The Nissan Pathmaker OneTon SAS Build - Part 1 - Origins

August 30, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

After 17 years of owning my truck as of this writing I figure it was time to go back and post up some of my Nissan knowledge for those that are just getting into the small world of heavily modified Nissans. As a little back story I bought my 1987 Nissan Pathfinder back in 2001 when I was just about to graduate highschool at the age of 17. The Pathy was a 234,000km fully loaded 4x4 SE Model with the VG30e and 5spd transmission, as well as the sweet Lego wheels and stock 31"x10.5 tires. It slowly morphed into what it is today........ The Pathmaker, one of the first One-Ton SAS WD21 Nissan Pathfinders, rolling on 42" Tires and a ton of mods......follow along and I'll show you how I did it all.

First off lets have a little before/after

Heres one of the first shots I have of it.

Pathmaker Stock WheelinPathmaker Stock Wheelin  

And here's a pic of it a few weeks ago during a wheeling trip.

_MG_5595Pathmaker June 2017

"Final" parts list as it sits in June 2017

Rebuilt 3.0L with 300zx racing cams, bored .50 over with Thorley Headers and custom exhaust

1991 Ford HP D-60 front axle with Yukon 35spline Chromos and Superjoints, Yukon Lockouts, 5.38 gears, welded with Full PSC Hydro Steering

1978 Chev 14bolt rear axle converted to disc brakes and 5.38 gears welded. 

42" x 14" - 17 Interco Iroks with American Racing 767 rims and some custom designed weld on beadlocks.

Leaf Sprung front and rear (Ford F-150 3" wide rear and 53" long chevy front)

NortWest Fab TX-10 to Dana300 doubler with upgraded 32 spline front and rear outputs

Full belly armour and new plastic fuel cell

Warn 8274 Winch

Full Exo-Cage and a bunch of custom interior upgrades


It was a long process with lots of pictures so its time to start way back in 2001.........

When I bought the Pathmaker was in cherry shape, literally one owner driven, a local lady that had got it serviced at the dealer from new and had a folder of reciepts and records to go with the rig (that I still have and have added to in the following 16 years). I bought it right before I graduated and drove it every day for years, beating on it like only a teenager can and I cringe to think of all the salty sand I used to get all over it........spent a lot of time at the spray and wash!

Pathmaker Stock WheelinPathmaker Stock Wheelin Pathmaker Stock WheelinPathmaker Stock Wheelin Pathmaker Stock (1)Pathmaker Stock (1)One of the very first digital photos I have of the Pathmaker way back in June of 2001 when it was bone stock.

First thing up on the list for a 17yr old........custom bumper modeled after an ARB, got it built from a local shop for $400, not too shabby and its still on there 16 years later! The ARB bumpers for these rigs are not cheap but they sure are fantastic. ARB Front Bumper for Nissans 

Pathmaker Stock (2)Pathmaker Stock (2) Pathmaker Stock (3)Pathmaker Stock (3)

Pathmaker Stock WheelinPathmaker Stock Wheelin Pathmaker Stock WheelinPathmaker Stock Wheelin

It was clean, I was young and it didn't stay stock for long, I quickly got a Performance Accessories 3" bodylift, followed by a 3" AC Customizers Suspension lift, as well as some 35" BFGs (plus a ton of fender trimming to get them to fit!) and I daily drove it that way for almost 30,000km. They no longer make the original KM tire but they were a fantastic overall tire and never let me down for the moderate wheeling we were doing back then, and the best part about them, you still just can't beat their price check them out: 35"x12.5" BFG Mud Terrain KM2 

I wrapped the tires around a set of American Racing 767 Rims and added some Warn Manual Locking Hubs after getting let down a few times in the mud by the stock auto lockers!

Pathmaker Lift (2)Pathmaker Lift (2) Pathmaker Lift (4)Pathmaker Lift (4) Pathmaker Lift (5)Pathmaker Lift (5) Pathmaker Lift (6)Pathmaker Lift (6)

Cut the fender all the way back to the door and then capped it in because I had cut into the footwell. It was a lot of cutting and a ton of help from my buddy Todd but we got the fenders cut and the edge rolled back and had zero rubbing issues, even at full stuff with the 35" tires.

Pathmaker Lift (7)Pathmaker Lift (7)

Unfortunately as anyone thats ever lifted a Nissan Torsion Bar IFS front end before you know that the steering suffers quickly, so I had to upgrade to the Calmini HD steering system, which was ok for a while but I was limited with the IFS and dreamed of more!

Pathmaker Steering (1)Pathmaker Steering (1)  

Still took it out wheeling whenever I could, playing in the sand and the mud, wanting to go into the rocks but knowing the broken parts list would add up quickly!
Pathmaker Lifted WheelinPathmaker Lifted Wheelin Pathmaker Lifted WheelinPathmaker Lifted Wheelin

Yuck, so much damn sandy mud......I can still remember the smell, also as a note we did not drive on the beach, it was a large set of ocean side sand dunes on the local Indian reservation and they were ok with us being down there.


Pathmaker Lifted WheelinPathmaker Lifted Wheelin Pathmaker Lifted WheelinPathmaker Lifted Wheelin

Started to get a few rust bubbles showing and wanted to take off the "Trail Boss" decal so I ended up painting the lower portion of the body with gravel guard to protect it and because its a lot more forgiving than paint on the final finish. Here you can also see the final trimming needed on the front and rear fenders to fit the 35" tires.

Pathmaker Lift (13)Pathmaker Lift (13) Pathmaker Lift (11)Pathmaker Lift (11)

Along the way I had a stuck valve in the motor at about 265km so it was time to pull the motor out and get it rebuilt with a bunch of goodies including 300zx racing cams from Automotive Customizers, and Thorley Headers. With a local shop rebuilding the motor it was the easiest way of getting back on the road, but it didn't exactly end up cheap.

Heres a photos of it sitting beside my old roommate Travis's stock '91 Pathy, it was a bit bigger to say the least!

Pathmaker Lift (10)Pathmaker Lift (10) Pathmaker Lift (9)Pathmaker Lift (9)

At the time in 2008 anyone that was doing a SAS on a Pathy was pretty much putting in a Jeep Waggoneer D44 and running 37" tires at max and doing pretty damn good, but I knew it was just a matter of time before I'd start breaking stuff with the way I drive, and I also had my heart set on 40' One-Ton diffs it was! 

With pretty much no real guidance from the internet because honestly, who'd put that much work into a Nissan! So I was going it alone and making it up as I went. The fun part of writing this now after having the rig together and wheeling for years now is I can comment on the photos as they go and explain why I did what I did, and if it turned out to be a good idea or not....theres definitely some regrets along the way and some learning but it'll be fun going over it all again and explaining it as I go.

Please keep in mind the majority of these SAS photos were taken in 2008, my fab skills were still a work in progress, as well as having to do a lot of figuring on the fly, as well as working on a small budget and with some basic tools. I know its not perfect, I know my welds could use some work, I know theres some things that are downright dumb. BUT I stand by everything I've done and I'd like others to learn from my knowledge so I'm happy to pass it on. Feel free to leave comments as we go but as I said these photos are from almost 10 years ago so whats done is long done!

On that note, join in as I hack the font end of my rig apart and make room for an ever evolving project!

Check out Part 2 in the next blog post here: The Nissan Pathmaker OneTon SAS Build - Part 2 - De-Bracketry


Heres a few vids of the Pathmaker doing it thing in the wild



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