Update, as of today.
I was to have received a schedule from the independent shop on Monday. They were to find a three-day block of time to do the work.
No call on Monday, no call on Tuesday, no call by late on Wednesday. I had called Tuesday, left a message, but no return call. My conclusion: They were not interested in doing this work.
Plan B: Call a local Ford dealership. I did so late on Wednesday, and was given an opportunity to bring it to their shop on Thursday morning. The intent was diagnostic evaluation, and develop a plan as necessary. I told them I knew the rear engine oil seal was NOT the problem.
I dropped it off early this morning. I was called late afternoon, "buttoned up, and ready for you to take if you wish, ... needs new gaskets ..."
I had a discussion with the Service Manager upon arrival. Their conclusion is: (1) Head gasket on one side is leaking, (2), Valve cover gasket leaking, albeit it minor, (3) Intake gasket is leaking, (4) Front crank cover is leaking.
(4) was probably the source of the erratic dripping. Apparently, this location is above a rail that was catching the oil, then dripping some of it off when the front of the vehicle is elevated. This was my observation: more dripping if I parked on a sloped surface, so that the nose was higher than the rear of the truck.
Their recommendation is to pull out the engine, and "reseal," that is to replace all the gaskets.
One thing he did warn me about is the exhaust bolts are in a vulnerable place for road spray. This causes them to rust on one side, and have been known to break. This means a drill-out and retap the hole. Obviously, the costs for this excursion comes to the bottom line.
The cost estimate is $2,500, and he needs the truck for four days. Three days might work, but he wants to allocate four days. I paid for one hour of diagnostic time, and brought it home.
Some who have commented here are obviously very familiar with this engine, repair work, etc. What say you to what I have said....?
Also, if the repair is made, is there a high likelihood that other problems will be uncovered? Is there a strong likelihood of follow on problems, say six months, a year, downstream? Are these kinds of repairs at a dealer level pretty sure and certain in outcome, or might I expect more troubles in the aftermath?
Is time to dump this one, and move on to a new truck?
Thanks. I value your insights and comments.