Is this the end?

Three months short of 25 years from it's original registration, FJ parks.

The Mk1 Le Mans gearbox has given up selecting any gears apart from second, the Reliant engine needs a delicate heli-coiling operation, the batteries have failed this winters cold start test and the dampers are old. Several components have rusted into holes, the aerodynamics are obsolete and it's always been too heavy. I think another thermostat has just stopped working.

So this time it won't get it's gearbox mended, new batteries fitted and everything else added to the millenium job list. I'm too busy doing other things. It'll have to wait 'till next summer at best. Then I'll think about what to do about it.

But it probably won't re-appear in this form. It'll have to be lighter, stiffer, more comfortable, efficient and faster - although not necessarily any stronger....

Or I'll have to build an altogether new one.

Either way, it's bye bye FJ.

Is this the end?

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.


I'm sorry to hear FJ is likely retiring, but it was a good run. And perhaps I'm mis-remembering, but the engine and gearbox weren't new when fitted, were they? So the drivetrain is even older than the rest of the bike. Here's to an excellent track record and to new designs ahead.

Michael Hurley.

Ancient parts

The gearbox is the truely ancient part, so it's only right that it's thrown in the towel first. I bought it in 1986, it's from a Mk1 Le Mans, had a new set of bearings some time in the late nineties. It started jumping out of first gear last summer and I think it's broken the 1st/2nd selecter fork. Decent of it not to select two gears at once really, and it was only three miles from home when it jammed in 2nd.

The engine is mid-eighties, bought as a scrapper and rebuilt, it had never been apart before and it's done well really. Currently got a pulled head stud that needs helicoiling, unless the block's cracked which is not uncommon.

It's run three different final drive ratios and had two speedo's, which weren't always working, but as far as I can tell it did a little over 70,000 miles. It uses less fuel than a Skoda Fabia Greenline.

I can mend it, I've even got a spare engine. The problem is that FJ really needs a complete rebuild, ideally reducing weight by replacing some steel fabrications with GRP, re-doing the upholstery, replacing struts, batteries and sundry other bits and pieces. And if I did that, rummaging about in it's filthy guts, dealing with modification to modifications, bodges on bodges, I'd end up with something exactly as heavy and unreliable as it is now. British automotive spares for these old vehicles are just as hopelessly unreliable as they ever were.

And there are other things to do, Electric power, modern powertrains, aerodynamic progress. Only the HCS is state of the art. I want to design and build innovative FFs, not restore ancient relics!

But, in the absence of any alternatives, I guess, this winter (2013/4) I'll just have to get on with it. Building the Monoliner was a sort of holiday from relic restoration...