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Hey guys, first time Cat owner here. Just picked up a 2000 Panther 550 with 115 original miles. The sled has been sitting outside unprotected its entire life. Engine was not fogged. The engine is not seized and upon removing the gas cap lots of rust on the float guides was observed. I put some PB blaster down the plug holes and threw the battery on the charger. Next steps are to remove the gas tank, empty, then thoroughly clean inside of tank (pressure washer?). I'm assuming there's a pickup tube in the tank that needs to be replaced. Same cleaning procedure for oil reservoir. Replace all fuel lines. Intake tubes from air box to carbs are split so those will need replaced as well. Disassemble and clean carbs. Fresh oil and gas and throw up a prayer? Any other baselining items you guys can think of?
 

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Nice find!! The 550 is a great motor. Sounds like you’re well on your way to get it running. Yes there’s a pickup in the tank. Don’t forget about the fuel pump itself. Probably could use a rebuild kit. You could pull exhaust manifold off and look at cylinders and pistons.
 

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Well boys I’ve got some good news and some bad news.
I got the seat/ tank assembly pulled and removed the seat cover (replacement coming in the mail). I drained the gas, nay, varnish from the tank and sprayed it out with the pressure washer. Removed multiple pieces of rotted fuel line and the pick up screen with the ol extendo claw. It’s not perfect in there but I think she’ll run.
Next I pulled the carbs and tore one down to figure out what we had in there as the P.O. indicated it wasn’t jetted properly and ran poorly- hence why it’s been sitting for the better part of 2 decades. Found an under sized main jet. Jet needle and needle jet looked fine per the FSM. Stripped the pilot and went to drill it out and extract, drilled too far and the tip of the jet detached down in the carb and is just floating around in there. Might have to replace the carb unless anyone has any suggestions?
Oh and I also broke the brittle windshield!
One step forward two steps back! Ordered new carb to air box boots, a choke lever kit (was broken), main jets, and a windshield. Going to go to Napa tomorrow for fuel line. Cant seem to track down the pickup screen for in the tank, I’m assuming because I’m not using the proper term or something in my googling....
 

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Here's a link to look up parts. Looks to be just a screen at end of fuel line in tank. Not sure on carb as I've never been in that situation.

 

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1/4" but me thinks the pulse line from crankcase to pump is bigger. Not 100% on that. Don't get crappy aftermarket clear. Guys on here have recommended yellow Tygon or the blue polyurethane.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I believe you are correct on the pulse line. That was a larger rubber type hose coming into the fuel pump. Which reminds me, I need to order a rebuild kit for. Ill see about ordering Tygon, I doubt Napa has a specific brand in house.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Im curious about this spec chart- do the low/ high options correspond to below/above 5000ft elevation?



362142
 

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Im curious about this spec chart- do the low/ high options correspond to below/above 5000ft elevation?



View attachment 362142
Yes, the HIGH has a number 2 or 3 beside it. 2 is elevations higher than 5000ft, 3 is higher than 9000ft. This is noted at bottom of chart.
 

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Less than 5000ft
 

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Depending on where you live/ride, your main jet should correspond with the key chart on the belt guard. Usually stock jets and settings work ok, but you can probably lower the main a size or two without a problem. Make sure you synch the carbs and watch the cable free play (at the lever). Throttle lever hinge pin has plastic bushings, might want to replace those too. Otherwise, it seems like you've got the bases covered. One more thing; check the pto seal (behind the clutch) to verify its integrity. Once it runs, spray some soapy water at the seal (carefully, please) and note any change in rpm. If it rises or falls noticeably you might want to replace it.
Good luck. Those are nice sleds!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
A local expert recommended running 280 mains and the jet needle at position 2 with no shims. Will be riding between 5000-9000ft. He also mentioned i should clutch it for 8100 rpms. Said I’d be lean at the 7800-8000 in the spec. I’ll be sure to check that crank seal. I wouldn’t be surprised if sitting in the weather not being ran caused a loss of integrity.

Presently i have stripped the pilots in both, one i drilled out and at going to try to clean up with a tap. Hopefully don’t need new carbs. If I do, will any old VM38 work or do I need to stick to the OEM part number?

I’ll see about finding a p/n for those throttle lever bushings- those have been getting hammered by the UVs and I’m sure they are brittle as can be- thanks for the tip!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
A little progress today- was able to remove the tip of pilot from the carb I over drilled. For the second one I will soak with PB blaster and drill nice and shallow. Then heat up the aluminum housing with the torch and hope for a routine extraction with an easy out.

Also got the seat covered... 31D8DBD5-DDC1-4B97-8D9E-694CD6B6B63B.jpeg 4A5ED167-120A-4902-B79A-F499777C35EC.jpeg
 

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Discussion Starter #16
8B16BC12-BF87-45DA-91AD-4223CAFD440C.jpeg 687ECD2C-C258-4881-92F8-435D2B12E0EB.jpeg
well shoot guess the 260s that were in there were spot on! I might still throw the 280s initially. Would rather run rich than lean!

The only numbers I see on the drive clutch are 35 99 725 301 image.jpg
 

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It sure is a shame that such a nice sled was not taken care of. Lots of lack of use rot.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I was watching some YouTube last night. One thing I came across was troubleshooting electrical problems, which it sounds like can be common in these old cats. Cold vs warm ohming of the stators and general electrical theory of creating A/C voltage to the regulator, then rectifying to D/C in the CDI box...

One thing I saw that might be a good idea was bypassing the wire harness and tying the key straight to the stator. Basically rendering the throttle safety switch (whatever that is) and the kill switch inoperable. I seem to remember reading about issues with these sleds cutting out when the throttle was pushed at the wrong angle.

With all the dry rot in the handlebars I feel as though if there was ever a good candidate to have electrical gremlins this sled is probably it. I might make up a little harness to bypass the ignition to the stator and keep it in the tool kit.
 
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