Getting the antenna up to 2′ and changing the load resistor to 880 ohms did the trick
Updated antenna – I do think I’ve squeezed every drop of performance out now!
I have found that the W6LVP loop on 40M is not very directional at all. I will move the Yaesu G450 rotator to this new loop and use a cheapie RCA TV rotator for the W6LVP loop. If my loop crushes the W6LVP loop – I might get rid of it – I am starting to think that a loop optimized for 160M just isn’t very good on 40M. It does help knock the noise down – but I want more than just that. I also notice the W6LVP doesn’t phase against the transmitting antenna much – so that’s a bit of a disappointment. It does seem to be a low noise loop – just not great on 40M.
I also believe that the NCC-2 (or NCC-1) do much better when you have two antennas of the same type and just phase them – the RTR-2 built in the NCC-2 is nice – but only when you don’t have dual stereo diversity in your receiver. Trying to “fake it” with the NCC-2 leaves me wanting more. I really need a receiver with dual stereo diversity, and while the Orion II is a cool idea – Ten Tec tells me they can’t get many of the parts any more – so, the Elecraft K3 is the only “low cost” (used radio) game in town in this regard.