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-   -   89 Columbia Restoration; Sentimental Version (https://www.buggiesgonewild.com/showthread.php?t=184216)

Lochlin 05-13-2022 08:30 AM

89 Columbia Restoration; Sentimental Version
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In 1989, my folks bought a brand spanking new Columbia Par Car. Back then, jacked up and jazzed up carts really didn't exist yet. These Columbias were just about top-of-the-line, if you had one you were the cat's meow. My parents, like many, lived humble lives and rarely bought new, top of the line anything. This Columbia was one of the few things that they ever really splurged on. It gave my parents, and their children / grandchildren, years and years of enjoyment cruising through the campground.

Perhaps 15 years or so, they sold this cart to another person in our campground. Shortly thereafter, my father passed and mother joined him a couple of years later. The cart remained in the campground, though, changing owners a number of times. I have always longed to get the cart back. Over the years I approached some of these owners and asked about reacquiring my mom and dad's cart. Each time I was rebuffed, however. This past weekend, I saw the cart (which is unmistakable given a custom paint job) stored in the weeds of a campsite that I had not been to before. I knocked on the door, spoke to the cart's new owner, and within 30 min (and a transfer of a little bit of cash), I had my mom and dad's cart loaded up on a trailer and heading home. One way or another, I am going to bring this cart back to life.

Lochlin 05-13-2022 08:41 AM

Re: 89 Columbia Restoration; Sentimental Version
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Today I started getting after it. Even though I have restored 10 or more carts, there is still nothing like tearing one of these carts down.


The oil injection system. I have never been a fan. Gas / oil will be mixed moving forward.


Columbia's OEM electronic ignition module. I will be replacing it with an HEI conversion. On this note I got very lucky with this cart. At some point, Columbia switch from an oblong crankshaft end, which is needed to trigger old school points, to a round one that allows the use of hall effect magnets. The latter is tough to do HEI conversions on as there is no "hump" in the crankshaft end to open the points for the HEI. Fortunately, the 89s still had the hump so that makes things easier.


The exhaust is roasted and like unrecoverable. OEM is no longer produced so getting this replaced will be interesting.

The motor will come out in the next couple of days. New seals are on the way. A new top end is also in the works.

Lochlin 05-17-2022 07:15 AM

Re: 89 Columbia Restoration; Sentimental Version
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I got the engine out of the cart today which is always fun (really, I find it fun). The job was made a little easier by only having to remove 3 mounting bolts as a previous owner decided that 3 bolts is just as good as 4. Two of 4 motor mounts are junk so those are all getting replaced.

The primary clutch looks ok but we'll see.

There was no cooling fan on this cart but there were some fan blades in the shroud. Somehow, the original fan disintegrated. Here's hoping that the cart wasn't used too long in that state but, to be fair, these things were hardy and can take some overheating. I have attached a pic of the old "fan" which now consists of just a base, and the "new" one that I got from an old Harley motor that I have sitting around. It's actually very solid but I "rust reformed" it anyway.

I got a new fan side crank seal installed but the clutch side will have to wait as the one I received is wrong.

Lochlin 05-24-2022 06:41 AM

Re: 89 Columbia Restoration; Sentimental Version
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Just a bit more progress. The clutch side crank seal has been installed. While installing the seal I was able to inspect the piston via the cylinder's exhaust port. It's clearly missing a ring and is scored pretty bad. Once I get the motor back in the cart I will have to take the top off and see if the cylinder needs replaced in addition to the piston.

New motor mounts are installed so the motor should be back on today.

Apparently, a previous owner decided that the cart needed new tie rod ends and, rather than buying some, made some from a bolt, washers, and hose clamps.......both sides. So much for safe driving.

mrmotoguzzi00 05-24-2022 06:59 AM

Re: 89 Columbia Restoration; Sentimental Version
Glad you got it back :)

Lochlin 05-24-2022 08:56 AM

Re: 89 Columbia Restoration; Sentimental Version
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The motor is back in the cart and the top end is off. For the record, I prefer to work on the top end with the motor in the cart rather than out of it as I find it easier to have the motor be stable for this work.

The piston is in better shape than I expected given that it lost a ring at some point. I am still going to replace it, though. The cylinder is far better than expected. It's smooth same for some glazing that I should be able to remove via honing.

For the record, this motor was so full of oil that it was still seeping out from here and there while I moved the motor around. Hence why I remove the oil injection functionality on these old carts and just mix the fuel. With so much oil, it will interesting to see what kind of condition the muffler is in once I get to that point.

Lochlin 06-01-2022 08:39 AM

Re: 89 Columbia Restoration; Sentimental Version
3 Attachment(s)
Got some more work done on the Columbia. The cylinder honed out really nicely. It had all of the "normal" bumps and bruises for a cart this old and treated poorly. All but one imperfection came out by way of the hone. There remains a smallish "groove" in the cylinder wall, too small for a photo. I was afraid to completely remove it as it may have made the cylinder too big. It's perhaps half an inch long and a hair's width deep at most. It won't affect performance at all.

The new piston is in and the top end is back on the cart. I put a new carb on as well. After some lubing, the accelerator cable is working great. The choke cable is unraveling, though, and needs to be replaced.

Lochlin 06-01-2022 08:45 AM

Re: 89 Columbia Restoration; Sentimental Version
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Pulled the wheels off to rust reform / inspect the front end and got to take a better look at the hillbilly tie rod ends.

For any future readers who like to "backyard engineer" things. I 100% understand that sometimes you have to do what you have to do get stuff done. If you have to resort to things like making tie rod ends out of a bolt, a bunch of washers, and a hose clamp, though, then you are not only jeopardizing the safety of whoever is on your cart but whoever else might get hurt when this "part" fails and the cart can't be steered when at speed.

Fortunately, new tie rod ends are still available for this cart and will be ordered.

LukeL 06-01-2022 09:09 AM

Re: 89 Columbia Restoration; Sentimental Version
That’s quite the “creativity.” Imagine how much nicer the steering will feel once those are replaced though…

Lochlin 06-03-2022 10:34 AM

Re: 89 Columbia Restoration; Sentimental Version
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Got some more work done on the cart yesterday.

I was able to replace the choke cable with a universal 8 foot cable that I trimmed to fit. I ended up deleting the "push back" spring that intended to release the choke when the choke knob was not actually pulled, Over time, this set up simply doesn't work all that well so it's "pull the choke knob on, push it off" for this cart.

A new carb is on. Note that OEM carbs are no longer made but carbs from 1988 EZ GOs and some other carts are still available. They bolt on using the same gaskets and linkages but the air intake manifolds don't match so I had to make one out of some PVC board and fittings. Pic attached.

Like I previously mentioned, these carts came with electronic ignition modules which are no longer made. I am converting this to an HEI via the process described here:


I had to find a points plate to make this happen and found that used points plates are tough to find and new ones are $100. I ended up getting one for a Harley motorcycle for $15 and slightly altering it to fit. I had to decrease to diameter just a bit with a belt sander to make it fit and extended the bolt slots just a bit with a jigsaw to allow for a bit more timing adjustment. It looks like it will work just fine.

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