Ok, here's the latest.
I removed the fuel pump, and it came out in two pieces. The bottom of it stayed in the block.
I got lucky, and successfully pushed down the piece of housing that remained in the block, exposing the remaining piece of plunger that remained in the block. I grabbed the piece of the plunger that remained with vice-grips and pulled the two pieces out.
I replaced the fuel pump.
Well, the truck wouldn't start without the gasoline. And the same old thing, shut it off, and it wouldn't restart.
At this point I had the 17* hpop with the replacement ipr in it. I drove it down the road, and it would roll coal, but set the Check Engine Light. It would do that anytime I would roll coal with the original 15* hpop.
Therefore, I just now finished replacing the IPR with the one that came with the 17* pump. It's the IPR that isn't open on the end like the oem one is. It's not the edge filter, but instead it's just solid steel on the end, with the cross holes in it. I even cleaned the FPR screen, just for the heck of it.
This IPR will roll coal and it won't set the Check Engine light, and it idles smoother with this IPR too.
Again, this truck runs flawlessly, great in fact. But it just won't start without a fuel source in the intake, such as a gasoline soaked rag or ether. As I said before, I drove it to Tenn and back, 350 mile round trip without issue, except starting of course. I wouldn't hesitate to drive this truck to California as long as I had some gasoline and a rag so I could start it whenever I shut it off.
I've given my best effort. But I'm out of ideas. I love this truck. I've owned it since 1998, but I'm about to just wave the white flag and surrender. I'm at my wit's end on this one. My wife wants me to just buy a new one. I've got my eye on an 08' 450 Lariat 6.4L. If I can't get it fix this week, I'm just going to bite the bullet and buy the 08'.