Ok, I brought this subject up before and it looked like a reasonable idea. Since that time I did a little diging. Here's what I found.
Find a front dana 44, pull the front spindle and hubs. As for brakes, doesn't matter if you use drums or disk, just grab whatever the donor front brakes were.
Pull the wheel bearing cup from the semi-floating dana 44.
Here the tricky part. You need to do some machining on the spindle. You will need access to a lathe to do this.
A. The boss on back side of the spindle need to be turned down to fit where the bearing cup went. This used to go into the knuckle.
B. The inside of the spindle needs to be opened up (bored out) slightly to accept the larger axle shaft.
C. Two holes need to be drilled into spindle mounting flange to match the two ones out of the pattern in the rear flange. These were offset to clear the drum slave cylinder/parking stuff.
D. Now the spindle should bolt right up to the dana 44 rear flange.
Next hard part, custom axles.
I was thinking use a widetrack 44 axle shafts from a FSJ. These have plenty of material to machine new splines into. The axle shaft now does not support any weight, but it needs to ride on the roller bearing inside the spindle. Two options here. One, have the axle fit the existing bearing, slightly larger than the spline diameter. Now the axle will be a little fatter near one end, then taper down to the ends with splines. Option two. have the axle the same diameter all the way down. This is like the Warn kit. Now you'd have to find a new bearing with the same outer diameter as the old one but a smaller inner diameter. six one way, half dozen the other. Also a groove needs to be cut around the splines on the wheel end. This makes it look like the front axle. The snap-ring snaps into the groove. That way the lock out will have something to hook up to and the axle shaft stays in place.
Brakes, Just put whatever the front had back on. You can correct for wheel bolt patterns by splicing chevy/ford/jeep parts. They all used dana 44 stuff. I'd stay away from scout dana 44's because they had external bolt-on lockouts. see # 5..
lockouts, use the one that came from the donor, or get the warn premium. I've heard that Warn doesn't give you a warranty if you use them on the rear. If they break, just say they were on the front. Maybe you could use the front lockout from a quadra-track wagoneer if you didn't want to be able to unlock your hub. They might be stronger too, just guessing here.
I welcome feedback here...Ozarkjeep what do you think of my plan?
As for price, I can do all my own machine work (mods to spindles) but axles you need to goto Moser (~$100). All parts could come from the junk yard. New rotors would be nice ($150), maybe even new bearings($50) and lockouts($100) too. Still cheaper than Warn, especially if you do the swap from a disk brake front. Full floating and disk brakes for less than the disk convertion alone.
My name is Ted, and I'm a Jeep-a-holic.