Hi Moped Army,
I've got a progress update: After cleaning tank, fresh fuel mix, new petcock/fuel line/filter, carb clean and new spark plug -- it fired right up on first kick! I can't believe how great it runs! One kick and it went into a nice idle. Twisted the throttle, got great response. So, I had to then replace the flat front inner tube, then started riding it around! Works great.
I'm 210 lbs, and it was pulling like a champ. Seems to want to shift around 15 - 18 mph (does that suggest the 2nd is already flipped?). Pulled strong up through 25 mph and was still accelerating when I then chickened out (started thinking about 40+ yr old tires/ parts failing -- plus it felt like I was going more like 55 mph!). Maybe I won't need to worry about tuner parts if I can't handle stock speeds :).
I've got the ZA50 pucks on order and will start that process next to avoid catastrophic failure as discussed previously :(.
From all that, I've now got new questions as follows:
1) My Merit 342 (Puch 3126.96.36.1990.0) kill switch knob is broken off (like the one pictured -- that black plastic handle is gone) so I don't have a good way to shut it off!. I read about inserting a red hot nail into the plastic then using tape and shrink tubing for a new handle (https://myronsmopeds.com/category/electrical/switches/). Does anyone have any other suggestion on a fix here or replacement? Anyone got one to sell me?
2) The front wheel was almost impossible to get back on as it seems the forks are too close together! They don't appear damaged/crashed/bent, but I needed super human strength to pull them apart to get the wheel back on. I almost gave up. Anyone dealt with this before?
3) Inspecting the forks with the wheel off, the right fork is free to rotate (i.e. the chrome sprung fork will spin within the painted main fork housing), while the left one will only track up and down (won't spin). Is that normal or an indication of a problem?
4) Tested the headlights, horn, brake light -- all working, but seem quite weak. Is there maintenance needed to get better current flow?
5) The brakes (both front and rear) work, but you'd better really plan ahead! Stopping distance seems a bit scary for city driving. Any thoughts there? Do I need to redo the brakes?
Thanks again to all for all the help in getting me this far!! Very satisfying indeed just to cruise around the block after hours of study and work in the summer heat.