Thanks to everyone for the thoughtful and obviously time consuming replies.
I suspended work on the car to move toward Thanksgiving. The wife, daughter and I went to my parents and my son met us there. My wifes twin sister and her family joined us there. It was a great Thanksgiving including the special pie that my Mom always makes for me. We just got back home. I'll have to run 10 miles to work it all off.
I'm glad I did not go any further into it. I was just starting to pull the fan and radiator to gain access to the harmonic balancer, which as I said before, I really don't want to pull unless I must, for fear of starting into the failed balancer syndrome.
I will pull the camsprocket and retime it, then turn it over by hand to check for a jerky chain. If it then still looks okay, I will check compression on a hole or two before putting the injectors back in.
If I can experience success to this point, should I pull the lower pan before starting the engine? The thing is crammed in a parking spot in my shop, not a working spot. Working from above is not too bad, but if I can start it and move it before pulling the pan, I can save lots of trouble and frustration. My experience with FOD in the pan, is that it will usually stay there.
I just had a thought. I noticed a small chunk of the plastic guide that is on the drivers side of the engine missing. It is where the bolt goes through it into the head. I have not noticed this chunk gone before. It's right where the bolt goes through, which makes me wonder if it broke by overtightening. I can't imagine it just breaking off while going down the road. Anyway, surely this little piece of plastic couldn't have caused such a problem by traveling through the chain. If it did it will be a stroke of luck because I doubt that the plastic could have caused much damage anywhere else.
'01 C Class, Six Speed
'84 Euro 240D, manual, 533K miles
'88 300E 5 Speed
'81 300D Daughter's Car
Over 800,000 miles in