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1994 Vulcan En500-A5

I'm still calming down, but essentially my carbs flooded, sent fuel to the airbox, and somehow the airbox caught fire but THANKFULLY didn't ignite the fuel in said airbox.

Brief story, skip if you'd like: I've been working on this bike off and on for about 5 years now, learning new things on forums to undo the damages the previous owner did. These damages include: splicing into the left handlebar switches so the lights are operated by a chrome toggle switch, said toggle switch was twisted in and electrical taped -- not soldered, all turn signals held on by popsicle sticks and electrical tape, sissy bar tail light cut and twist connectors used, carbs full of orange petroleum, gearbox had been abused by powershifting, rear tire bald, mufflers' baffles blown out, and front fork seals were broken and dust covers halfway up forks.

I took the time to fix all of that, and I finished up today -- excited to start her up and ride a bit finally.

It didn't turn over right away, so I gave a little gas and subsequently flooded the carbs which poured out into the airbox, but while I was sitting on the seat I noticed my leg getting hot so I killed the engine and took the seat off, only to blow out a flame from the melting airbox which was only a few inches from the fuel.

I'm just honestly stumped and I'm exhausted from fixing the damages from the previous owner.

Any advice? Tips? Solutions? I'm pretty desperate.
 

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Welcome to the forum from North Carolina. Happy to see you decided to join us.
Glad you are OK. I do not have your model so hopefully a fellow member will contribute. Have read a read a few posts on carb flooding. Here is a link to a search. Take a deep breath, everything will work out. Be well.

 

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Take the carbs off and recheck if everything is in place.
Fuel system is vacuum operated so carb flooding can be caused only by bad float valves/seats, misadjusted/cracked floats, faulty petcock.
Had same issue but without fire. Turns out, previous owner messed up float height so bowls were overfilling and fuel getting inside airbox.
 

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Welcome to the forum from North Carolina. Happy to see you decided to join us.
Glad you are OK. I do not have your model so hopefully a fellow member will contribute. Have read a read a few posts on carb flooding. Here is a link to a search. Take a deep breath, everything will work out. Be well.

Hey I appreciate the link, thank you.
 

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Take the carbs off and recheck if everything is in place.
Fuel system is vacuum operated so carb flooding can be caused only by bad float valves/seats, misadjusted/cracked floats, faulty petcock.
Had same issue but without fire. Turns out, previous owner messed up float height so bowls were overfilling and fuel getting inside airbox.
Good point. I set the carbs back to the factory settings, so I believe the issue is the petcock. My dial wasn't seated right with the O-ring that was installed, so I've got a replacement on the way. Thanks for looking out.
 

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Had you replaced the float valves with new? If never done on your 26 year old 500 ....highly suggested. I'd go so far as to split the rack, replacing fuel and vent rail orings, pilot screw orings, bowl gaskets without hesitation. These consumable parts were never intended to last the lifetime of the bike. Integrity of fuel seals are critical...both from a performance and safety viewpoint as you've found. Your situation could have been catastrophic...thankfully you've avoided, but some further preventive maintenance in relation to carburetors is clearly in your best interests.
 

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Hey thanks for the reply and concern! I did replace the o rings, seals, and jets. It's likely time to replace the floats too.
 

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OK, You have something that caused the fire which is bad.
Many have had fuel in the airbox but Not started a fire.
 

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OK, You have something that caused the fire which is bad.
Many have had fuel in the airbox but Not started a fire.
Wrong timing? Running rich? Fuel in oil? Backfire through carbs can create fire if valves aren't sealing properly or timing is off...
I had carb backfire once when bike ran way too lean and almost popped the rubber boots off, but without fire. Scared the f*ck out of me.
 
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