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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Welcome to the bulid in progress of my 2000 Nissan Frontier XE V6 Crew Cab.
Color: BW2 (Denim Blue)
On Instagram? Follow me @_paulforeman. Mostly truck pictures, some other pictures.

Current State:




Suspension/Wheels/Steering:
Exterior Modifications:
Engine Performance:
  • 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:
  • JVC bluetooth head unit
  • Cobra CB
  • LED dash lights conversion
  • Custom cup holders for larger items
  • Infinity door speakers
Drivetrain:
In Progress:
Mainly maintenance. At 260,000 miles, it's starting to take a lot of work to keep it going right, but she's still going nonetheless!

SO, here it is. My name is Paul and so the name "Babe" was suggested to me by a friend who aptly noted that, like Paul Bunyan's Blue Ox, I am named Paul and the Frontier is kinda like my Ox (conveniently, blue). I've had the truck for a little over 3 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, 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'll try to keep it as organized as possible. Hope you'll enjoy!
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
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.

Maintenance:

Repacked the front hubs bearings
Front brake rotors and pads.

Wheels/Tires:

- 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).





Accessories/Mods:

- 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).

Adventures:

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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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
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.

Cheers.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
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 NorthShore-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.









Cheers.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Suspension!

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

Shocks:

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!

Cheers.




 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
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 or a Coastal Offroad weld-together 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!

Cheers!
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
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
  • ECU
  • 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).
Process:
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.

Adventures:

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.

Cheers.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Toyota Wheel Conversion

Backgroud: Been wanting to do this since I realized the bolt pattern was the same. I did this mostly for fun/prove to myself I could do it. A lot of people, at first glance, think my truck is a Tacoma anyways, so many people will never notice, but people who realize it's a Nissan with Toyota wheels like to ask about it.

It's also partly (minimally) for function: This gives me the ability to swap spares on the trail with other Toyota's if necessary, being that they're more common than Nissan.


Problems to overcome:

1. Toyota wheels use mag-shank lug nuts instead of acorn/conical seat.
2. Toyota studs are M12 x 1.50 threads, Nissan studs are M12 x 1.25 threads.
3. Toyota lug studs have a larger shoulder/knurling diameter so they don't fit in a Nissan hub.
4. Toyota wheel hubs are larger than Nissan hubs.

Original Solution:

To solve the problem, I initially just used a bolt-on wheel spacer designed for a Toyota. I was able to use my factory Nissan lug nuts to hold the spacer on and Toyota lug nuts to hold the wheel to the spacer. I didn't like this solution because if I ever had a problem with the spacer (say, sheared lugs on a trail or something) and had to remove it, I would not be able to bolt the Toyota wheel to the hub because of the thread pitch discrepancy. Additionally, Most Toyota wheels have about a +15mm offset. The SC Frontier wheels have a +40mm offset, so they sit much close to the frame and have a narrower stance. Because of this, the spacers made the Toyota wheels sit 1" wider on each side than the Nissan wheels with a 1.25" spacer, which caused rubbing issues on the bumper and fenders on the front (and looked kinda dumb). Ultimately, it worked, but it wasn't what I wanted.

Final Solution:

I replaced all the studs and used a hub ring to fit the Toyota wheels on. I was able to find some lug studs from ARP that are M12 x 1.50 (Same as Toyota thread pitch/size), but have a 0.509" knurled shoulder diameter (almost identical to Nissan shoulder size of 0.505"). They were too long, however, to fit behind the hubs in the rear. I cut about 9 threads off of each lug stud and ground the ends to a taper to allow the lugs to thread more easily.


Lug Studs from ARP
Lug Studs 100-7708.


Cut studs down by ~9 threads.

Using a metric M12 x 1.50 grade 10.9 nut and some greased washers, I installed the lug studs by pulling them into place by tightening the nut. I just tightened till the head bottomed out. The studs pressed in great after the slight modifications to the length. Using 106mm to 100mm hub rings, (took me forever to find a company that sells them in this size), the Toyota wheels center on the hubs. The rear hubs don't stick out very far, so it's difficult to get the hub rings to engage, so I will 3D-print some better ones when I get a chance.

106mm to 100mm hub rings



Using a standard nut to pull lug studs into place.


Toyota lug nuts threaded onto new studs.


Toyota wheel installed using a hub ring and Toyota lug nuts on rear hub.


Removed front hubs and disc brakes to install new studs. I didn't need to cut these down, but I did them anyways just so they would match.


Toyota wheels bolted directly to front hubs. Hub rings engage much easier on front than rear.


Used an adjustable circle-cutter to cut out holes in the FJ wheel center caps to allow access to the Manual 4x4 hubs.




SO, that's pretty much it. I'm going to get the Falken Wildpeak tires swapped over this week before we head to Moab. Will hopefully get to wheel a few trails while we are there.

As always, stay tuned for more.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
ARE Topper Modifications

Alright, this post is going to be about the things I have done to the ARE topper and inside the truck bed. It's taken me a while to get to this, but here we go...

I like to be prepared. I don't always have everything I need on the trail or on the road, but I'm learning every time and continually adding to my gear that I carry. If any of you have ever been in a 1st gen, you know that there is not a lot of room in the cab for storage. There is room behind the seat for a few small things, but when I'm wheeling, I need more than what can fit behind the seat.

Recovery Gear Storage

So, here's a list of most of the recovery gear I carry:

...
...
like I said, there is more, and I'm always adding to the list.


So, where do I put it all? Well check it out!

The RotoPax goes right behind the wheel well. I added a little 2x2 to the bedside to give the container something solid to back up against (note all the additional holes from previous projects).




Then, for all the small stuff, I custom mounted a Yakima Basketcase roof backet to the inside of the topper.



It is all really very low profile and it stores all of my recovery gear fairly comfortably. It is mounted to a cut-off Thule bar at the rear (towards the front of the bed). That bar is then u-bolted to some simple gate hinges that I found at Ace Hardware. The hinges bolt through the roof tracks that are installed on the outside of the topper. The basket is supported at the front (towards the back of the truck, I guess) by steel cables that tie up to eye-bolts that are bolted through the roof tracks as well. I have eye-bolts on the edges of the basket as well, so when I lift the basket up, the eye-bolts line up and I throw some hitch pins through them. This is surprisingly sturdy. All the gear I have up there comes out to about 45lbs or so, and it holds up to just about everything. I have even jumped the truck (not far or high, but still left the ground) and the hitch pins, eye-bolts, and gate hinges are intact.





I added steel mesh to the windows of the topper. These are just grill grates from Home Depot that I cut to fit the window. They serve a dual purpose; partly for extra security, but mostly for the ability to hang more stuff. Using various sizes of Quickfists, I've got my hatchet and bow saw mounted on the driver side, right above the RotoPax mount. On the passenger side, I currently have my shovel mounted with 1 Quickfist and a drop-in bracket at the end for the shovel blade to rest. This is provides easy, secure access for all of my larger accessories.





Onboard Air Box

The other part is a built-in a box for my air compressor and tanks. I run a Viair 450c compressor and have 2 air tanks; a Viair 2.5 gallon air tank as well as a Firestone 2 gallon air tank. Unfortunately, I don't have pictures before I installed the box over the tanks. But see below how they are situated. The compressor is above the wheel well behind the silver Viair tank.



I have my Hi-Lift mounted on top of the box. I have a horizontal bolt mounted at the rear of the box that the Hi-Lift slides onto. Then at the front, I drop the Hi-Lift handle over a bolt mounted into the box and secure it with a Yakima wingnut. It is actually really solid and extremely easy to access.






Lights:

Finally, of course, there are also some LED lights in the topper for use at night. The switch is mounted in the very back right clamp that holds the topper to the truck bed. It's illuminated in BLUE in the picture below.



Final Thoughts:

I've invested a lot of time into this topper/bed setup. It's constantly evolving to match my current wheeling skills, season of the year, and state of the truck in general. Although I have had to do a lot of things 2 or 3 times in there (either because I did it wrong, or driven by adaptation), I've learned a lot from it and will carry a lot of things over from this setup to future builds I might have.

Thanks for reading (if you read this far). I know it was a lot, but I have a lot of work into it, so it just ended up being a longer post. I think I'm just about caught up on the build to this point. Most everything from this point on will probably be new, current build progress, so stay tuned, because there are lots of things left on my list for this truck!

Cheers.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
LED Headlights/Fog Lights

Alright, I've been working down this path for a long time trying to figure out what to do with my stock headlights.

Basically, when I got the truck, the headlight fixtures were pretty yellowed and had surface cracked. I knew they needed something, but wasn't sure what I wanted to do long term. I started by just replacing the stock headlight fixtures with the OEM style housings. See below.


Original headlight fixtures with basic halogen bulbs.


Replaced headlight fixtures early on with Eagle Eye replacement housings.


Recently I decided that I needed to do something different. I considered several things...

1. Higher power halogens (HELLA 100W vs 65W)
Pro - cheap, easy to replace, fit OEM housings.
Cons - higher power draw not supported by factory wiring harnesses (possibility of fire?).

2. Better than stock Halogens
Pros - direct replacement, higher brightness, easy install.
Cons - lower life, cost adds up when replacing frequently.

3. HID projector retrofits.
Pros - high output, good light cutoff, longer bulb life (depending on who you ask).
Cons - expensive, time consuming to build myself, only 1 guy who builds them for 1st gens.

4. LED bulbs.
Pros - relatively cheap, LONG life, low power draw, high brightness.
Cons - hard to sift through cheap knock-offs and 100's of options online, many have bad beam pattern.

Ultimately, I settled on LED because I couldn't stomach the cost of the HID retrofits ($450-$500). I really thought about it and almost pulled the trigger on a set, but I want to get more armor going, and the lights weren't high enough priority to justify setting the bumper/skids back further.

SO, I tried 3 different sets of LEDs. The first 2 had great brightness, but scattered the light very badly, blinding traffic and also not helping me see. The 3rd set I found have a sharp cutoff and were easily aimable. They were from Amazon. 9004 LED headlight bulbs by SEALIGHT.


LEDs didn't appear to line up with halogen filaments, but when installed in the right orientation, they produce a good beam pattern.


Comparison of OEM halogen vs. LED bulb.


Low Beams

High Beams



Fog Lights

Alright, another fight with fog light options was going on at the same time (over the last couple years). Originally, I added factory fog light housings to my stock chrome bumper because the XE Off Road package didn't offer them. The truck did, however, have the factory wiring harness and relay already installed (thanks, Nissan?), so I just added the correct switch to the steering column it was plug-and-play. I did a simple fog-light bypass to allow me to use the fog lights when the headlights were not on (a useless design that basically renders fog lights useless, in my experience). I was never impressed with the light output, however, even though the pattern was good. I tried 55W Halogens, 100W halogens, and LED's, and got similar light output from all 3. Seemed like the color temperature was all that would change.



I moved the factory fogs to the ARB bumper when I got it, but was still on the hunt for a good fog light. I modified *(chopped up) the factory bracket and just bolted it to the bumper. This actually worked really well, but he light output was still the problem. I considered the square fog lights from the Ford Super Duty (c. 2004), but they were just too big. (I've retrofit those in several other vehicles with decently good performance overall quality).



I ended up finding some DOT Approved LED fog lights on Amazon. I was concerned about breaking the mounts while snow-wheeling if I mounted them too low, so I cut out some holes in the ARB to mount them a bit higher and have them be a bit more protected. Not my cleanest work ever, but for a drill and a jigsaw, I am happy with the result and the performance is outstanding in dust, rain, and snow.



The down-side is that the bulbs are completely enclosed, so hopefully they never go out!

Anyways, that's what I've done to remedy the poor light output of the factory setup. I have not gotten flashed by any oncoming traffic while using the LED headlights yet (been about 5 weeks) and the LED fogs have made a huge difference in my ability to see during rain and snow.

Stay tuned. I just wrapped up a fun wiring project that I'll post next. I'm just waiting till I have time to finalize it, get some good pictures, and get a post going.

Cheers.
 

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Awesome write up. I like what ya did. I was wondering if anybody would put a SC on a 2000 frontier. I have thought about it lots. How has it affected your mileage? I have an automatic, at highway speeds (about 60 mph) the rpm is above 2000; on my wrangler I didn’t hit 2000 rpm until after 70 mph.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Awesome write up. I like what ya did. I was wondering if anybody would put a SC on a 2000 frontier. I have thought about it lots. How has it affected your mileage? I have an automatic, at highway speeds (about 60 mph) the rpm is above 2000; on my wrangler I didn’t hit 2000 rpm until after 70 mph.
Thank you. Yes, the gearing on the truck is pretty low (great for 4x4, not great for highway). Mine is the 5 speed and I have not seen very much mileage difference. I get about 16.5-18.5 mpg now depending on what I've been doing. (I think that's reasonable considering all my added weight, low gearing, and larger tires).
 

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Wow , how did i miss this build thread.
Thanks for taking the time to post all the details and pics.
I really like the rack on the inside roof of the topper.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Wow , how did i miss this build thread.
Thanks for taking the time to post all the details and pics.
I really like the rack on the inside roof of the topper.
Thanks man! The interior topper rack is definitely one of my more creative solutions... I started the thread recently (like 4 months ago) and kinda backwards-chronicled everything I had done up to that point even though I've owned the truck for 3 years, so it's very possible that you could have missed it. I'm caught up now so everything I post on here will be current. It's still very much a work in process, so check back every once in a while because I seem to always be able to find something else I want to do to her!
 

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Thanks man! The interior topper rack is definitely one of my more creative solutions... I started the thread recently (like 4 months ago) and kinda backwards-chronicled everything I had done up to that point even though I've owned the truck for 3 years, so it's very possible that you could have missed it. I'm caught up now so everything I post on here will be current. It's still very much a work in process, so check back every once in a while because I seem to always be able to find something else I want to do to her!
Um ya ...the modifications for off-roading / overlanding never seem to end....there is always something more.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Topper Rack

Alright, so I finally got a real rack for my topper. So, basically, I just took a "Tacoma-specific" rack and put in on my truck. The fit and function are great so far and the rack lines up with the roof rack well. I've been waiting for the outfit that built my roof rack (Rocky Mountain Racks, now re-branded as Sherpa Equipment Company) to release a topper rack for a while, and they finally got around to it. The rack is called the Crows Nest and is specifically designed for toppers that go on the short bed Toyota Tacoma. Although the Frontier CC/SB has a shorter-than-5' bed (55" instead of 60"), I figured I could make it work (remember, if you read my other posts, the roof rack I have was designed for a 4Runner, and I made that one fit, so I figured I wouldn't even have to modify this one).

Basically, yeah, I didn't do any modification. The rack side panels are painted with Rustoleum Spray-in Bedliner. I used about 6 coats of it, figuring that would make it more durable (I only did about 2 coats on the other rack and it's chipped a bit in places).

Here's some pictures. I haven't figured out exactly how I'm going to get the roof top tent to mount up quickly to it, but I'll get to that soon.






Now, I did this on the other rack, but I don't know if I detailed it. I took all the cross-bars into our machine shop at work and cut pockets in the tracks to easily drop in carriage bolts for the ski rack, bike racks, eye-bolts, etc. I put drop-in slots in each end of each track. You can see the cutouts below.



I'm pretty happy with how it came out. The rack hangs off the the front of the topper just a bit, but not by much. This was on purpose. I biased it towards the front of the topper to compensate for the shorter-than-Tacoma bed, which actually closed up the gaps between the 2 racks pretty well.



That's it for now. I'll get the tent mounted up at some point and see how it fits. Hopefully I can make it as easy to install/remove as it was on my old setup!

Cheers.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
2019 Adventures/Photos (so far)

Going to post some shots of places I've been so far this year. I know it's a build thread, but obviously I build it to get places and use the truck! This isn't an exclusive list, but some of the highlights for sure.

January 2019 - Winter camping near Winter Park, CO:


Trying to get in a bit of camping to test the limits of our setup, and beat ski traffic for the next morning (meh... ok, we didn't really do that. I just wanted to camp). This was a cold, windy night (20F, wind gusts to 30mph). We were a bit chilly in the tent, but we survived and added some more wool blankets to our winter camping list.

April 2019 - Ironclads:


Got out and ran some early-season trails in the foothills of Colorado's front range. We got WAY more snow in a lot of places this year than other years, so we a lot of things won't be accessible until late summer, if at all this year.

May 2019 - Moab, UT:

Took a trip to Moab for a long weekend to do some hiking and wheeling. Ran a few trails that are off the beaten path and had a great time!


Camping on the north end of Salt Valley Road. This trail actually runs through Arches National Park.


Tower Arch Trail is also within Arches National Park boundaries, and ends at a very large arch that you can hike up to and around. It is a very fun and technical trail.


Eye of the Whale trail is very easy overall - this was one of the most difficult spots.


East of Moab, up into the La Sal mountains. This is part of the Kokopelli trail (Large, epic mountain bike trail that connects single-track, jeep roads, and paved roads. I've ridden this part of the trial on my mountain bike before, so it was pretty cool to be back on this section with my truck this time.

June 2019 - T33A Plane Crash




I'd been itching to hit this trail for quite some time, but it was taking a long time for all the snow to melt off of it this year. I ran it on a weekday with one of my 4Runner guys after work one day. It is a super fun and challenging trail, especially with no lockers ... (maybe some day?).

June 2019 - Sheephorn Mountain


We were the first ones to make it through this trail this year. We cleared about 12 trees that were blocking the trial in various places using the winch, tow straps, and the cutting equipment I carry. The snow drifts were a lot of fun to bash through.

June 2019 - Crescent Lake




Accessed the Flat Tops Wilderness area via Crescent Lake trail. This one is tricky. Overall, 12 miles of bumpy road, downed trees, and off-camber washouts (hard to get pictures in those situation). Overall, the scenery was amazing and totally worth the brutal road.


Alright, there's a bit of a photo dump. Stay tuned for more modifications and trips to come.

Cheers.
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Auxiliary Fuse Block Buildup

Alright, I actually finished this up a while ago. I haven't had time to sit down and enter it yet, and I haven't polished the mounting setup yet, so I'll probably just put that in the next post.

I mentioned this before, but I have a bunch of LED's around the truck for camping/night wheeling, etc. Roof, side of the rack, rear bumper, etc. I also have an air compressor in the bed for airing up tires, cleaning camping gear, etc.

The initial problem:

back when I initially started modifying the truck, I just added some spot/driving lights in the front bumper, but after I started wheeling more, I added more electronics over the course of 2 years. Since I had never set up an aux. fuse/relay block, the relays were scattered throughout the engine bay and behind the dash. I had setup a small fuse block behind the glove box (see below). but the lack of organization in the relay department was bugging me... especially when one of them went out and I couldn't remember where it was located.


Initial fuse block location. Helped with organization a little bit...

So, I ordered a generic Fuse/Relay Box from amazon, some nifty clear-case relays, and some various sizes of Terminal Connectors (the box didn't come with any). I basically added 5 fused and relay'd circuits, and 1 fused-only circuit for my CB radio (hopefully I don't ever need more because that's all the slots I had in the box). Got a few pictures below...

Basically, I have 1 large (40A fused 6 or 8-gauge... can't remember) power input that comes from the battery. Blue wires are from the switches to control the relays, and the red wires are power out that goes to the accessories. That one spare red wire is my 2A circuit to run the CB radio.


Power gets fused, then goes to the relays. The power goes through the relay, to the accessory (lights, compressor, etc), and then comes back to the same area where I have everything tied into a common ground (ignore the 1 black wire mixed in with the power bundle... it's not there anymore).




I then added some 6-pin trailer brake connectors to the switch bundle as well as the power bundle. This way, the entire setup is removable and transferable to a new vehicle if I ever go that route. Added some ring terminals to the power and ground wires as well.


So, that's not a very detailed write-up... again, I kinda forgot to take a lot of pictures along the way. I have all of this mounted up under the dash where the glove box WAS... I'll document that setup and add it to this thread next, but basically, I did a glove box-delete and replaced that area with my CB, fuse box, power inverter, etc, so stay tuned for that.

Cheers.
 
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