THE FJ1100 Story

17 Oct

Two years ago I went out to buy a thirty years old bike just for something to mess with in the workshop that would keep me off the streets in the winter months —


but  for once I arrived home wishing I had been sold a pup —


Wee Toby was the star turn – just a few weeks old and so full of fun and mischief. Here he is sloping off towards the forest in disgrace after getting a rollicking from his master for pulling old Bracken around by the ears 🙂

Sold a Pup

Buying the FJ1100 —

The FJ1100 was a short-lived sensation when introduced by Yamaha back in 1984. Not for the first or the last time Mr Yam was caught with his pants down when his very nice air cooled four cylinder machine was quickly overtaken by more modern oil and water cooled fours from the Suzuki and Kawasaki stables.

But that was back then. Believe it or not even now – thirty years later  – that air cooled four cylinder motor is still produced and sold in the current XJR1300 roadster where it has a strong following amongst knowledgeable bikers.

‘So where am I going with this?’

Right here —

Let haggling commence

Deep in a Dumfries and Galloway forest where the current owner and his dog appear to be decidedly unimpressed with my starting offer for the FJ1100 which he has up for sale.

No worries – coffee drank — deal done – it is time for me to wrench the bike from the previous owner’s adoring grip and hit the highway —

jump start

I would have taken his shiny boots as well if he had let me but in the end I had to be content with the FJ —


Yes she’s tidy for a thirty year old bike —

FJ 911

But I see plenty in need of my particular brand of TLC to keep me busy over the coming winter months 🙂


Corruption is everywhere these days and no more so than in the motorcycling field where the ubiquitous 36Y inlet rubbers fitted as standard on the FJ1100 are the ‘must have’ tuning accessories for the XJR1300.

bikeshed 019 (3)

The late arriving XJR uses the same motor but Mr Yamaha strangled the beast at birth when he specified a cumbersome exhaust system and matched it with 33mm inlet rubbers.

bikeshed 053

Fitting a free-breathing Akro like the one on my old bike above – plus a set of these 36mm inlet rubbers stolen from an FJ releases a few more ponies as well as lowering the all up weight by a worthwhile margin.

tidal 017

But my FJ rubbers are going nowhere ‘cept back onto the inlet’s whence they came —

tidal 020

There’s still work to do on the cam cover seen here in a ‘before’ shot —

tidal 023

but what goes round under it looks to be in good order with minimal apparent wear on the cam lobes and what appears to be a sound cam chain set-up —

tidal 024

The carbs are coming along nicely – it’s just a case of deciding how far to go with them in house. Providing they are reasonably clean inside I won’t send them off for ultra-sonic cleaning as it’s my intention to keep the costs sensible —

tidal 026

A tidy bike – running like she should is my aim.


But I will have to wear my mask —

tidal 031

and go rob a bank if I want to make her like new 🙂


Hoping to bolt a few bits of the FJ together soon.

I lifted the motor down off the table and set it on wooden blocks roughly at it’s finished height —

FJ 005

It will be a matter of checking through my auto-jumble of bits for things like –

the airbox and carb rubbers which are still at the cleaning stage —

FJ 001

the carb heat shield which is hanging up to dry after de-greasing. A tidy up with my rubber mallet should see her shipshape again —

FJ 003

I found the lower frame rails looking sad but when I’m happy with their condition I will give ’em a coat of paint ready to bolt into place —

FJ 002

after I wrap the main frame around the motor.

FJ 004

The carbs didn’t appear to be all that great with what looked like thirty years muck on them but I’ve made a start on the cleaning process and I think they will come up ok —

FJ 006

Just to have something shiny to play with amongst all the muck I bought myself a treat off ebay.

A nice set of soft jaws for my vice. Invaluable when it comes to holding parts that are easily marked – firmly —

FJ 008

No doubt I will find other bits on the shelf that should be fitted before marrying the frame to the motor – but –

Rome wasn’t built in a day 🙂


The saga of my FJ refurb has reached the first milestone with the painting of the motor and upper frame virtually complete.

I have yet to decide what to do with the peely-wally rocker cover. I will probably go for a more attractive finish on it and the clutch cover – perhaps some type of plating to catch the eye —

done 002

I have brush-painted the motor with heat resistant Satin Black High Temperature paint from Halfords and it appears to have stuck – so far —

done 006

For the frame I opted to use an aerosol can of Hammerite which should do the trick —

done 004

But time will tell and while I allow both lots of paint time to cure I will give the FJ a rest and head for the MoT Test Station on the Tenere tomorrow —

done 008

I checked the Ten out today and all she needed was a few psi in the tyres and she is ready to go.

Let’s hope the sun continues to shine on the righteous 🙂


I slapped some more paint on the old FJ motor today then left it to cure —

mot 003

while I tackled the frame —

mot 004

The purists may shudder but with costs in mind this was never planned as a nut and bolt restoration – just a good clean then deal with the rusty bits before freshening the paintwork. I have never used Hammerite before and I hope I don’t live to regret my decision to use it on the frame —

mot 005

Time to take a break from painting —

mot 006

and with an MoT due on the Tenere it wasn’t too difficult to move her front and centre where she will get the once-over ready for a dry day for the trip to the Testing Station —

mot 007

I will be surprised if I find anything wrong with her as I’ve overhauled the rear shock linkage bushes since the last MoT —

mot 008

When I see her up there looking so good it’s all I can do to wait for spring before getting the maps out and heading off some where.

Come to think of it – I never did get to Corsica —

Tiree 213

But there’s time yet 🙂


Paint it Black – or bits of it. Painting frightens me – one of the few things apart from snakes that does. Being colour blind doesn’t help and ruins the confidence.

No worries – even I can see this is BLACK —

paint it black 003

or Satin Black to be more precise —

paint it black 007

I played safe and started with the sump as it will be hidden by the plastic belly pan which should cover a multitude of sins. And if the belly pan doesn’t hide my mistakes – I’ll leave her in the box —

paint it black 002

We’ve just had our coldest night of the year – eight degrees of frost. Luckily I stumbled over that cardboard box while rooting about in the dark next door this morning. Coupled with my electric fan heater it made a perfect auto-clave to warm the motor before painting and to cook the paint afterwards to help it cure —

paint it black 008

I even found an old duvet cover to help hold the heat in after switching the power off and heading home for the night. I will decide tomorrow in the cold light of day whether the runs are bad enough to make me start all over again 🙂


I’ve never actually done anything like this total refurb before but having said that – I hadn’t made marmalade either until these past few days and it worked out ok —

No doubt there will be a few expletives flying around before this refurb is done but I have n’t reached that stage yet. Nope – the blanks I’m referring to are to stop the ingress of degreaser, muck and whatever else is going during the cleaning and painting process.

The exhaust ports were the first to get blanked after stuffing them with rags and bubble wrap —

Blankety Blank 001 - Copy

Then it was the turn of the 36Y inlets —

Blankety Blank 004 - Copy

followed by the two little oil gallerys in the sump where the oil cooler lines fit —

Blankety Blank 002 - Copy

Blankety Blank 007 - Copy

At least that ol’ motor is looking fresher today than she was yesterday —

Blankety Blank 006 - Copy

I hope to do a better job of the paintwork than the previous owners did and by the looks of things ——————–

that won’t be difficult 🙂


Little did I realise when I bought the FJ to have something to wrestle with in the chicken shed over the winter months that she would turn out to be such a challenge —

FJ frame

But – today I had a willing helper. Not only does H make a better job of cleaning the frame than I do.

She takes clearer photos too —

FJ frame2

Too good in fact. That frame doesn’t look quite so pristine in her pics – and the motor is showing every one of the five previous owners and thirty one years —

FJ motor 2

I was able to leave the frame in the capable hands of my sidekick and lay the motor on it’s back —

FJ motor

Where the stubborn cap screws fixing the lower oil cooler feed lines to the sump soon surrendered to a bit of heating and beating and unscrewed nicely without further drama.

Fj before stripping

First intentions were just to refresh the old FJ cosmetics and show her off at some of the local vintage events in the summer but once she’s stripped down it’s difficult not to go overboard and poke and prod even further.

Time will tell 🙂


FJ1100 Shiny Bits – I wish. There’s a long way to go but it’s early days but I have made a start and she’s coming along nicely —

FJ 1100 Shiny Bits 004

I’ve got most of the diamond hard chain lube residue off the affected bits and it’s the rusting frame tube joints where the paint has peeled from the weld that need my attention now —

FJ 1100 Shiny Bits 001

but not half as much as making that old motor look respectable. A previous owner has had a go at painting her and she’s neither one thing nor t’other —

FJ 1100 Shiny Bits 002

The oil cooler should come off out of the way before I go much further but there’s a couple of stubborn bolts on the lower oil line fixings that will need persuading before I can separate it from the motor —

FJ 1100 Shiny Bits 003

The motor is original and looks rather sad but I’m sure I’ll find a way to spruce her up a bit. It can’t be that difficult —

Can it 🙂


I could hear lumps of ice rattling off the roof this afternoon but the FJ and I were as snug as a couple of bugs inside.

lumps of ice 001It’s nice to have a job to do under cover when the weather turns wicked even if it’s to do it twice as in the case of this rear shock.

I had already bolted it in place a few weeks ago after a cursory clean up. Out she came again to clean the flaking red paint from the spring and give her a fresh coat of black gloss. Then it was a case of greasing up the shock linkage before putting her all back together again.

lumps of ice 004

That’s better – next to go in were the front forks —

lumps of ice 012

The headstock on the FJ is so well braced – from memory the only bike I’ve worked on with this amount of metal around the headstock was an upmarket Bimota sports bike.

lumps of ice 014

Doesn’t that paint look the dog’s danglies!

lumps of ice 013

Even if it did come from a Hammerite aerosol can.

Better still —

lumps of ice 019

By the time I was ready for home the river by the back door was still between it’s banks and the skies were blue overhead 🙂


Winter will soon be over so I had better make a start to putting the FJ back together. With the heavy lump of a motor already sitting on wooden blocks mating the frame to the motor wasn’t too difficult.

Simply a case of laying the main frame over the top —

fj rebuild 001

Lining up the bottom rails —

fj rebuild 002

offering up the side plates —

fj rebuild 015

and sticking a few bolts in.

fj rebuild 003

Before bolting the inlet rubbers in place and hanging the carbs on 🙂


FJ1100 Luing Scrambler? That’s the plan anyway. If Ducati – Triumph plus Uncle Tom Coblers and all can build a scrambler out of what is basically a road bike then surely I can build one too —


My MSX 125 runabout keeking through the curtains looks unimpressed – or does she? I reckon the little sweetie looks pretty scared as well she might once that 4cyl 1100cc beast comes back to life! Even the Tall Tenere who seldom backs off from a photo-shoot has taken to the shadows on this occasion —


No worries – not a lot more can be done to the FJ till H brings our new shed home —


My fault it’s running late really for I’ve prevaricated over the rebuild for almost a year since I got to the stage where I would have had to cover up all that lovely metal with her original plastics and couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Now here she is anxious to be completed and out there – but – unfortunately two hundred miles from our new home —


Who is the Daddy 🙂

Thanks for ploughing through this marathon of a post folks — it’s a proper mish-mash consisting of the ten or eleven FJ related posts on here since i bought the bike around two years ago. I had little idea what I would do with the bike but at least I have an end product in sight now in THE Luing Scrambler.

Unfortunately the FJ and I are separated by 200 miles of road for the time being so it’s not as if I can nip out in the morning and bolt a few bits together.

No worries – I am more than hopeful that she will be housed by my front porch up here on Luing before Christmas. In the meantime I will try to bring some sort of order to this series of copied Posts in the hope that the FJ1100 Story will make more sense and with my fire rekindled perhaps I will now ‘horse on’ and complete the project.

I don’t suppose ‘Colin the Post’ will be able to squeeze my FJ in here —

Bards - post

Don .. aka givitsum 🙂

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Posted by on October 17, 2016 in Yamaha FJ1100



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