Drain plug broke off!! - Kawasaki Vulcan Forum : Vulcan Forums
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post #1 of 34 (permalink) Old 07-14-2019, 02:37 PM Thread Starter
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Drain plug broke off!!

Had a hell of a time adjusting my valves today for the 2nd time ever on my '06 EN500 LTD. I followed this tutorial:

https://www.vulcanforums.com/forums/...ur-valves.html

...and everything went fine with the valve adjustment except for two big PITAs:

1. My valve cover would NOT come off. One of the two metal tubes at the end of the coolant hoses was stuck in there, preventing the cover from coming off. I highly recommend leaving the hoses attached and using those to tug on--don't do what I did, which is detach them. Took almost an hour to remove it, prying carefully with a flat-end.

2. What's with those goofy rubber "nuts" used to attach the starter coils? I always have a hell of a time unbolting/re-bolting to them, but again, the cover won't come out without removing them. You can't grip the rubber bits, and they spin with the MF bolt. I ended up getting one off and leaving the other one on.

Anyway, on to my real problem. The instructions say to drain the coolant, I suppose so that you can move the reserve tank out of the way(?). After dealing with the dreaded coolant hose screws (changed them to allen-heads) -- I had just flushed the coolant, and went to replace the drain screw, and the HEAD BROKE OFF inside the hole. You can imagine the colorful language my neighbors must have heard.

To make matters worse, it is not tight enough in there to stop a very slow coolant leak. I have never tapped and removed a decapitated screw like this before, especially in an engine. Can someone walk me through it? Or am I "screwed" and have to go to a mechanic?

For now, I have to move the bike, i.e. run it, so I'm keeping a bowl underneath to catch the dripping coolant until I can get it somewhere to stay a while.
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post #2 of 34 (permalink) Old 07-14-2019, 06:53 PM
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I am guessing here you mean the drain plug under the engine.

You have a couple options here.

First, if there is a bit of a stub sticking out you can try grabbing it with some good pliers and turning it out. You could also try cutting a small slot in the end of the bolt with a dremel or similar to get a flat screwdriver into it.

Otherwise, your best bet at this point would not be easy. You have to drill a small hole (smaller than the bolt shank) straight in line with the bolt, and use a screw/bolt remover to remove it. Your biggest issue is the location. Unbolt all your rear brake works to make a more open area to work.

Most good hardware stores or auto parts stores have the remover needed (often called an EZ Out).
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post #3 of 34 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 03:58 AM
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Try with left drill bit, get cheapest one if you don't have any. I broke few bolts on my Vulcan and left drill bit did the trick.
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post #4 of 34 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 06:58 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys I will try the lefty bit or the EZ out if I can find it at my local shop. Strangely, the coolant leak had stopped by this morning--maybe just because the bike cooled off over night?

The other thing I noticed during the re-assembly was a bunch of ugly oxidation all over the aluminum, including the valve cover which is usually not very visible. Could this be because of leaking coolant or does this just happen on the aluminum? Any tips on removing it -- a few threads I saw said aluminum polish?

The previous owner of this bike didn't take great care of it. I also changed the spark plugs out and they were really rusty but you can see the same oxidation on them... also one of them was missing the "washer" as you can see...
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Last edited by Lindog500; 07-15-2019 at 07:00 AM. Reason: wording
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post #5 of 34 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 10:16 AM
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Yeah, bike cooled off and there is no pressure in cooling system to push it out.

Check if washer is stuck around plug hole, it can happen sometimes.

Use aluminum polish, cheapest option.
These bikes are getting old and that coating on the engine is not durable as it was. Aluminum is terrible in presence of water and air moisture, it oxidizes fast.
You can polish that out and stay away from water, powdercoat or paint whole engine if you want, without removing it from the bike.
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post #6 of 34 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 05:07 PM
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That oxidation is something happening on my 500 as well. But not just around the engine... lower fork legs, top of the triple tree, even my controls around the switches show some signs.

A lot of it is from the fact my bike was parked outside uncovered by the prev owner.

A lefty drill bit is nice, but once I needed one at the shop and nobody had them. Snap On, Matco, Mac, USA Tools, I called all of them and it was an order in item not stocked on any of the local trucks. Lowes, Home Depot, Ace, and so on were no help either. Order it online and pick it up in a few days. That's why I didn't mention it. If you don't already have it, and need something that day...

After that fiasco, I did order me a super nice set through Snap On. I won't mention the price here, but if you're not used to their prices, well, you'd probably choke if you saw the bill.
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post #7 of 34 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 05:18 PM Thread Starter
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Ha ha - I am sinking a few bucks into this project myself but not too bad. My local Ace had no lefty bits, but they did have the EZ-Out and the regular drill bit I needed, which according to my research was 7/64", all told it was probably $20 for that and the new M6 x 12 bolt. I am waiting until it isn't 90 deg outside to try it...

I think I understand how to attempt to clean off the oxidation, but to prevent it from recurring, do people really clear-coat or paint all the aluminum surfaces on these bikes? Is that the best solution? Seems like it would be hard to get a consistent finish.

Some bikes I see on here, the aluminum looks beautiful, and I can't figure out how they keep it looking that way long-term.
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post #8 of 34 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 05:36 PM
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The aluminum has a clear finish on it from the factory to keep it looking bright and shiny. Once that develops a hole in it (too small to see with the bare eye), oxidation starts. Once it gets too far, the only way to bring the finish back is to strip the existing coating and apply fresh after polishing the metal.

Generally, if it's not too bad, you can clean and buff the area, then use a good quality wax on it. There are products made for the high heat areas like the valve cover.

One bit of advice: Don't try to do the cheap and easy thing and use clear spray paint. It tends to turn yellow after a time and ends up looking worse than the problem you were trying to correct. That's a lesson I learned many years ago, and still see people discovering today.

Good luck on getting the bolt out! I know how it is to have something so small make things so difficult.
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post #9 of 34 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 05:53 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DKC View Post
One bit of advice: Don't try to do the cheap and easy thing and use clear spray paint. It tends to turn yellow after a time and ends up looking worse than the problem you were trying to correct. That's a lesson I learned many years ago, and still see people discovering today.

Good luck on getting the bolt out! I know how it is to have something so small make things so difficult.
Thanks! Here's hoping...

Do you have a recommendation for a clear coat that actually works? The Rustoleum Hi Heat Matte Clear spray can https://www.homedepot.com/p/Rust-Ole...0771/204655490 says it withstands up to 2000 deg F. There's also this stuff, it ain't cheap: https://www.kbs-coatings.com/DiamondFinish-Clear.html

If not I'll probably go with a wax.
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post #10 of 34 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 07:15 PM
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I didn't go to daycare or preschool, I went to my dad's auto body and auto mechanics shop.

I have never had good luck with a clear finish over bare metal in terms of paint. Some do better than others, and some are just crap from the beginning, but none have held up well at all in my opinion.

When working on something along these lines, I either recommend buffing/polishing/sealing the metal (wax, etc), or a clear powdercoat. What makes the difference is your budget and time allowances. Also know that a wax or polish will need to be reapplied periodically.

On my 500, I've just decided not to worry about it for now. Sounds bad I know, but the appearance is secondary to me compared to the mechanical functionality. As long as I'm happy, well, you know the rest...
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