2CV – Tin (and rust) Snail update

My poor 2CV. Elly got rather neglected last year as I mucked about with a Peugeot 309, a Ford Maverick, a Nissan Bluebird and a pair of Citroen BXs. She only clocked up 3000 miles and spent a lot of the time sitting outside. I’m now paying for that neglect.

This afternoon though, once my deadlines had been met and enough tea had been consumed, I headed out to the garage. My aim was to finally get the exhaust fume-tight. The crossbox – which collects gases from each cylinder and which sits beneath the gearbox – broke on the 1st January. I fitted a new one, but the next link in the system – the swan neck – then failed on the 13th January. Two journeys conducted, both ended rather noisily. Yesterday, after doing battle with rusty clamps and mountings, I finally got the exhaust fitted again. It was blowing badly so I gave up.

This afternoon, I used a bunch of freshly purchased items to improve things. PTFE tape was applied to the swan neck as this sits inside the next part of the exhaust – the ‘torpedo’ silencer. Hopefully the PTFE tape will stop the two items becoming one, which is what normally happens. Then, I used some actual exhaust paste and some careful rejigging to cure the crossbox-to-swan neck leak. This worked! The torpedo sadly still has a leak. Some bodgery will take place before too long. It’s not bad.

Having reached this stage and with bits of bodywork removed, I decided it was an ideal time to set about a proper service. The oil was drained and refilled, and I fitted a new oil filter. I even took the rocker covers off, gave them a good clean out, retorqued the cylinder heads and checked the valve clearances. Then it was a case of checking the points, which means removing the fan. Not a problem to the seasoned 2CVer – a 14mm socket on a 3/8″ drive, a jiggle with a 1/2″ ratchet handle and the fan was off. At this stage I started realising just how scarily rusty the engine bay is…

Moody night shot in the garage. Engine access is superb!

Moody night shot in the garage. Engine access is superb!

The fan shroud and cowling are in a dreadful state and the headlamp bar is getting very iffy.

Rust is becoming a real problem here.

Rust is becoming a real problem here.

Nonetheless, I continued, giving the points a clean up and re-setting the gap for the first time in five years. I love points-assisted ignition. It takes the strain off the points and it’s a credit to the simple, transistor-based system I use that the points have lasted so well.

Whenever the fan is off, it makes sense to check the oil cooler. All was well here.

New spark plugs were fitted, making sure not to over-tighten them. The ham-fisted find it very easy to strip a thread. Then I set about replacing a broken engine mounting. You can just see it below the cowling in the above photo. That explained why the engine seemed fairly mobile! It was rocking around more than it should. I also pulled out one of the brake pads – they’re down to about 3mm of material, so replacements won’t be too far away. They were fitted at the same time as the ignition upgrade back in 2008.

That leaves me with greasing still to do – kingpins, knife-edges and steering rack – and it’s about time I checked the rear drum brakes over as well. The air filter might get a clean if it’s really lucky.

I then took more pictures of rust. I really need to get on top of this. However, my main objective is to get Elly roadworthy again (I need to sort out a few wiring issues) before going to see top 2CV tinkerer Rick Pembro who can hopefully sort out a wobbly kingpin. Something I’ve been meaning to get sorted for about three years now…

Here’s some more rusty pics. Until next time…

Close up of the rust.

Close up of the rust.

I haven't been parking it in the sea, honest!

I haven’t been parking it in the sea, honest!



Classic winter motoring

Using a classic through the winter requires courage!


As we move into 2011, it’s time to look forward to digging out your classic and preparing to hit the road.

Or maybe, like me, your classics have been in regular use throughout the winter. If so, then congratulations on your bravery! A recent clean of my Citroën 2CV revealed that the poor thing is rather rusty in places – to the state that I’m considering hand-painting it to keep on top of the corrosion. Keeping a classic in first rate order at this time of the year is certainly a challenge.

But I find a lot of joy in driving classics at this time of year. Sure, it can be cold and it does create issues such as the rust-chasing, but journeys gain an epic sense of adventure – especially the 700 miles I clocked up over Christmas in the Tin Snail. There’s other bonuses too. When grip is at a premium, as it has been here in the wilderness of West Wales, I’d much rather be in a car  that lacks power assistance of its controls, allowing me to feel when grip is there and when it is not.

Sometimes, it really is not  there, which is where my 1988 Land Rover 90 County Station Wagon V8 comes in. At 15mpg however, I tend to rather hope that we don’t get too much snow! Sitting somewhere in between the two is my Citroën BX TGD estate, though as 12-hour mission to get from Cardiff (two-hours away) to home revealed that there’s no substitute for four-wheel drive when things get really slippy. A journey I’d rather forget. The BX also disgraced itself by freezing its heater matrix at one point.

It’s a battle to keep all three vehicles in sound condition with so much salt on the roads. I think I’d better get out there with the hose once more…