I've always wondered if I'd be a decent mechanic, and after purchasing this truck, I know for a fact that I am not. The 22RE is supposed to be one of the easiest engines to work on, and my particular example has no A/C or P/S to clutter up the engine bay either. I've been struggling with the head gasket job for the past two weeks (although admittedly, I've only been working on it here and there while not working my real job and waiting due to slower parts shipping). I tried to fill the truck up two days ago, only to find water pouring out of the intake manifold. Silly me figured that the intake manifold didn't need to be sealed crazy tight since it just let in air and fuel, right?
I ended up removing the intake manifold again (not a big job, to be honest), cleaned off both the head and manifold surfaces, RTV'd the gasket in there and torqued the bolts to the correct spec in the right sequence. Filled it up today and no leaks! Started it up though and .... same problem. Temp gauge still creeps past halfway and upper radiator hose/thermostat housing doesn't get that hot (thermostat is 190F, housing only got to around 135F).
Either I screwed up the HG install, have an air pocket of doom in the cooling system, or the problem wasn't the HG to start with.
Big respect to the good mechanics out there who can do this stuff for a living day in and day out, because I can't.