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Discussion Starter #1
(For those who already saw this, sorry.)

I have been given a "barn bike". It's been sitting in a garage since 2009 and the gas smells super sweet. When it last ran, I recall it had issues with the carb and voltage regulator (I assume, as it cooked a battery). I have rebuilt carbs and been inside crankcases, among other repairs.

So, is it worthwhile to mess with this bike? It's a '98 EN500. I think the mileage is low. Tires look good. Bluebook seems to be around $1,100 (running). I would be looking at puttering around on it, not to sell. (I've been down that road. I put $1,900 into an old Jeep, and was able to sell it for only $500.) Besides what I know to be wrong, what other common problem should I expect?
 

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The 500 is a very reliable bike. I think if you get whatever electrical gremlins figured out, get the carbs working and take good care of it; it'll be a good machine. Though as you've already figured out; don't expect a return on investment.

"BikerBill" is a good guy to look up. He's the clear mileage leader on Vulcan 500's. He's ridden his VN500 farther than many folks will ride any motorcycle anywhere in their lifetime.
 

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Since the bike was given to you, and it's a complete bike, how can you go wrong? Shouldn't cost more than maybe 2 hundred dollars if that to get it going again assuming the electrical issue is minor. Cleanup the carbs, flush fuel tank and whatever the electrical issue is, and a battery if it's fried and you've got a good solid cruiser with very little money in it. You didn't mention if it has a title. That's a big deal since it's a street machine.

Go for it, can't go wrong on that deal!
Good luck
Larry G

PS: My winter project is a 2002 Vulcan EN500 that I picked up for $300 clean title but missing carburetors. Been sitting since 2006. Had to go with Ninja EX500 34mm carbs and hoping they will work. Also bought the air box to carb 34mm Ninja boots and they fit the Vulcan air box perfectly. (Vulcan uses 32mm carbs) but very few available on ebay at a descent price.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
It is a clean title.

One nagging hesitation is that the PO added all sorts of, er, "stuff" to the bike, so I may have a bit of a challenge getting it back to stock. Battery first, then I need to get the carbs off and see if I can clean them without rebuild kits. Once it runs a bit, then I can check the electrics.

On previous bikes I owned, you needed to remove the gas tank to gain access to the rubber chunks that join the air box to the carb (sorry, can't remember what they are called). Would that be the case on this Vulcan, too?

Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Spent a few hours today removing all the customization: heated grips, air horns and compressor, comm system and wires that seemed to do nothing and go nowhere. Haven't looked into the taillight area as yet. A length of orange SJT seems to feed the extra 3 lights at the rear. Most connections were made with wire nuts!

Found the handlebar bracket that attaches to the fork crown to be loose. Lost one of the lock nuts and one of the Allen bolt's head was stripped out. (Anyone who knows the size offhand, that would be helpful!)

Found about a pound of mud dauber nests under the tank.

Can't get the gas cap off, so will try to soak the cylinder with a little PB Blaster.

Any opinions on if I should keep "Easy-Pull clutch system? It is a Moose brand. The manufacturer's description seems to defy the laws of physics.

I suspect the front brake cylinder to be bad. Front caliper was seized. Had to take it off to get the bike on the trailer. Bled the system, and the fluid that came out looked like the oldest, dirtiest diesel motor oil you've ever seen. Compressed the caliper with a C-clamp and it took a lot of effort. Got clear fluid flowing through the line, but squeezing the brake handle offers no resistance and the caliper doesn't move at all.

Well, that was enough "fun" for today.
 

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On the gas cap, let it soak with the BP blaster for awhile then try the key again and use a screw driver to lightly pry up on it at the same time your working the key. As long as the key is turning about a 1/4 of a turn, it should open. If all else fails, take the biggest flathead screw driver you've got and put it in the key slot and turn till it breaks the internal locking mechanism.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Got the cap open. The inside of the cap was corroded, which prevented the striker latch from moving easily.

Whew! I dumped the gas on the gravel driveway, thinking it may kill some of the weeds. The odor may kill me! The gas looked like used motor oil, with some flakes of rust as big as a quarter. Put the uncapped tank in the garage overnight. What a mistake to make. Now the garage reeks.

This is getting a little discouraging.

8 more posts and I can enter my bike in the contest. (Insert grimace smiley face.)
 

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It can get pretty discouraging at time I guess. I try and get something accomplished on my project bikes every day, even if it's just a small thing. Eventually after two or three months before you know it I'm done. It's a good hobby for guys who like to have something to tinker with in the garage.
 

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Do not even think of putting that bike on the road without a tear down, cleaning, inspection and replacement of all rubber parts in the front braking system.
Not to do so will put yours and others lives in danger.

There are specific procedures that must be followed when working on braking systems.

Post back with any questions.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Excellent advice, sfair, and it will be heeded.

---

Humble, re: "It's a good hobby for guys who like to have something to tinker with in the garage."

Problem is, I have about 10 tinkering projects going. Then there are the must-do projects... :eek:
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Woo hoo! After 2 days of soaking in solvent, the twenty-three 3/8" ball bearings I dropped into the tank are actually starting to roll around when I shake the tank. I guess it was a tab bit gummed up in there.

When I dumped that batch of solvent out (mucho gunk and rust), none of the bearings tumbled out. Do these tanks have baffles in them? 23 steel balls went in, I gotta get 23 out. :fingers-crossed:
 

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If all else fails the try flushing them out with your pressure washer. I got lucky on my 82 750, looked in tank and previous owner had installed Kreme tank liner but I've cleaned plenty same way you are and used red kote liner on most with good success but I usually use muratic acid and hot water for about 3 hours to clean rust out after the ball bearing thing.
 

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Be careful with muriatic acid. It will suck the wind right out of your lungs if you get a whiff of the fumes. If you do it in your garage, it will rust anything within about 10 feet.
There are better and safer solutions you can use to de-rust a tank.
 

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Safer ways I agree, but I don't know of anything that does a better job of cleaning rust away in a rusty fuel tank in just 3 hours. Don't ever add water to straight muratic acid, add muratic acid to water, don't breath it, use one of those paint masks, safety glasses or face shield, don't get it on you, wear long sleeved gloves, don't get it on your paint, and then there is the disposal issue. But if you take your time and keep safety in mind, it does a good job on the rusty fuel tanks. People use it all the time for cleaning swimming pools.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I know Muriatic acid from my swimming pool days. :skeleton:

I am thinking of trying Evapo-rust. I contacted the company and they say it should work, just being sure to seal the cleaned surface with some diesel fuel if the bike is not put back into service immediately. I don't expect it to work as quickly as the harsher chems, but like the idea that I can dump the spent product down the drain.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I added some photos of 'The Beast'. Be sure and vote for my bike as Ugliest of the Year! (I know it's only January, but I have confidence it will win.)
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
The Haynes manual was delivered yesterday. It seems to cover a lot of year models. Some of the stuff looks to be totally wrong, keeping in mind I'm looking only for data pertaining to the EN500C.

I thought I'd better start at some basics. I can get the bike in first gear, but nothing other than that. I'd like to get it in fifth or sixth, so I can try to turn the engine a bit by rolling the bike. It won't budge in first gear. I'm hoping the engine isn't seized.

So much for today's entry in The Ugly Bike Blog.
 

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The 2002 vulcan 500 I bought and sat since 2006, sat for 9 years and it rotated fine for me. I did pull the plugs, spray wd40 in plug holes and rotated over on starter motor. I'll bet yours is ok too.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks, Ego.

I sprayed some PB Blaster down the plug holes and let it soak a while. As I waited, I pondered how far down those plugs lay. Far. And how long the threads were on the plugs themselves. Long. And how much carbon was on the plugs. Much. It was therapeutic.

Then I tapped on the side cover access hole that I put penetrating oil on last night. It came loose, and with a 1/2 ratchet bar I was able to rotate the engine. It sounded smooth- not crunchy, as I expected- so maybe the cylinder walls weren't rusted. Put the plugs back in and the compression felt good. (I don't own a gauge to actually measure it.)

Next will be to take the carbs off and clean them really well. I figure it's worth a shot before I just go out and by re-build kits. Then again, I may find deteriorated soft parts (O-rings and/ or gaskets, or needle valve tips) and have to purchase the kits anyway. I'm trying to keep costs down, in case I come across something serious, ie, expensive.

If I set small goals, at least I'm seeing progress.
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Are these bikes known for sticking clutch plates? I know old tractors are prone to this when left sitting for some time. If I put the bike in gear (can only get first at this time) I can't budge it even with the clutch pulled in. I say pulled- I've retracted the handle, and I see the linkage move down there on the right side of the engine. Maybe something is broken, fallen off or frozen up inside?
 
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