R50 Pathfinder Progression/Trip Thread

RG5384

Observer
Pre Trip Report: Have been having some intermittant issues with a CEL, and with emissions coming due next month thought I would try to tackle it. The codes I was getting consitantly was a po1140, with intermittant post cat O2 and P420 codes as well. I went ahead and replaced the passenger side intake timing sensor and cleared the codes. I checked my readiness monitors and as soon as they all were good I went straight to have the emissions checked and passed with flying colors. Whew...kicked that can down the road for another 2 years.

Trip Report:
We loaded up the pathfinder full of camping gear for our family of four on Friday afternoon. We then headed out, battled DC beltway traffic for an hour or more and were finally rewarded with a beautiful drive through the Virginia mountains. I was also rewarded with another CEL, this time code PO1145. Glad I got emissions testing when I did! We arrived to the campsite(the Cove Campground in Gore, VA), around 6:30 PM and started setting up camp. Literally 5 minutes after camp was set it started raining, so into the tent we went. After some story telling time with the kids we resorted to putting on a movie on the tablet for them, I enjoyed a couple of adult beverages with the wife, and off to sleep we went.

I woke up around 4:00am freezing cold, suddenly remembering that 50 degrees in a tent is much different than 50 degree outside temp in a house, and realized the rest of the night was not going to be much fun for me. Oh well, lesson learned for next time. When the sun finally broke we had a hot breafkast thanks to our coleman propane grill, some fresh coffee thanks to our perculator, and much to my delight the entire family decided to go with me wheeling for the day(we had previously discussed they would hang back at camp, but due to the cold temperatures they thought it would be best to come in the warm car).

After the driver's meeting at 9:00am, we hit the trails. I went with the group that was *supposed* to be wheeling on 1-3 rated trails(1-10 rating system), however due to the rain the night before as well as the previous week these trails ended up being closer to 4-6 IMO. It was evident that my General Grabber AT2's were going to be struggling when the first decent we hit was straight virginia clay/mud/muck. It was a somewhat controlled slide going down. The trail boss then radio'd indicating the planned route was not passable, as he couldn't even get up it with lockers. This left us on a slippery trail, trying to find another way out. The way out we took ended up being a blast, as it was a twisty incline trail that pretty much mandated lots of wheelspin, momentum, and right foot while in 1st gear in 4wd low to get up. The rest of the trails were very fun, with a good mix of required right foot, as well as some fairly technical bits. Then we hit a section of the trail that either had you going down a boulder laden decent, or about a 2-3ft off camber drop into the mud. The way with the boulders would have been passable with a 6" lift and rock sliders, which I did not have, so I opted for the dropoff way. The picture below is how this ended up for me on the first go around. IMG_1871.jpg

We determined the root cause to be a tree root in the soft clay, and once I had been winched back by a fellow club mate in a very nicely modified wrangler, this root was removed. I requested that since I would have to keep the left drivers wheels on the bank for longer while the right side dropped in, that we wrap my tow strap around the top of the truck and have the fellow wheelers hold on to it for rollover prevention. This turned out to be overkill as the pathy walked right down it, but better safe than sorry. After I made it through this obsatacle the rest of the day was almost a cinch. I say almost, as there was a very sharp right hand turn(110 degrees or so) onto a very steep decent on a trail called "moose", that I did a very poor job of navigating. The cliff notes are the front end dug in, and the back end slid a couple of feet down the hill putting me at a very uneasy perpendicular angle to the very steep hill. I called over the CB somewhat(ok...a lot) panicked asking for help. The seatbelts had all locked, and I was honestly scared to do anything for fear of rolling down this hill. Due to the seatbelts all locking I could not look out to do any sort of surveilance, and I was afraid to get out lessening the weight on my side of the rig. The guy behind me(same guy that pulled me out earlier...definitely owe him a couple of cases of beer...) ran up and coached me out of the situation, and off we went.

All in all, this was a fantastic event, we had a great time camping, I met a ton of awesome people, and the entire family actually enjoyed the wheeling. As others have mentioned as well, the Pathfinder was questioned at the beginning of the event and praised at the end, it truly is a very under rated vehicle on the trails.

How the truck looked at the end of the day:
IMG_1879.jpg

I will be going back to another event the end of June at the same location, and am very much looking forward to it. I learned my lesson with that right turn as I had a very uneasy feeling going into it and should have asked for assistance right the from the start. This is a huge thing that I and everyone else should take with them: If you don't feel comfortable, stop. and ask for assistance.

Now to figure out how to spend the 250.00 in amazon gift cards I got for my birthday, anyone have any ideas? Pathfinder or camping related of course :)
 
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RG5384

Observer
Latest updates:

Two weekends ago I replaced the starter and removed the rear swaybar. The starter was an absolute pain in the @$$, it is three bolts and one connector and it took every minute of 3 hours to do...borderline infuriating. Removing the rear sway bar, was of course, cake. These two items were done in preparation for my wheeling trip back to The Cove in Gore, Va.

Flex with removed sway bar:IMG_1969.jpgIMG_1970.jpg

I arrived in Gore on Thursday evening and was able to meet up with the other gentlemen joining me from my offroad group. We set up camp, had an awesome dinner, aired down and disconnected the rigs all before the rain set it. Once the rain set in we enjoyed a few adult beverages before calling it a night. Woke up with my normal camping routine of percolator coffee, eggs, and bacon, and went off to the drivers meeting at 9am. My buddy was driving a 2004 TJ on 37's, so we opted to go on the higher end of my comfort level with the assurance that he would help me and yank me out of bad situations. As it turned out, I was never once on the wrong end of the tow line much to the amazement of everyone in my group. There was even one instance where a CJ on 35's had to bust out the winch, and I was able to walk through it. Granted, I picked a lucky line and he picked an unlucky one, but it did great things to my ego none-the-less.

Now, onto the carnage: There is a trail called camp 8 that due to the soft sand and washed out status should be labeled more of a 6 or 7/10 than the 4 that it is. Needless to say my mildly lifted pathfinder on 31's had no business being there. As stated previously, I made it out without a winch, but my oil pan now has a nice dent in it, as well as my passenger rear door(see picture below). My buddy had warned me about this rock, and I decided to slide right into it. More of my fault than the trucks, but some nice rock sliders would have been a huge bonus in this situation. This has prompted an aggressive solution to my undercarriage protection.

Carnage to the door:IMG_1980.jpg

The weather conditions worsened on Saturday so I opted to hop in my buddy's TJ(amazing rig, BTW), and we had an uneventful day of wheeling on the trails. Later that night I decided I wanted to drive around and hit some of the fire roads and maybe 1/10 rated trails, but as many superstitions state "one last run" is never a good idea. I ended up popping a right front tire on who knows what(we literally could not find anything that should have slashed the sidewall like it was), so off came the spare which thankfully still held air. The truck definitely drove funny with one stock size and 3 31's on it, this will have to be addressed shortly as well.

All in all it was a very fun weekend filled with good food, good trails, great people, and some carnage. I don't think i'll be hopping into the 5 line again anytime soon until I am on 33's with full undercarriage protection, but it was a good test of my driving and the truck, and now I know exactly what we are both capable of doing.

Fast forward to today: I decided to try to tackle some of the rust under the fender flares, and holy cow was there a lot! I first noticed it starting to creep into the door jam of the passenger rear door(can be seen somewhat in the carnage picture above), and then noticed it starting on the lower rocker panel. After removal of the flare, it was obvious that I waited a bit too long to address this. I used my wire brush, flathead screw driver, dremel, drill with multiple sanding pads, rust removing chemicals, and rust reforming chemicals. I will be waiting until Sunday to use my rust inhibitor primer, and then ordering some spray touch up paint to try to blend in what will be visible outside the fender wells. I am glad I started this process now before it got much worse, but time will tell if this is permanent or if it is a temporary solution to an unfixable issue...

Rust pictures during final stage of remediation process:IMG_1994.jpgIMG_1995.JPG

Next projects: Remove the front bullbar( it took a beating on the last trail ride, ended up making contact with front bumper and fenders, and is now twisted), remove oil pan and bang out with a hammer, fabricate or purchase center skid plates.

Thanks For Reading!
 
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RG5384

Observer
Heavy duty lower trailing arms have been fabricated, painted, and installed. (no pictures of painted and installed...Sorry...) It isn't pretty, but it should hold up well. I also installed poly bushings in the uppers at the same time...man what a PIA of a project!
FullSizeRender_2.jpg
FullSizeRender_1.jpg

I also fabricated some custom disconnects using some quick disconnect balljoints. I can't take credit for the idea, another member on NPORA started the process and I pretty much just copied him. I still need to figure out how to hang the dang swaybar though...
IMG_2344 (1).jpg

Other than that, not much to update. I had to replace the drivers front wheel bearing because the auto shop didn't seat the seal right last winter, and the squealing noise had finally driven me up the wall, and replace some wheel studs on the passenger side. I have the 4x4 parts center skid sitting in my basement with a scheduled install date of next weekend. I'll finish this post off with a few pictures of recent trips, as well as a picture of our new family addition :) I also can't take credit for the camp donuts, but man were they good!!






Thanks for reading. Next wheeling and camping trip is scheduled for the weekend of the 14th, so I will try to post another reply after that.
 

XPLORx4

Adventurer
Nice work on the angle-iron reinforced lower trailing arms! It's a super simple modification that adds lots of extra strength to the links.

Use caution when driving with your front swaybar disconnected.
Long ago, I experimented with JKS quick-disconnects and found that:
(1) the swaybar banged around on the CV axles when both sides were disconnected
(2) the disconnect ends still attached to the swaybar and the strut banged into each other when the wheels were turned at certain angles while the suspension cycled.
(3) the swaybar dragged on the left side CV axle if the left swaybar disconnect was removed and the right wheel dropped while the left wheel compressed, and vice-versa if the right swaybar disconnect was removed.

In theory, it seemed like it would have worked, but the R50 front swaybar design does not make a link-disconnection method feasible. For more aggressive off-roading trips, I just take the front swaybar completely off and drive slower around corners.
 

RG5384

Observer
Good to know thanks! I'm hoping this design alleviates some of that, as the entire link will be removed except for the small ball joint end. I'm going to try to find a way to swing both ends up and attach them inside the wheel wells to keep the bar out of the way, will definitely let you know how it pans out.
 

RG5384

Observer
Link to a photo timeline(taken every 10 seconds) of our run this past weekend, taken by the 4runner driving behind me. Great times. The last part of the video is going up a trail called "trickle". To get some experience the trail guide of the day asked me to lead that run, which is why the pathfinder is out of view and instead you are watching a rubicon.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=lidfs7XvTY4&feature=youtu.be

Will try to post up a couple of other pictures here shortly as well. In regard to the front disconnects, I will be trashing my current setup. It works, but it is too much of a pain to deal with on any sort of regularity. I have an idea for a better setup that would be very easy to build. I will keep you posted.
 
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