With very little time on my hands today, I managed to pull the carburetors, right side engine tin and confirm a couple of things:
1. The carburetors are leaking fuel into the cylinders. The car hasn't been started in what, four, five days now? The intake manifolds were wet with fuel on both sides. There's gas in the oil again. So, they're getting drained of fuel, dried out and shipped off for a second look to a new guy in California.
2. The thermostat flaps are not opening fully. All of the thermostat parts were painted by the engine builder and I think that paint is crudding up the bushings in the housing. They open up about 1/4 the way and then it takes a rather firm pull on the rod to get the flaps to open fully. I don't think the thermostat possesses that much torque. The only way to really fix this is to remove the front half of the fan shroud - which requires that the engine be pulled out because the flaps rod won't come out otherwise.
I don't honestly think that fixing these two things will solve my issues with the engine but it might reduce the number of things that seem to have gone wrong. I still suspect the distributor is part of the equation of the problem. The new distributor is en route and should arrive probably in 4-5 days. Odd timing since I won't have carburetors unless I get lucky and find the problem right away (slim but possible) and I think it'll take some time for me to pull the engine and fix the flaps issue. Then I still have the head torque situation to think about as well...although...there's a local T3 guy coming over next weekend and he's expressed interest in both the transmission and the engine (long block) so I may just strip this fucker down to a long block and let him take them both off my hands. I'd have a car on jack stands at that point and at least the transmission would be ordered but I imagine that I'd pull the trigger and order both of them at the same time. Lots of parts to ship back to California to the engine builder.
I'm 80% of the way to just ordering the engine and getting this nonsense over with once and for all. By the time I pull the engine and fix the flaps, I might be 10% closer because I don't think it's going to solve the problem.