i'm sure this delay is pretty par for the course. after starting the upgrade in february and thinking i'd be done in 2 months, i finally ran the first brew on the new system. flipping on the HLT to pitching yeast was about 6 hours. i'm sure that'll go down once i've got a couple batches on it, plus post boil cool down took a little longer than normal. now that i'm sure my HLT is leak free, i'm gonna try Pol's approach next time and heat the night before so i'm not starting from 60* tap water.
here's the brew kettle with aluminum anode wrapped in aluminum foil:
140* F to boiling took 20 minutes (7 gallons, 4500 watts).
holy hell did batch sparging fly on this thing compared to my old SS braid. i also hit 80% efficiency (on the higher end of normal for me), which was a big relief. although i guess the biggest unknown was whether or not i'd lose pump prime while recirculating. not having to vorlauf was nice. definitely one of least favorite parts of my prior setup.
thanks again to everyone whose ideas i borrowed putting this together.