What do you think this setup I'm basically forced with, the aftermarket air filter, no ECM or canaster / fuel return, dizzy to m, will run like when northern pa gets there blizzard this year?
I'm not an expert mechanic, and don't live in a climate that gets super cold, but here's my take: The 258 doesn't need the ECM but you have to compensate for the advance that the ECM provided. The charcoal canister isn't absolutely needed to make the engine run, but that's not a component I would leave out because it provides an emissions function. The return fuel line is important to prevent vapor lock in the fuel system (more likely in hot conditions), so my thinking is that you do
need that unless someone with more experience could explain situations where it might not be needed.
Like many 258's, and probably every other size of engine, it sounds like your PO took the common step of pulling off all if the emissions-related hardware thinking that would magically fix whatever problem the engine had. I see this story over and over. While I agree that the late model 258's pile of ECM-related wiring, sensors, vacuum lines, connectors, and other hardware can
be largely removed, it has to be done properly and with an understand of what one is doing. I believe it can also be done while still maintain a clean-running engine but you have to keep the catalytic converter, EGR, PCV, charcoal canister, and the associated vacuum lines to the canister.
I think that many people remove those components because they think there is some performance gain to be found, or they don't understand what the parts do, or they are too cheap to install working replacement parts, or troubleshooting work leads them to remove a part at a time which never gets put back on, or some combination of these. [/soapbox]