This post is named part four and a half because no actual progress has occurred. Work is at a standstill on the butter beater project, which I'm considering renaming the goldilocks project.
A new fork is on its way from Amazon. Yes, Amazon had the chrome, lugged fork with rake that I hope will be just right. This will be fork number three! 10/31 update: It's here! (pictured below)
Meanwhile, I've realized the bars I bought are too wide. Every other part has gone through several tries, so why not the bars too! The upside is that this creates homework.
Butter Beater homework: Remove stem. Remove brake levers from bars. Remove bars from stem. Clean, sand and polish the stem. 10/28 update: done!
The Apex: the $10 mountain bike project can now move forward because the stuck seat post is OUT! Homework: Install new seat post. Install saddle. Install new tires. Install, install, install!