Project Elly: Cured? Not entirely, no

Suspicion for Elly the 2CV’s misfire was being laid at the condenser by me, and at the pointed ends of the coil(s) by others. I certainly didn’t consider either of my coils likely to be reliable. I think one is off the Dyane I owned last year and certainly ancient. I suspect my only good coil went with the Dyane when it was sold…

But, I was eager to get Elly at least back onto points-assisted ignition, as that’d be a good baseline. So, I grabbed my broken Velleman unit and drove a few miles to my mate Dave’s house.

A successful drive! Hoorah!

A successful drive! Hoorah!

She made it with just one misfire, though she didn’t feel entirely happy. Still, as far as recent journeys go, this one was pretty good! That’s Dave’s 306 in the background. He’s currently doing a rear axle swap. He has not been lucky with the weather…

Dave got his multimeter out instead, and quickly diagnosed a faulty transistor. I’m not surprised. I suspect I got a connection wrong at some point, which it didn’t like. Dave’s a handy person to know though, because, not only is he good with electronics, but he also employs Velleman units on various of his motor vehicles – including an Austin A35 van and a Freight-Rover camper. One of his many units was raided for a transistor. It was soldered into place, and I returned home a happy chappy. I owe Dave a beer. That’s a cheap fix, and certainly much cheaper than the £135 I’d have to pay for a full electronic ignition.

I went straight to the garage when I got home, and quickly set about fitting the kit. This involved making up some new sections of wire. I didn’t want to cut off existing connections, because it’s always handy to be able to go back to basic points and condenser if required. It didn’t take long to fit, and I thought I might as well carry out a rather late service while I was at it. I didn’t want to do it before now, as I wanted  the old oil to circulate properly before I dropped it out.

While it was draining, I removed the cooling fan so I could disconnect the condenser. I was happy to discover that I could slot in a screwdriver to do this without having to remove the points box that it bolts to. That means I didn’t have to disturb the ignition timing. The fan was refitted, and then I discovered that I didn’t have any engine oil of the correct grade, so had a hasty trip into town in the ZX before the shops shut. Charlies sells Comma 10w40 semi-synth for £12.49 for five litres. That’d do nicely.

This'll probably be ok.

This’ll probably be ok.

Once back home, I put on a new oil filter, new air filter (the old one had been choked by engine oil thanks to the old breather – now replaced) and fitted new spark plugs. She fired very merrily into life, just like how I remember – almost running before you’ve hit the starter. I jumped in to go for a test drive, but only one headlamp was working. I’d disturbed the wiring earlier, so had a bit of fault-finding to do. Then, I noticed that the wipers were rather slow. Yup, I’d forgotten to hook the alternator belt onto the fan when refitting it. DOH!

So, back off with the fan grille and the fan, hook the belt on and refit everything. Now I could finally have a test drive! She went very nicely indeed. I was very happy.

Yay! A successful test drive! Sort of...

Yay! A successful test drive! Sort of…

My joy was short lived. On the way home, the wipers went all slow again. With no tools, I could only push gently on home, but I knew what had happened. The fan must have fallen off. I obviously hadn’t tightened up the bolt sufficiently in all that frantic rushing. There’s a lesson here somewhere…

I gently pushed on, glad of the new 20mph speed limit in parts of the village, and turned the engine off entirely as soon as I was able. That’s the good thing about a 2CV. You don’t need a running engine to power things like steering and brakes. No problem!

Sure enough, the fan was not rotating. I refitted it, making sure it was actually tight this time, and then she wouldn’t restart. I assumed she was too hot, but there was not so much as a splutter. A quick check suggested there was indeed a spark at the plugs, but no joy.

An unhappy, and hot 2CV.

An unhappy, and hot 2CV.

Usually, if you try and start a 2CV and it doesn’t fire, you see petrol seep out of the bottom of the carburettor (it’s designed to do this, but can alarm people!). I could see nothing. I suspected a bit of vapour lock going on, so left her to cool down a bit longer. Then, she did fire into life at last! Phew.

The she started chugging like she had done during the MOT, so I changed the coil again. All is now well, but it’s very obvious that a new coil will have to be purchased. I’ll be on the phone to ECAS 2CV Parts in the morning, to order a resin-filled one. These look exactly the same, but the resin should do a better job of keeping it cool than the old oil-filled items.

Maybe then I’ll have a reliable 2CV again! We’re definitely getting there. For now, this project will go a bit quiet. There’s an MG GS arriving next week for review, and an issue of Classic Jaguar to get nailed together. Do let me know your thoughts on progress so far though – leave a comment below and don’t forget to Follow the HubNut blog if you like. Then you’ll get an alert every time I post something new. I’m reviewing my use of Facebook at the moment, so HubNut is the one place you’ll definitely get the latest news! Thanks, as ever, for your support.

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