Well, the starting thing without pressing the button tells me the either something is miswired, or melted through and shorted. Power to the starter should only be engaged when the start button is pressed, but you would have power to the ignition system to fire the plugs. If it turns over when applying power, then you're putting power to the starter, possibly in addition to the ignition system.
Do you have a volt meter, or continuty checker? First thing I'd do is grab a pic of the wiring diagram for the bike, and take my meter and start checking wiring. Sometimes, particularly in a short situation, the wiring can get hot enough to melt through the insulation and make a dead short with the copper in the wire next to it. If you find a bundle of wires that are tied together or close bundled, I'd split that open and take a look and see if that's where the problem is. In general, wiring shorts caused by heat/melting is usually located wherever the wires are in close proximity, usually a corner, etc.
Do this without the battery connected though - no sense it making things worse. Once you can establish that the wire to the starter is not shorted to anything else, then you can move on to the starting problem. I suspect that if you find whatever is causing the starter to turn and clear that, your other problems may be fixed, or at least, you'll know where to look.
That may not be much help, and someone else may have a better idea, but from what I understood, that's where I'd start at. I don't know anything specific to Vulcan's, but your problem sounds like general wiring rather than bike specific.
I ride an Eliminator
. What you got?
Last edited by wyldstreak; 12-04-2009 at 08:05 PM.