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1924 Fracis Barnett “Zarabout”

We were extremely pleased to have been have involved recently in a very rewarding project to restore an old Francis Barnett “Zarabout”.

The story behind this is presented below.

The machine “as found”

The early history of this machine is not known until it appeared at the auction of the collection of the late restorer and collector Bill Fruin in 1984. Bill hadn’t got round to restoring the bike and it was missing many parts. An acquaintance bought the bike at the auction and  stored it in his loft untouched for 30 years until the present owner bought it in 2014.

Initial research revealed that it was an example of one of the first and most basic models of ‘Built like a Bridge’ Francis Barnet’s, which were introduced in October 1923.

This machine has been dated as early 1924. It has a 147cc Villiers two-stroke engine and an Albion two-speed hand change gearbox with no clutch or kick start.

The picture of the bike ‘as found’  shows the extent of the missing parts, most of which had to be made, copying those of an original machine. Some parts were made by modifying pattern parts such as the mudguards and saddle.

The machine with new parts painted in red oxide./

The bike had obviously been subjected to rough treatment in the past, the wheels were buckled and the rims had flats in places and were dented. The obvious choice was to rebuild the wheels using new beaded edge rims but these were not available in the original narrow section, so the wheels were dismantled by the owner and the existing rims straightened using a variety of methods. The wheels were loosely reassembled using a home-made wheel building jig then taken to WheelwiseEngineering for truing up and the fitting of the rear wheel drive belt rim. The rear wheel needed new spokes to ensure a safe result.


The second picture shows the bike in 2017 with its new parts painted in red oxide BondaPrimer, after which the machine was dismantled for final painting and assembly by the owner.

The final picture shows the finished machine.

The finished product!