SME 3009 S2 IMP setup advice

I recently setup my TD-160 / SME 3009 S2 IMP. I know I followed the directions to the letter. Went over it twice then a third time. My confusion / frustration is this....

The arm seems to track heavy. I mean when I lower the arm it slowly decends... when contacting the record it seems the stylus compresses to the point where the body of the cartridge is nearly touching the record surface. I mean you can barly see daylight btwn bottom of cartridge and record surface. It sounds just ok not great by any means.

I have tried to back off the big rear rider weight as far as I can but doesnt seem to help. Again, I have my outrigger and antiskate according to cartridge recommendations (AT-150MLX).

I'm ready to say screw-it and mount a Rega arm.
Your tonearm has a large counterweight on the back end of the tonearm in addition to the rider weight that you have adjusted. The counterweight screws in for heavier tracking force and out for lower tracking force. You should move the counterweight in and out so the arm is floating parallel to the record surface before adjusting the rider weight.

You should invest in a stylus force gauge. That way you will know if the tracking force is correct. When the cartridge body touches the record, you either have excessive tracking force and/or a cartridge with defective cantilever suspension.
Did you remove the anti-skating weight/thread, slide the tracking force weight back to zero and then static balance the arm, as Scott describes, before setting the VTF and anti-skating?

Also, does the arm have a single small (sliding) tracking force weight or are there two snugged together?

There was an optional additional weight which changes the value of the graduations on the weight pole.

Regardless, a vertical tracking force gauge is needed to confirm VTF.

The basic $20, or so, Sure gauge is fine and accurate enough.