Dyane: The zero budget project

I’ve been massively busy with work, community bus stuff and trying to keep the Dyane working for longer than five minutes. It has been a frustrating week or two. I’ll try to recap without getting too waffly.

Intermotor condensers are rubbish. This one lasted barely 5 miles.

Intermotor condensers are rubbish. This one lasted barely 5 miles.

Ever since I collected the Dyane, it’s had an occasional tendency to ‘lose’ tickover. It starts chugging and struggling and makes town driving nightmarish. The first thing to do was to pinch the known good coil from the 2CV. This made no difference. I then set about replacing fuel lines – I could see that the front ones had degraded really quite badly, and suspected the same might be true on the section above the fuel tank. You have to drop the tank to replace this.

This led to a rare moment on this project. I actually had to buy something. There’s no point fitting second hand fuel pipes. A few quid later, I had some new pipe. The front pipework was no bother, and I took the opportunity to fit an in-line filter. Dropping the tank was a right pain, as the underside was caked in mud. A lot of this went in my eyes. Even more went in my hair and beard.

All the old pipe was degrading, but I doubt it was actually enough to cause any running issues. Sure enough, no difference. So, I set about changing the points and condenser. I have loads of old ones. I was planning to take the Dyane to Cholmondeley Castle, but ran out of time. I’d got stuck because using a timing light to set the static ignition timing, the light wouldn’t go out!

While I was away, a friend gave me a fresh set of points and a condenser. These were Intermotor items and the condenser failed after just a few miles. I had to push the car home. Thankfully not far! When refitting an old condenser, I discovered that the connection to the point box was really not very good. That was why I couldn’t get the timing light to go out. I fitted the old condenser, tweaked that connector and reset the ignition timing. Result! She runs beautifully again.

This project is brought to you by almost no budget at all.

This project is brought to you by almost no budget at all.

Throughout this project, I have been raiding my poor 2CV and my parts stash for components. There’s a simple reason for that. I have no budget! I cannot simply throw money at the car, something I think some people struggle to comprehend. “Just fit electronic ignition,” they say – ignoring the fact that buying one would cost me £139 plus delivery. I am therefore hugely grateful to the chap in 2CVGB who sent me a Boyer-Brandsen points-assisted ignition box. I have a similar set-up on the 2CV and it is BRILLIANT. These systems do away with the need for troublesome condensers, and also reduce the voltage going through the points. That means they can last tens of thousands of miles – as the ones in my 2CV have. But you get better starting and cleaner running, just as you do with expensive electronic ignition. I can’t wait to fit it. Until then, I’ll have to keep a spare condenser and tools close to hand.

Having no budget does force you to be resourceful but it is also quite rewarding. I have done LOADS of work to gently improve the Dyane, but it has cost me almost nothing. I even had service items and oil on the shelf (bought in bulk for cost savings). When you live a low-income lifestyle, the luxury of just replacing stuff with new doesn’t exist. It’s a mindset that more people should explore. Naturally, I would prefer to have fitted four brand new dampers, but the truth is that the car now drives much better with just one dodgy old one replaced by a better one stolen from my 2CV. The wheels and tyres were pinched from the 2CV. Low budget doesn’t mean a total disregard for personal safety – the tyres on the Dyane still had tread, but were obviously perished.

For now, the Dyane remains a fixer-upper on the cheap. I think I might like it all the more because of that.

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