Well, my 24 hour build adventure is finally complete with great success, lol.
From absolutely cratering my Ubuntu VM when I tried to resize the disk (when my first make died due to lack of disk) to the fun of the walking away and having git ask me for my ssh pw while i was downstairs and timing out in the middle to all the fun with the moved downloads it's been quite a process.
Add to the fact that I'm absolutely clueless as to how all of this actually hangs together but it's been a very pleasant learning experience.
The last bit that was needed was a JDK as Ubuntu doesn't ship with an Oracle JDK anymore and the update.img signing failed w/o it. I almost wept when it crashed and I feared I would have to start the build from scratch, but It skipped right to the end and did its thing and I think I heard a chorus of angels.
Overall build time for me with a i7 2600k with a sata drive is around a 3-4 hours start to finish I think (hard to tell with the various fails) but I'm building on a win7 box inside a VM with 3 gigs of RAM allocated so it's less than an ideal environment but it did the trick.
I was able to customize the image a bit but now to learn what other features I can add