Brace for big update.
Got the head back from the engine shop after a valve job and steam cleaning:
In prepping the head and the block for a new head gasket I was reading up on how people clean off the gasket surfaces. I didn't like a lot of what I read. Many people suggested using sandpaper, scotchbrite, and other abrasives. The thought of even a small bit of those abrasives getting into the oil sump gave me nightmares. So, after a bit of thought, I decided to use a razor blade to clean off any large chunks of old gasket, and steel wool with a little bit of ATF to clean off everything else. Steel is not going to be the most abrasive material in the engine (especially non-hardened steel in steel wool) and it will be collected by the drain plug magnet if it does get into the engine.
I then bolted the head back onto the block using a new HG and the stock head bolts. I ran up the torque in 4 steps. First, finger tight, then 20ft-lbs, 40ft-lbs, and finally 60ft-lbs. With AMSOIL assembly oil on every surface it went together without any issues at all.
Then I began re-assembling the engine.
Cams, HLAs, and a new water pump.
Rear main seal installed with a FM rear main installer tool.
At this point I decided to make a custom part for the coolant re-route modification. The reroute deletes the front thermostat housing, which also contains the fan switch sender. So, I made a plate that mounts the fan switch directly to the block, where the thermostat neck used to be. Right here:
As I went about making the part on my CNC router I realized that no gasket exists that will work for this. At least none that I knew of. So, I sandwiched some gasket stock behind the aluminum I made the plate out of.
And cut out a gasket at the same time the plate was cut. Hooray! Here is the plate (tapped and w/ counter-sink for an o-ring), gasket (before cleaning it up a little), new o-ring, and fan switch sender. I smoothed the plate's surfaces with 100grit sandpaper in a DA sander.
I got liberal with the RTV when installing it, I was a little worried about leaks. Here is the plate installed with the cam pulleys, FM cam pulley tool, timing belt, crank timing pulley, and FM crank pulley tool all on the engine.
With all of the front timing bits, covers, pulleys, etc installed, time for an adult beverage! The handy FM pulley tool has a bottle opener built in. Genius.
Continuing to dress the engine...