you guys all touched on things that i've been running through my mind.
Fuel delivery: new lines, filter and carb. but that is kind of the direction i'm leaning toward. i'll probably change the filter since what i drained out of the old fuel lines was pretty nasty.
cooling: this car only has idiot lights. i've checked the temperature in various places after running it pretty hard and it reads anywhere from 180 to 210 depending on where i set the thermometer. i'm going to be changing all the freeze plugs in a couple of weeks and will flush the system then.
timing: my eyes aren't very good anymore but i'm pretty sure it says 6 btdc and if it is 9 wouldn't 6 be less likely to ping?
carb: i'm going to let my buddy tune it while i'm out of town.
pistons: i had considered that but don't want to if i don't have to.
valves: i know, i've got to do it.
carbon build up: yes, i was thinking about the old tranny fluid trick or sea foam. (if the weather were more agreeable i'd be doing that today.)
so, you guys have me thinking i'm on the right track at least.
most of what you listed is stuff that i'm going to be addressing over the next couple of weeks or have been looking at anyway.
thanks for the input.