Hardbody – removing strut braces and adding shocks.

Lower Control Arm Triangulation Kit

Since my truck is going to be body dropped I needed to remove the strut rods. The way the are mounted to the front they keep the frame from setting flat on the ground. Thankfully, Rohde Fabrication makes a nice kit to remove the strut rods.

Removing the strut rods is pretty simply. You just cut them off the frame.

frame upside down

I know most people wont have the ability to turn the frame upside down but I had the means. So, to make my life easier and to get you clear picture I turned the frame upside down and cut off all the mounts that were holding the strut rods in place. The frame can now sit flat.

Need image of control arm

When welding in the control arm brace you need to keep the pivot points perfectly in line with each other. You need to find a metal rod or something that fits snuggly inside the bushings. In my case I happened to have a tire iron laying on the corner of the shop that fit perfectly. I removed the lower control arm bolt and slid the tire iron through the control arm and the new brace. This held everything while I tack welded them together. Once they were tacked together I moved the control arm up and down through full travel while watching for anything to flex or bind. Once happy I welded everything solid with the tire iron keeping them aligned. I did not remove it till everything was complete.

Adding the control arm triangulation also makes it easy to add front shocks. I know people say you don’t need front shocks when your bagged. While it is true the truck will run and drive without front shocks it will drive better with them. A proper suspension needs front shocks.

hardbody front shock

The lower control arm brace comes with the hole already drilled. You simply need to cut off the brake line mounting tab as it is in the way of the shock tower. After that is removed you can weld the upper shock brace to the frame.

For shocks I went with KYB 343158 they have plenty of travel and compress enough to not hold the truck up. Remember to test fit your shocks before welding the upper mount. I compressed the shock all the way down and measured the height. I then marked where the bottom of the shock mount would be at this point. This is the lowest you can possible mount the shock the tower. I then measure the height with the shock all the way extended and the truck lifted as high as possible. This gives us the highest possible point for the shock mount.

I then set the shock tower about half way between these two points. I don’t like my shocks to sit fully compressed when the truck is laid down. This is hard on the shock and can shorten the shocks life span. Finding a happy balance will make the shock last longer.

bagged shock mount

Hardbody Front Bags

Started working on the front air bags today. Last week I removed the torsion bars while working on the frame as they are not needed when bagged.

First step was to remove everything on one side. I tend to only work on one side at a time when possible incase I need something as a reference.

I am using some Chad Chris control arms and are supposed to lay frame without the use of drop spindles. I’m typically a big fan of drop spindles but Ben Osborn parts supply suggested these. They are very similar to the stock lowers.

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EnSlaved – sectioning the frame on my Nissan Hardbody

Made some progress over the last few day. I’m happy to say this is going way better then I expected.

D21 frame with a section cut out

D21 right side frame sectioned

I decided to cut this side of the frame in two parts. Thus leaving the rear cross member in place. I don’t think it was really necessary but it made me feel better. For this cut I used a grinder to cut a small slit in each side of the frame rails allowing a sawzall blade to fit through. After that I simply cut with a sawsall blade. Only one blade. It cut way easier then expected.

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Enslaved Frame Cleanup

Spent a couple hours making a plan and working on the frame today. Before I cut anything I took a couple measurements that will allow me to put the body mounts back in the same place. Center eyelet to center eyelet. Remember, I am not a professional and I am in no way saying how you should or should not approach body dropping a Hardbody. Im just tell you all how I did it.

My plan is to leave the body mounts on the left side until the right side is done. Only then will I start cutting the left side. This gives me a safe fixed point to measure from.

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Meet “Enslaved” – my newest project a 1989 Nissan Hardbody

I have been into mini’s since high school. Like a lot of minitruckers I graduated in the 90s when these minis were the coolest things around. MiniTrucks got into my blood and became part of my life a long with a few issues. The fist issue was I was in high school and these trucks are not cheap. Well, they are not cheap when done correctly. Second issue was my skill set back then. I didn’t grow up welding or fabricating. It took me about 20 years of life to get the point that I could afford to build a proper mini truck and to develop the skills to build one to the level I wanted.

Sure, I have had and built or customized many cars… each one of those improved my skills getting me closer to where I wanted to be. I learn simply by doing thus I did. The B2200 was built primarily to show myself I could do a dependable V8 swap and set up a solid suspension to handle it. That truck was a great success regarding those goals.

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Weber and Header for my 77′ Datsun

At this time I am not ready to do an LS swap in a Datsun 620. I have a lot of research to do before starting that project. Plus, I need to finish the 89 Mazda B2200. My goal is to get this truck drivable so I can play with it from time to time. Unfortunately, every seal on the carb was leaking. Not fixing or replacing the carb would result in this Datsun going up in flames. I am by no means a carb mechanic and certainly don’t want to learn how to rebuild that stock thing. Only option was a new one. Might as well go bigger.

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Lowering a Datsun 620

I feel pretty much all two wheel drives vehicles need lowered. I just don’t care for stock height. This logic certainly applies to my Datsun 620, it is a minitruck after all.

I had not even heard of a king pin style suspension before I started on this truck. I was rather surprised to see there are drum brakes and no ball joints on the front of 620’s. Combine that with the fact that no one makes after market parts for these and we have a project on our hands.

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Found my Datsun 620

Are you wondering why a Datsun 620?
My love for the Datsun goes back to when I was a teenager and knew very little about cars. I needed something to drive because I had blown up two engines. My dad found me a Datsun 620 for $50. It actually ran and drove. Truck ran like crap and was rusted out but it was a 4 speed and was fun to drive.

Stop for a minute and forget everything you know about a cars performance and reliability. Now… its 1994 and mini trucks are about to take the US by storm. Look at the lines of a Datsun. Look how the bed sides swoop into the doors. Look at the rounded headlights and the way they are inset behind the fenders.

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B2200 Taiwan MultiSwitch – works with a little help.

I have been running into issues with my tail lights, head lights and blinkers. For a couple weeks I would hit the column with a heavy screwdriver and get whatever I need to work for a short period of time.

Yes, the multi-switch was bad. That was not hard to figure out. No, it was not a fuse. Fuses don’t magically work when hit hard.

My problem was in finding a new multi-switch. I ended up buying one on eBay for $39 plus $11 shipping. The listing clearly said 85, 86 to 96 B2200 combination switch. Well, they lied.

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New mirrors for the B2200 results in shaved locks

Saturday, the Mazda made it to his first show. The truck really isn’t show ready but I felt he should get some practice at a small, local show before heading 503 miles to Shawnee for the Severed Ties 25th reunion at Slamboree.

He did not win anything, but didn’t expect to. His paint is still rough and interior was in even worse shape. He did get some respect on the engine swap. Lots of people looking under his hood.

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