Fill and Flush Vulcan Radiator

David "Poisond" - DVF


First, I want to thank all for there help, as I couldn't have done it without you. As you all know, I had a coolant/fan/crap ass maintenance from previous owner(s). Well, maybe not the last, but not how I would do it. Now, I haven't taken the bike out, so hopefully, this isn't premature, but I wanted to write a synopsis on what I did.

This was performed on my 2001 Drifter 1500:

1. Undo & lift up tank. You DONT HAVE TO TAKE THE TANK OFF. Loosen the rear tank bolt almost all the way out. Remove chrome ( or black ) speedometer shroud & speedometer ( unclip wire bundle & it just pulls right out. You'll see the gromets and pins ). Take top ( or front ) tank bold all the way out. I usually put a piece of masking tape down & tape all the bolts together so I dont lose them. Now, find a piece of wood, kinda 2x4 size, but enough to cross the frame. Lift the tank off the grommet. It's super duper light even with a full tank of gas. Take wood ( please wrap in a towel as to not scratch your tank ) & put it between the tank & the frame, as far back ( towards the seat, if it was on, as possible ). This will lift the tank so you can get at the coolant fill tank.

2. Drain Coolant - What I did is probably way overboard, but I just wasn't sure what the previous owners or bike shops have done. First, I drained the radiator by removing the plug at the bottom as well as take the coolant cap off. Have a pan underneath & let it flow. I let mine drip all night as I had other parts that were on order & had to be installed around the same time. I rocked my Drift back & forth to get all of the coolant out of the radiator. Leave plug out for now.

3. Flush with Vinegar & distilled water - Just like you do with your Mr. Coffee pot. Put drain plug back in. Fill the radiator with the 50/50 solution. All drain plugs are in. Light up the bike & let it run for 10 minutes. Drain. Do it again, & drain. It's gets that gunk out ( well, alot of it anyway ).

4. (OPTIONAL)Change thermostat & o-ring. This was one of the parts I was waiting for as I was overheating like crazy. There are 4 gold screws attached to the housing, phillips. If you can, get an allen wrench style phillips screwdriver to remove. This is a tight tight spot. Once screws are removed, push down & back ( towards seating area ) & wala... there is your thermostat & o-ring. Remove the old & before you put in the new, rinse with distilled water to get out some of that vinegar. Make sure, with you new thermostat, the vent hole is toward the sky. I marked with a sharpie so I would know. Install o-ring. Very self explanatory, but tricky as it likes to keep folling out. Once in place, push down on the filler & push housing back into bracket. Screw back in till tight. I did them all in series, ie, not to bottom out each screw first. Couple turns on one, then the other, then so on till all tight.

5. (OPTIONAL)Change out fan switch - Another part I was waiting for, as it was only $50 & I wasn't sure what was causing my issues ( thermo, fan, coolant, who knows ). Very easy. You have 2 switches at the bottom of your radiator. It is the one on the right side ( as you are sitting on the bike ) with 2 electrodes going into it. Pop off the electrodes. Find a 1 1/16th wrench & take off & put in your new one, just like a bolt. FYI, the white dot is on the bottom ( you'll know it when you see it )

6. Run clean distilled water through - I did this to get the vinegar out ( or most of it ). Now that all my new parts were in, I once again just poured the distilled water through & drained.

7. Clean overflow tank out - Mine was full of crap, so I hit it up really good. While there, I changed out every fuse ( including the main ) just for peace of mind.

8. Drain water pump of old fluid - You have 4 bolts on your water pump. The bottom left one is the drain plug ( below idle screw ). Undo and drain. Once it was done ( very minimal ), I took a paper towel & rolled it up very small ( like you were rolling a "funny" cigarette ). Stick it in the hole & let it sop up some of the nastyness.

9. Since the tank is up, clean your nasty top engine - Mine was disgusting, how's yours ?

10. Clean clean clean - I cleaned every nook an cranny I could find since my bike was down & apart.

11. Make sure all plugs are back in. Time to fill with coolant - I used prestone 50/50. Filled radiator up, checking for leaks all around. You will spill, so be ready. Annnnd, fill. Fill it till it's ready to overflow out the cap.

12. Drain air from water pump - Now, right above the water pump drain plug is, you guessed it, the water pump bleed plug. Unbolt a little until fluid comes out ( as well as air ). When it starts streaming, bolt it back up.

13. Let air flow from radiator bleed cap - It's right next to the radiator fill reservoir. Unscrew slightly. Squeeze both radiator hoses to fill with the antifreeze you've already put in. Now, top off your radiator until fluid comes out of the hole. Once it does, tighten it back down & top off coolant.

14. Fill overflow tank - To the full line with fresh coolant.

15. Put tank back down & speedo - This is if you choose, but I did it as I wanted to see if my overheat idiot light came on. Let bike warm up. You're gonna see smoke, but no worries, this is just the coolant you spilled burning off. As bike is warming, check all over for leaks or drips. Make sure your work area is clean so you can see fresh drips if there are any. Warm up till fan comes on a few times. Watch overheat light ( if speedo is back on ) & let run till the fan turns off & on a couple time.

16. Cool down - Allow overflow tank to fill engine up.

17. Top off overflow if needed.

Do step 15-17 one more time.

Tomorrow I will top off the radiator one more time. Again, I havent taken her out yet, but she has passed all the other tests with flying colors. While I was at it, I also changed my oil, filter, & final drive oil with Amsoil. I wasn't taking any chances whatsoever guys. I want my baby perfect.

All of this cost me, ballpark, about $150 for everything ( all parts, all oil, everything ). I believe I will flush again in about 6 months to basically get the rest of the vinegar out again. Antifreeze is cheap, & from what I know now, this job isnt that hard.

I truly hope this helps you out, as all of you have helped me...


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