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Author Topic: DIY 3 Link SAS - How to/write up...  (Read 9894 times)
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« on: April 23, 2011, 01:41:32 PM »

SAS’D 3 link – DIY and everything else you need to know about the build.

3+ years under the rig and still running strong – 3 Link DIY SAS kit
Special thanks to Alpine Spirit, SteeevO, TJ, Xtoolbox, NissanNut, Jake (at Calmini), StrikeDistance (SCCX), Powerguy38 for their feedback, questions, & suggestions. In addition to answering my questions you guys challenged my thinking and helped me address potential issues.

Originally, I was planning on using the Calmini SAS kit. After doing a bit of $$$ math I thought I wasn't going to have the budget to do it right so I started reading through everything on XOC in the “Solid Axle Swaps and other advanced stuff” section.  It took me about a month of reading a few threads a night. Thanks to those of you who've contributed information on the SAS process and Nissan off-road world over the years. Lot's of good reading material.

My recommendation to those considering to SAS’n their 1st gen Xterra... If you're a good welder, good  fabricator, have a brain to figure out geometry, have a couple of good friends who got brains, and have a lot time to work with consider doing a 3 link kit similar to the one I’ve put together.
Used a 1991 Wagoneer D44 (62.5" WMS to WMS).

My initial cost was around $4500 – after making a few repairs over the past 3 years it’s now closer to $5300
If you learn from my mistakes you can do it for a lot less. Here's what it would have cost if I were to do it all again.

Basic cost: $3050
D44 - $150
SAS Kit - $1200
Steering - $300
Shocks & Springs - $700
Brakes - $300
Gears - $250
Front Drive Shaft (DS) - $150

Parts I’d recommend (and now use):
*** You'll want a 2" BL installed before you attempt. Won’t fit well w/o it.***

SAS Kit Parts
All Pro kit - Universal (Taco) SAS kit - It will be less than $1349
*Jon at All Pro photo raped the X the last time I stopped by his shop.  I speculate he could be working on a 3 link kit of an Xterra.  Don’t count on it though.
*3rd Link it a bit short.  But it does work, you’ve just got to do a great job w/ the bracket to the axle.
*Requires cutting, grinding, & welding to the axle and frame rails
*Do not get the shock towers. Ask for the shock hoops. – shock towers don’t fit
*Do not get the engine cross member - doesn't fit
*Do not get the upper link housing bracket - you'll need to fab this one yourself
*Do not get the lower shock mounts - don't fit

Coil-Over Shocks
Fox 2.0" x 10" Travel Emulsion 980-99-025-A 10.0 EMULSION $235.00
Off-Road Warehouse - http://www.offroadwarehouse.com
*Call for better pricing than advertised on site. I got 10% more off.

Coil-Over Springs
Top Spring - 0800.250.0350 8.00" Length 2.5" ID 300 LBS
Bottom Spring - 1200.250.0300 12.00" Length 2.5" ID 350 LBS
*eSHOCKS.com, Off Road Warehouse, & Calmini have almost the same pricing on Eibach springs - $65.00 each
*Off-Road Warehouse has best prices for call-in orders.

Shock tabs for mounting the Coil-Overs to the Axel
You'll need a couple of these because the ones in the All-Pro Kit don't work.

Front Driveshaft (DS)
* I do not recommend a CV shaft conversion plate (like grassroots4x4 used to sell) to use a modified Jeep XJ front Driveshaft. That is what I’m using now.  It shortens the length of the DS too much and creates binding issues.  Ended up having to cut and turn the “C”s on the 44 which was a bear and took a lot of time.  Here’s a write up on how to make your own modified XJ DS: http://nissannut.com/projects/Driveshaft/I
Your best bet is to order a custom shaft from Tom Woods, Drivelines Unlimited, or purchase one from Calmini.

Front Brakes – Master Cylinder
*After switching to a D44 axel you’ll find the brake pedal to be a bit softer.  For me it was too soft and too unsafe.  I recommend retrofitting a larger Master Cylinder and installing a proportioning valve.  I ended up using and would recommend a Brake Master Cyliner from a 77 chevy truck pickup. *You'll need to use a round file to open up the mounting holes about an 1/8" on each side. The push pin will also need to be ground down until it fits.

Brake Lines
SummiRracing.com -
EAR-63010124ERL -3 ST./ST. 24" HOSE $12.88 2ea $25.76
EAR-989545ERL BRAKE ADAPTER -3 TO 10MM F I.F $4.99 2ea $9.98
EAR-997631ERL BANJO -3 TO 10MM $7.39 2ea $14.78

Auto Zone - DIY – Mostly Awesome because Autozone warranties the parts for life.  So if/when they wear out they replace them at no charge.
1) ES2027L - Pitman arm end of draglink (REQUIRES REAMING TO FIT)
2) ES2026R - Tierod end of draglink
3) ES2234R - Driver end of tierod
4) ES2233L - Passenger end of tierod (has a hole in it that the 2026R fits into (ETA - required lots of reaming to fit))

Reaming Bit for DIY Steering
Weld-in Thread Bungs – used w/ the steering system.  Can’t remember who I got mine from… Sorry.

Gears - (IMO)
4.89 gears for 31's - 33's
5.13 gears  or bigger on on 35's +
I’m going up to 5.89s on 37s. Still waiting for parts to arrive.

Manual Locking hubs for Dana 44
* 19 spline for Wagoneers 74-91
* Check e-bay, criag's list, & Buy/Sell areas for best pricing
Superwinch - SWI400518
Warn - 20990

Rear axle information - H233B
HG46 - 2000-2001 is the H233B axle with 4.636:1 gearing (33 spline axles).
HG49 - found in mid year 2001+ Frontiers and Xterras (33 spline).
*The Axel code in on the sticker in the driver’s door frame.

Exhaust –
CUSTOM! Needs to be custom on the driver’s side from the exhaust manifold down as the 3rd link get right up in there makes using the stock exhaust impossible.  You’ll need a small pre cayt and larger post cast to pass smog in CA and keep the computer happy.  Also, make sure the O2 sensors are as close to the original position/distance from the engine.  Moving the O2 sensors further down stream on a CA rig causes a lot of problems and really poor fuel efficiency.  Took me 3 years, 3 Cayts, and 3 O2 sensors to finally identify and fix the problems it caused on  my rig.

Build Instructions
Easily 100+ man hours involved here
1. Read every thread you can find about SAS’n 1st gen Xterras.  And then do it again.  I spent over 40 hours just reading about other people’s projects.  It took me over a month but it was worth it.
2. Find and buy a doner Axel - you'll know what you're looking for if you followed point #1
3. Buy all your parts
4. Clean up the axel and grind off all old brackets
5. Reem pitman arm & tie-rods.
6. Install the Chevy Master Cylinder. Your brakes will be amazing!
7. Weld up the two lower control arm mounts about 2.5” from the knuckles to the axel. 2.5” in should give you enough clearance to prevent your tires from rubbing. - figure it out. Don't weld the mount for the 3rd link or lower shock tabs yet.
8. Gut the IFS entirely down to the frame - including driverside percayt & post cayt.
9. Fit Axle under the gutted X
10. Fit & tack shock hoops
11. Fit & tack lower shock tabs
12. Install shocks w/o springs - leave the shock fully compressed for fitting & fabing the control arms
13. Fit & tack lower control arm mounts that weld to the frame
14. Fab, Fit, & Tack 3rd link bracket to the Front Diff - difficult - make sure it fits fully stuffed
15. Fab up new T-case crossmember that goes over front DS
16. Fab, fit, & tack Pan hard bar and brackets
17. Measure, Cut, Fab, Fit, & Test front DS.
18. Fab & Fit new exhaust system to clear Front DS and 3rd link
19. Test everything at full compression, full droop, PS droop w/ PS stuffed, DS droop w/ PS stuffed
10. Make all necessary adjustments & repeat steps 9 thru 19 until everything work right.
20. Weld it all up properly
21. Install Brake lines
22. Install new brakes
23. Install Manual locking hubs
24. Bleed & test braking system
25. Install coil onto shocks
* At this point I'd suggest going SOA with your rear end. You'll have more fab work to do but it's well worth it. This kit gets you about 8-10" of lift. The rear will need the SOA or some seriously arched springs to match the front. 
26. Road testing begins
27. Install gears - you'll need to wait on the front gears until after all fab work is complete if you want to get a warranty on them.
28. Trail testing begins
30. Become fully satisfied with your work. :-)

Took the rig up to Big Bear, CA to run John Bull trail to test. It’s one of the toughest trail up in Big Bear. Lots of rocks and lots of crawling. Did the trail in about an hour and a half with no issues whatsoever. I did get stuck behind a line of 30 Jeeps but they were kind enough to let me pass in the middle of the trail. the X got a lot of woots, compliments, thumbs ups, 2nd looks, and the like from most every group I encountered that  weekend.

Here are my observations from first trail tests:
The X has a lot of flex and can easily scale 2'+ boulders and flex out. For most of the day all 4 wheels stayed on the ground because of how much flex there is now.

SAS related issues...
The T-case cross member I built needs to be reworked a bit to better fit the front DS. (Still modifying it to this day….)

35's related issues...
The big tires are great off-road. 4.9 gears are not enough to comfortable crawl on 35's with a manual transmission. There were too many times I had to gas and feather it to get the wheels moving up and over a rock. Need T-case gears & want to regear.  Starting to think the clutch disk may be wearing out. I wasn't getting as much friction as I wanted.

Non issues that I thought I thought might be issues...
Chevy MC is working out great. Lots more breaking power. Able to hold the truck still on steep rocks. Able to stop quickly... well... sorta quickly.
3 link SAS is amazing!!! I've got so much flex. No binding, stuffing, drooping, or driving issues. All welds and brackets have been examined and appear to be holding up great.
Custom steering system is holding up great. Very strong.
Custom exhaust system is working out great.

Here's a few build photos to go w/ it:

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« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2011, 01:46:01 PM »

22nd Expeditionary Group
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« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2011, 11:11:24 AM »

Awesome write-up.  You're a wealth of knowledge!

Nissan Off Road & 4x4 Forum

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