damper rod not fully extending

Oct 11, 2000
I took my forks down over the weekend for a spring, seals and oil change (00 CR250). After re-filling the cartridge I could not get the damper rod to fully extend on its own power. It lacks probably about 1/2-3/4 inch from coming all the way out. As I read in the manual this relates to an air bleeding issue. I pumped the rod for about 5-10 minutes and it always seemed to be pulling and pushing oil (Mobil ATF), no air. Would the change in fluid cause this? FWIW, the oil that came out poured like syrup. The oil looked really clean (very light brown), not what I was expecting. As far as I known this is the first time the forks have been down. I bought the bike from a guy who probably didn't ride it 10 times. Any help is appreciated.