my Fiancee then (now wife) buys a 4Runner:

Well that about wraps up 2018. Summary: Everyone but me bought a 4Runner.

I have to do a quick post about the supercharger install and a post about all the topper modifications and then i'll be just about caught up to the present, ready to go for this summer! Looking forward to the adventures to come!


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Supercharger Install

Alright, so I got this idea because I saw a video on youtube of a guy doing a supercharger swap/install on a naturally-aspirated Xterra in his driveway, so I figured I could make it work too.

I found a guy with an Xterra that he didn't want to fix (sounded like a broken timing belt) and got the parts I needed from him.

Here's what I got:

- Fuel rail with injectors
- MAP sensor + harness
- Pulley Bridge with idler pulleys attached
- A/C Compressor
- Main Shaft Pulley
- Supercharger (obviously)
- All upper and lower intake parts
- Xterra hood (need paint badly).


I started on this on Friday night at about 8pm. Worked most of Saturday with some assistance from a good friend of mine, and had it running by Saturday night. It needed some tweaks (still does, honestly), but it all worked out.

First, I started by removing all the radiator, coolant, fan, all 3 belts from the engine, intake parts, main shaft pulley, and A/C compressor (SC A/C has 6 ribs, NA only has 4 ribs). Once I had everything apart, I changed out the spark plugs, gaskets, and knock-sensor to make sure I wouldn't run into any problems with those in the near future. The spark plug tubes were too long to fit with the supercharger installed, but rather than buying new ones, I just cut the tubes down to match the length of the SC spark plug wire tubes. I had an impossible time fitting the pre-formed brass coolant/egr/etc. tubes under the intake (I forgot to get these from the Xterra), so I ditch that whole thing and simply used rubber coolant hoses to connect the ports, rather than the pre-formed lines.

I then simply installed the SC intake where the original one was, and installed the SC on top of that. I put new bearings into the idler pulleys, installed the bridge, main shaft pulley, and A/C. I also got a new serpentine belt for the SC to make sure I wouldn't have problems there either. Here's some before and afters:

Everything removed:

Everything Installed:

Troubleshooting/Other Issues:

The factory ECU worked "ok" with the supercharger, but the engine was running pretty rich. It also didn't work well at low RPM or when I gave the gas pedal a quick kick at idle. It would die on me. I swapped the ECU out and it runs perfectly. The only issue is that I have a continual check engine light on for "automatic transmission module failure" because my truck is a manual. I may get that fixed at some point, but it doesn't bother me yet. I just check it periodically to make sure there are no other new codes.

The factory hood didn't fit over the supercharger. I trimmed a small hole but ended up getting a hood from an 2002 SC Xterra on it later. The Xterra hood fits well except for the cut-outs over the headlights. The fender lines, hood latch, and overall length match perfectly. The hood from the newer SC Frontier is too long for this truck. I tried one on and almost couldn't get the hood latch undone.

I'm planning to sand this hood down to the metal/primer surface and re-paint it to match the truck this summer once the weather is nicer.

The only other thing, which I knew I would have to do, is that I have to run premium fuel in the truck now. If I run regular grade, I get a bit of pinging when I get into the throttle. Running premium seems to eliminate this problem completely.


Immediately took the truck out to see how the supercharger would do. First trip, I drove from Denver to Breckenridge to do some mountain biking. I had 3 bikes on the back and 3 guys in the truck. I managed to do I-70 up to the Eisenhower tunnel in 5th gear, only hitting 4th once or twice. Before the supercharger, I had to run between 3rd and 4th gear all the way up. So it's performing much better now, to say the least.

I then went to run some trails near Leadville, CO. I ran Birdseye Gulch, Mosquito Pass, and Weston Pass (pictures below). The truck performed well all the way up to 13,000' elevation over Mosquito Pass with no problems.

That's all for the supercharger install. I'd love to give anyone who wants to do this a few pointers if you want more details.


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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-14-2019, 12:07 PM
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Nice write-up on a BA truck... I still miss my 1st gen.
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