1990 Nissan Pathfinder Straight Axle Conversion
There is no argument when talking about the durability of a Nissan. Nissan builds strong trucks and they run forever. However, there is very little aftermarket support for them. After Playing with my 2WD Pathfinder in the dirt and getting into trouble I decided to convert it to 4WD just one year ago. I wheeled my Nissan Pathfinder over the last year and began to push the limits of all my modifications including my 3" Calmini suspension lift. I began to look into bigger options, but they all fell short of what I was looking for. It was brought to my attention that the All-Pro Off Road 3-Link SAS kit for the Toyota Tacoma may work on a Pathfinder.
I started doing some homework and the idea looked promising. Before long I found myself picking up parts from All-Pro Off-Road and hauling them away to get the project started.For the build I started with my 1990 Nissan Pathfinder with 367,000 on the odometer. Yes 367,000 but that's another story. The objectives here are to torch out the Independent Front Suspension (IFS) and do a solid axle swap with a rebuilt Dana 44 I pulled from a 1984 Jeep Wagoneer. This 61" wide axle is slightly wider than the 59" stock Nissan H233B rear axle, which isn't enough of a difference to worry about narrowing it.
I got the Dana 44 back to the garage where I cleaned it up, replaced the wheel bearings, and mounted the hubs and rotors. The differential housing will remain without gears and shafts until after the axle is mounted under the truck, but I put enough of it together to mount wheels to it and have it roll.
During the homework stage of this project I had been talking to Troy at California Mini Truck. They had used the All-Pro 3-link on many Toyota Tacomas and even once on a 4-Runner. They had referred me to Andreas, who was willing to do the build in his garage. Andreas is great at building trucks and has installed the All-Pro Off-Road 3 link on many trucks. He has been in many magazines and has turned out many great Toyotas in the past. Knowing this I willingly handed over the project Pathfinder to him.
When I went to check on the progress the next morning, all of my front drive train and suspension was sitting in a pile right under the truck which was being held up by jack stands. Andreas reached for the torch and started burning out all the IFS brackets, revealing nothing but a clean bare frame, which is just what we want.
Once the upper control arm brackets, lower control arm brackets, and shock towers were all cut away, Andreas rolled the axle into place, suspending it from the frame with ratchet straps. He then started taking measurements for the suspension linkage and shock hoops.
The link brackets were then tacked into place on both the frame side and the axle side, making us aware that we were going to have to somehow customize the upper link. The problem was that the wide part of the frame was slightly wider than a Toyota Tacoma's and the narrowed part under the engine is slightly narrower, therefore having a more intense curve to the frame. This curve was getting in the way of a straight shot from the upper link mount on the frame to the mount on the differential housing. For now the upper link was secured in a temporary place on the frame side, so we could revisit the issue once everything else was in its final location and all the other links were adjusted.