Well, Gents, I'm finally getting back to this.
First, Dick, how is your Wife getting on? Having to go back in is a b*&^$; here's good thoughts for a complete and comfy recovery.
I notice that there has been a good amount of discussion regarding dropped axles, lowered springs, and such, recently; here are a few thoughts and findings I have made over the last few years, regarding this. The dropped axle from CPP has been a good thing; three inches drop, so they say. In the larger scheme of things, that isn't a lot, noticeable, but not much; so we say, how about using a set of lowered springs with it? I bounced that question off of guys at CPP, and Posie's, who offer a nice set of two leaf springs that they claim are safer and better riding than mono-leafs; they both told me that the combo of the axle and springs, while giving a good drop, would cause alignment problems - specifically, with caster. I have thought about this a lot, and I think that the caster problem could be corrected with the right shim packs; I might be all wet, but, I am tempted to give it a try, especially since I am going to lower the rear, as well. Doing it that way would allow doing it a piece at a time, rather than the whole shot in the wallet at one time that an IFS would give me - and, no welding, or at least, not nearly as much; only the over-spring rear conversion.
Regarding the springs, Posie's offers springs in their "Super Slide" line; the fronts are said to give 2-1/2 to 3 inches, the rears, 3 to 4. They are "reduced" spring packs, having fewer leaves, and are said to give a better ride quality, and are purported to be much safer than mono-leaf springs, because of the multiple leaves. I don't know; seems to me that if you broke a main leaf or an eye, it wouldn't make any difference whether it was multi or mono, you would still have a real problem; now, if you broke a secondary leaf, it wouldn't "cripple" you, so that is something to keep in the pot of things to think about. CPP's mono leaf springs are advertised to give from 2 to 4 inches of drop, front or rear, depending on which style of eye you use - normal, or reversed. I have seen a couple of trucks with mono leafs on them, and they are down there; I don't know just what else they might have done to them to get them dow there, though.
Total cost of all of this is sort of a toss-up, between a IFS setup, a "clip", or the lowered axle/leaf spring setup, along with a disc brake conversion, power brakes and steering conversion. As I said, earlier, one "big chunk, all at once", or smaller bites over a longer time; I am torn between the alternatives. I understand the benefits of modern independent suspension, but I do not think that the "old freight wagon" suspension is all that bad, especially if it is done "right" - look at Double Dick's truck, as well as many others; they work really well. The nice thing about keeping the original suspension design is that you can keep a lot of the other "ancillary" stuff in more-or-less the same way it was designed originally - like engine mounts if you don't want to change them, radiator and body mounts, etceterrrra.
A couple of things for you guys who are just starting, or haven't done any work on one of these trucks before:
Pulling the engine from a stocker - easiest to drop out the tranny from underneath, then yank the engine; even easier, if you pull the front sheet metal off, first. I got to where I could change out the engine in mine in about three hours, and be running again; it's really easy, if you get the drill down pat, but getting the tranny out of the way is key - if you pull it with the tranny in place, you have to drag it over that crossmember, and it is even worse going back in. Taking a three or four speed out under the truck isn't that hard; I have a Muncie "rock crusher" iron case, and I could do it without a jack - arr-arrrr-arrr
, but a jack makes it a cake walk.
I don't think any of the current power brake conversions will work with a stock clutch setup; most of them are designed around an engine swap with an automatic tranny. An alternative, to allow one to keep their clutch and brake pedals where they are, is to use a remote operated power booster and m/c, where the original is used to operate a slave operated power setup. There are a couple of outfits that have the plans for this, and it works quite well, because the booster and double circuit master cylinder can be mounted wherever there is space, and bracketing is fairly easy, because you don't have to account for the mechanics of the pedal linkage.
Well, enough "sage advice" for now; supper's ready - pot roast, taters, and juice (gravy); yum.