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These systems are notorious for getting air bubbles caught in the junctions. Vacuum pump bleeding is really the way to go, even if you jury-rig something. It’s less messy and less likely to induce new air. Otherwise your best to start at the top and “bench” bleed at each connection point (banjo) working your way down. Tricky but good way to chase out those hidden air bubbles.

Your M/C seals might just be worn. Were they okay before all this or mushy when pushed? Your M/C might be out of specs (check manual) so it can’t pump well (both 26 years old!). When I powder coated my M/C it needed to be fully stripped so I went ahead and rebuilt it while I had the chance. Those new seals lasted one season before failing, I put the old ones back in and they have worked fine for two seasons. So they can be picky!

Little known tip: Put a spacer on your handle when bleeding so you don’t bottom out the plunger. (check manual)
 
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