My next project in the meantime is fixing the suction side leak. I read the tfp instructions, and once again it worked like a charm. I did not feel like carrying a bucket to my pump so I turned on the hose and pointed it at the pump basket lid. After running water over it for a few minutes, the water level in the basket rose, then was just a bunch of bubbles, then was just a few small bubbles.
I tried some silicone lubricant (spray kind) which did not help. I've subsequently gone back to Local Pool Store and purchased a higher viscosity (more like grease paste) silicone lubricant. If that doesn't seal the gasket, the next step would be gasket replacement. THEN I'm done fixing the pool for awhile!
OK so I'm back to working on the pool! After putting on the highhigh viscosity silicone lubricant (nearly as thick as smooth peanut butter), the filter basket no longer had a whirlpool inside about 2" below the basket. After that I had a lot of small bubbles flying around in there, and when I stopped the pump, there was a bubble inside the pump basket lid about 3-4" across and did not fill the lid. Great improvement there. I bought a new basket lid gasket and changed it anyway. I figured given all the other things wrong with the pool, I'd spend the $8 and know when it was changed. Still have the same small bubble at the top when its not running. But I still have lots of bubbles coming from one of the returns. Would the small bubble at the top of the pump basket be causing that, or do I need to keep looking? There are two hand twist valves at the bottom of my pump which I've hand tightened. Maybe I need to replace those?
Ok so I'll also lube up the bottom screw/drain plug. Then I'll run the hose over the pump again and check the bubbles at the return. Because the leak has already improved so much due to fixing pump basket lid gasket, I'll have to pour water over the top of the pump and then check to see if the bubbles go away from the skimmer. I used to be able to see the water level rise in the pump basket, but that's not an option anymore. If the bubbles don't stop coming out of the returns, I can next turn the hose on the valves (I have another thread showing the poor state of the valves themselves) and see if that makes a difference. If it comes to cutting PVC I may as well buy a salt water chlorine generator and slap that in while I'm doing it...