So the steering mod worked out great, now its time for more upgrades...
As usual my plans changed to meet what the real world had to offer..
I found a Vortec 4.3L V6 out of a 2002ish Chevy Silverado 1500 with transmission, wiring, ECU, transmission, everything for $400, just a 10 hour round trip. After we got it home we found that a recent rain storm had flooded #1 while it was sitting waiting to be sold. (I could still see crossthatching in the other 5 cylenders)
So we bored the engine 0.030" new pistons, rings, bearings seals...
The transmission is now out for rebuild and upgrades and should be back next week. The adapter includes bolt holes to re-clock the transfer case.
In the meantime while I have the body off I am redoing the suspension.
Rear springs out of Dodge Dakota, 200lbs higher rating at ride height than my stock springs. ($125 u-pull and pay)
Spring over axle conversion, tucking the springs up as high as practical so the brackets don't catch as much.
A ramp shape to the brackets so the rocks slide over better. ($8 for scrap steel from the local supplier)