Nissan Pathmaker OneTon SAS Build – Part 7

The Nissan Pathmaker OneTon SAS Build – Part 7 – Front Axle Placement

After getting the “easy” rear axle together and placed it was time to figure out the rest of my front axle. In one of my past posts I built the front cross member out of a piece of 3″ square and cut and attached it to the front of the frame.  

Wanting some extra beef out there I cut some 3/8″ fishplates to strengthen the front of the frame rails. Its important to remember to never weld vertically on your frame or you’ll create a weak spot. That is why my plates go to a 45* angle. I also added a couple holes for some nice plug welds. Next step was to figure out where the rear was going to end up. That’s where everything got a little more difficult.

There is not much room on the short side of a KingPin Dana60 and I wanted to keep the width the same as the stock spring perches. The drivers side is cast into the center section and my front cross member was built the same width as the stock perches. Wanting to stay low I decided to drill and sleeve the frame instead of just mounting the shackle to the under side. Of course with my width that landed directly under the stock body mount location. Right on the angled part of the frame, which turned into an absolute nightmare to drill and get straight. I needed to slip a piece of pipe thru to put the bushings in for the shackle mount.

I was able to cut the pipe long enough so the shackles would clear the  bend in the frame but they ended up 5″ apart. I’d have to get creative with the shackles. I tossed in my adjust-a-size bedframe shackles and sat the rig down on the stock 53″ chevy springs that I had acquired from a friend.


To run a Ford d-60 with “regular u-bolts” that wrap around the bottom of the axle you have to cut a notch in the casting.

Then it was some new custom mainleafs, 3/8″ thick 53″ long to go in the front pack. These will replace those already sagging and cracked stockers I had. (I began with a 4 leaf pack but over the years have worked my way up to a 7leaf pack. With the heavy rig I’m limited on up travel.)

Here you can see one of my fishplates on the frame for my sliders. You can also see the pipe I drilled thru and welded to the frame. Time to bolt up the u-bolts and check out the pinon angle!


Of course the angle was terrible which prompted me to turn the C’s. I wont get into it here because there’s a million resources online that you can read about. Also I don’t want to mention it because it was one of the most ridiculous and difficult things I’ve had to do to date on the build. The C’s are pressed on with an extreme tolerance, which requires you cutting thru the stock weld they have. Once you can see the seam (not easy) you have to heat the C’s with a rosebud. Once hot you “turn” them to the desired degree. I put turning in quotes because it turned into smashing with a sledge hammer for many many frustrated hours.

Long story short I turned the damn thing and next time I’ll pay someone else to do it. Now the pinon points directly at the D-300 and the Cs are a perfect 7*.

While we were burning in the C’s we figured it was a great time to weld up the spider gears in the front diff, so my buddy Alex had the fun job of sucking back the toxic fumes while laying down some minty welds around the piece of plate we slipped in between. Thanks buds!

Phosgene gas amiright?

Also as another aside for all the people hating on welded gears. I’ve been beating on both my welded front and rear for 14 years now without a single issue. I just changed my fluid and inspected the welds and everything looks like the day we welded it. Beauty job on that front end Alex, and huge thanks to Doug for doing a wicked job setting up the gears in both ends!

It lets me drive like this!

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Now that the front crossmember was not going anywhere it was time to finally finish the front of my bumper like I had planned all those years ago, by boxing in the lower section. The small triangle cut outs are to let water drain out of it.

At the same time I fixed how the front bumper was mounted and made sure that it wasn’t going anywhere.

Next on the list a beautiful package arrived from PSC. It was time to figure out the Full Hydro Steering that I had decided to run on the Pathmaker. You’ll have to check out the next post for all the details!

Check out Part 8 in the next blog post here: Part 8 – Full Hydro Steering

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