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Discussion Starter #1
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/50-vulcan-500/2609-how-adjust-your-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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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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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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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
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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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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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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Discussion Starter #7
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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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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Discussion Starter #9
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-Oleum-Automotive-12-oz-High-Heat-Matte-Clear-Protective-Enamel-Spray-Paint-6-Pack-260771/204655490 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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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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Smoother the surface, paint will stick less. Kawi keeps a secret on what they use for coating aluminum so we won't ever have good stuff like they do.
In my opinion, good powdercoat is the best solution. It is way more durable than paint on outside conditions and will last longer.
Aluminum is really tricky to work with. It needs to be treated chemically before applying powdercoat or paint. Bad preparation leads to aluminum oxidizing underneath and finish will eventually start chipping.
Plasti dip is also great solution for forks, valve cover, side covers and switch housings. I plan to plasti dip these next season. If you scratch it, peel off and re-dip surface.
For more money I recommend good powdercoat.
Paint isn't so good for aluminum without proper preparation and is less durable than powdercoat.
I used to paint wood and metal few years back as part of my job.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
OK, well things just got more interesting.

The drain plug threaded its way deeper into the hole as I drilled it. I couldn't get deep enough to set the EZ-Out before this happened. I also couldn't get a straight-on angle because of the header pipe, which... see below.

I can't remove my muffler & header pipe because the two allen bolts on the underside are stripped (see photo). Maybe a bigger EZ-out for those? They seem really stuck. Also, the "connector" bolt which holds the two header pipes together, on the underside, snapped off as I tried to loosen it. Rusty McRusterson over here.

As for the drain plug, I was thinking maybe I could just disassemble the water pump? The exploded parts diagram seems to imply it is just a cover I can unbolt that the drain plug goes right into. The problem is how to drain it before I do that. What will happen if I can't/don't drain it and I take that cover off--coolant explosion??
 

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Prepare for a mess. Put something large underneath the bike to catch all the coolant.
Use RTV on mating surfaces for assembly if you can't get OEM water pump gasket.
Muffler allen bolts - Try with WD-40 + pliers.

Don't remove header pipes! You will have to get new copper gaskets that go between pipes and cylinder head.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Got it off! And the drain plug screw was super easy to get out from the inside. If I'd known it was that simple I would have done that from the beginning.

Strangely, the service manual doesn't call for RTV for just the water pump cover. The old gasket looks okay, except one slight tear towards the edge. I'll throw some RTV on top of the old gasket anyway until I can get around to replacing it.

Thanks for the help!

Re the header pipes...I've taken mine off several times without replacing the copper gasket...maybe I should do that next.
 

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A couple tips for those stripped allen bolts...

Not only pliers and WD40, but some gentle heat might help. Since I can see the rubber bushings around the bolts, the key word is gentle. For pliers, think Vice Grips, or a healthy pair of Channel Locks. When possible, I like to go with an old school trick that works surprisingly well. Heat the bolt, and melt wax into it. Basically, once the bolt is hot enough, just stick an old candle against it. The wax will actually wick down into the threads and not only assist with breaking things free, but will also help lubricate things on the way out.

If all this fails, drill the head off the bolt.

Whatever the shank size is, use a size or two larger bit in your drill. Then simply drill straight in until the bolt head pops loose.

We do this at least 4-5 times a week at the shop on those pesky phillips head screws on the front master cylinder. Quads, scooters, and such getting ran through the mud or left out in the rain, those screws get a little rust in them, and whammo! they strip very easily. Oddly enough to most customers, once you drill the head off, the actual screw shank comes out with your fingers more often than not. The reason behind that is the screw head is what actually holds the tension against the screw threads, so when you remove the tension (screw head), nothing is stopping you from easily removing the rest.

As for using RTV on the gasket, it's not a bad idea, but remember that a little bit goes a long way. Also, in situations where it isn't specified to use on both sides, I tend to only use it on one side. Sounds a little crazy, I know, but it's the way I was taught back when I was young, and it's never failed me. The key is to pick your side. The RTV tends to make the gasket stick to the surface more, so on a car water pump, I would put it on the side the water pump itself is on. I guess you could say it's the side with the removable part. There's 2 reasons for this: First, it's a LOT easier to clean gasket material off something you can hold in your hand and move around, and second, the gasket tends to stick to the part when you have the RTV on, so when positioning the part, there's one less thing to juggle around.

Hope this helps, and keep us posted!
 

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Regarding removing the muffler, there is no need to remove those allen bolts. The bracket is held in place at the top by two bolts. One of those bolts holds on the passenger footpeg and the other is nearby. A 14mm and a 12mm socket will remove them easily.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Regarding removing the muffler, there is no need to remove those allen bolts. The bracket is held in place at the top by two bolts. One of those bolts holds on the passenger footpeg and the other is nearby. A 14mm and a 12mm socket will remove them easily.
Genius! Ha ha, I was wondering when the 500 expert himself was going to chime in. Wish I'd known that before I bought 4 new bolts, but I guess I'll replace 'em anyway.

I'm letting the RTV dry for 24 hrs as per the directions (I opted for the "red" hi-temp Permatex), and will fill it up with coolant and fire it up tomorrow afternoon to see how she does.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Well, after filling it up with coolant, I started it up, walked around the bike, noticed some coolant dripping, and turned it off. It was probably running for about 30 seconds total.

The water pump and drain seem tight -- no leaks there, except for the hose going into the top of the water pump (see "Leak1" photo, there is a little pool behind the hose). Maybe I didn't snug it down far enough? That clamp is tight. But there is a bigger drip coming from the left side of the engine somewhere. I tried to take a photo but it is hard to see ("Leak2" photo - almost seems like it is dripping down from above somewhere? you can see a drop of it on the starter coil...)

What could be wrong? I did not "burp" the system as I've seen other people say, because the manual did not tell me to. Could it have been a bubble of trapped air or something? I also didn't disassemble any of the hoses on that L side other than to pop them off the valve cover and put them right back on. It looks like nothing in the photo, but there was a significant amount on the ground on that side, maybe 1/4 cup of coolant.
 

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lindog,

I have, on occasion, had a leak on the initial heat cycle after adjusting the valves (removing/replacing the pipes through the valve cover) that did not recur. My guess is that the o-rings need to seat in after being disturbed. Let the engine cool then run it again. If the leak recurs then determine where/what it is then repair it. (Tighten clamp, replace o-ring, etc.)

There is no need to burp the cooling system as the highest point is the filler cap and the water pump is at the lowest point. There are no areas for air to become trapped.
 

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Coolant is leaking past those metal tubes and dripping from weep holes between head fins. I replace those orings every time I remove valve cover, costs few cents a piece in local parts shop, they even may give 'em to you for free. It will save you from additional hassle.
 
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