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87 (1TX) restoration - the final push?

Started by petetb154, September 12, 2022, 12:32:40 PM

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Pat Conlon

Quote from: Motofun on November 05, 2022, 06:28:50 AM
My '85 is stormy red
Makes sense, 84/85 both Stormy Red...and just the red/silver combo on the '84 USA bikes.
1) Free Owners Manual download:
2) Don't store your FJ with E10 fuel
3) Replace your old stock rubber brake lines.
4) Important items for the '84-87 FJ's:
Safety wire:
Fuel line:


Time for another update. Some bad news / good news in this post.

So as mentioned above, RPM sent the head back, all fresh and new. They also sent a new set of 1250 rings, made just for me... But...

I hadn't looked closely at the cylinder bores yet. Originally, I had NOT planned to replace the rings. But I thought as long as RPM has a hook up with Wiesco, why not replace the rings for good measure. So I looked at the bores closely and you can see this before honing picture of the #1 hole.

Yea, not pretty. I was hoping that she'd "buff right out" when I honed the cylinders, but post hone, it looked like this:

Post hone, it's not TERRIBLE, but still not right. There is an old timer rule of thumb that says if a score on the cylinder can be felt by your fingernail, you have to bore the cylinder. I could just feel the scoring. Honestly, I was tempted to ignore this and slap it back together. After all, there is a good chance this bike wont get another 10,000 miles in its lifetime. I'm really just restoring my teenage bike for my private therapy, for posterity and as a hobby. I thought, as long as the bike doesn't smoke, it will probably be OK.. But at the same time, it didn't feel right. Even if it doesn't smoke, I'd always know that I cut that corner, and it would grind on me.. After all, I'm not in a hurry, and I am not broke teenager anymore, so why not fix it correctly?

So, I sent RPM the before/after pics. They immediately told me that scoring on the upper portion of the bore like that is an indication that piston is rocking in the bore because the bore is too big for the piston. Additionally, they noticed that the scoring is not on the front / aft of the bore, it's slightly on the side. This is an indication that the rod might be bent! Also, the new 1250 rings were way too big - using them would have required that I cut them down by at least 1mm. Holy crap, this project is getting deeper. So I packed up the jugs and pistons and sent them to RPM for inspection.

This is a good time to tell you about some history on the engine and the #1 cylinder. In 1995-1996, I paid a shop to work over the head, put larger valves in it and do some mild porting. I also had them bore it for a high compression big bore kit. While it was apart I had the transmission magna-fluxed and back cut the dogs to prevent 2nd gear pop outs. Shortly after I put it back together, I was on an overnight ride from Utah to Colorado and the engine blew up in Mack, Co. My future wife at the time drove through the night to rescue me and my dad rode over from Colorado to keep me company. The next year I wrote a short story about the event for a college writing class. The story is just 4 pages and might be of some interest to anyone who rides with their Dad or Son. After the engine blew up, I took it apart and discovered that in intake valve in cylinder #1 broke and the valve face fell into the cylinder at 6000 RPMs. Wow, it really messed up that cylinder. The shop agreed to do the labor if I bought the parts to repair. In retrospect, I think the repair job was half assed and that was the cause of the over-tight valve that drove the head work during this restoration. It also might be the cause of the bores being too big and the rod being bent.  

So our friends at RPM got back to me and shared a few amazing pieces of information.
1. The piston / bore clearance was .007" (4x bigger than the max allowed of .002)
2. The wear on piston #1 confirmed that the rod is bent (holy cow, Randy and Roger are AWEOME)
3. The reason the rings didn't fit is that it's actually a 1219 kit with stock sleeves, rather than a 1250 as I am pretty sure the shop told me they were installing back in the day

The repair options were
1. Go with an RPM 1250 kit and use all new pistons and cylinders OR re-sleeve the existing block with OEM sleeves and re-bore them to fit the existing pistons, then install new rings
2. For the bent rod, put 4 new high performance rods in or get some used rods and have the big end bearing re-ground to remove any egg shaping.

For this restoration project, my priorities on decision making on repairs are in this order:  a) do it right for safety & reliability b) re-use original parts as much as possible for posterity and c) choose the lowest cost option (rather than high performance).

So, that means I'll have RPM put new OEM sleeves in and re-use the 1219 pistons. I found 4 used rods from an '86 on ebay for $20 shipped, I had those sent straight to RPM, who will make sure they are straight and re-size the big end bearings to remove any egg shaping that occurs on OEM rods. RPM is also starting work on re-sleeving the jugs. Roger even said that they are able to shave the piston crowns down slightly to lower the compression back to near OEM compression levels so that I can run pump gas safely.  I'll say it again, this project COULD NOT HAPPEN without Randy and Roger at RPM. I am so impressed with them that I just cant say enough good about them.

Final picture today is the engine cases split so that I can install the refurbished rods and new crank journal bearings while I have it apart.

Happy weekend everyone.

Brian Peterson
1987 FJ1200


I found a couple of old pictures relevant to the day I broke down in Mack, Co

The Gas station in Mack, CO where I was stranded after the breakdown. (taken in 2000)

August 1996 - My wife (girlfriend at the time) when she was rescuing the FJ and me.  
Brian Peterson
1987 FJ1200


You can be assured it will run as well as it'll look too!

Nice job keeping the project rolling over time  :drinks:


Quote from: fj1289 on November 19, 2022, 02:36:09 PM
You can be assured it will run as well as it'll look too!

Nice job keeping the project rolling over time  :drinks:

I agree, and thank you!
Brian Peterson
1987 FJ1200


It's been a while since my last update. In the winter of 2023, RPM returned my cylinders with new 1mm over sleeves, some new rings, and refurbished rods.
I was able to soda blast all the engine cases and Cerakote them in my DIY oven.

Here are a few pics of the painting process. Note the diy paint booth and oven! It turned out really well.

Then I assembled the crankcase. Then the project sat for about a year.
I spent that time doing a lot of adventure riding on other bikes and playing with other hobbies.
As you can see here, my grandson got accustomed to making motorcycle sounds in the empty FJ frame.

I just got rolling on the project again in Jan 2024. I put the top end together and installed the engine in the frame.
I took this time to replace a bunch of junky connectors on the wiring harness and fix some crappy butt splices etc.
I also freshened up the carbs again, making sure everything was squeaky clean.

Today was run day - she fired up and after fixing a few small oil leaks etc, she settled down into a nice idle and ran smoothly.
Here are a couple of quick vids of it running and carbs sync.

Now it's time for body paint. Just doing the last bit of sanding on the tank, and I should be able to get the painting done over the next couple of weeks.
Hopefully this girl will be ready for the 2024 season in time for the warmer weather.

Brian Peterson
1987 FJ1200


Thought I would add a little extra detail about a fix I made to the carb enrichener (choke) plungers. Not sure if anyone else has or had this issue.
After 64k miles the choke rod that runs horizontally through all 4 carbs wore the hole in the carb bodies into an egg shape

This allowed the rod to rattling around, wearing out the $50/ea enrichener plungers and an unacceptable rate.

To fix this, I bought a long 6mm drill bit ( and some brass tubing 5mm ID and 6MM OD (
I ran the drill through all 4 carbs, then inserted 1" wide sections of the brass rod into the now 6mm holes. One of the carbs was worn enough that it required a little JB Weld to hold the brass insert tight.

Now things are nice and snug. Hopfully this will slow/stop the wear on the plungers.

TBH, they may a little too snug actually, I think I may add an additional return spring on the end of the rod or on the choke cable to push the enricheners fully closed when the cable is released. I'll let you know how that works out.
Brian Peterson
1987 FJ1200