Project 2CV: It’s coming together!

EDIT – now with video! Scroll down

I’ve really been cracking on with the 2CV, thanks to a break in workload for the most part. With the engine absent, there was still plenty to be cracking on with. Electrics for a start. I got the loom fitted, dug out the battery and basked in the glow of a full set of working rear lights. Lovely!

Christmas lights!

Christmas lights!

The fog light will be joined by a reverse light at some point, but that might fall outside the scope of getting the car road legal. Will be handy for reversing on the driveway at night though…

You’ll also note that one rear wing has been fitted. This required drilling for the 5mm set screws that hold the leading edge of the wing in place. I did not enjoy the drilling bit, and unleashed Vactan and Bilt Hamber Dynax UB to try and keep rot from gaining a foothold here. I’ve put the old, glassfibre wings back on for now. Well, glassfibre doesn’t rot does it?

Speaking of wings, the front wings have now had a final topcoat and then a coat of sealer. I’ve received replacement headlamp bowls too, so they’re now undergoing a rattle-can transformation too. Now the wings have dried, I’m really pleased with the final finish. It’s far better than I could have hoped really.

2CV wing

Rattle cans have worked surprisingly well!

Not that everything has been going well. Refitting this brake bracket has proved a nightmare. It supports the brake master cylinder, and also the pedal box. Sadly, the profile doesn’t quite match the aftermarket bulkhead panels, so getting it to bolt down is proving tricky. I’ve opened up the holes a little, as it really isn’t far from fitting, just not close enough!

Annoyingly, this brake bracket won't fit. I hope to defeat it with cunning.

Annoyingly, this brake bracket won’t fit. I hope to defeat it with cunning.

Meanwhile, I’ve finally got the engine back! It proved an ideal way to test a Nissan Qashqai (full review coming soon), with the engine sitting very nicely in the boot, strapped down via the handy lashing points.

The engine on its return journey, aboard a Nissan Qashqai.

The engine on its return journey, aboard a Nissan Qashqai.

After a slight panic, when I realised I didn’t have any flywheel bolts, I managed to order some from ECAS 2CV Parts, just catching them before they finished for Christmas. Annoyingly, I’d been at ECAS buying more bits just the previous day. Oh well! They were able to sling them in an envelope with a speedo cable, that had been out of stock when I was there – another essential ingredient as the old one has fallen to pieces.

That allowed me to refit the flywheel, fit a brand new clutch and, after a second go at aligning the clutch, slot the engine home with the assistance of Rachel (she’s helped me do a few engine swaps now. She’s really quite good at it).

Then I had to refit the fuel system, connect up the engine electrics and I was ready to get the engine running! Only, it wouldn’t run. Pulling a spark plug revealed a lack of spark, so I spent a frustrating afternoon chasing the electricity. I checked and double-checked the wiring to my Vellerman transistorised ignition, even remaking a section of wiring in case that was at fault. I could see that the points were opening, but still no spark. I gave in and pulled the cooling fan off to access the points box. The gap was tight, so I opened it up, but still no spark. Ok. Maybe the Vellerman kit was at fault. Easy to check – I disconnected it and grabbed a spare points box (that handily had a condenser already connected up to it – you don’t use one with the Vellerman kit).

Now my spark plug was sparking away very merrily indeed! Time to make some noise.

I was very pleased with that. Sure, she was spluttering a bit, but then engines do like back pressure. And accurate ignition timing (I’d pretty much guessed). And the correct mixture. And fuel that isn’t months old…

Really coming together now!

Really coming together now!

Which brings us pretty much up to date. I’m still hoping to get her to an MOT station next week (I’ve found one open Wednesday to Friday), but there’s still quite a bit to do. The doors still need building up and fitting, as do the front wings and headlamp bar. Oh, and the bonnet. And the rest of the exhaust system. And the brake master cylinder (which means that sodding bracket, then bleeding the system). Oh, and I need to change most of the wheels. And fit shock absorbers. And the other rear wing. Still plenty to do then! Still, it’s an awful lot less than there was to do. Lovely.

Project 2CV: Paint and progress

I’ve finally had an entire weekend at home, with no magazine deadlines to worry about, no distractions (other than a Nissan Qashqai I’m currently testing – more on that soon) and plenty of work on the 2CV.

Paint has taken up a large part of the past three days. It’s a slow business, even when you do a poor rush job like I am. Friday was spent prepping the front wings, which mostly meant treating any rust, sanding the surface and getting one wing into primer.

First wing in zinc-rich primer.

First wing in zinc-rich primer.

I’ve used a zinc-rich primer, in the hope of keeping that nasty rust stuff at bay. I started with Halfords’ own brand stuff, but it’s very thin, has poor coverage and two tins were gone in no time. I then switched to Plasti-kote’s zinc-rich primer, and this was far better, with a much meatier spray straight from the rattle can.

I also put a few coats of primer on the headlamp bar. I have two spare bars, and one was declared not fit for reuse. A kindly friend is sending me a pair of headlamp bowls, as the originals were, unsurprisingly, rotten. Anyway, here’s the bar, complete with a totally inadequate layer of cardboard.

Spray away, over bar and driveway...

Spray away, over bar and driveway…

You may also note in that picture a small, rectangular piece. That’s the surround for the speedometer. I first primered that in white in about 2006, and never got around to putting a top coat on it. Maybe this time! Once I get some. In my confusion on Friday (I’m not very good at shops) I failed to buy any top coat…

I got some for the front wings though, and today has been about getting that onto the wings. It’s a satin red (I really like satin paint on cars) and slightly pinker than the factory Sunrise Red. It’s Plasti-kote again, and it also went on nicely – if not quite as nicely as the primer.

Using Plasti-kote satin red on the front wings.

Using Plasti-kote satin red on the front wings.

In total, I used about two and a half cans on the front wings. Not all surfaces needed painting I should point out. That was two coats per wing. I was forced to use gentle heat from a hairdryer to encourage drying, as it was hovering around zero last night, and lower than ten degrees centigrade today. Not ideal. Including waiting time, it’s taken three days to get the wings in paint. Bodywork is a slow business, even when you think you’re doing it quickly!

While waiting for the paint to dry, I set about a number of jobs on the 2CV itself. To help me wire up the fusebox, I need the fog light fitted and wired in. It’s one of few things that uses a fuse (the 2CV has an entire four fuses) and hopefully I can now crack on with getting the wiring completed.

I also refitted the rear number plate and adventure bar. I needed some visual progress! That inspired me to then refit one of the rear wings. I’ve been putting that job off as I was struggling to decide which wings to use. I’ve decided to use the glassfibre wings that were on the car pre-rebuild. They’re scruffy, but won’t rust! In time, I’ll paint them to match the fronts, but that’s not a ‘get it legal’ priority. Gosh, the visual difference is amazing though!

Coming together! Hoorah!

Coming together! Hoorah!

It’s amazing what bolting on a few parts can do. From this angle, she looks almost ready to drive away! Mind you, there’s clearly quite a lot still missing. The rearmost side windows are still in Bradford, so I’ll be collecting them (along with a few other things) next week. I’ll also be visiting ECAS 2CV Parts again, as there’s yet more bits to buy – including an exhaust system.

The body is getting much closer to completion though. Obviously, the doors still need fitting, and they still need building up too (no glass currently). The seats need fitting, and the flimsy excuse of a dashboard. That’s a few bolts and screws though. It won’t take long. Nor will the seatbelts, especially as I’ll probably only fit the fronts to get her legal. There are some minor issues to overcome with the rear – the clips that hold the seat in place are mullered (or rather, the rusty remnants of the old bolts are causing them to no longer function).

The engine is still a notable absentee, but plans have changed there. I just don’t have time to wait for it to be rebuilt so, seeing as it was running fine, it can wait. I’m collecting it on Wednesday. It needs a new clutch fitting to it (one of the spring finger bits has snapped off), but hopefully I can have it running by Christmas.

At the moment, the deadline of 8th Jan feels very possible. Let’s see how the next week goes…

Project 2CV: Slow going

Life has been conspiring against the 2CV project lately, with tinkering time very hard to find, the engine still away in Lancashire and then me smacking myself in the face with a minibus…

Yes, having split my head open on a Peugeot Boxer (sharper than you think), I’ve had a frustrating day on the sofa, not allowed to go near the 2CV until my head stopped bleeding.

So, not a lot has changed since my last report. However, a lot of thinking has been done. I’m still yet to decide what the paint scheme will actually be like. The body is now brilliantly white, but the front wings are mostly red with patches of grey primer, while the rear wings don’t really exist yet. Not sure I want to put the manky plastic ones back on, but maybe I will.

2CV door through roof

Elly during one of her many ‘dogeared’ phases. Solid body here, but scabby panels. Perfect!

One key thing I need to point out is that the finished car will NOT look immaculate. That has never been my intention. She has been nice once, but it was a surprisingly brief interlude in her 30-year history. Mostly, she’s looked a bit dogeared, and I like that. These days, 2CVs sadly seem to fall into just two categories for the most part – restored (or original) immaculate condition, or so knackered that they’ll seen be in restored, immaculate condition. I want to tread the tricky gap between the two. I don’t want ‘ratlook,’ because it seems silly to restore a car and then make it rusty again deliberately. But, I want a car that I’m not scared to use. One I’ll leave in a supermarket car park without worrying. One I will use every day if I want to.

So, I’ll be painting the wings myself. She may go red and white again, she may not. I may go complete ‘hippy art attack’ or I might not. I suspect she will be red and white, initially at least, because I’m reluctant to fart about with paint to the level that it delays the project. If I really am going to get her back on the road for 8th January, then I’ve got some serious work ahead of me.

Here’s hoping I make it.

Project 2CV: The build-up begins

Since the 2CV returned to my garage, I’ve not done a vast amount to it. Partly, that’s as intended – fresh paint is quite soft, and I thought it’d be better to leave it to cure for a bit longer before starting work. Secondly, I’ve just been really busy.

Before today, I’d managed to refit the vent flap and fit the door seals to the, er, doors. I also roped in some willing volunteers to help me lift the body off the chassis, so the proper chassis tape (a foam layer) could be added. Alan at Citwins didn’t have any in stock when I went to collect the body. No bother. With the body still nowhere near built-up again, it was easy to lift off and on again. It also gave an opportunity to soak the rear seat belt ‘saddle’ in anti-corrosion wax.

This morning, I could look forward to an entire day of nothing but working on the 2CV. I donned many jumpers and headed to the garage. Pretty much the first thing that needed to go in was the wiring loom. Even on a 2CV, it’s surprising how many wires there are!

Spaghetti, this morning.

Spaghetti, this morning.

Then it was time to refit the gearlever. This passes through a rubber grommet on the bulkhead. Getting that to go back was a bit of a challenge, and I had to seek advice from friendly 2CV folk. A soak in a pot of boiling water softened it up nicely, and then it went back with only gentle persuasion from a flat-bladed screwdriver.

Doesn't look like it'll fit does it? It did in the end!

Doesn’t look like it’ll fit does it? It did in the end!

I’m not sure how it happened, but I found a spare gearlever in the back of the garage. That was handy, as I needed to rob a few parts from it. The end result is that I have my rifle-bolt gearchange back. Happy days.

After refitting loads of minor parts, that took absolutely ages, I decided I needed a larger sign of progress. So, now the wiring loom was in place, I refitted the rear lights.

Looking much more car-like.

Looking much more car-like.

I spent quite a lot of time cleaning up the rear lamp units, even taking them apart to wash out any muck. I have a brand new, large-font number plate to fit at some point, but will leave that for now.

Finally, it was in with the wiper motor so I could refit the wipers! It feels like she’s coming back to life now, even if she is still missing her engine and most of the bolt-on body panels. Still, it’s all progress!

Wipers refitted. Looking much less bare!

Wipers refitted. Looking much less bare!

I’ll keep plodding away, not forgetting to pump cavities full of wax as I go. I’d really like to be able to do Raid Tan Hill on January 8th, but there are some bigger jobs to sort out before then. I need to paint (and possibly decorate) the front wings, work out what I’m going to do about the rear wings (probably fit new ones) and strip and paint the headlamp bar and headlamp shells. Still quite a lot to do then, and that’s before collecting a few parts I forgot from Citwins, and getting the engine back!

Before I depart, do have a nose at my Patreon page. Here’s hoping I can push HubNut a bit harder in the New Year. Once the 2CV is finished, of course!

Project 2CV – body is back!

Yesterday was the day I’ve been waiting a long time for. Various distractions about paint, and Alan’s need to get a few more jobs out of the way meant it’s taken a while for Elly’s body to be painted. The welding was all finished back in June, but finding a big slot to prepare and paint the body has taken a while.

Firstly, the underside and the floors insider were treated with U-Pol Raptor. This is the stuff used for pick-up bed liners, but it is increasingly common to use it during car restorations. After all, the 2CV has a lot of bare, painted surfaces, and so the floors and inner rear wings have a tough time of it. The Raptor should protect the underside too, effectively acting like a stonechip. Outside, it has been left white, but Alan has covered it in a top coat inside to keep it the same colour as the bodyshell. U-Pol’s Sean Lewis came up to Bradford to demonstrate the process to Alan, though it seems it just sprays on much like any normal paint.

U-Pol Raptor gets applied to the 2CV's underside.

U-Pol Raptor gets applied to the 2CV’s underside.

Then there was a discussion about final paint finish. I’d wanted cellulose, as that’s what it would have been original. However, Alan talked me into giving two-pack another go. I wasn’t very happy with the two-pack used last time, as it seemed to crack very easily on every body seam. Given how flimsy a 2CV bodyshell is, I thought that perhaps this was not the ideal paint.

However, I’ve been talked into giving it another go, so we’ll see how that stacks up long term. One downside is that the car was only painted on Friday, so I really need to wait a few more days for it to harden properly. I should point out, this isn’t the normal way of doing things. Alan would far prefer to let the paint harden, then spend several days giving it a good polish. I’m going to have to do that part myself, as part of my need to keep costs down.

Anyway, to the journey itself. I managed to borrow a lovely car trailer from a friend, so the RAV was tasked with firstly dragging the chassis up to Bradford and Citwins HQ. I must say, the RAV really did surprise me, taking the task in its stride. I mean sure, it struggled a bit up the M62 (the highest motorway summit in the UK), but that only meant dropping to fourth gear. I’d estimate the total weight to have been something like 1200kg hanging off the back of it, so it did really well (towing capacity 1500kg). It certainly felt very stable at all times, so much for looks! I will concede that the RAV doesn’t look up to it at all, with a mere 88″ (2200mm) wheelbase, you’d expect it to be horribly unstable. That said, a Land Rover 90 only has another four inches of wheelbase, and that can tow more than twice as much…

I set off, enjoying the RAV’s abilities, and only slightly infuriated by some pillock in a Range Rover Sport, who pulled straight out in front of me while I was doing my legal top speed of 50mph. Thankfully, the trailer sports rather good brakes. I was not amused. The cockwomble then proceeded to faff about in front of me before making a last-minute decision to turn right. Cheers mate!

If he's really a spy, he's a rubbish one.

If he’s really a spy, he’s a rubbish one.

The route up to Bradford became problematic around Llangollen, because the A483 was closed for a section. This diverted everyone down a small road, with parked cars blocking the flow. I lost over half an hour here. Once past that, the journey was fine though, and I arrived at Citwins at around 2pm, with a brief stop for a fantastic chicken burger at Keelham Farm Shop.  I shall miss those chicken burgers!

A pause at Keelham Farm Shop, Thornton-le-Dale. Recommended!

A pause at Keelham Farm Shop, Thornton-le-Dale. Recommended!

On arrival, we pulled the chassis off the trailer, and then pulled the engine out. That’s going to Ernie Larton for a rebuild, which should extract a few more horses from it. We spotted a missing clutch finger, so it’ll be having a new clutch too. I bought this engine in 1999 out of a scrapyard, and fitted it to my Acadiane at the time (on my 21st birthday!). When the Acad came off the road later that year, the engine found itself in my aunt’s shed for a decade. I’ve no idea what state the clutch is in really, but the engine has done many thousands of miles in the 2CV now with no bother.

With that done, it was time to get the bodyshell ready. That largely meant fitting the doors, which meant fitting the door furniture. With such a tiny tow car, I had no room in the RAV for all of these panels, so the doors were fitted (sans seals) and the bonnet carefully stashed inside the body. Alan also kindly fitted the windscreen for me. Again, the easiest way to transport it was fitted in place. I just then hoped I didn’t kick up any stones on the way back…

Windscreen safely fitted.

Windscreen safely fitted.

Dropping the body onto the chassis was a nice moment. I had something looking like a 2CV again! With that done, and the RAV filled with what 2CV bits I could get into it (vent panels, bumpers and quite a bit of glass), we could roll the body/chassis onto the trailer, strap it down and I could finally head home. Well, after a cup of tea. It was gone five by now, no point in rushing into rush hour traffic.

Getting ready to lift the body.

Getting ready to lift the body.

The tea strategy worked well. I grabbed a sausage roll at the farm shop (too late for cooked food sadly) and headed home, encountering very little traffic. Apart from poor lane discipline (all the more frustrating when you cannot use the third lane), the motorway section was pretty stress free too. Fog threatened to make life annoying once back onto Welsh roads, but it mostly cleared.

By Welshpool, I needed to fill up again. This is a thirsty little tow car! I calculated that it was doing about 24mpg towing, which perhaps isn’t that bad. It was certainly having to work hard on hills, but it never really felt like it was struggling. I also grabbed some much-needed fruit. Healthy eating can be a struggle on the road.

Welshpool achieved.

Welshpool achieved.

The final hour was hard going, but I finally arrived home just after 10pm, a mere 11 hours after I’d set off. I barely managed to stagger into the house, so the 2CV had to spend the night on the trailer. It was removed this morning and installed in the garage, where I set about trying to dry it off with a dry microfibre cloth. I won’t be rushing to get it back on the road though. The engine is now many miles away, and the paint needs a chance to harden up a bit. Rushing makes one rather clumsy, so I’ll take my time. Not too much though, as Elly should be on display at the NEC Restoration Show in March. Cannot wait!

Many, MANY thanks to all those who’ve contributed to this project so far, whether actual donations, parts, advice or just the support from knowing people are actually interested! Great to meet complete strangers at shows who ask how the car is coming along. I appreciate every bit of it. I’m still planning how to say thank you to everyone, but first of all, I need to get it finished!

Project 2CV: Patience…

A couple of weeks ago, I saw Elly’s bodyshell, and it was good.

2cv refurbished body

It’s all metal again!

I’m staggered by the good work Alan has done. All that rotten metal is gone and around £1100-worth of panels have been welded in. Factoring in labour, even at a very friendly rate, total expenditure is already running at considerably more than £2000. The scary thing is, this still doesn’t leave me with a finished car! There’s still a lot to do.

In fact, progress will be slowing for a considerable while, as I want the bodyshell painted in cellulose, as per the original, rather than two pack. Had I opted for two pack, then the body could have been finished and painted this week. It isn’t though. It’ll take longer to get a ‘window’ for a cellulose session, and there are quite a few other things to sort out as well.

Primarily, that’s the doors and bonnet. The original bonnet has been deemed scrap, but Alan has sourced a better one. That’ll still need some fettling no doubt, but the doors definitely need some work. So, things are not yet really ready for paint at all. I’m aiming to paint the red bits myself to keep the costs down.

Thankfully, recent editorial work means I’ve been able to add considerably to the project fund myself. I’ve also had some parts donated – thanks John Stenhouse for donating a set of good wheels and tyres. That’s saved me a good £400. There’s still a long way to go though, even if the running gear generally seems good. Plus, my new tow car, the RAV4, has had a timing belt tensioner go down – thankfully it hasn’t taken the timing belt with it, but it has put a dent in my funds.

That’s about it for now. Alan is so busy, and I’m such a pain, that progress will be slow. He has a great many restoration projects to get sorted, some with much more urgent deadlines than mine. I’m certainly not going to have Elly on the road before the end of the summer, so I’m afraid you’ll all have to sit back and wait like I am. At the start of this year, I didn’t think the restoration was going to happen at all, so I’ve no complaints about waiting a bit longer. All I need to do is resist buying something else in the interim. Er…