Thank you for the friendly reception, Flying Eagle.
While it's still in recent memory, do you recall if the little shoelace of a braided wire ground strap from the exhaust manifold to the body, just below the radiator, and the also very small intake manifold to firewall are the only engine block to frame ground connections? I haven't found any others just yet, but I did use an unoccupied M8x1.25 hole on the cylinder head near the distributor to add a 2 gauge ground cable to the common ground point a couple inches from the battery, where I did some cleaning of the connection. The starter spins up a bit quicker for it.
The new manifold I received the other day is Dorman part # 674263, in case any other 4G15 folks find themselves looking for a replacement manifold.
The manifold to cylinder head gasket isn't a convincing replica of the original, so I will try to source a proper one with the baffle up top like the original gasket. I laid out the parts of the kit as they will be installed on the car, except the barbecue paint which didn't come with the Dorman manifold.
I sprayed off the petroleum-based rust preventative coating using brake parts cleaner, and placed my new heatshield hardware in place to keep paint out of the threaded holes in the manifold when painted.
That's as far as I've made it on the exhaust manifold thus far. I'm about 3/4 through the left rear drum brake shoe change. The wheel cylinder was super easy to change out, but this is my first time changing drum brakes on a car. My motorcycle drum brake is decidedly easier because I don't need to crouch and contort to see what I think I need to see while I work on it.
I hope to have at least the left rear drum back together today or tomorrow, so I can move on to getting the new manifold installed. I'm sure I'll have some questions going forward, but for now the Hayne's manual is covering most of my reference needs.