On Wednesday 4th January 2017, a major milestone was achieved. Elly the 2CV was finished! Well, close enough. It was the point that I declared her ready to face an MOT – which was duly booked, for the 6th, or today in other words.
The offside rear wing was sourced from my friend Joey, and is a proper, steel one. I will repaint it to match the front wing at some point. Honest. Also, Elly currently lacks the Dolly side stripes. I have some arty plans for those. Bear with me. All very fitting in a way, because, nine years ago, Elly’s first regeneration had been completed, and we drove her to Aberystwyth as part of the celebrations, also lacking side stripes. So, she is used to marking her rebirth on the scenic streets of Ceredigion.
Odd to think that the above photo was taken in the car park of what is now our local supermarket! Obviously, we had no idea that we’d be living here four and a half years later.
Anyway, I obviously woke up this morning full of excitement. That excitement took a battering, due to the combined efforts of the Welsh weather (very, very Welsh today, ie wet) and Elly having a battery low on charge. It hasn’t yet been charged for long enough to be entirely healthy. I’m hoping it recovers… I roped in my tiny jump back, and life was restored. To the MOT centre!
The drive there was joyous, even in the rain. Water poured down the dashboard (perhaps I should have used sealant on the vent flap) just like old times. I was glad I chose to wear waterproof boots. Crazy lean angles were acheived, and the brakes given a hard time to scrub them up ready for the brake rollers. There was the delicious smell of hot engine parts covered in greasy fingerprints. Yum. However, the MOT station was reached with no trouble.
I had to wait a bit, which did nothing to my nerves, while a Suzuki had an oil change. With that done, it was Elly’s turn. She started nicely, and I was waved onto the ramp. The tester logged her details onto the computer, checked the seats and seatbelt security, started the engine (again, first time) and checked the operation of various lamps. I was pleased that every single one behaved. As he got out to carry out further checks, she began to sound like she was bogging down. I gave the throttle a blip, which killed the engine entirely. Oh well. You don’t need the engine running to check the underside. I risked headlamps with no engine long enough to adjust the headlamps on while I had access to a beam pattern thingy machine.
Play was detected in both kingpins, which is pretty much standard fare. There’s always play, but it wasn’t alarming, so they became advisory items.
With the ramp checks complete, the lads pushed me outside where I was able to bump start the reluctant engine. It just wasn’t going to go on the key. She fired into life and was able to perform the brake tests to the required standard, but then she conked out before the emissions test. Out she was pushed again! I brought her back in, the probe went up the exhaust, a pass was achieved, and then she conked out yet again. Jeepers.
I paid, received my lovely new certificate (a joy to behold), pushed her back outside myself, bump started her myself (there’s a handy hill outside the test centre) and drove back home, slightly nervously. The air cleaner blew out on the steep hill back to my village. I could see it was going to be one of those days. I pulled over, screwed it back in and continued.
As I reached my village, I decided that maybe a full tank of fresh fuel was a good idea. So, instead of turning left towards my house, I turned right. She conked out immediately. I was starting to think that she’d become too fond of her cosy garage! This ‘driving in the rain and then being poked at’ business clearly wasn’t on.
Happily, I was pointing downhill, so I let the speed build up and attempted a bump start. She merrily trundled down the hill, in gear, with no firing at all. Ok. This was becoming an issue. Eventually, just before I ran out of gravity, she caught. Hoorah! I decided to spin the car around in a handy junction and limp home. That manoeuvre was not completed. Drat.
This wasn’t going to plan at all, so I called home. Rachel kindly agreed to try and find a spare coil in the messy world of my garage and bring it down to the hotel, which is about quarter of a mile from our house. She turned up at the same time as some German tourists, who were most curious. One leaned over to watch me fit the new coil. This did the trick. Ignition! We closed the bonnet, tried not to run over any tourists and drove home.
So, Elly is now sat back in the garage once more. I have a few theories about what is wrong.
- The ignition timing may not be spot on. I retarded it by a tooth, as I thought that’s what I’d historically had to do to avoid pinking (modern fuels burn hotter and pinking can be an issue). Thinking about it, that was the Dyane that had the pinking issue, as it has higher compression pistons and hasn’t been rejetted for modern fuels. I’m pretty sure Elly has actually. My fail. She’s too retarded.
- Coils. Old coils overheat and stop generating a good spark. I’ve have three coils of mixed age and condition, and I know nothing about any of them! One failed during pre-test preparations, so maybe I should actually buy a good one.
- Spark plugs. These weren’t changed as I didn’t think I had any. As it happens, I do! I found them last night but didn’t have time to fit them before the test.
However, having got home at last, I then had to dash out to a business meeting. That took up three hours of my afternoon, and I was shattered after a lengthy drive home in the dark and the rain (at least I was in the Honda, so my feet stayed dry). The thought of getting up tomorrow, servicing the 2CV and then driving it to Yorkshire (only to drive even further north on Sunday before then driving back home) does not fill me with joyous anticipation.
Which means I’ve abandoned my plan to take part in Raid Tan Hill, organised by 2CVGB local group Les Hiboux. It’s nine years since Elly last did this event, and I did think it’d be a nice way to celebrate her return to the road. It still would be, if I had confidence in Elly’s reliability. I don’t though, so I think I’ll stay at home, treat her to a full service (I’ve found my oil filters as well!) and perhaps have a less-pressured trip out locally instead. I can drive where I like in my 2CV now she’s road legal again! There are other ways to celebrate this wonderful achievement, so stay tuned!