Thank you all for all your help. Although I haven't got the thing to run yet, it was really trying before I pulled the timing cover for the third time. It was really firing but just wouldn't start. Some burping through new Edelbrock carb.
Still don't know the exact problem, although suspect it is one of many, which surprises me because this is my fourth build of a 289/302/331 and all the previous ones started right up. Lessons learned so far:
Unlike Chevy first generation small blocks, , there are subtle differences between a Ford 68 302 and a 86 302. Cam dowel pin is one. The earlier cam dowel won't fit through the thicker cam gear and the eccentric. I had to fabricate a short roll pin, apparently there are two types of fuel pump eccentrics used on Fords. Why use a cam dowel??? Isn't three bolts a better engineering solution?
Sorry guys, Chevy's got us beat on this. As a professional engineer, I don't know why you would not just put the eccentric on the cam instead of creating more confustion. My 67 timing chain cover wouldn't clear the one-piece eccentric. All kinds of metal shavings got into my brand new $ 5K engine and I didn't even know it. Why the hell can't Ford and Comp cams get their act together? I spent two hours grinding down my eccentric to get it to clear and be perfectly the same thickness as measured by a micrometer. Another weakness of Ford is the legendary oil pump drive that trashed my excellent hand built 289. Althogh i supposedly got a hardened piece from Summit then, it failed; this time I got an ARP and looking at it, i have no assurances it won't fail.
Finally, I don't care how good they look, don't get fabricated tall aluminum valve covers if you have long tube headers and you've retained your shock towers. I might have well have put in a 351 stroker as hard as it is to get to everythng.
Now to my faults: 1. Always degree a cam. I installed mine 4 degrees advanced because it was a little bigger than I probaby needed. Have no idea what effect this may have, but we'll see. 2. Ensure the Edelbrock lifters are soaked or pumped before adjusting valves. I think some were too tight and remaining open, although I did get 30 psi priming my oil pump before my final adjustment.
If I sound bitter, I'm just pissed because I've put 150,000 miles on this car and now its been down for over a year. God I love my Mustang and I will be so happy when it runs. I work so hard at my regular job however, I just can't afford this nonsense even if it is my fault. I'm an engineer and I realize the need to make things idiotproof. Guess they didn't stress that 40 years ago.