Dyane: For sale. Project Over!

I’ve tried to sell pretty much every vehicle I own in the past month or so, with varying degrees of success. The Honda should soon be off to a new home, though I’ve decided to keep the XM for a bit longer yet. It’s so good at so many different things, though I have tried to destroy the clutch by accidentally soaking it in diesel. This is a bad thing to do it turns out. Slippy!

Camouflage Dyane out for a hoon.

Dyane must make way for the 2CV project. Unfortunately.

But this post is to highlight the fact that my extremely eye-catching (camouflage fail) Dyane is now up for sale. I’ve had a really enjoyable time steadily improving this machine, but it still needs further fettling, and I need to focus my energies on the 2CV. There’s a fair bit I need to do to the chassis before the body comes back, and I don’t have anywhere to do the work. There’s room for only one aircooled Citroen in my life!

I put the Dyane up for £1200, but £1100 would take it if I can get a sale this weekend. Obviously, I may be open to a part exchange, though this really is a fund raiser, as well as a space maker.

I think another reason to get rid of the Dyane is that I could really start to like it very easily indeed! The Dyane is so much better than a 2CV in so many ways. I love the extra elbow room, the practical hatchback, the rear seat that’s actually comfortable to access and the doors that don’t flap at speed.

But this year is all about the 2CV. I simply must crack on. I can’t afford to get attached to a rival! So, please spread the word, and let me know if you’re interested. The details are:

MOT August 2016

2000 miles on the clock (so at least 102,000).

Engine overhauled with replacement barrels and pistons.

Original chassis, body surprisingly good apart from lower windscreen panel (club sells a repair section)

Sale includes new windscreen and seal relating to the above.

Engine uses Boyer Bransden points-assisted ignition.

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!

Project Dyane: Back on the road!

With all the excitement about Project 2CV, I’ve rather overlooked the poor Dyane. There’s good news. The Dyane is back on the road!

As you’ll recall, it has undergone a minor engine rebuild over the winter months. For a while, it felt I’d never get the job completed. Every time I fixed one problem, I discovered another. What really spurred things on was a visit to Sparrow Automotive, where the ever patience Pete took time to dig out a set of barrels and pistons and even honed the barrels and fitted the pistons ready to fit. You can do this on a 2CV as the gudgeon pin sticks out from the barrel just enough to fit it to the piston. Pete then also dug out a pair of driveshafts and even fitted new gaiters to them. He then produced an embarrassingly small invoice. Thanks Pete! The Dyane remains a project with no budget at all (and no, I won’t be using 2CV funds on it).

Look who's up and running again!

Look who’s up and running again!

I’d never dismantled an engine to this degree before, and I found it utterly fascinating to do. It’s actually very simple indeed once you know how to release various clips. I did allow the rings to slip out of the barrel on one side, and had to dash to the next village to borrow a ring compressor, but it all went well.

This was back in January. I ran the Dyane up the driveway to find a horrific oil leak, as related in my previous post. As it happens, recent work for Retro Japanese magazine saw me passing ECAS 2CV Parts, so I was able to pick up a new cupro-nickel oil feed pipe. Pleasingly, fitting this seemed to render the engine oil tight at long last! The Dyane was ready to return to the road.

Stupidly, I decided to wait until March before taxing her again, but then the Wye Knots 2CV group in Herefordshire announced a road run. Temptation proved too much, so the Dyane was taxed, and off we went!

Dyane poses next to BMW 2CV.

Dyane poses next to BMW 2CV. Hoping that isn’t my oil leak…

I was quite nervous, and took far more tools and parts than I normally would. I needn’t have worried though, as the Dyane ran very nicely indeed. I was having to take things easy, to allow the new engine parts to bed in. Mind you, it wasn’t long before I was just refusing to slow down for bends. Conserved momentum means less strain on the engine, surely? On the downside, I’m sure labouring up all the hills around here hasn’t been kind to the engine, and the cylinder heads still smell a bit leaky. I’m hoping a retorque will help. It’s due after 1000 miles, but having but a few heat cycles through that engine now, I think I’ll just do it anyway.

Sadly, I’ve had to postpone some much-needed welding work on the Dyane. It needs the lower windscreen panel replaced. Unfortunately, I blew the pot of money I was going to use for that on a Honda Prelude... If anyone would like to buy it for £545, I would be very grateful! And so would the Dyane. Incidentally, the XM is no longer for sale.

So, the Dyane is back on the road, but currently squirrelled away in a garage while the weather does horrible things. Longer term, I don’t think the Dyane will have a place on the fleet. I bought it only so I could get my A-Series Citroen kicks while the 2CV is awaiting salvation. Problem is, I’m really starting to like it…

Dyane: Flaws keep coming

It seems that disaster is never far away with the engine in my Citroen Dyane, yet somehow it manages to avoid catastrophe and just keep going.

Oh look! Oil! Thar she blows.

Oh look! Oil! Thar she blows…

Somehow, this car got me home from Wiltshire when I bought it despite the ignition timing being too advanced, the oil cooler and cooling fins for the barrels being caked in filth and remnants of a carrier bag further impeding airflow. This is what you get when you decide to drive 140 miles in a car that has spent most of the past few years sitting in a field after years of field use.

I sorted all that out and then drove it to Sussex and back for the Goodwood Revival in September of last year, and it turns out I was luckier than I thought. Aside from the idle disappearing at times, the Dyane was trouble-free on that trip. Even when I twice managed to almost run it out of fuel! Yet work of the winter highlighted that actually, the engine may have suffered a partial seizure at some point, caused by overheating I suspect, especially given the issues contained in the second paragraph of this piece.

Even more remarkable, it turns out that there may have been a very small fracture in one of the small diameter pipes that feeds oil to the cylinder heads! I know that because having had to move said pipe to remove the cylinder head, there’s now a slightly larger fracture in the oil feed pipe, and oil is peeing out at a goodly rate.

So, I’m giving in. I do actually need to spend some money on this car. I’ll be purchasing new cupro-nickel oil feed pipes, which hopefully won’t rot in quite the same way, and I’m adding some much needed rubber pipes into the mix too, for the breather and carburettor – both pipes go to the air filter.

I still maintain that I’ve been lucky though. If one of those oil feed pipes fractures while you’re hurtling along a motorway, you may not know it until the oil has left your engine and it has seized up entirely. Certainly, all this work has confirmed that I was right to take the Dyane off the road for the winter, and while it’s disappointing that my plan to have it back on the road for February has not come to fruition, I can at least take comfort in the fact that the weather has generally remained awful, and the best place for this car is probably in my garage!

There's fumes leaking outta my heads, ach that stinking is all I think about.

The Dyane has spent most of the past few months with its front end missing.

There will be further expenditure in the future too. The front brake discs look a little ‘lippy’ for my liking, both headlamps have lost some silvering, and there’s the big welding project to replace the lower windscreen panel – hopefully taking place next month.

Unsurprisingly, this car has required a fair degree of improving. There’s arguably no bigger gamble for the classic buyer than a project that has been left sitting, especially if it has been left sitting in the elements. It could have been much, much worse though and I’ve really enjoyed the process of steadily making it better.

Video: Dyane Hibernation

Since I bought my first 2CV in 1996, I’ve used aircooled Citroens throughout the year – apart from 2002-2003 when Elly was in pieces during a restoration. When the second phase of that restoration was completed in late 2005 to January 2006, I celebrated by immediately driving her from Lincolnshire to Aberystwyth at the height of winter.

This project is brought to you by almost no budget at all.

The Dyane will be going sleepy times this winter.

And, you can see the results for yourself. Elly the 2CV is now rotten as a very, very rotten thing indeed. So, I’ll be taking the Dyane off the road this time. I attempt to explain myself in this new video.


Dyane: The New To Do List

Having successfully proven that it can actually undertake journeys of a goodly length, the Dyane has nonetheless managed to acquire quite a To Do list.

First and foremost, it really does need the cylinder heads removing, lapping in and refitting. There’s a very strong smell of fumes inside the car. This is something of a 2CV trait and is because there is no gasket between the cylinder head and the barrel. Things are made worse if the ignition timing is too advanced, as the subsequent pinking – where the spark plug fires before the piston has reached the top of its travel – puts enormous strain on the joint. I have to hope that the head has not become too corroded.

This joint leaks and causes fumes to enter cabin.

This joint leaks and causes fumes to enter cabin.

You learn as a 2CVer to smell the difference between head fumes and general exhaust fumes. I have one or two leaky clamps so I get that smell too! The cylinder head leak fumes are a bit sweeter. Less sharp. They typically occur when the engine is under high load, with a surge in aroma as you lift off the throttle. Exhaust fumes tend to be at their worse as the car is slowing or travelling downhill on a closed throttle, but in gear. There may also be a popping noise.

The drill is to get the cylinder head off the car, apply some grinding paste and I use a cut-down barrel to clean up the cylinder head. You turn the old barrel back and forth repeatedly, pushing down as you do so. You have to use a barrel with the cooling fins cut off as the fins otherwise prevent the barrel from turning between the pushrod tubes. You have to do all of this very carefully, as the soft, aluminium head can quite easily be damaged. You need to be especially careful when refitting the head to the engine. Ask me how I know…

I’ll fit new ‘spectacle’ seals when doing that, and will inspect all other oil seals and pipes. The engine is still losing some oil, just far, far less than it was. After 625 miles, the level had dropped to about halfway on the dipstick.

lapping it up

Lapping the cylinder head with an old barrel.

The windscreen wipers and washers need some improvement too, and I need to stop quite so much water getting into the car – though I will also try to reduce wet weather use, especially over the winter. I also have clacking CV joints to replace – the entire lower driveshaft needs replacement, so I’ll probably pinch the good ones from the 2CV.

Finally for now, I’d like to go over the braking system. The front discs have quite a lip on them and may need replacement, while the pedal feels a bit firm to me – I may need to check all is well with the rear brakes. I’m not convinced they’re proving as much stopping power as they should.

This all ignores the fact that there are bodywork problems to overcome too. All in good time. I hope!

Dyane: The zero budget project

I’ve been massively busy with work, community bus stuff and trying to keep the Dyane working for longer than five minutes. It has been a frustrating week or two. I’ll try to recap without getting too waffly.

Intermotor condensers are rubbish. This one lasted barely 5 miles.

Intermotor condensers are rubbish. This one lasted barely 5 miles.

Ever since I collected the Dyane, it’s had an occasional tendency to ‘lose’ tickover. It starts chugging and struggling and makes town driving nightmarish. The first thing to do was to pinch the known good coil from the 2CV. This made no difference. I then set about replacing fuel lines – I could see that the front ones had degraded really quite badly, and suspected the same might be true on the section above the fuel tank. You have to drop the tank to replace this.

This led to a rare moment on this project. I actually had to buy something. There’s no point fitting second hand fuel pipes. A few quid later, I had some new pipe. The front pipework was no bother, and I took the opportunity to fit an in-line filter. Dropping the tank was a right pain, as the underside was caked in mud. A lot of this went in my eyes. Even more went in my hair and beard.

All the old pipe was degrading, but I doubt it was actually enough to cause any running issues. Sure enough, no difference. So, I set about changing the points and condenser. I have loads of old ones. I was planning to take the Dyane to Cholmondeley Castle, but ran out of time. I’d got stuck because using a timing light to set the static ignition timing, the light wouldn’t go out!

While I was away, a friend gave me a fresh set of points and a condenser. These were Intermotor items and the condenser failed after just a few miles. I had to push the car home. Thankfully not far! When refitting an old condenser, I discovered that the connection to the point box was really not very good. That was why I couldn’t get the timing light to go out. I fitted the old condenser, tweaked that connector and reset the ignition timing. Result! She runs beautifully again.

This project is brought to you by almost no budget at all.

This project is brought to you by almost no budget at all.

Throughout this project, I have been raiding my poor 2CV and my parts stash for components. There’s a simple reason for that. I have no budget! I cannot simply throw money at the car, something I think some people struggle to comprehend. “Just fit electronic ignition,” they say – ignoring the fact that buying one would cost me £139 plus delivery. I am therefore hugely grateful to the chap in 2CVGB who sent me a Boyer-Brandsen points-assisted ignition box. I have a similar set-up on the 2CV and it is BRILLIANT. These systems do away with the need for troublesome condensers, and also reduce the voltage going through the points. That means they can last tens of thousands of miles – as the ones in my 2CV have. But you get better starting and cleaner running, just as you do with expensive electronic ignition. I can’t wait to fit it. Until then, I’ll have to keep a spare condenser and tools close to hand.

Having no budget does force you to be resourceful but it is also quite rewarding. I have done LOADS of work to gently improve the Dyane, but it has cost me almost nothing. I even had service items and oil on the shelf (bought in bulk for cost savings). When you live a low-income lifestyle, the luxury of just replacing stuff with new doesn’t exist. It’s a mindset that more people should explore. Naturally, I would prefer to have fitted four brand new dampers, but the truth is that the car now drives much better with just one dodgy old one replaced by a better one stolen from my 2CV. The wheels and tyres were pinched from the 2CV. Low budget doesn’t mean a total disregard for personal safety – the tyres on the Dyane still had tread, but were obviously perished.

For now, the Dyane remains a fixer-upper on the cheap. I think I might like it all the more because of that.

Dyane: A greenlane, more issues

I spent yesterday trying to get to the bottom of the Dyane’s occasional poor running. Sometimes it’ll idle very nicely. Sometimes it’ll idle not at all. I’m having to employ a lot of heel and toe – using all three pedals at once. This is bothersome.

What I actually ended up doing was splitting the carburettor, then somehow dislodging the floats so that when I tried starting the engine, it filled one cylinder with petrol.

Floats in the wrong place. ie my hand.

You can probably see the issue here. With the carburettor rebuilt, I then had to remove the spark plugs as so much petrol had flooded in that the engine would not turn. The pretty, potentially-explosive fountain thankfully was not ignited. I’d cleaned out all of the jets while the carb was in bits, but this seems to have made no difference. More work to do.

Or, I could go greenlaning instead. Guess which option I went for!

Dyane off-road Greenlaning Dyane in the hills of mid-Wales

Yes, greenlaning. That is, seeing “Unsuitable for Motor Vehicles” and going for it anyway. The Land Rover is our neighbours, who were joining us as we went Vulcan spotting. Sadly, we failed as the Vulcan was actually running late. This particularly scenic part of mid-Wales lacks any phone signal, so we had no idea. This was the first time I’d tried this Byway – checked on an OS Map and then with local greenlaner types. You’d struggle in a modern, but the Dyane lapped it up. Must do the whole lane at some point.

Having failed at plane spotting, we turned around and headed home. When I got there, I found this:


Ah. The fuel line really shouldn’t be on the ground.

Not good. The fuel line must have got snagged on some long grass and had been pulled away from the chassis. Thankfully, there’s a short metal section near the front, which was so firmly bonded to the rubber either side that the pipe had not come away entirely. Just enough to cause a minor leak. I like this car. It seems to refuse to die.

I’ll replace the front pipework and will include an in-line filter. I’ll also find a better way to secure the fuel line further back. I’m prone to explore greenlanes. I need a better solution! It may be that this isn’t helping with the poor running. We’ll see.

One thing I must say though. I may have to fast-forward my art project plans for this car. Some have told me I should keep it as it is, and I do see the appeal in that – it appeals to my lazy side. However, the biggest problem with this car is that EVERYONE jokes that they can’t see it when I post photos. It was slightly amusing the first time but every time? Really?!

I’m going to have to get creative all the sooner I think.

Dyane: Actually working! Sort of

Unsurprisingly for a vehicle that was last taxed in 1995, the Dyane is proving rather a project. Having successfully got it home (somehow), the tinkering began in earnest. I began work last week, but then had to dash off to Anglesey for the 2CV 24-hour race – what an epic adventure that was. I’d hoped to go in the Dyane, but realised about halfway through Wednesday that this wasn’t an option.

After getting back home, I could return to the fettling. Monday saw me achieve a great deal. The ignition timing was set, the alternator wiring was repaired and the wiper linkage replaced. That’s one MOT advisory dealt with right there. Sadly, doing all this just after the 24-hour race was rather a mistake, and Tuesday was mainly spent in a great deal of pain, feeling absolutely awful.

Yesterday, I got the Dyane back together again. The exhaust was blowing, but I needed lunch, needed to go shopping first and the Dyane was going to take me whether it wanted to or not!

Out on the open road!

Out on the open road!

I did attempt the drive with the roof back, but didn’t even make it off the driveway before it began to rain. Roof back on. Then it REALLY pelted it down! Fortunately, the speedy little wipers were up to the challenge. Thank goodness I’d changed that linkage.

Around town, the stiff clutch and occasional lack of idle proved annoying. I don’t think there’s much I can do about the former, but I will try getting some lube into the cable in case that’s the fault. The idle is likely to be gunk in the carburettor. I’ll have to get the jets out for a clean, and perhaps take the top of the carburettor off to check whether there is muck in the float chambers. I must also fit an in-line filter.

On returning home, complete with new bolts that don’t fit the clamp I was hoping to use (go me!), I discovered that the crossbox to swan neck joint was completely loose. No wonder it was noisy! If you imagine the sort of hideous noise a Harley Davidson makes, it was like that but (if you can believe such a thing) even worse. Accessing that clamp on a Dyane is a right pain, but I found that reasonable access was on offer if I removed the nearside front wheel. So, while doing that, a good time to put grease in the kingpins eh?

The pin refused to take grease. Probably because old, hard grease was clogging everything up. So, now I had to get a blowtorch to gently warm the kingpin housing. I removed the grease nipple and watched a hideous stream of manky old grease ease out. Then I could finally get fresh grease in.

And that’s what this car is like. One job inevitably turns into several jobs, and every job seems to throw up issues of some kind! This is what happens with cars that have been off the road for some time. At least it’s giving me plenty to write about!

Other issues I know are on the horizon are a clattering CV joint (only occasionally), a possible sticky front brake (nearside) and I need to see if the engine is still losing oil. I’ve replaced the crankcase breather in the hope this’ll encourage oil to stay inside. I’m just over a week away from a long trip to the Cholmondeley Castle classic show, so need to keep tinkering away!