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head problems, was hose failure

Thanks to everyone for the advice on the cause of my regular hose 
failures. You all seemed pretty convinced that it was the head 
Finally got around to taking the head off. - I've taken everything off 
apart from the 10  head bolts - haven't got the tool but will get it and 
the head off tomorrow morning. 
Anyway, I'm after some advice on what to do now I have the head 
off. I'm guessing that I need it skimmed so shall I just take it to a 
machine shop?and should I have it crack tested? And do I have to 
take the cams out etc.. to have this done? Also, since this is the 
first time the head has been off is it best to have new valve 
seals/guides/springs? - (140k highway miles)
Just hoping that when this is all done the car won't cost any more! 
My mechanic said to take the spark plugs out and told me no 2 cyl 
was bad since it the plug was v. slightly black - I couldn't see the 
dif though. He also said to take the plugs out when I get home, 
leave it outside and try starting it without the plugs in the following 
morning and I should see water fly out of the no 2. Sounds clever 
but I've skipped that step. Come to think of it I reckon that at idle 
you could hear a _very_ slight noise every revolution which I 
thought was just the sporty exhaust system but perhaps is the 
Also what should I look for when I've got the gasket off- I mean 
should I be able to see that it's failed?
BTW, this is a 4 cyl 16v car.
Thanks for all the help!

Ed Shiers

'85 80 sport 230k
'90 jetta 16v 140k