Thank you! Good info!
Unfortunately, mine are riveted together. I thought about drilling out the rivets and replacing with bolts, but I wasn't sure if replacement chainrings would have the same bolt pattern. My current chain rings are worn out, so I'm going to have to do something. Do you think I can replace the rings on mine?
I like your idea of using the biggest ring as a bash guard. I have the tools to remove the teeth from it and make it smaller and so that it glides. Right now, the teeth stick in logs and there's no gliding to speak of. I wasn't aware that I could adjust the FD to only the smaller rings.
I was aware that I'll need new shifters if I go with a 9-speed. I figure since I would be losing a chainring, that it would be good to get an extra cog and make up some of the loss.
If I don't have to replace the crankset, then I'll just get another 8-speed for now since money's tight. I'd much rather buy two CR's and a cassette.