No worries about the length of the reply. In fact my question was a lot longer than your answer.
Thanks for the replies. As I said, the truck is still being disassembled, so nothing has been done to the suspension of either vehicle at this point.
Ok, we have a lot to consider as far as narrowing the front crossmember is concerned. To be honest, I didn't feel right about going that far anyway, but it was an option, so I threw it out there for consideration.
So, I guess the only question remaining is whether or not there's a R&P unit out there that'll come close to the measurements of the steering system of the stock (un-narrowed) Chevy C-20 front end that won't require huge amounts of modification and is beefy enough to get the job done. We understand the ends of the rack that attach to the tie rods might have to be machined, or different tie rods all together might have to be used, but it's still possible to use R&P. His main question was in reference to the weight and length of the vehicle and the donor front end. I just haven't found anything online so far about those topics to help us determine whether or not his truck is even a candidate for R&P or not. And yes, we're still looking - and not just online.
He's eliminated the idea of using a front clip from a Camaro or some other passenger car for a couple of reasons. In talking to a couple of other people here locally who drive AD pickups that have been clipped, he just doesn't think it'll work for his needs. You also have to remember that this truck is on a 1-Ton frame, and that frame is different than the half-ton frame most people into the AD trucks are used to.
This is a long term project (he is figuring on about 5 years) so it's not like we're heading to the wrecking yard to search for an R&P unit today and bolt it in tonight. He's taking his time and trying to do things right the first time to avoid problems in the future. What I'm saying is we are researching things now and doing what work on the truck we can do while he's making up his mind about other things and checking into them. Lord knows there's lots of body work and an engine to build to keep him occupied for the next couple of years. This board is part of that research, and the input from both of you is greatly appreciated.
Please don't hesitate to add to your comments or point us in other directions. He wants a truck that is first of all safe to drive. He doesn't want to spend all day under it polishing things afterward. He wants to build it to drive. He'd rather have a more modern independent front suspension that incorporates disk brakes and power steering. The C-20 front end fits those requirements. If he ends up having to use the stock steering box and adapting it to work with the stock '55 frame and '81 crossmember, so be it. But it's worth asking about. Better to do that than go ahead and try it, then have to undo all that work.