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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 1996 Vulcan 500 LTD. The two bolts are easy but the cable with the connector seems to go under the tank and i can't find the clip to unplug the end of it to put on a new one. Is it easier to find than I am thinking or do i need to take off the tank?

How I got here:
The key occasionally would need to be inserted and removed once or twice. So I'm assuming some of the tumblers were already having some problems. It sat out during a rain storm, later that night I accidentally turned it past the start position to the parking lights and it stuck there. I had never turned it to parking lights since I have owned it. Key would come out and go in but not turn back. After wiggling and tapping with the heel of my shoe it finally turned back long enough to start and get it home. In three days of trying various lubricants, canned air etc I have gotten it to turn only twice. I'm assuming some gunk inside got wet during the storm and settled in somewhere making the tumblers not fall correctly on the key preventing it from turning.

At this point I figure the easiest thing is to just replace it. I can order a complete set used on ebay for like 60. So just unscrew the two bolts form the mounting plate and unplug from power and replace. Seems like the easiest thing to do at this point. If I buy a new ignition I will have to reattach to the plate with whatever that weird bolt on the back is. I'm not sure if it will come with a new bolt for that or if I will even be able to get it off since it's some weird mounted thing. Anyway the ones I see on ebay the wires that lead off the back of the ignition to the plug that connect power doesn;t seem to be very long, but I can trace the one on my bike back under the tank and never seem to find the end. Does it go all the way back to the battery or where? Do I have to take the tank off to get to it? I have the seat off and i can see where the two plugs go into the junction box on the fuse box. Is it one of those? Or is it connecting somewhere else? Maybe it is going under the tank and then coming out somewhere more accessible where I could just unplug it and pull it back through?

I considered just taking this into a locksmith but I was told the ignition can't be taken apart anyway, meaning unless they could do something with cleaning or lubricant as I have already tried then likely I'll end up just paying them money to do something that won't help and end up buying a new (or used) one anyway.
 

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Sorry about your key woes. Let's take a stab at your issues.

First, to get to the red connector that is under the fuel tank, yes the tank must come off. The seat comes off first (single bolt at the rear), the speedometer nacelle (single bolt at the rear), then two bolts on the tank. Up to four hoses must be disconnected also. The tank lifts straight up. The connector is near the coolant cap.

An easier way get the key switch out is to remove the switch from the panel with the single allen screw. Then remove keyed part of the switch by removing the two phillips screws that hold the back of the switch on. (There are come small parts that could fly out so be aware.) You can then take that to your local locksmith for repair. There aren't any replaceable parts in the key area but they might be able to repair what's there. (I work as a locksmith but I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn Express either.)

For future reference you can bring the switch from PARK by pushing in on the key then turning it back to ON or OFF. No shoes necessary. :)

Hope this helps.
 

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You can see the connector just fine with just the speedo out, but I was not able to get my fat fingers in there to unplug the connectors. I don't know but you may be able to use some pliers on it, although I think there is a locking tab you have to press in while pulling apart. Would certainly be less frustrating to also remove the tank.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Must I drain the tank or can I just have someone pull up on it enough to reach under and remove the plug? Thanks for all your input and support?
 

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You don't have to drain the tank, just be sure the fuel valve is NOT turned to PRIME if you remove hoses. ("On" and "Reserve" require vacuum to pull the fuel out.) Keep in mind, though, that it will be pretty heavy if it's full. It would certainly be worth trying to reach in and unplug without completely removing the tank.
 

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Don't be intimidated by taking off the tank. It's really no big deal. Biker Bill has probably had his tank off a hundred times. This is your chance start really understanding your bike.

There is one small bolt holding on the instrument cluster. Then under that there are two plugs to unplug and the speedometer cable. Then unplug the gas line and vacuum line from the petcock, take off the hold down bolts at the rear of the tank and at the front and lift off the tank. It's really easy. There are two hoses that vent the gas cap and over flow, I put in a "T" so there is only one hose.

Just lift up the speedometer housing and unplug. Pull the tank, it's really easy, promise.
 

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try again

Did you repeatedly saturate the ignition lock while trying to get the key to turn? I asked this because there have been several times when I was dealing with a key-wont-turn-the-lock situation and the first few attempts with a spray lubricant didn't free it up. I would wait a minute or two, give it another good soaking and try again. This repeated soaking and waiting has never let me down.

It may not do the job, but it's way simpler and cheaper than replacing the switch to wrap the area up with some shop towels and then stick the tube from the spray can into the key slot and spray the hell out of it. Wait a bit, work the key, and spray the hell out of it some more. My go to spray for stuck locks is Liquid Wrench Penetrating Oil. Good stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
UPDATE: Tried everything listed here. After the multiple dousing with lubricant I was able to get the key to turn once...all the way to Parking and stuck there. So disconnected the battery to get the lights to turn off and ordered the new ignition switch. Should be here Friday. Yep, the plug is easily visible under the instrument cluster but sausage fingers are a no go on disconnecting without raising the tank. One weird thing...I tried removing all the fuses instead of disconnecting the battery and even with ALL fuses out the tail light stayed on while in Parking Acc. Shouldn't pulling the tail light fuse have severed that connection? Anyway, thanks to everyone for the advice. I'll post after I have the new ignition installed this weekend.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
My ignition arrived today. Literally a ten minute job. Taking off the tank...sooo easy. Geez. maybe the hardest part (if there was one) was screwing the speedo back in. Thanks for all the support and encouragement. Back on the road. If I had it to do over again I would have sprayed the thing a few times and then just ordered a used ignition. The $80 I spent got me a working ignition, new matching seat/helmet lock, gas cap, and side panel lock and was well worth skipping all the frustration of my bike not working a week while I yanked that key around. Still have a separate key for the fork lock now but not really bothered by that
 

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I'm glad it all worked out for ya!

Regarding the fork lock, I haven't used Hidalgo's fork lock ever since I almost dumped her over by forgetting to unlock the forks in 1999.
 

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I tried the key in the fork lock right after I bought it. But then, I seldom park it anywhere but the garage.

Glad you're back in business - prime riding weather!
 
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