"Pulling the engine from the top has its difficulties - there is a bolt that attaches a brace to the rear head that is an absolute SOB to get back on... The brace runs in between the pipes of the rear exhaust manifold."
Dear KHE: Please tell me what I need to know about this 'bracket.' I have such a bracket and its fasteners left over and so far we have been unable to recollect (or to figure out) from whence it came. This car is a 1997 Eldorado ETC. A head gasket failed at 160,000 miles. We pulled the engine through the top, sent it to a local shop to build it back up with Northstar Performance studs. The extra bracket is a tube about 3/4 diameter with a bend in it, slot on one end and a tab with a hole on the other.
This was our first Northstar and for my SAAB/BMW Master mechanic, the last. Neither of us is particularly fond of stuff left over of course.
That said the engine is smooth, powerful and is producing 25 mpg at 75 miles per. Naturally one EXPECTS such from a 300 hp Northstar.