I've been following your build for a while now, and just sat for 45 minutes reading it from the start again. If you didn't get your welding merit badge for this at least, there is no justice in the world
I used to live in the UK where rust is a given, so I understand what you were working with. My Dad had a shop and a lot of talent, and more importantly, the patience to teach me some of his skills. Cars would come in for a couple of rust holes, and within a few hours we'd be calling the owner back to show them why we'd warned them it might be a bigger job when they dropped it off. By the time we'd finished heating and beating to get back to good metal, a small hole in a rocker panel could be rusted out chassis/outriggers, inner and outer rockers, floors, etc, etc. I've fabricated and rebuilt huge sections of cars from scratch, but what you took on truly was a labor of love that would have beaten most people early on in the project - if they decided to take it on at all. At this point in my life I appreciate that sentimental value makes all the difference in the world, but it's heartwarming to see someone so young cherishing a family connection as you have. Well done - your great-grandfather would be so proud of you
I feel bad about the stuff we have sitting in wrecking yards over here in SoCal - a flat bed trailer, and a looong road trip would have netted you so many of the parts you spent countless hours fixing - but I honestly think there's value in saving as much as you can. I had a huge gaping hole in the back and roof of my cab from the walk-through motorhome conversion that was done when it first rolled off the production line, and it would have been easier to get another one rather than fix it. Our thinking though (and my son has been involved from the start, especially since he named her) was that the cab was part of Bessie, if not the biggest part. We have a lot of emotional attachment to the old girl now, and felt that to switch it out without trying would have made it a different vehicle. By doing what you did, you're sitting in much of the truck that your great-grandfather did when he drove it, and that's got to be an awesome feeling. You made a lot of extra work for yourself, but you absolutely did right by him and the truck.
Can't wait to see how it turns out when you paint it. 5-6 grand for paint? After everything else you've done, painting it yourself shouldn't be anything to shy away from. I genuinely don't think there's anything you can't tackle on this rebuild/resurrection with your attitude.
1971 DRW F350 cab and chassis with an Open Road motorhome conversion, Dana 70, 352 (originally 390)/C6, PS, power front discs, and 159" w/b.