Setting up 2.3L heads is straightforward, IF you know what to look for.
The lifter on the left was gently squeezed in a vise to remove the oil. It was then taken apart and the internal spring removed. The length was checked against the one on the right (in the vise) and they were the same. Using one with a spring inside makes setting the "valve lash" more difficult. Only remove the spring from a "junk" lifter. Notice the hole on the lifter, this is a precision hole that meters the oil in and out keeping the follower lash noise to a minimum.
The photo above shows the "no spring" lifter installed in a head. The gap between the follower and the cam base circle is clearly visible. Per the FORD manual, this gap should be 0.040 - 0.050 preferred (0.035 - 0.055 nominal). The follower shown is a "slider" follower.