I hook up my hose to the heater manifold and not to the waterpump end of the hose. It is simpler to undo that end. I also use a hose pinching pliers to crimp that hose and the thermostat end of the heater manifold hose. I installed a brass couple in that hose. I pinch that hose and the water pump hose and I don't lose any antifreeze except that amount that was in the core.Thanks again Automender - that was indeed the bypass hose - very short compared to the OP's setup. I went out this morning and looked a little more critically. I was able to clamp it off successfully.
The disassembly of the brace/bracket/support was a bit involved but when removed allowed perfect access to the water pump nipple.
I went back and forth several times from side to side and reassembled everything. It takes about 15 minutes for the water to get up to temperature but once there - there was heat!
I have a new degas bottle ordered and plan to do a complete full system flush and cleaning in the spring. This time around I was on a tight timeline and weather wasn't the best.
Again thank you for the info and support.
This is the setup I used to inject air to help dislodge crud. This is the crud.
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