95 Winstar Overheating / Leak - Timing Cover?

Three months ago purchased a 95 Winstar at auction cheap to use at as a backup vehicle just to drive when one of our cars is in the shop, etc. I religiously check all the fluids. Vehicle is parked on a concrete pad and
I have never noticed a leak. On Sunday made a 90 mile trip and the temperature gage jumped to the top. Pulled over and checked the radiator - resevoir was full and the radiator cap was not even warm. Cranked the car and the gage while high was within the normal range. Finished the last 10 miles of the trip.
Four hours later when we left I checked and the resevoir was empty and there was no fluid visible in the radiator. As it was raining could not see any fluid under the car. Took a gallon of antifreeze/water to fill the radiator and bring the resevoir back to full. Cranked the car and let it run - no visible leaks. Decided to take a chance and go back home. No problems. Temperature gage never make it over 1/3 up the gage. Next morning checked the fluid and and radiator is full and resevoir is normal.
After keeping the car my mechanic and pressurizing the system the only thing they found was minor weeping from the timing cover. Told me to drive it watch it and he would give me an estimate on the cost, which would be expensive. He acted like it wasn't a big deal if I didn't do it right now and I might want to just drive it and keep an eye on the fluid levels for a week or so.
No almost nothing about cars, but what I witnessed does not jibe with a "slow leak". Any thoughts.
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Sounds like it could be a head gasket. That would reduce the coolant level without showing any visible leaks. It will probably be a pricey fix though. Its a big job and you'll have to change both head gaskets (assuming its a V6).
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On Tue, 9 Jan 2007 12:56:46 +0000 (UTC), Harvey Sprayberry

DO NOT DRIVE UNTIL IT'S FIXED!! 9 chances out of 10 the damage is already done. ANY glycol in that engine (if it's a 3.8) is FATAL.
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A second mechanic has confirmed the timing cover as the source of the leak. Estimates to repair range from $750-$870, so I guess it's time to say bye to the Windstar which is a shame. A shame to think what a POS this van must have been. One of the reasons I liked it was that it a Ford rebuilt engine dropped in 50,000 miles ago and a Ford rebuilt transmission dropped in 5,000 miles ago. I figured "Heh, what could go wrong?". Famouse last words. Also, a shame as we had really grown attatched to it. My wife will miss for dragging her lunch group around and my son (and his dating) will especially miss it.
Thanks to everyone who responded!
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