For those of you who like to read tech stories to learn what not to do as well as what to do, I have a few jewels that should save you from making the same mistakes I did. Right off the top, my first mistake was to start on the '72 without first gunking it down and hitting it with a pressure-washer. The mentality that I developed about being able to still drive the truck while I was working on it was dumb. In retrospect, I should have pulled the engine and trans out of the truck. In the long run, this is the best way to do it, because you can get engine work done a lot faster and easier while doing a better job-enough said.
The one mistake that I haven't made in a long time was to get in a hurry to throw the engine back together because I have a deadline. I'm not talking about the deadline to have the '72 done for Americruise, because I still have plenty of time to make that. The immediate deadline was to have the 302 back together and fired up for this issue's segment on the build. During the course of reassembly, it looked like everything was right on time until I shattered a valve lock (keeper) on the very last valve of the second cylinder head. It was on the eve of Good Friday, and Easter weekend turned out not to be a good time to chase around speed shops looking for one 11/32 seven-degree Lunati lock. The temptation was there to figure out some kind of makeshift alternative, but ultimately I decided to wait until the speed shop opened so I could finish the project with the right parts.