Well, I am all done and will have another thread for the pics and will link it below.
Overall, it was very easy to do, just time consuming. I am short (5'10") and had to stand on double stacked 6x6 blocks to be able to lean over and reach everything. It took me about 6 hours total and this was with half my time spent chatting & taking breaks to stretch my back and calves. Non-stop, I think 2.5-3 hours is easily doable having done it now.
The hardest part was getting a vacuum line detached from the driver's side valve cover towards the rear. I fought and fought it to no avail. It has two tabs in a 'C' shape on a stud. I ended up using channel locks to compress the 'C' flat and then this gave JUST enough clearance to pull it off the stud. I then used the channel locks to bend the whole bracket out of the way and didn't return it to the OEM location upon re-installation. The line comes off the back of the motor and around the drivers side up to the brake booster. It is stiff enough it won't be an issue.
The driver's side solenoid had a clear failure in one of the screens but overall looked good compared to others I have seen during my research leading up to this. The driver's side valve cover had quite the varnish layer and the head had a very light yellowing to it but was overall in great shape for 116,000 miles. Previous owner ran Mobil 1 5w20 via OLM with Motorcraft filters for 90,000+ miles.
The passenger solenoid was in perfect shape (visually). The passenger valve cover had minimal varnish and the head had no measurable varnish, it was factory silver. I didn't take pictures on the passenger side as there was nothing to show.
So, either (A) the driver's side head runs hot(ter) as designed (B) the driver's side head has overheated prior to my ownership or (C) the driver's side solenoid was advancing cam timing too much too early/late causing a severe temp differential compared to the passenger head. Any input on this?
The 2 bottom, rear most valve cover bolts on the drivers head were a PITA, but doable. I used a 1/4" ratchet for all of the work with various extensions.
I used fel-pro gaskets with zero issue(s). I used black RTV on the head & timing cover joint.
Upon first start up the difference was immediately noticeable. The truck has always idled low in gear and in park. It fired right up and had a bark to it (Borla muffler) that it has never had. I don't know how to describe the difference while idling now, the difference is unbelievable. Driving it is a 1,000% improvement through normal acceleration. The in gear (foot on brakes) stumble is 100% gone and so is the low speed/low RPM tick between 20-30 MPH.
Digging deep in the throttle feels like I have picked up 50HP and 50 lb/ft. The old solenoid(s) were clearly sticking open or closed and having issues.