The crosshatching on the cylinder walls was still very clear. I wasn't up to doing anything with the bottom end, so all I did was rotate the motor 120 degrees at a time (so that two pistons at a time would be at TDC) and carefully cleaned the piston tops with a wire brush while protecting the other cylinders by stuffing them with clean rags. They all cleaned up shiny bright, so you could make out the tiniest lettering still forged into the piston tops. The only scary bit was number 5 which cleaned up nice and bright but had a few dozen really tiny pits, like a woodpecker had been pecking on it. At some point in the past, a bit of carbon or who-knows-what must've rattled around in there before being pulverized. Since each pit had a microscopically raised edge, and thus roughed up the piston top, I knocked the peaks off with a bit of sandpaper so that despite the pits the surface ended up smooth to the touch.
I'll remember the tip about AutoZone as a source for the big hex sockets, but I don't think I have any in my immediate area. Mostly I have Kragen and Napa Auto. And of course now I also have a set of Snap-on sockets.
Yes, now I recall about how hard it was to get the chain tensioner cap on against the spring tension. Ultimately, I think it was a two handed job kind of holding it by the edges and pushing with my thumbs, with my fingertips over the edge to center the spring, and rotating it that first half-turn into place by rotating my hands like I was turning a steering wheel. I did not need to curse like a sailor, because I had already gotten that out of my system when I saw I had broken the timing chain rail. One odd thing stands out, though. When I pushed the tensioner plunger back into the just-reinstalled outer sleeve, I expected the little little ring washer on the trailing edge of the plunger to start back into the outer part and ratchet in a bit. It never did. The ring just hung up at the stairstep edge of the outer housing, even when I pushed pretty hard on the plunger. With all the tension on that spring, I could see that the timing chain was in fact being tensioned, but I thought it was odd that the plunger didn't seem to start ratcheting right away. I think it must've ratched by now. Anyway I don't hear any chain noise.