Well after a little bit of fluffing around, but an otherwise streamlined build process I got a installation of Gnome 2.13.91 going. Thanks a lot to the following links
The first thing I notice about the new version: fast! Nautilus and startup have become a lot faster. I really like the eog simplification that has gone on, and the fusa stuff seems to work really well. I will go and file a few bugs about the operation of nautilus and the blinging new search feature. Now I can move onto the next step of my "automated livecd using jhbuild master plan"