Wash and push up (tyre pressures)

I’m still feeling a bit groggy this week, the result of a heavy cold followed by gripey guts. I think the 281-mile drive in the 2CV may not have helped. It was hard work! I have no regrets though. It was a top day out.

Still, it left the 2CV filthy and, despite grogginess, I felt I had to give her a wash – seeing as Wales had decided to be rather pleasant in the weather stakes. That doesn’t necessarily happen often.

Clean again!

Clean again!

In this shot, you really can see how ‘pink’ the front wings are compared to the rears. I’ll be painting all the red bits to match at some point, honest! I still need to sort out some side stripes as well.

It was the first time I’ve washed this car in getting on for two years, and there wasn’t much point doing it last time! It feels more rewarding when the car looks nice at the end of it. There are still areas where there’s wax clearly visible – down the rear door for a start. I’d rather have those areas protected by wax than looking immaculate though.

After a break, in which I may have watched snooker, I decided to give the other members of the fleet a check-over. I’m glad I did, as the tyre pressures were low on the Honda and the Nippa – not vastly so on the Honda, but 20psi at the front of the Nippa when it should be 32! I’m forced to admit, I haven’t checked the pressures on that car since the tyres were fitted almost two years ago…

Check your tyre pressures! These were all low.

Check your tyre pressures! These were all low.

The final bit of ‘maintenance’ was to open up the ZX while it sat in the sun, to try and allow the floors to dry out. There’s clearly a bad water leak somewhere (thankfully it doesn’t smell of engine coolant, so not the heater matrix, which is common) but my appetite to investigate is not really there.

To return to the Nippa, it’s been an awesome buy for £300. For the first MOT in our ownership, it needed a steering rack gaiter. For the second, it needed wiper blades. It’s due again in March. We’ll see how it does this time. Motoring does not get a lot cheaper though.

Project Elly: The End!

EDIT – now with video! Scroll down

No, don’t worry. Not The End of Elly, I’m just formally closing Project Elly. She is back on the road and, she appears to be reliable again. Hoorah! Time to step away from the project and steer her back into regular use.

I eagerly awaited the postman this morning, because I knew he’d have goodies for me – or rather, Elly.

Hello Mr Postman! What have you got for me?

Hello Mr Postman! What have you got for me?

I wasn’t disappointed. My ECAS 2CV Parts order had arrived!

Cor! A lovely, new, resin-filled coil.

Cor! A lovely, new, resin-filled coil.

I had to pay attention fitting it, as it seems it’s imperative that the positive and negative connections are the right way around. This differs from the normal coil. In fact, it’s actually sensible to swap the connections every now and then to even up wear on the spark plugs due to the wasted spark system the 2CV employs (in short, no distributor, so it sparks on both cylinders twice during the four-stroke cycle).

With it fitted, and with the ignition now being back on the points-assisted Velleman kit, she fired very promptly into life. Brilliant! Naturally, I ignored my substantial work load and went for a drive. At last! I could drive along with the engine firing cleanly, even after pulling over and letting her tickover for a while as I took photos. There was no spluttering, no misfiring. Phew!

Finally, she is finished and healthy!

Finally, she is finished and healthy!

Of course, there’s not really any such thing as finished. The grey wheels look wrong – they should be white. I also need to get the rear seat fitted, and sort out some sound proofing as she’s LOUD. The grey felt on the interior body sides needs purchasing and fitting, the gearbox oil needs replacing, the reverse light also needs to actually be fitted and I’d like to sort out an interior light. Then there’s the rear wings that need painting, and the side stripes that need recreating (I’m pondering options here – I still fancy a bit of an art project). Oh, and the hatchback kit. That needs fitting, but I also need to get a hinge made up to complete it first.

But, she’s very much back, and that makes me very happy. A lot of people have donated funds, parts, advice and support during this project. I can’t thank you enough. Alan at Citwins turned a complete wreck of a 2CV body into what you see here, with the frightening number of replacement panels needed funded directly by your contributions. That was over £1100. If there’s anything I’ve learnt during this project, it is that the 2CV is supported SUPERBLY well when it comes to parts. We are very, very lucky.

As am I. I’m able to drive my 2CV again. For that, I’m truly grateful.

Thank you!

Thank you!


Project Elly: Spluttering encore

This morning, I got up surprisingly early (for a Saturday) and headed back to the garage once more. I’d left Elly in a state of undress the night before (this line is especially for Sean Lyon) having utterly failed to get the ignition timing to behave as it should. Setting it bang on the manufacturers mark resulted in an engine that would not start.

I recalled having issues with this points box in the Dyane, so I removed it, grabbed Elly’s original points box, and fitted a new condenser to it, then reinstalled it. The ignition timing was reset as per the mark, and she fired very sweetly into life. Result!

Now that she’s road legal, I was able to indulge in a test drive. Certainly, on the four miles to the nearest petrol station, she felt like a car transformed. She was pulling much more cleanly than yesterday, with no hint of misfiring or spluttering. 18 litres of unleaded were poured into the tank, her first fill for almost two years, and I set off to do a full lap of the A44 and A4120 back home.

As we excited the excitingly-named Lovesgrove roundabout, I detected a misfire. Just the once, but definitely there. This was joined by further misfires as we snaked our way towards Aberystwyth. At Llanbadarn Fawr, things got pretty nasty. As I went to pull away at a mini roundabout, she began firing on one cylinder, threatening to conk out (in a manner that suggested she would not then restart). This felt familiar! Somehow, I coaxed her through the pair of mini roundabouts, and across the Morrisons roundabout. I headed into the car park to find a quiet spot to investigate.

Here we go again...

Here we go again…

I did have a spare coil with me, so I fitted that. All initially seemed well. Problem solved? At first, she seemed fine, but within a mile, a gentle misfire had crept back in. As we began the climb up the A4120, she began to miss more and more, occasionally backfiring for good measure. Backfiring? Ok. That made it feel more like condenser failure, as did the fact that it was far worse at lower engine speeds. I kept the revs up and struggled on, pausing in Pisgah to let things cool down.

She did make it back home, but conked out as soon as I pulled up. Left alone for a while, she was then fine and has been returned to the garage. Now, I’m pondering my next move. £165 on a new 123 electronic ignition unit and a resin-filled coil would probably improve things no end, but I also wonder about reviving my Velleman points-assisted ignition. I’ve got a press car coming on test next week, so there’s no rush to get Elly fixed. I am keen to get to the bottom of this quandary though. The good news is that, when not misfiring, she feels really good to drive. It is so nice to be back behind the wheel of this much-loved car. Thanks to all who made this possible. I just wish we could have a finer celebration of the fact that Elly is back! There will be opportunities this year – she’ll be at the NEC Restoration Show in March, and the Coventry Motofest in June. Fun times, they are a-coming!

Project Elly: The Finale! Sort of…

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.

Elly begins her third iteration. She's like Doctor Who.

Elly begins her third generation. She’s like Doctor Who.

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.

15th January 2006, and a reborn Elly gets touched by a randy stranger.

15th January 2006, and a reborn Elly gets touched by a randy stranger.

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.

Eep! Almost time!

Eep! Almost time!

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.

The test begins, the engine fails...

The test begins, the engine fails…

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.

Elly chooses a pleasant place to stop at least.

Elly chooses a pleasant place to stop at least.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!

A soggy, road-legal Elly awaits some much-needed fettling.

A soggy, road-legal Elly awaits some much-needed fettling.


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…