Ya know it's funny you mention that one by the FWD shaft, i somehow think i might have missed that one... getting all the bolts is KEY to getting it out without getting too pissed off and grabbing the plasma cutter in a supporting role "as the BFH"!
I studied the transmission and for the life of me i couldn't figure out how that darn FWD thing came off, but once you said it, that totally makes sense.
Unfortunately I have to replace the starter as well while I'm in there, it seems flaky and might as well since I've got almost everything else off the darn engine and down that far. I ordered a clutch removal tool on EBAY from a local seller and will have it tomorrow, but in the meantime i can get the tranny out tonight and find out what blew up in there.
When this is all said and done, i can't really complain. I paid $700 for the quad knowing it needed some love, which was a really good deal given the fact 99% of the time it's the dog gears that go out, as an added bonus it's the same engine as my other Polaris ATV and I really like the 2 cycle stuff. Thankfully where my quad's are registered is a county that doesn't do emissions testing, so i can just crank her up and roll on.
really, thanks for the advice that makes a lot of sense and i'm sure it's going to save me some heartache tonight.