Over the last several days I have begun a complete overhaul of my VLX, and let's just say I am very glad I joined this forum. In this thread I'll post everything I've done or will do and use it as a way to keep track of my progress, describe the hang-ups, and maybe vent some frustrations relating to this process. Have a read and come along for the ride.
I am finding out that while doing this sort of thing, I run into a new problem around every other turn, and often things are not nearly as simple as I anticipated.
As of tonight, this is everything that has been done:
Coolant system flush, tear-down, and change (all the details of which are in another thread).
Oil/Oil Filter Change - Oddly, this was so much harder and time-consuming than I would have ever believed. After I got the oil draining, I found that I could not remove the filter for the life of me. I tried a few different size filter wrenches, channel locks, pipe wrenches, you name it. It would not budge. So I put a long 1/2 drill bit through it and tried grabbing the ends and twisting it off, but not even that worked. Taking a hammer to it resulted in breaking the tempered bit. Several hours of careful work with a hammer chisel, vice grips, etc. eventually saw the thing finally come off. I can only guess that the guy who did it last time torqued that thing down way too tight. What a nightmare. To add insult to injury, the old oil was quite thin and reeked of gas.
Turn Signal Switch/Housing - This had gotten pretty gunked up and recently got to the point where it was next to unusable. Thanks to that sticky, I got it disassembled and cleaned out with electrical contact cleaner and dielectric grease. Now it works flawlessly.
While I had the contact cleaner handy, I went ahead and cleaned up the rest of the plugs and contacts around the bike.
Changed the Spark Plugs - Mercifully, this went off without a hitch. There are quite a few threads about how difficult this can be and they had me worried. But thankfully my bike came with the OEM tool kit and it took all of 5 minutes to have the old ones out and the new NGK Iridium plugs in. I am a little concerned though, for a couple of reasons. The old plugs were all black, and the ones from the rear cylinder were wet when I pulled them out. I understand that wet plugs can sometimes come from not turning off the petcock (which I didn't the night before) so I decided to turn it off and run the bike to burn off the rest of the fuel in the system. The bike ran for about 30 minutes without beginning to sputter so I shut it off and tested the petcock by pull the line, and sure enough, gas was still coming from the tank. When I turned it over to reserve, fuel came out, and when I turned it to fuel, it stopped. Either there was a low level in the tank and something is wrong with my petcock valve, or I need to figure out why it indicates "off" but is still on either "fuel" or "reserve". What it does mean is that this entire time I thought I had the petcock shut and it was still open. That could explain the gas in the oil and the wet plugs. Now that I know there is no more gas coming through from the tank (and I ran and burned off the gas in the system), I will check again in a few days and pull the plugs out and take a look. I'll also drain a little oil out to see how it smells. Whenever I run this tank of gas out completely, I'll pull the tank and have a look at the petcock.
Lastly, I got the exhaust pipes pulled off and sometime this week or next I'm going to clean them and their hardware and refinish them.
I just placed my order tonight for all of the parts and things so I can't wait for them to get here. There's still a lot to do but I'm making progress.