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98 TCat restoration


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Picked up a 98 Thundercat with some serious issues on the PTO side for $500 with paperwork Monday morning. Figured some of you would be interested in seeing it come back to life and more importantly give me some guidance along the way. 
 

The marketplace ad, only one picture and when I called the guy I knew he was older and I wasn’t gonna get much more of a preview out of him. He told me the motor needed to be completely gone through and he thought it was worth under $500. He wouldn’t be around until Monday at 9am so I told him I’d give him 500 if I could get the first shot at it. I really expected it to need a hood and pretty much everything else seeing as it was a $500 tcat. Grabbed it Monday morning and was surprised how decent it was when I got there. Dirty but the bones are good and it’s not all smashed up.


This is the pic on marketplace.
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After I washed it quick when I got it homeB0C332C9-C248-4274-BF76-474482F18769.thumb.jpeg.45daddff0548d105d267a5ed73da394a.jpeg


Monday night I got the motor out and cleaned some of the previous residents leftovers to see what we were working with. Didn’t get much further that that.9B9BBD5D-0FE4-4282-884E-D9E7158B046A.thumb.jpeg.49a7b72d6b59535dcbdb45c9ae98a8a2.jpeg73BAD733-62FF-4032-B59C-C995CD109EC7.thumb.jpeg.604efdf7a9400b5e69d499daaf2bb5ac.jpeg0D913CAD-7B88-4A3B-8381-845640D3F401.thumb.jpeg.78952502a4fa67914a30a112fdeb4cb4.jpeg 
 

Tuesday night got the motor ripped all the way apart to see what I was going to need. Needless to say the PTO cylinder is pretty much smoked, sled has 5300 miles on it and from my research that’s about when the skirts on these pistons like to let go and I’m pretty sure that’s what happened here, rods bent, cylinder is junk and the bridge between the intake port and cylinder is broken from the rod hitting it, the cases are useable though despite some marring up where piston chunks got squished by the counterweights.A12A7D41-6904-4177-B643-C78E5A6E1C17.thumb.jpeg.7c6e360e5611b9fd9d32b533d0807af6.jpeg8B77214A-1635-4099-953C-044CB49465CE.thumb.jpeg.b01b6bec630241016ad4dcecdd6c33d9.jpegD619F32A-49C9-43DC-A623-54EEEE92C18C.thumb.jpeg.0687759aab5ca15b196a7cdf2e475060.jpegE43B4559-DCE5-4245-8EFE-E4917F006BEC.thumb.jpeg.0e7e8fc9c879b3f123b469d1734a149c.jpeg

 

Yesterday I went to a Motley Crue/Def Leppard concert and I had to work pretty late tonight so I didn’t get too much done but I got the hood, seat/tank and airbox off got a bunch more wiring and small parts out of the way and gave it a good purple power bath before I start tearing the chassis all apart.14AF8276-B4F6-4DB7-978E-C0AC9AD3E3F5.thumb.jpeg.7c1bdc6ee09d939171a01f199f6d1e85.jpegB2EBA535-D031-4E91-A6F7-00E0F86EB012.thumb.jpeg.57033f8b9f833bf5d81108e89eb30b27.jpeg

 

cleaning out the trunk to get to the bolts this was no surprise to find5F284804-4DBA-41FF-B1B1-66627B19B444.thumb.jpeg.484600cecc9d63d29f8fcc8a581e4ac8.jpeg

 

The plan is to have a bare chassis and A arms, spindles and rear suspension arms dropped off to powdercoat next week. I have a nice used jug on the way and a tig welding buddy that’s gonna fix my top case. I’m going to have the cylinders replated not sure by who yet but thinking of maybe sending them to hooper to get done and have some lake race/trail porting done on the cases, cylinders and heads depending on turnaround time. Crank and counter balance shaft are on their way to Northern crankshaft for rebuild's. Gonna blast and paint (if there’s no rot) the stock pipes and muffler since everyone says the 98s really like stock exhaust unless they’re making big power.

 

Were going to Epping in October with a big group of friends and my goal is to have the sled ready to go and have my girlfriend drive it in the trail improved 1000 class just to give me deadline to get it done.

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Even if it was a roller with no motor, $500 is a bargain.  Nice score.  I had a 98 tcat MC that was trail converted back in the day.  Nothing like that big block triple, I was coming off a zrt600 and that 1000 was so smooth and it just had big power that never stopped.  Super fun.  

I really should not get another sled but if I were to find a nice 96 tcat for sale, I'd have a very hard time passing on it.  It's going to be like Russian roulette going to some of these upcoming swaps!

Hope you get that 98 up and going.  Have you ever ride a big triple?  Cool nostalgic sleds from a day gone by.  The 98 will always be worth top dollar.

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7 hours ago, mnstang said:

Even if it was a roller with no motor, $500 is a bargain.  Nice score.  I had a 98 tcat MC that was trail converted back in the day.  Nothing like that big block triple, I was coming off a zrt600 and that 1000 was so smooth and it just had big power that never stopped.  Super fun.  

I really should not get another sled but if I were to find a nice 96 tcat for sale, I'd have a very hard time passing on it.  It's going to be like Russian roulette going to some of these upcoming swaps!

Hope you get that 98 up and going.  Have you ever ride a big triple?  Cool nostalgic sleds from a day gone by.  The 98 will always be worth top dollar.

I had a 97 ZRT 600 because I never could justify the price of any of the big bores around. Now I’ll have that much money into this tcat but at least it’ll be all new and a fully restored 98 thundercat with a “brand new” motor should be worth more than I’ll have into it.

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Chassis is fully stripped now ready to go to powdercoat. What does everyone do for the vin number? Is it deep enough that they won’t blast it off before spraying it?

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It shouldn't blast off but it could get filled in with powder coat.  I'd talk to the guy doing the work.  A simple piece of masking tape over it when applying powder may be all that is necessary or they probably have a better way than that even 

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Current state of the sled. Hoping to have it to powdercoat this week still. Wanted to have as much powdercoated as one piece as possible while assembled but figured it’s just going to be way easier for them with the footwells and upper frame done separately. So I still have to pop off the right hand footwell and the console support frame, honestly didn’t do the upper frame yet because there’s 2 huck rivets that I’ll have to take off and they suck lol. I replaced very few rivets that were a little sloppy before it goes. Still trying to figure out what’s keeping the steering linkage from coming out since the bolts are out but didn’t really look too deep into that. Probably could’ve cleaned up a bit before the pic but I’ve just been thrashing on it to get it apart at least to powdercoat.D6DC540D-C89D-4AD2-84AD-59DFA9C40148.thumb.jpeg.4d9421b6e743915eeda8642e54396448.jpeg

 

Most of tonight was spent with a torch, big vice grips, a block and hammer trying to get all the mounting tabs for the belly pan on the bulkhead flattened back out. It’s pretty straight now and I scored a NOS belly pan from a guy in Maine for $200.

 

Hooper was over a year out and Benoits were 4-5 month on porting, so by recommendation by a lot of guys on the thundercat pages on Facebook I sent cases, crank and balance shaft to a guy who asphalt races in Michigan and builds motors. He had a set of freshly plated and ported cylinders and heads and took mine as cores. He gave me a helluva deal on a set of PSI pipes to try with the porting. A buddy of mine has a vapor blaster so cleaning up and rebuilding the clutches will have to keep me busy until I get everything that has to be sent out back.

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Sled printer made his 98 tcat graphics off my 98 MC. He is local for me and is really helpful in wanting to recreate decals. He did a 97 zr for me and currently has my 03 f7 patriot sno pro in his shop for decal reproduction 

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Picked up this 96 800 with a low compression 1004 Hooper motor/psi pipes and bored carbs for $500. Gonna use the belly pan and windshield  for sure and whatever else is nice and keep the clutches and carbs and part the rest out.

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On 8/23/2022 at 10:15 PM, mnstang said:

Jeez you have all the deals

This was from a buddy of mine he bought it in 09 guy never sent him the paperwork and it’s just been sitting in the back of his garage under a cover since then. He messaged me the other day “hey you know anyone who would want my zrt as a parts sled?”

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Got all the parts back from powdercoat, the spindles were in really nice shape so I decided against going through hell to get them degreased properly to have them done. I’m going to pick up all the freshly ported and rebuilt motor parts in the next week or two. Only thing I do not have lined up at this point is a good oem looking seat cover. Evelyn in NH that makes them is way behind and said I probably wouldn’t be able to have one until February.

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12 hours ago, joe_zrt said:

Satin black?

Yessir. The shop I used uses prismatic powders (company name). I think it’s slightly less glossy than the original but it’s hard to tell without sitting next to another one. Very similar tunnel color to my 19 limited cat which I think is more flat than the older models.

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