Valve cover with the bail undone. Often, getting the bail off and on is the worst part of the job, in my experience. I'll be skipping steps like crazy here, by the way. I mean, for posting's sake; in actuality I did perform all the steps.
There it is, the very top (that is, side) of the cylinder head. Remember: exhaust valves are the two exterior ones, intake valves are the two interior ones. Also remember: a valve that is tight for three consecutive adjustments is a time bomb. It's almost always, if not always, the exhaust valves that stretch because they put up with way more abuse (in the form of heat). Nice cool atomized gasoline or just-burned exhaust gases--which would you rather be bathed in 12 times a second?
I've got like four 13mm wrenches and what fits this 13mm nut best? My 1/2" wrench.
See what you do is loosen that 13mm nut with your 1/2" wrench (but only if it needs loosening; check it first and if it's right, let it be) which allows you to move that adjusting screw back and forth until the clearance between it and the top of the valve is 0.006". Movements imperceptible by sight or touch can have an effect on the clearance and just when you get it right you tighten that 13mm nut back up and guess what? Even though you were striving mightily to keep the screw in place with a screwdriver, the act of tightening the nut almost certainly moved the screw in and made your adjustment too tight. So just set it a little loose before you tighten it and let the tightening get it the rest of the way. And then check it. Again. Now do it seven more times after getting the engine in the right place each time.
Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful that Volkswagen was gracious enough to give me access to my engine from the top at all, but we still can be jealous of the hatch that Vanagons get, right?
VW obviously thought a lid was a good idea, so why didn't they go for broke from the beginning and give us a huge Vanagonlike hatch? Or go even huger? Would it've been harder to make? No. Reduce structural integrity? I doubt it. Or did they think we'd only want to get at the carbs or something? They didn't think it'd be nice to, say, look at the distributor from directly above?
Sometimes I wonder how hard it would be hack a Vanagon hatch in. (Don't worry, I won't/can't do it. But I should.)
Points get set at 0.016". Then you put it all back together, fire it up so you can check it with a dwell meter, find out you've got it wrong, disassemble, and readjust. Is there an easier way? Anyone?
Same thing, different view, sans giant Vanagon access hatch.
Now timing. Step one: clamp a bunch of things onto the coil and a few other places. Step two: time the engine. That's it!
So anyway, yeah, I got the timing set well and messed with the central idling circuit on the carbs and put in new spark plugs and guess what? It ran better. Not fantastic, but better.