Ford Ranger engine replacement

Hey all; I'm in a bit of a pickle, and could use a little advice. I have a 1994 Ford Ranger Supercab with about 110,000 miles on it. I just recently had about $900 work of work done on it in the last few
months (radiator, computer check, tune-up, etc.). Over the last month or so, it's been having trouble keeping a steady idle when I first started it up, and in the last week has stalled a couple of times (I'm in south Florida so the temperature outside has been quite hot around the clock). I took it in today to find out what was up, and it was given the once-over. It turns out that the #6 wire was burnt, and a compression test was done on the #6 cylinder. The max. compression it took, according to my paperwork here, was 50 psi. Given the advanced mileage, the mechanic recommended an engine replacement. He gave a ballpark estimate of around $3500, which will be pretty tough to come up with. I do actually trust this guy, but I wanted to get a little outside input before I make a decision. Is there any way to estimate how long I'd be able to continue to drive before a replacement *should* be done? Would it be foolish to not have this done immediately? I know, this is pretty vague information, but I'm hoping someone may have had an experience like this in the past. If this is truly dire, I want to either get the money (somehow) and have it replaced, or find a dealer that has a "Tow it in if you have to" sale and trade it on a new vehicle. I'm pretty sure I couldn't get $10,000 out of the truck at this point. *tongue firmly in cheek* TIA.
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The only thing is why did it lose compression. You might have something as simple as a sticky valve, or it could be as bad as a scored cylinder wall. If that is the case, the engine is shot and driving it is noit going to make difference. You will do some damage, but who cares since the engine will get replaced anyway. However, as to how long before you NEED to replace the engine, that's hard to tell. I would have them do a leak down test on that cylinder to see if it is head related ot cyclinder related. Might only need a vavle job, that should be about half the price is not less.
Tim

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Tim Schoell opined in

I'm with Tim...
If the guy didnt check to see if it was a ring/cyl problem.. it may be a lot cheaper to do the heads.
If the thing has been halfway maintained, the piston/cylinder shouldnt be bad .
Try another shop.. have them do a full leakdown test
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