I would like to change the rear end/suspension with something more highway friendly. I am limited on doing a lot of fabrication. The truck has a 312 Y block with a 4 speed t98 transmission. Any ideas are appreciated. Thank You.
Ford 9" from a 1957-1972 F100 is pretty much a direct bolt on. You'll need larger rear shock brackets since the 9" housing is larger than the stock rear end housing. Stick rear shock brackets from a 1948-52 F2-F3 will also work. Summit also has a set of generic shock mounts that will work with the 9".
for a 1/2 ton, you are looking at a 5 on 5 1/2 pattern
for a 51, you would need a 61" wide rear end. Great luck a Ford 9" from a 57-72 F100 truck is a direct bolt in, leaf spring pads are the same width and everything. on my 48 I have a slight difference in the shock mounts. I overcame this with a bolt change rather than grinding off and re-positioning the shock mounts.
Now if you want to switch to a 5 on 5 pattern or 5 on 4 1/2 then other 9" are also choices (5 on 4 1/2 is the "car" pattern 5 on 5 1/2 is the "truck" pattern). Early shoe box broncos (pre '72) I believe are also the same width.
There is a whole article on rear end options and I have written an xl spreadsheet with a great level of detail.
I also think a guy could use a Dana 44 from those same years (57-72) - early on when Ford got a request for a locker they used Dana instead of 9", later they offer the 9 with LSD of some type.
A lot of focus has been given to the 9" since it is well supported, but something I found because it is also associated with racing, there is a TON of price gouging when it comes to work. Offroaders generally go up to the DANA 60, and that leaves the 44 as a common (still being put in today), with lots of support and less $$$ hit.
Note, if you are taking a complete axle out from under a truck/bronco/mustang then I would strongly recommend you narrow your years - in '68 all brakes became dual circuit (law), there was a ton of changes and some of em not so good. in '69 Ford increased the brakes from the smaller width to a full 2". I would suggest look for a 69-72 F100. If you are going to a yard, find the best ratio, and cabbage parts off all the other donors to give it the best brakes possible and then buy the whole axle complete. Grab the u bolts and shackle plates since as mentioned the old is 2 1/2" the new is 3" tube.
I screwed up and got the newest best brakes in the wrong ratio - I am now looking for a center section swap.
Along with making the engine happier, make yourself happier. While your making changes, how about softening the ride? There are softer leaf springs on the market, posies is one of the better ones. Removing leafs is also an option.
No can do mon ami, all the front end swaps turn into fab fab fab. I think about the simplest would be to use an early F100 or bronco front end (the dreaded twin i beam).... A better quality would be a later f100 or bronco (like a dana 44 if you want to go the route of the 4x4 land) - but again FAB FAB Fan-dab-ulous.
Others might have more ideas than what I threw out there but I don't remember seeing any threads about a simple front end swap.
If you aren't going to do a ton of fab work, just go through through your front brakes and drive it with the patience and care of a drum system.
For general use, the stock front end works fine. I am in the process of going through mine right now.
I think someone said to plan on around $600 for complete rebuild. So far, my expenses are:
spring bushing set- $45
disc brake conversion - $280
king pin bushings - $40 (machine work supposed to be around $50)
Toyota Power steering box (not required) - $40+100 for pitman arm
Still need to get shocks and possibly rebuild the drag link. The disc kit is not absolutely necessary, but I decided to upgrade since I had to go through everything anyway. If you don't do discs, you will probably have around $100 into rebuilding the stock drum system.