Thanks for the advice Dan. We met at the Virginia fly in last year and I took numerous pics of your airplane for inspiration and motivation...just what I needed down the home stretch! I'm sure that long cantilevered hoop would result in some high loads on the attach points so I'll give some thought to reinforcement.
I did manage to fly today after tweaking the governor and was up to 2650 so need just a bit more travel to get to 2700....hopefully this weekend. I'm new to the world of CS props so still getting the hang of that but seems great to have that extra dimension of control over engine operation. I was surprised to see how much effect altitude had on limiting manifold pressure.
My canopy lever is still a bit stiff but will likely loosen up with some hours so will have to watch that closely.
Regarding the clearance with the SP cowl, it depends in part on how "short" the cowl is cut. I likely went a bit overboard trying to keep mine short with the intent of limiting the length of the prop extension and thus my #2 cylinder flange clearance is tight. So much so that I had to move the baffle on that side to the inside edge of the flange rather than the outside. It seems to work fine but if I pushed the cowl forward another inch or so, it would provide better clearance. I ended up with a 2 1/4 inch extension and my spinner-cowl gap 3/16th.