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…

2CV angle grinder

Project 2CV: Chop Chop!

I’m just back home after a remarkably enjoyable few days on the road. I’ll tell you about the other stuff some other time, but as many of you have chucked money into my project fund, it seems only right to first focus on the 2CV. So here goes!

I got to Citwins in Bradford at about quarter to ten this morning. Not as early as I’d planned, as I managed to end up at Alan’s house after entering the wrong postcode! Clearly, my brain was not firing on all cylinders on this sunny Monday morning.

Tea was consumed, and we looked at Elly’s naked body and talked through the plan. Which was mostly for Alan to get an angle grinder out and start chopping. A few minutes later, that’s exactly what he started doing after removing the windscreen and rear side glass.

2CV angle grinder

Alan starts chopping out the rot.

Note the trolley that the bodyshell is resting on. This is a jig that allows Alan to line up all the bolt holes. A bolt-in frame is holding up the front bulkhead here, which allows him to do some serious chopping. So serious in fact that a short time later, this happened!

2CV chopped up

Eek! Floors and lower bulkhead chopped out in one piece.

Yes, that’s the entire floor, sills, lower bulkhead and chunks of the C posts all off in one piece. A lot of rotten bodywork. Alan was hampered by previous welding work carried out by my mate Dave. Never let it be said that Dave’s welds aren’t solid! Though I was sad to see bits of our old washing machine heading for the scrap bin. It amused me to have the dead machine living on in my 2CV.

After this, Alan noticed a problem with what remained of the bulkhead. It was four layers in places, where new metal had been let in over the old metal. This would be a right pain to weld to. The decision was made to chop even more bulkhead out. At this point, Alan had to dash off for more repair panels. The rear seat box was also in worse shape than predicted. Nearly all of it would need replacing.

After he returned, and more tea was consumed, more prep work was undertaken. The lower bulkhead was chopped out and the old seat box removed. Alan then started to fit the jig he uses to put the A, B and C posts in the correct position. This allows fitment of new sills in a manner which hopefully allows the doors to close correctly. The person who previously fitted the sills, not a 2CVer, didn’t have such a jig. Which is probably why I could get my hand out of the bottom of the passenger door, even when it was closed…

I went to fetch lunch in the meantime, and when I got back, new metal had been installed!

2cv c post

New C post section tacked in. Note jig (red) to hold the body in shape.

I was astonished. This had gone from a teardown to a restoration in seemingly no time at all. There is still more rot to be chopped out – notably the inner rear wings, boot floor, rear light panel and windscreen panel. There are other spots of localised rot to sort out too. That work can take place once the structure is more solid again.

With the new A and C posts tacked into place, the sills could then follow. After that, the lower bulkhead (a larger piece than first intended), floors and rear seat box could follow. Suddenly, it looked rather more like a solid 2CV shell again!

2cv refurbished bodyshell

Looking better! Panels tacked and clamped into place.

How utterly fantastic. Sure, there’s still a lot of work to do, but I had to leave just after the above photo was taken, and that was at 3pm. It seemed a pretty decent showing for five hours of work, especially as parts-fetching took up a good half an hour, and we had a (very) brief pause for lunch too.

We are so fortunate with 2CVs that so many aftermarket panels are available. Very little has to be constructed from scratch and after many years of production, a lot of these panels seem to fit pretty well. That wasn’t always the case! It saves huge amounts of time, though the panel bill alone for this restoration is going to be over £1400 I suspect. I’ve already spent £1260 of the project fund, which leaves a rather perilous £860 for labour. I suspect this will not be enough by quite some way. Restoration is an expensive business!

However, your support has made this happen. I’m hugely grateful for that. Even with my improved finances of late, this project just would not be possible. As it stands, there’s now a really good chance of me getting Elly back on the road in time for mine and Rachel’s tenth wedding anniversary in July. Obviously, the 2CV needs to be a key part of this, just as she was before. I’ve got my work cut out!

2CV wedding car

A very special day, almost ten years ago!

PS – If you’ve seen pics of me swanning about in a Jaguar XJS, I should point out that it isn’t mine! Don’t worry, Project Elly funds are for Project Elly only.

April fleet update

Right. I’ve been mega-busy, but I’d better do a fleet update. Here goes. First, the headline news. The Dyane has been sold! Though it hasn’t quite gone yet. It’s still in my garage and I’ll be using it for Drive It Day this coming Sunday. Once it has gone, at some point in the coming weeks, I’ll be moving the 2CV’s chassis back into the garage so I can check what it needs before the body is plonked back on top. Not that work on the body has started yet – some panels for it will be making their way to the restorer this weekend. I need to then find time to get up there to see some progress – that’s not going to be before I’ve got Classic Jaguar magazine to print.

Dyane will soon be off to London.

Dyane will soon be off to London.

The XM has been very busy, with many family and work visits carried out over the past few weeks. It has already clocked up 1000 miles this month, which is pretty impressive given that it has spent many days in the past few weeks not moving at all. It is an infuriating car at times. Like Saturday, when it locked me inside and Rachel and some friends outside. That wasn’t good. Also, trim rattles are annoying, it’s rubbish over potholes (like all ‘strut’ hydropneumatic Citroens), the clutch is too heavy, the gearchange too horrible. But I still seem to really like it for reasons that are impossible to explain.

The Nippa has very nearly clocked up 3000 miles since I last serviced it a year ago. Almost time to chuck a thimble-full of oil and a new filter at it. The interior plastics are utterly dreadful, the ride is appalling, it’s really, really noisy and so much fun to drive quickly.

Perodua Nippa at speed. Sort of.

Nippa still proving ideal for, er, nipping about the place.

Then there’s the caravan. I’ve been trying to get on top of any leaks and today jacked it up to make sure the brakes work. They do. At the end of the month, we’re actually going away in it to properly live the caravan dream. We’re meant to be away in it twice in June, though I think I’ve found a way to avoid having to lug it all the way back from the south of England only to have to take it back a couple of weeks later. It could be the future of caravanning. Simply leave it vaguely near where you’ll need it next time to avoid having to drag it home!

Oh, and there may be a new addition to the fleet next month. I think you’ll like it, but you’ll have to wait and see!

Project 2CV: Thinking about paint

Having once had Elly restored to ‘really very nice’ condition, there’s no way I’m doing it again. ‘Really very nice’ is too hard to maintain with a car I use so much, and for so many things. Like off-roading and rallying.

But, do I go the whole hog and ditch the red/white paint scheme that this car has had from new? I think I just might. In fact, given that I’m a bloody hippy, perhaps it’s about time I had a car that looked like a bloody hippy owned it. Psychedelic man!

After all, there was a time when LOTS of 2CVs looked just like this.

Cool man! Not enough 2CVs like this in modern times.

Cool man! Not enough 2CVs like this in modern times.

Just fabulous. And, should a panel get damaged, you haven’t got to worry about a paint match have you? As the Dyane has proved, there’s a lot to be said for clumsy brush painting too. Quite a lot of that car is in superb condition thanks to the protection of extra paint. Brilliant.

2CV Dolly

Would she attract a bigger crowd with ‘artwork’ paint?

The biggest problem is that I’m no artist. Well, I can do quite nice chunky writing, but I’m not really sure how to even get started on the blank canvas that is my 2CV. I don’t know which paint to use either – I welcome all suggestions.

I’ve also got decisions to make about bumpers. Elly has had that tubular front bumper fitted since 2006, but it’s quite rusty and powder coated, so a paint to sort out. Never powder coat anything. It’s bloody horrible stuff and doesn’t protect steel as well as you might hope.

I know some purists might not like my plans, but there really are enough ‘nice’ 2CVs out there. In fact, dare I say it, hand-painted 2CVs have become far too rare of late, and shows tend to have lines of immaculate 2CVs in near-original condition these days. There are some very notable exceptions, and a friend’s hand-painted Charleston has won its class (all disc-brake 2CVs so 1981-1990) so many times it’s now in the Masterclass with some very, very tidy cars.

A friend's delicious hand-painted 2CV in a shiny line up.

A friend’s delicious hand-painted 2CV in a shiny line up.

Simon’s car very neatly demonstrates that hand painted doesn’t have to be shambolic. It looks ace. I especially like how he’s kept the Charleston theme of the car, and perhaps I can keep the Dolly theme of Elly. I’d certainly like to. What I definitely don’t want to do is cultivate a faux rat look. That’s far too common and, generally speaking, always a bit awful. It’s like immaculate beards. Just a bit wrong. I think I need to print out some 2CV outline drawings, dig out the crayons, and get creative. Perhaps I can ask my nephew and niece for help with this one!

All this thought is down to the fact that progress on Elly’s resurrection has stalled for now. The body has been assessed and we’re starting to get the panels together that will be needed for the overhaul to commence. I’ve no firm feel for timescales, but I doubt much will happen for at least a month or so. Plenty of time to get in touch with my inner hippy artist. Peace man.


Peace! Dyane has inspired me to come up with a hand-painted scheme for the 2CV.

Project 2CV: Body delivered

Today was another big day  – transporting the bodyshell to Citwins for its major makeover. The day began with a rather bleary feel, due to the earliness of the hour. And possibly a dirty camera lens.

A bleary start to the day.

A bleary start to the day.

Now all I had to do was get to Bradford, 160 miles away. I hoped the motorway gods would be kind to me. Things didn’t start too well when one of my straps came loose before I’d even left the village. Thankfully, employing a little bit more physics soon had things safe once more.

As I eased towards Llangurig, I was astonished to see that they’ve FINALLY started work on a damaged section of the A44. It has been reduced to temporary traffic lights at this spot for several years now. I was amused to see a Renault Twizy in use as a convoy vehicle. Nice.

But, the XM was playing up a bit. Every now and then, the power assistance disappeared from the steering. I’ve had this on BXs before, and the heavy steering suggests a possible issue with the pump or flow diverter valve (FDV). Or, it could just be that it really needs a good flush of the hydraulic system – something I’ve been meaning to do for ooh, about 16 months now…

It wasn’t too bad, so I carried on. The route took me up towards Oswestry, then Chester and the start of the motorway madness – M53, M56, M6 and M62. To be honest, things were flowing beautifully, and the XM is even more relaxing at 60mph than it is at 70. Sure, it was frustrating to not be able to use the third lane when the trucks started getting in the way, but my speed was not very far from theirs, so it didn’t feel like much of a hold-up. Soon enough, it was 50mph for everyone due to carriageway widening.

The XM did feel the strain going up Windy Hill on the M62. This rises to a summit of 1221ft (372m) and is the highest section of motorway in the UK. My foot was right down to keep up 60mph, though the bountiful torque of the engine at this speed – just over 2000rpm – meant speed did not drop. Nor did the temperature gauge, which crept up towards the middle – very unusual in normal driving. Not that this climb was that normal!

Soon enough, we arrived in Bradford. Getting the body off the trailer was made much easier by a block and tackle!

Up she goes! Ready for some sorting out.

Up she goes! Ready for some sorting out.

I was quite anxious, but Alan Rogers (the man who is Citwins) reckoned it wasn’t that bad. Well, obviously, it is quite bad, but by the time he’s cut the rotten bits out, he reckons there’s plenty of good metal left to weld to. As it happens, he had a very similar ‘shell that he’d just finished for me to examine. Pretty much the entire bottom six inches had been replaced. Encouraging and nice to see what mine will hopefully look like before too long!

Then all I had to do was drive the 160 miles back home. Thankfully, the XM behaved perfectly this time.

A last pause in Yorkshire before heading back.

A last pause in Yorkshire before heading back.

This is going to be a rather long pause in proceedings I think, as there’s other work Alan needs to do, and panels need to be gathered. Don’t be alarmed if nowt happens for a while on the 2CV front. There’ll be lots of other action of course – the XM now needs a thorough service, the Dyane still needs a spot of engine fettling, and the Prelude may well be disappearing to a new home. Stay tuned!

Project 2CV: Ready to go!

It’s been a fantastically beautiful day here in Wales – bendigedig! Sunshine helped ease the sorrows of yesterday’s Six Nations rugby match. Before I get to the 2CV, let’s have a quick look at the other aircooled Citroën in my life.

Camouflage Dyane out for a hoon.

Camouflage Dyane out for a hoon.

I do love driving the Dyane. It’s a complete attention magnet. I’m still having to take it slightly easy after the winter engine rebuild, but I can still get a shift on. There is still work to do on this engine though – the cylinder heads are still whiffy. Ah well. At least I found something nice to park next to in town.

Wow! Second C6 I've spotted this week. Dutch plates, RHD.

Wow! Second C6 I’ve spotted this week. Dutch plates, RHD.

Yes, a Citroen C6. On Dutch plates no less, though it was a right-hand drive example. It’s the second C6 I’ve spotted in a week – I was following one for a time on Tuesday as I hurtled to Coventry and back in the XM.

Speaking of the XM, it’s got another mega-mile week ahead. The 2CV’s bodyshell is ready for transport!

XM ready for some haulin' action.

XM ready for some haulin’ action.

It’ll be a long old slog to Bradford and back tomorrow, thankfully featuring rather more major routes than Tuesday’s cross-country dash to Coventry. It should be pretty relaxing given a maximum of 50/60mph depending on road type. I’m looking forward to Alan’s assessment of what needs to happen and can finally discuss exactly what needs to happen.

Of course, the focus for the time being is on the bodyshell. But it isn’t quite as simple as getting it all welded up again and refitting it. Some panels are too rusty to just bolt back on, so will need to be replaced. Others need a certain amount of fettling – doors and bonnet especially. Then there’s the running gear. I really do need to go over it while everything is so accessible. I’ve got a seriously sticky carburettor linkage to deal with, and very rusty suspension cans. I also need to replace all of the wheels and tyres.

So, plenty of expense yet to come and while your contributions have made this project feasible, I can see that the Dyane is still going to have to go at some point. That was always the plan – the Dyane was meant to be fill-in until the 2CV was back on the road. I have grown rather fond of it though. But, two projects (for the Dyane needs welding too) is just too much to consider at the moment, so when the 2CV is closer to returning to the road, the Dyane will have to go. Until then, I hope to have plenty of fun in it. Let’s hope for lots more sunshine!