I have been there, done that with my 1997 F-250 light duty. This is a strange truck and was only made this way for ONE YEAR and I have the rare VIN number (less than 6%). I would NEVER had bought it had a known what I was getting into but traded a rifle and laptop computer for it. It became a literal Fix Or Repair Daily for a while as it was always something else. I just kept fixing things because I knew eventually I would have it taken care of and I already had a bunch of money in the thing so just kept going. Parts were hard to find and match because of the rarity of the truck. I had to take the old parts in so they would match them properly as things weren’t right in the computer, even at the Ford dealer.
Now I have a good reliable beater truck. I use it for my winter truck, hauling firewood, scrap metal, etc. It is a work truck pure and simple. It probably isn’t worth what I put into it but it is kinda nice to not having to worry about getting a scratch in the woods or at the scrap yard. I leave it along a river access when camping or floating and don’t worry too much about people doing anything to it. The engine, transmission, and 4WD are all in good shape.
For me to replace the truck with a good reliable 4WD, it would probably cost quite a bit. I am also not sure I would want a nicer truck as I use this truck for hard use quite frequently. Again, it is perfect for what I do with it. I try to keep the rust at bay but figure rust will kill it before a mechanical failure of something major.