2CV fettling moves up a gear

With my 2CV Mojo fully reignited, there has been a flurry of recent work. At the 2CVGB National, I was forced to undertake some exhaust repairs and an examination of the tyres when I got home revealed further issues. Three tyres were borderline illegal and the remaining one was close. That’s pretty serious wear given that one pair of tyres was fitted new two or three years ago, while the other set was probably getting on for 40,000 miles and something like six years. Badly worn inner edges up front suggest a tracking issue, but it must also be pointed out that I do drive my poor 2CV rather briskly. I think the oldest pair of tyres probably saw action at the Haynes Motor Museum test track too.

So, first step – new tyres. I considered Michelins, but cashflow concerns soon put paid to that idea. In my experience, Michelins don’t seem to last all that long compared to cheaper tyres. Toyo offer a thoroughly decent budget option, with ECAS 2CV Parts selling a set of four for just £136.84 plus delivery. They’re rated at only E for wet weather grip, and I must admit that as the tread wore, understeer did begin to creep in when the road surface was damp. They’ll have to do for now though. They’re superb in the dry and a lot cheaper than the £89-each Michelins (125 or 135 – I prefer the latter).

Moduron Hafod Garage fitted the tyres

Moduron Hafod Garage fitted the tyres

While the chaps at my local garage fitted the tyres, I was able to actually put some air in the spare, which was comprehensively flat. It’s very difficult to balance 2CV wheels, as there is no centre hole, but in my experience, balancing is not needed with a 2CV. The tracking remains on the To Do list. Seized adjusters mean that job will not be fun, and angle-grinder action may be needed!

With new tyres fitted, we then drove to Wiltshire and back for a family gathering and a light spot of work research on the way. The only real issue on the trip was that my dear lady wife complained about the sagging front bench seat. I remedied that this week by swapping in a pair of original-type front seats that have been living in the loft for some years.

Bench gone, back to single front seats

Bench gone, back to single front seats

It’s amazing what a difference they make! I now sit a good few inches higher up, with a much better posture. The only downsides are that the near-useless sun visor gets in the way, as does the interior mirror. I did try removing rubber rings – the suspension medium for the seats – but it hasn’t helped much. I’ll see how I get on with them. A popular option is to fit Citroen BX front seats, but these are no longer so plentiful, and they do almost entirely remove rear leg space – though I don’t very often have passengers.

With new seats in place, I had a quick-ish 64-mile drive to my ‘local’ 2CV specialist – Sparrow Automotive. Pete was good enough to give me a few instructions but leave me to crack on with the work myself. This pleased me very much – I’m a journalist who actually does like to get his hands dirty, even if he’s not hugely competent with spanners!

Pete Sparrow instructs Ian on track rod end removal

Pete Sparrow instructs Ian on track rod end removal

Pete also let me use his tools, which is good. One of the reasons I’d made the journey was that I didn’t own the special tool I needed to remove the track rod end. Nor do I own a two-post lift, which really does make life easier! It was a marvellous day. I had the editor of the Citroen Car Club magazine taking photos for me, the current 2CV Racing Club UK champion instructing me and the creator of the 4×4 2CV chassis just happened to be visiting. Louis Barbour, the man behind the 4×4 2CV, is someone I’ve known of for many, many years, but this was the first time we really, properly met. Given he now lives in Croatia, which was quite a chance and we all had a good natter over lunch and I somehow now have an idea lodged in my head for fitting my 2CV with a Quaife limited slip differential. Hmmm.

I must say, I had a thoroughly marvellous time. It was great to have nice folk with tons of knowledge to hand, as well as access to fabulous tools and lift equipment. Rather different to scrabbling around on my driveway and having to dash indoors to use the internet to find a solution to whatever problem I’ve found!

Pulling the track rod ends apart was very easy really. There’s a short arm on each hub on top of which is a ball – this is the track rod arm. This sits in a housing on the end of the track rod – which attaches to the steering rack at its other end. Naturally, the ball wears with time. I know one track rod end was replaced on this car at some point, but I’ve a feeling it was at least 60,000 miles ago. Pete judged the ball and the cups it sits within to be within tolerance, so everything was cleaned well, greased up and reassembled. When retightening the threaded nut, the rule of thumb is to nip it right up, then back off half a turn – or thereabouts as you need to line up holes for a split pin. I also fitted 2CVGB SPOG castle nuts that have a grease nipple fitted (also available from ECAS). Hopefully this will extend the life of the £65+ track rod arms. New gaiters were also fitted, along with new split pins. A warning here – if the track rod ball has worn too much, you can’t simply adjust it. Doing so, when the ball has become oval, can create forces sufficient to snap the ball off the arm completely, with disastrous results. It must be possible to operate the steering with no tight spots during its travel.

I did mention the tracking, but it was decided to order up new track rod adjusters before commencing on that work. It’s likely that the old ones – which haven’t been touched for many years – are entirely seized and will need to be cut off. This work will take place once new adjusters have arrived.

While this work was going on, a split driveshaft gaiter was found, and all the securing clips were replaced due to corrosion. On the drive home, the slight rattle I’d noticed in the steering had gone. Brilliant. It would have been easy to write off such a slight wobble as a wheel balance issue, but 2CVs aren’t like normal cars. In fact, working on the car really did highlight how truly great the engineering is. It’s engineering you can really feel.

I’ve clocked up almost 400 miles in the 2CV in just four days now. Aside from needing earplugs due to the sheer noise, the 2CV has reminded me that it’ll quite happily cover that sort of mileage. The only problem is with my hands. Gripping that skinny steering wheel, on over 400 miles of largely-twisting roads, has left the joints in my fingers quite sore! I may need to consider upgrading to the single-spoke steering wheel fitted to 2CV Clubs and Charlestons. It has a thicker rim, as well as looking wonderfully Citroen-ish!

mid-Wales Elan Valley

An Elan Valley view on the drive home. Water levels are low!

Naturally, the perilous state of my 2CV’s bodywork was discussed during my specialist visit. At the moment, I’ve decided I can make no plans about this car’s future, other than sticking to my plan to get her to 200,000 miles before the MOT runs out in April. With the mileage now at almost 198,000, that shouldn’t be too tricky.

What do you reckon?

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