Well, 848 mile maiden voyage was a success. No major catastrophes. The only glitch was one very expensive fuel filter springing a leak, which was remedied by replacing it with a different type. I'll share what I did, because it might save someone else a similar hassle...
The filter that was on it when I purchased it leaked, and was replaced with an identical one. It's the type with a clear plastic bowl on the bottom with a sensor to tell you through an idiot light/buzzer if you've got water in your fuel. When I discovered it sprung a leak about 600 miles into the trip, a diesel mech. suggested I just replace it with a regular filter, so I tossed the almost $90 piece of junk and replaced it with a $38 plain jane, no nonsense filter. 250+ miles after, and no leak.
A pic of the expensive, crappy filter... and wasted fuel
I guess the most exciting part of the trip was when a mouse crawled out of the crack between the dash and windshield, and in the process of tying to swat it out the window, I nearly killed us by almost running off the road. It could have been a serious wreck, but somehow (almost miraculously) wasn't.
I guess my last thought is on fuel mileage. If I'm doing the math right, I barely got over 8mpg. I was hoping to top 10 per. It does seem that the bus is sluggish in first through third gears, which puzzles me a bit- seems transmission related to me, though I'm not quite sure. It starts getting some real kick from the turbo in fourth, though, and was cruising at 63- 65 in 5th gear, at about 23-2450 rpms. That was with me burying it, then setting the high idle thingamajig as a cruise control. It sounded fine- I don't think I was pushing it too hard. Oil pressure was nice, and temp never went higher than mid -range. Was it just the 'high' speeds causing me to get such poor mileage? Anyone shed some light? I've got a lot to learn about diesel power.
I'll post more pics soon. She's no beauty queen, but she's pretty tough. So far I like her just fine. And look at that engine- almost showroom clean! Overall, I'm pleased as pie. I feel like I got a good deal. The only thing I'm dreading is brake work when it will need it(Lucas-Girling). Out of curiosity, I priced the backer plate assembly... around $500 per. -yikes!