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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I see @seehuusen already has a thread called 'The Gold Patrol', so I hope he doesn't mind me stealing the name a little, mine's more gold anyway ;). Anyway, this is going to be the 'build thread' on my MK wagon that I've been talking about in my introduction thread. Wouldn't be a proper thread without some backstory though, so here I go:

I've always been a Patrol fan because Dad has one (he's had a good influence on me evidently), and so as soon as I got a job, I decided that I wanted a 4wd. I would have preferred to get a Patrol, but covid tax = expensive, and I'm pretty impatient to be honest, so I decided to get something as cheap as possible, preferably something with a solid front axle. Anyways, I went and bought myself a dirt cheap old 1995 XJ Jeep Cherokee, which (older Jeeps) aren't bad rigs, and started to fix it up.
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It wasn't too bad as a starter project, I only paid $950 for it including the guy coming and dropping it off on a trailer, but being a petrol and an auto, it didn't end up being really what I wanted. If I had stuck with it I probably would have had it on the road by now, but oh well. I wanted something diesel, so I could share jerry cans with Dad if needed, preferably manual because it's more fun, although I drive an auto Calais as my daily at the moment, so not a deal-breaker, and have a patrol stud pattern, so I could easily share spare tires if needed.
So off I went searching gumtree, carsales and FB marketplace, and found a red MQ patrol ute that looked interesting. In the ad the guy said it didn't start on it's own, had to be clutch started, so I thought it just had a dead starter and went to have a look at it.
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Apparently this is the best photo I have of the whole car...
Anyway, after going to look at it, the main problem was rust, as is for most MQ/MK patrols, and it turned out the not starting problem was just one of the batteries in the 24v circuit was dead, so that was fine. I didn't know the extent of the rust though. If I did, I would never have even considered considering it (yes it's that bad). Both floor pans are full of holes, the sills are practically non-existent near the front, the bonnet has a fist-sized rust hole in the font, there's big rust holes on either side under the windscreen in the water channels that would let heaps of water in if it rained, and soo much more rust I could list. I swear every time I look at it it's got more rust. For this one I swapped the cherokee + gave the guy $800, probably the worst deal in the world looking back on it. Given that I probably spent $200 on new fluids for the cherokee, that brings the total up to $1950 so far, I'll round it to $2000 because that's probably accurate anyway.

Anyway, the engine and gearbox felt good and healthy (N/A SD33 with 5-speed on the back, obviously retrofitted as MQ's didn't come with 5-speeds, MK's did, and the mounts had adapter plates on them), so I decided to go look for a good shell I could put the drivetrain into, and I came across something I'd seen on marketplace a couple of times before, which came down in price so much I had to get it.
(This is where I start talking about the actual gold Patrol)
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It's a rolling shell of a 1985 MK wagon, base model with barn doors, which had an L28 petrol from factory, but the previous owner had swapped an old Ford 351 Cleveland into it, would have been fun, that's for sure. Anyway it got driven for a good while like this until the auto blew up, so he decided to pull it all out and sell the shell. This thing is a gem I tell you, it's got hardly any rust, the panels are straight, it's been resprayed, everything.
The actual specs for 'mods' that I got it with are:
1.5ish" body lift, standard height suspension,
33" tyres on nice mags, still not sure whether they fit this car though,
External tacho that I can't use because I don't have an ignition coil obviously,
Full semi-open door respray, painted up to the pinch welds on the door in a colour that apparently was supposed to match factory, close enough that the engine bay doesn't look mismatched though, and a black upper-half,
B&M pro ratchet shifter, pretty nice, I don't need it though, I've got a manual (yay),
Nice enough racing seats, modplated for them too,
Aftermarket wheel that actually looks good unlike most, it's a really nice wooden wheel, ADR approved because it has steel inside, with a beautiful grain and clear finish,
full black carpet throughout,
One GQ door and one MK door (one of the most annoying parts about the whole thing)
Factory spare tyre and jerry can carrier,
New, or almost new headliner,
Arb bullbar,
H260 rear diff, which, correct me if I'm wrong, only came in utes, so has been put under probably by V8 man who didn't want to break axles with his massive power (fair),
and an MK bonnet with two scoops on the front, which I'm not the biggest fan of, but oh well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
So first thing I want to address, the fact it has a body lift, and standard suspension. At first I wasn't too happy about it, but after thinking it through I've realised it probably suits my needs better than a suspension lifted one anyway. I drive my car for work, as a pizza delivery driver, so I need something that handles alright on the road. Now I know the MK will never be a racecar in the handling department, but I figure standard suspension probably handles better than a 2 or 3" lift, so that's how it's staying for now. The body lift lets me fit bigger tyres, so that's where the capability is better than standard, but the stock suspension geometry means it'll ride and handle better, which is what suits my purpose.

The only thing I'm disappointed about in terms of suspension now is the fact it doesn't have replaceable shock towers like the GQ/GU's do. My plan was to have longer shocks to get the extra travel, but I can't do that because they'll be longer in both extension and compression, so they'll likely bottom out before the axle hits the bump stops. I can't extend the bump stops much either though because then I'll have no up travel left, and whenever I hit a small bump it'll just bottom out, not what I need. So fully stock suspension it is then.
 

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Rust is just natural weight reduction.
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H260 also came in some P40 vans, which I think yours may have originally been.
Good news is theres a pretty good chance it has a 130L fuel tank, and depending on how the mounts were moved/modified for the V8 + auto conversion, may be a lot closer to where you need them to convert to SD.

With the body lift you may run into issues with the transfer lever hitting the trans tunnel, but it looks like the original trans tunnel plate has been swapped for an L28 auto one, so you may be okay... just work it out when the time comes. The hole in the plate can be enlarged, or the transfer lever heated and bent to suit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks James, I've still got some explaining to do, ran out of time last night, but I'll address your point now. I'm pretty sure it was a factory l28 auto, it says l28 on the vin plate, and it definitely doesn't have a 130L fuel tank, only the small one up the back, so I'm still unsure of how the H260 got there, but it's good anyhow. If I ever want better ratios I've got a H233 in the red ute I can swap under to get better highway RPM anyway.
(This is what I started typing last night but went to bed before I finished because it was midnight haha)
The first thing I looked for when I went to look at the wagon was the position of the engine mounts, because the L28 and SD33 have very different mounting positions. The L28 has the engine mounts near the centre of the engine, which makes sense, but the SD33 has them for some reason waay up the front, and the 5-speed has it's mounts on the transfercase waay down the back, which means all the weight of the engine and gearbox is pretty much resting on the bellhousing bolts' threads. It's probably fine, but it makes me a little uncomfortable. Anyway, I went and had a look and it turned out the mounts were different, so my original plan was to cut them off and get Dad to weld them back on further up, but eventually we decided to make adapter plates instead.
I don't have any good photos of the mounts' different positions, but the SD33 mounts are roughly 90mm further forward than the L28 ones, and the engine mount bolts are roughly 110mm apart from each other, so we decided to use the existing front hole as the new back hole and push the engine forward roughly 20mm from where it was standard, so we wouldn't have to drill new holes in the chassis mounts (I'll explain all this better with a sketch)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Here's a sketch describing where the mounts sit from factory, and how we could use the factory holes by pushing the engine forward roughly 20mm.
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Here's a photo of how the adapter plates bolt up, we made them out of a random 10mm steel plate we had laying in the backyard because I don't want this engine falling out ever:
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Alright, so mounting for the engine is sorted out, next we had to figure out mounting for the gearbox...
actually no, we decided to do that later, once the engine is bolted in, so we could more easily see where the mounts needed to be before we fabricate anything. So next was to pull everything in the ute apart to get it ready to have the engine pulled out, not too big of a job, just disconnecting wires and hoses and plugging hoses with bolts etc.
We decided to cut off the front radiator support cross-member so the engine could be more easily pulled out, we'd figure out what to do for installing in the wagon later.
This is the ute right before we started pulling stuff off the engine, I'd already taken the bonnet and guards off for some reason.
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Another photo from a different angle, this time I'd already taken both the airboxes off:
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Fast forward a bit because I'm terrible at remembering to take photos, and we've got the engine coming out with a crane we borrowed from @JakeWild (thanks), the gearbox we just let sit on the welded crossmember, then pulled it out with some jacks. You can see the radiator crossmember has been cut off in this photo.
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Fast forward again because I can't take photos to save my life, and the engine and gearbox are both sitting in the shed, waiting to be put in the wagon:
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And sadly the ute is condemned to live out the rest of it's life sitting either here in the backyard or in someone else's yard after I'm done pulling bits off it :(. Amazingly the chassis has almost no rust, so it'd be a good base if anyone wants it for a body swap for example. (holden overlander anyone?)
r.i.p red ute:
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Now comes the exciting part, the part that really has validated the car for me I guess.
Originally I wasn't too happy with putting an early model N/A in the MK, as the N/A's that came with them had the stronger internals, same as the turbos. So I was essentially putting in an engine that was never really meant to be there in, and it kind of didn't feel right for me, but I didn't have much choice because it's what I ended up with, and SD33T's are getting harder to find.
However...
Scrolling though marketplace while eating breakfast one Saturday morning, I nearly choked on my cereal. There, on my phone in front of me, was an SD33T, for $550, only half an hour from where I live, listed within the last 10 mins. Within probably 3 or 4 hours of me seeing the post, the engine was now on a trailer behind my Calais on it's way back home.
I'm still blown away that I managed to snag it, by the time I got there, the guy said he'd already had 6 other inquiries about it.
So this is what I was working with:
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And this is what I have now:
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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
So, the car now has a turbo diesel and 5-speed, is almost rust free, and is straight, and I'm very excited.
Here's some more photos of the turbo engine:
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Edit: in the third photo you can just about see the N/A sitting sadly in the left corner, I've got no use for it now, so eventually I'll probably sell it. We're going to keep it for a while though because we know it's healthy, we've taken the ute for short drives around the block while it still had old rego left, and we know it runs well. We don't know much about the turbo motor except that the guy said he was going to put it in his car, but just decided to turbo his N/A instead. He says he compression tested it and it came back good, and that it's only got 180,000 kms on it, but we won't know until we get it running. If it ends up being a dud, we'll just put the N/A in, fingers crossed the guy was telling the truth though.
It's definitely not siezed, I can turn it using the harmonic balancer, and it does have compression, so we'll see.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Alright, so, next was pretty much to get the engine and gearbox in the wagon. Here they are getting closer together:
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Even just getting the engine in the engine bay was a task because we decided not to cut the radiator support crossmember. I had to take the wheels off, lower it down all the way on a jack under the axle, and make the chain shorter on the engine crane to make the sump clear. This is before I made the chain shorter and it would have only just cleared the crossmember, but the crane legs were hitting the leaf springs:
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To solve this I set the engine down in a tyre and shortened the chain, and it juuuust fit over the crossmember without hitting the leafs. The big moment:
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
So it's in the engine bay, I bolted it onto the adapter plates which was a hard task because with the plates being 10mm thick and on roughly a 45 degree angle, they move the mounts slightly up and inwards, but I got it after some more drilling and much frustration:
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The back of the engine was temporarily supported by a ratchet strap suspended between the frame rails until we got the gearbox in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
These are the things we did to the turbo motor while it was out of the car to get it ready to go in:
Firstly, since we were putting the 24v N/A into a 12v car, we had to get a new starter and alternator that were 12v, I'll let Dad (@trev zd30) explain that because he can probably explain it better than me. but I swapped those over to the turbo motor
Secondly, the turbo motor didn't come with a clutch or flywheel, so we're using the smaller N/A clutch for now until I can get a turbo one which will be a pain because we'll have to take the gearbox off again to replace it, but I'll again let Dad explain the clutch, and getting it aligned, because he had a bit of stroke of genius when we didn't have a clutch alignment tool.
And of course I used another few cans of degreaser to wash the turbo motor before it went in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
After a very hard day, and some sketchy moments with the gearbox nearly falling off jacks, it's bolted to the back of the engine and resting on a bolt-on crossmember that we'll likely weld the new mounts to.
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We've actually taken advantage of the body lift (much to my dismay at first) to move the gearbox upwards from the standard location within the chassis, because the transfer case hangs down a fair amount from factory, and we didn't want it to hit anything. That does mean that the body lift is permanent, but it's not too much of a hassle because if I ever want a legal suspension lift in the future it actually is already mod plated for a 150mm (6") lift! So assuming the body lift is 2", and the tyres are 1", that leaves room for a 3" suspension lift if I ever want, which is well and truly enough for me. I'm still not sure whether I want one yet, I'll see in the future. Worst case scenario we can just fab new gearbox mounts that put it back down to factory height and remove the body lift then, but for now it's staying.

This is looking pretty much straight in line with the chassis rails, at standard height you'd be able to see the transfercase poking out under the chassis rails, but where we've got it, only the handbrake and crossmember hang down (the crossmember has longer bolts in it so it's not just hanging on by a small amount of thread):
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This is a great read, can't wait to see the smile on your face when you get it running. Keep up the good work.
 
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
This is a great read, can't wait to see the smile on your face when you get it running. Keep up the good work.
Thanks Jake, good to know I’m writing with some degree of sense, thanks for letting us borrow your crane too, you’ll be able to have it back soon. Still plenty more to write yet though so I’m going to keep writing tonight


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Thanks Jake, good to know I’m writing with some degree of sense, thanks for letting us borrow your crane too, you’ll be able to have it back soon. Still plenty more to write yet though so I’m going to keep writing tonight


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No problem at all, it's good to see it being used.
 
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Ok, well Ethan has done a good job telling the story so far. I'll just add a couple of things to it.

We had decided from the outset to convert it back from 24V to 12V. This required us to find a 12v alternator and starter. Thinking this would be easy we set about trying to secure these two items...........but they are as rare as hens teeth!
I made a couple of calls to resellers and aftermarket stores but no one had anything to suite.
We came across a thread on the forum suggesting an alternator from an early model pajero was almost a direct bolt in. There were 2 challenges, finding one that used a similar bottom mount that had a vaccum pump bolted to the back of it. Researched some more but could only find new ones for around the 150 dollar mark that I wasnt sure would fit or not. Was just about to buy one when I saw an add from a bloke locally selling off bits of his TD42. He had an alternator with vac pump for 50 bucks so I grabbed it to see if I could make it work.
Unfortunately the 24v mount really didnt match the bottom of the TD alternator and required a bit of head scratching.
I ended up cutting out a section of the 24v mounting plate to suit the TD alternator like this
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I'm hoping there is enough meat left there to keep the bottom mounted straight.

Luckily I also grabbed the oil feed line for the vac pump from the TD aswell. This bolted straight up to where I'd undone the 24v one.
The vac in and out from the pump had straight barbs on the TD alternator. Luckily the ones from the SD were on banjo bolts and were a direct replacement, screwing in without a drama.
Forgot to get a pic of it fitted up but here it is already in the engine bay
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Edit: some more pics of how it all fits together. The turbo SD has slightly different spacing on the harmonic balancer so can only use one belt on the alternator
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This is how the bottom mount looks once fitted

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The vac pump

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The oil feed line is a direct fit from the TD. The SD oil feed line is a direct screw in fit to the vac pump where as the TD has a banjo. These lines were not easily interchangeable so I was pretty chuffed when the TD oil feed fit up to the nipple on the block.
 

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Sourcing a 12v starter was also a problem so I expanded my search to other Nissan starters to see if anything come close to the SD one.
There is nothing anywhere on the net or the forum with any alternatives that I could find.

I soon found that the TD starter has the same number and sized teeth on the starter pinion and the boss that fits into the hole in the bell housing is just 1mm smaller in diameter with a similar (not the same) bolt pattern so I contacted the bloke parting the TD again and grabbed the starter from him aswell.

We found The top bolt hole bolts straight up and the starter fits into the hole as suspected. The other two bolts required new holes to be drilled. Once fitted we tested the throw (on paper it's similar to the SD) an found it seems to work acceptably well. Of course we still havent started it yet but it looks promising.

The 24V SD starter is a direct drive where as the 12V TD one is not so I'm assuming its geared Down a little to help turn over the big TD. Fingers crossed its speed will start the SD🤞🤞

After fitting the motor into the engine bay of the MK it became apparent why i hadn't read of anyone else fitting a TD starter to the SD. Remember in an earlier post Ethan talked of how we mounted the engine 20mm further forward than where it sat in the MQ ute? Well even with the extra 20 mm forward the starter solenoid on the TD starter touches the firewall. It's a gentle touch so we should be able to gently manipulate the firewall enough to ensure it doesn't hit in hi torque situations but there is no way it would fit in its standard position without some major panel beating of the firewall 😬

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You can see the top right bolt required a large washer to help get enough coverage to hold onto the starter. The top left is untouched as said above and the bottom hole is just enlarged a bit as seen below (sorry it's not quite in focus)
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Sourcing a 12v starter was also a problem so I expanded my search to other Nissan starters to see if anything come close to the SD one.
There is nothing anywhere on the net or the forum with any alternatives that I could find.

I soon found that the TD starter has the same number and sized teeth on the starter pinion and the boss that fits into the hole in the bell housing is just 1mm smaller in diameter with a similar (not the same) bolt pattern so I contacted the bloke parting the TD again and grabbed the starter from him aswell.

We found The top bolt hole bolts straight up and the starter fits into the hole as suspected. The other two bolts required new holes to be drilled. Once fitted we tested the throw (on paper it's similar to the SD) an found it seems to work acceptably well. Of course we still havent started it yet but it looks promising.

The 24V SD starter is a direct drive where as the 12V TD one is not so I'm assuming its geared Down a little to help turn over the big TD. Fingers crossed its speed will start the SD🤞🤞

After fitting the motor into the engine bay of the MK it became apparent why i hadn't read of anyone else fitting a TD starter to the SD. Remember in an earlier post Ethan talked of how we mounted the engine 20mm further forward than where it sat in the MQ ute? Well even with the extra 20 mm forward the starter solenoid on the TD starter touches the firewall. It's a gentle touch so we should be able to gently manipulate the firewall enough to ensure it doesn't hit in hi torque situations but there is no way it would fit in its standard position without some major panel beating of the firewall 😬


You can see the top right bolt required a large washer to help get enough coverage to hold onto the starter. The top left is untouched as said above and the bottom hole is just enlarged a bit as seen below (sorry it's not quite in focus)
Being so difficult to source 12v starter and alternator did you investigate getting them rewound to suit 12v?
 
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