Thanks Walt. This helps inasmuch as it confirms how much I need to learn about clutches.
At first I had a 2-disk Horstman dry, but the gear sheared off from the drum, so I borrowed a competitor’s 3-disk Patriot, liked it immediately, and arranged a trade (had to replace the broken part of my Horstman of course). The Patriot setup worked well for quite a while before I broke a floater. At that point I learned about gap settings (I tell ya I’m an ignoramus), so I measured everything, found out my gap was .097 (the manual says it should be .025-.032), and decided to replace the friction disks and the one broken floater. I bought a set of gap keys and set it correctly, but the kart wouldn’t take off. Found out my stall speed was around 7700, so I just start turning the screws until it felt better.
I’m frankly mystified that my rebuild didn’t give me the results it was supposed to, and that my kart seemed to run better with the way-off gap.