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2007 Nissan Xterra build with 2.8, manual trans

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  • 2007 Nissan Xterra build with 2.8, manual trans

    I have just finished my 2007 Nissan Xterra build. I will do my best to reconstruct the process. I was not great with documentation, but I will do my best recall and maybe if there are questions, it will trigger some memory ... I can always go look at the rig for details also... I can tell you I was not great with pix, so I will dig thru to find what I have.

  • #2
    It was quite a journey (over 2 years), about half the time spent waiting or figuring...I taught myself FreeCAD thru the project, to design some of the adaptions, etc. So let me take you thru the saga;

    1) The vehicle - 2007 X, manual transmission, 4.0L. Pretty standard, Air conditioning, ABS, VDC/SKID, 4WD.
    2) The engine - Cummins 2.8L crate
    3) The reason - A little bit of a sickness; Since about ~2002 ... meaning i bought my first diesel vehicle, '93 Dodge Ram, Cummins diesel, then in 2004, bought a new VW Jetta TDI, still driving both...then in 2010, my first conversion of a 1997 Jeep TJ using a Cummins 3.3L (two teenage daughters learned to drive manuals and racked up 30K miles in their time driving to high school...still use it to push snow and some summer fun)... Couldn't stand the idea of driving gasoline again, and I am a fan of manual when Cummins put out the crate, it was just a matter of finding a suitable SUV... hence a decent Xterra with a manual trans... the sickness continued. It was not cheap, and not for the faint at heart... I learned a lot over the course, but I did not do good with documentation. I will do my best to recant all that I did... questions are welcomed, I will do my best to either recall or review.... here goes;​


    • #3
      4) The Process
      4.1) Got the shop manuals - I used the NICOclub site, downloaded the whole shooting match (at least what I thought was relevant)- read a lot of documentation. Tried to pour thru the OBD/troubleshooting to understand what/how to make things work if the ECU/VCU did not see the entire engine included. Studied the engine removal process... Ugh... reviewed this on YouTube also... Much easier to lift off the body. if you cant do that, consider Removing the dog house assembly. I studied the wiring to understand what I could eliminate w/o making a mess of the Dash/other electronic features etc... This was really the best approach since I had a perfectly healthy X that did not NEED an engine swap, but looking into the headlights, I could tell it was ripe for the conversion.​


      • #4
        4.2) Lifted the body - Removed the Cat parts of the exhaust, O2 sensors, etc...Sold on CL, sold the engine, starter, some other odds and ends that I knew I would not need... I did this to support the habit/sickness. BTW, I never told the wife what this would cost, nor did I tally the one, including myself needs to know since it wont cure my disease. I made several measurements in this process, locating the engine position, angle wrt the frame rail (while supported on jack stands so weight would not affect measurements). It was a good plan, would have been better if I would have kept track of those measurements! More on that later, I am sure.


        • #5
          4.3) Mating the Engine and Trans - Leave the details of the design and the machine work to the professionals. As I created the plan, I let the pros do the detailed design and manufacture parts (Axis Industries - Here was my plan (as executed); I removed the rear cover of the 2.8L and sent it to be machined, cut 19 mm (3/4") off of the face of the trans mounting flange. There are two dowel holes at 12 and 6 o'clock, that were deepened, and they drilled and tapped the holes a fair bit deeper for the mounting adapter.
          The machine shop associated with Axis had a 4.0L engine/trans combo they used to measure for the mounting adapter. Using 19 mm aluminum plate, they machined counter sank thru holes for mounting bolts and dowels to engine rear cover and threaded holes and thru holes and dowel pockets for the transmission to adapter plate. It was quite a work of art.

          I should mention, Kevin at Axis has all the prints and procures all the parts for the engine to trans and crank to flywheel adaption.

          The 19 mm reduction in the rear cover was to keep the trans in the original position (fore/aft) in the vehicle w/o pushing the accessory belt system thru the radiator. i.e. I needed the room up front to mount a couple of electric fans/or an engine driven fan. In retrospect, if I did it again, I would still cut the 19mm from the cover, but use a 1/2" steel plate for the adapter to save another 1/4" in the front and the crankshaft adapter palm adapter.​


          • #6
            #2D, congratulations...I know your struggle. Just recently got my 1982 Wagoneer (went with a 4L80E & NP431C from a '96 GMC 2500) after 2 years & 5 months of building, on the road. COVID & the supply chain SNAFU's really dragged this out....well, I've been performing the shakedown runs, sorting out XMSN shift programing (PCS TCM 2800, using CANBUS interface). I've got about 600 miles on her so far. What a hoot! this little engine is a blast to drive!! Moves the 4600 lb. Waggy without issue.


            • #7
              4.4) "adapt" the crankshaft/flywheel - I say adapt, but really, just moving the flywheel rearward, away from the engine. Here was the trick; The Cummins F/W actually has the same clutch bolt pattern as the clutch cover from the Nissan! So... We used a Cummins flex plate and adapters for the starter drive (meaning the flex plate and ring gear only are there for starting). Then a bespoke spacer that pushed out the 2.8L flywheel so the clutch mounting surface of the Flywheel to the aluminum ring (mounted to the engine) replicated the dimensions of the original 4L engine set up. I think in the end I had to source ~90 mm long mounting bolts to sandwich that whole shooting match together. I needed about 5 hands to assemble the deal, but I only had with a couple of extra long bolts I made some assembly studs to aid me.

              I should also mention, that spacer included a bore to install the pilot bearing for the 6 speed trans input shaft.

              (Of course if I would have used 1/2" steel instead of 3/4" Aluminum for the trans adaptation, I could also have made that crank palm adapter shorter by 1/4"... which is always good to not have a heavy flywheel hanging out too far from the most rear main bearing - just a good practice)

              One more added point before I forget; The aluminum ring adapter had a spot machined in it for the engine speed/position sensor from the 4L. Axis machined a ring/tone wheel that emulated the pattern off the 4L F/W and fastened to the Cummins F/W and positioned it so the ring to sensor would work out and send a signal to the Nissan controller/dash etc.

              Once all this was done, the assembly went together like a production part. Everything fit super, the trans engaged perfectly. The proof was in the clutch operation once all done, that I could not have been happier about.​


              • #8
                4.5) Install engine into chassis - had to get creative. With the trans mounted in its original position via rear tail mount, and the engine mated to the trans and hanging from above at a height that puts it an the exact same angle as the original power train.. I found a fair amount of interference between the oil pan and the front diff.Click image for larger version

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                Did a little grinding on the ribs of the diff (its aluminum, so had to make sure all is smooth and rounded), and on the ribs of the plastic oil pan, trying to make clearance..... No dice.... plan B.

                Moved the entire drive train toward the passengers side 3/4" and up 3/8". I had to keep the eng/trans still straight (fore/aft) and at the same power angle as the original, just up and over. Again with the 3/4" aluminum ring, would have required less adjustment if I had used 1/2" steel part, sine the engine would be back 1/4 inch, gaining much more clearance at the pan/diff.

                When i was happy with the position, I shimmed up the engine with wood to hold it steady from underneath (takes lots of time to make it perfectly strait, perfect angle, perfect height... started measure to design the mounts. Axis sells some engine side brackets and mounts, then I fabbed up from the chassis over. planned a little bit of compression for the mounts so I added 1/4" to the mount height in order allow for the settling.. .seems to work ok.​


                • #9
                  4.6) Accessory drive - A bit of a custom job here as well. I cant really say too much here. Used a P/S pump from the local pick-n-pull that has a different angle on the in and out connections. The Cummins pump is supper similar to many other OE Pumps, maybe a ZF pump, but with many variations on connects, all mount the same way, same displacement. I cannot recall what it came from, maybe a pathfinder... but IDK. I used the original 4L alternator (also used the original Nissan controls for the alternator). I used an aftermarket A/C compressor. The arrangement was; P/S on bottom, Alt in middle and A/C compressor on top. Lots of measurements and help from Kevin at Axis... I finally made something that worked. Did a little bit of a mod to shock tower to create a clearance for the alt connection.

                  I could not use the original Cummins set up with the pump and alternator, and I wanted A/C so ... that is why I went this way. If I had to do it all again... probably would not have gone so custom.​


                  • #10
                    Here are some pix, which reminded me... I had to modify the starter. I basically disassembled to cut off the support feature of the cone that holds the pilot bearing of the starter drive. I used that same bearing/bushing by pressing into the Aluminum ring so the shaft is still supported as in standard starter.


                    • #11
                      so here are some pictures where I was preparing to pull body, I also took some detailed pix to make sure I understood some of the A/C routing, so I could remember what the original assembly looked like.... changed phone in the process and so I am sort of reliving now and finding some pix I didnt know I had! I should have been better with documentation...


                      • #12
                        With the body off, I can start consideration for what I can sell on CL.... also looking at 190K miles of grime to blast off, at some point.


                        • #13
                          With engine and trans joined, at least in temporary state... hang the engine and start to situate the powertrain. You can also see the diff/pan interference.


                          • #14
                            Sorry, I realize I stated my accessory drive incorrectly, when I re-read it... My Alternator is actually on the bottom, like the way Nissan had arranged, P/S in middle and the A/C on top. Will need to get a picture of it later to document the set up....