Wow, lots of discussion.
Let me answer some comments/questions:
1. Mousefink, My initial timing is 24 degrees; Mechanical advance curve is set to come in at 1200 and be all in at 2800; I have verified this with a good timing light. Timing did not budge at all until we hit approx 1200 then started to go up. My idle is set at 800 and is stable. I use an MSD 8365 with custom stop advance bushing (14 degrees). And, yes, it starts just fine with 24 degrees initial timing, actually on the first turn of the key.
2. F'bird-88, don't know LSA for sure; tag on the engine said 450 lift, 224 duration, 206 lobe centre but I think the 206 is wrong? (maybe 106?, it was hard to read that part of the tag clearly)
Manifold vacuum at idle is 8-12 (bounces fast between that range) at 800 rpm; I could not find my notes with the readings in gear, will redo that next run, likely thursday night.
Have not got as far as idle screws yet, they are, however, set at 1.5 turns out on all 4 corners from the factory (I verified). I would hope they would be active as otherwise that means my transfer slot is too exposed. (which I initially set to 0.025)
3. TommyK, thanks, I'll put that on my list. I do have a mini starter with rather high torque capability and I have the headers closest to the starter wrapped. Went through 2 GM starters in 1 year before I learned that one; no issues now in 2 years.
4. I was told that the reason the recommendation for high performance engines to be set to 1100-1200 idle is to ensure proper oil splash and cooling on the cam. I prefer to keep mind a little lower at 800-900 but that is not yet set in stone; we'll see where she settles when I'm all done.
Also, keep in mind that I have larger idle air bleeds installed in the carb so that will also affect 'stock' thinking. This was a recommendation by Quickfuel to smooth out my idle and makes sense to me.
Thanks for the continued assistance;