FBIRD - Im totally agreed with everything youre saying and Ive read tons of your posts over the past year and learned a ton.
Aluminum heads, I was told 38' was acceptable, you still say 36? I'll take your word.
With the timing, in my case, Im not confused just in a bind with the MSD. I think this was mentioned in an older post of mine and is related this this new post this week: I use an MSD 8981 timing box for my advance curve because its so dead-on-balls precise. Its biggest downfall, as you're already pointing out, is that it requires the distributor to be LOCKED at full advance. It does the retard for hard starts but 20' from 38' on my engine is still sometimes a hard start.
So, thats what Im trying to use my vac advance for more initial start retard BUT keep the vac advance "advanced" even for WOT.
100% I see that I SHOULD go back to the weights and the vac can etc etc. But for now, isnt my only loss the use of the vac advance for cruising light load since my vac can is just stuck at advanced fully? (not going over 36 or 38 total advance ever)