Finally got the exhaust and carb back on. Checked the battery, 10.1V, not good. But I connected it anyway and tried to kick it with the spark plug out, I was getting a weak blue spark.
I hooked up the tank and there was just enough gas in there to fill up the float bowl.
Kicked about 6 times and got one single burp. That's when I realized that the headlight was still connected.
Disconnect the headlight.
Let it run for about 30s and killed it. It now starts reliably on the 1st or 2nd kick.
I am thrilled, this bike was near impossible to start cold before and a real bitch to start hot. Even if it takes 5-10 kicks to start cold it's definitely something I can live with. Now to paint the plastics, finish the wheel setup, paint the wheels, tires and it will be road ready.
Might still make my March 1st deadline.