'Tis sort of anti-climatic; you know? After flushing six liters of MUD out of the crankcase...and a brief trip to canuck tire for a cheapo oil filter, I disconnected the ignition coil and rolled the engine over about 50 times until I was fairly sure the various fluids had ended up wherever they were supposed to be.
Then came the moment of truth...
There's a little oil on the outboard exhaust manifold, so we got a little smoke happening after the first five minutes. No backfires, drips, or strange noises, so I suppose I got everything tight and dry. Timing was obviously correct, although I may just 'scope it to make sure. There was a little valve-clacking; but as the lifters have been dry for the past few weeks, that is to be expected.
Next step: test drive. We're not quite ready for prime time yet...
As to the 95 van, I still can't prove the head gasket is actually gone. In fact, it would seem that an overpressure in the coolant system (filled with concentrate rather than pre-mixed) breached the intake manifold gasket and is forcing coolant into the cylinders. This is an annoying flaw in this particular engine, the heads have coolant channels less than 1/4 inch away from the intake port. Care must be taken to ensure the seal between the two.
So...the '95 may actually be much easier to fix than I thought.
I hope so.
Addenda: I spent way-y-y too much time on this engine...but time well spent because now I actually know my way around this particular engine.