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I dont knoe whats wrong with this site, but I had to hit post because the cursor kept jumping all over my reply when I tried to type. Should have seen the parts I deleted, lol. Anyways, back to what I was saying...
.... be it bad rings or valve issues, either condition or timing, or poor ignition, the symptoms ABSOLUTELY can be effected by fuel mixture. You would thing that going lean would be better, but fuel is multigrade, just like diesel, whicj is a prime example. Ever wonder why people "roll coal"? Well, way too many do it because they saw it a few times on engines making real power and wanted that black smoke to think they are making more power.... hell, ill grease up your air filter and charge 10k if thats all you are after, hahah.... but in real power builds, the engine is built to make all of its power off the easier to burn shorter chain fuel, which is a known percentage, and the rest of the percentage of longer chain fuel is simply a media occupying space to be sent out of the engine without being used. The same effect is at play when you richen up a poorly burning engine. This explains the reply about jumping up in main jet size on a stock setup.
Next, the airbox and snorkel... even the air filter. They ALL have an effect on fuel delivery, hence maon jet selection. If you are trying to run it like normal with the box open and no filter, be prepared to be 3-5 jet sizes too lean. Not only the size of the opening and how much it can flow or restricts, but also the pulsed action and any spiked waves coming from the intake. Pair that with the pressure difference between the front and back of the slide valve and how it is effected, there is a whole lot going on with that air box open vs buttoned up.... and finally, a little corrosion goes a long ways. Check all your electrical connections. Some systems aren't all that picky, but apparently, these are.
 

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Hey guys, I came across this thread about a year after I had your same problems and finally figured it out. I was fixing my dads 2001 quadmaster 500 that was backfiring and running very poorly. Black smoke, etc... I changed coil, wire, spark plug, petcock, cleaned original carburetor. Still the same. Ordered a new carburetor and installed, same thing. Installed original coil, same thing. Checked compression, Valve clearance, everything. All were fine. Turns out that the ignition switch was bad and not allowing the proper voltage to the electrical parts, therefore causing weak spark. Put a new oem switch in and it runs like brand new.. was fairly cheap also. I think I paid 55.00. Hope this helps...
Literally by ignition switch the key and wiring? Or a different part in the electrical assembly?
 
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