The 2CV’s boot is spacious but the floor isn’t very flat which makes it a bit impractical to use.
To improve this I’ve added a boot floor. This is a piece of 680mm x 940mm plywood with a notch cut in the back edge to fit round the central support for the back seats and a couple of notches in the front corners to allow it to slide forward through the boot opening thus allowing the back edge to clear the back seat and lift out. There’s also a small block of wood glued and screwed into the middle of the front edge to stop it sliding forward.
With the basic shape fitted I covered it with some bluegrey automotive carpet which provides a nice usable boot floor and the tools and spare wheel live happily under it and out of the way.
To set the ride height on a 2CV you really need two things: a flat and level surface and a 9-22mm tie rod adapter. When changing the chassis we had the former but not the latter and when I subsequently acquired the latter I didn’t have the former. Now I have both…
To make measurement easier I cut two bits of wood to the lengths of the required chassis height as measured between the axle bolts, 195mm at the front and 280mm at the rear (±2.5mm).
To adjust the ride height the tie rods need to be screwed into, or out of, the eyes that connect to the suspension arms via the knife edges. To facilitate this, the tie rods have 9mm flats on them. Whilst you can use a 9mm spanner you need the shock absorbers off in order to address the flat – which is what we did when we were putting it back together after changing the chassis. The right tool for the job is a 22m hex that has a 9mm slot cut in it.
Whilst access to the tie rods is still a bit restricted, with the adapter on the tie rods the 22m spanner can address it in 12 possible ways which, whilst a bit fiddly, is adequate for the job.
Ensure the tire pressures are correct and the car is unladen (except 5l of fuel if you’re being precise). Using the appropriate wooden measuring stick you can see how far off the ride height is. Then, with one side of the car jacked up to take the weight off the suspension and hence the tie rods, you can screw the tie rods in to raise the car or out to lower the car – a rule of thumb is one turn of the tie rods is about 5mm. After making an adjustment, let the car sit back down on the suspension, give it a bounce to settle it, and re-measure. Then, if needed, jack up and re-adjust. As I needed to raise Judith I put a bit of WD40 on the tie rods where they entered the eyes as that made them a bit easier to turn.
When you’re done the wooden sticks should just fit under the chassis between the axle bolts.
The rust proofing – or rather lack thereof – that came from the Citroen factory is well known to 2CV owners and mine was no exception. One of the areas that this manifests is the rear wheel arches as they’re hard to get to with the wings on and they get whatever’s on the road effectively deposited over them by the rear wheels. When we changed the chassis I had a look at them and there was a suspiciously iron oxide tinge to some of the mud brown so I put this job on my list.
With the rear wings off the wheel arches are easy to work on. The first step was a thorough clean of the clart to see what was going on. Mostly the surface was OK and the paint, although not great quality, was still holding. There was still some underseal in evidence but not uniform as evidenced by the areas of surface rust. The main areas were the bump stop mountings and the seat belt reinforcement panels (that had been replaced in 2004).
Treatment for this was a wire brush in a drill to take it back to good metal followed by rust remedy. A top coat of blue hammerite finished it off, this turned out to be much lighter blue than I was anticipating but it’s in an area that doesn’t show, will be covered in underseal and when the rust returns I’ll be able to see if it’s in a new area or the same place which would indicate a deeper problem.
With the rust treated it was time for a decent coat of underseal, not very pleasant stuff to work with but when it’s been warmed up it at least goes on easy enough.
The final part was the leading edges where the wings are affixed. There were a few places where the tin worm had established colonies so these were attacked with the wire brush followed by rust remedy. After some creative masking they were treated to etch primer, primer and two top coats.
With all of that done, this area is now much better protected than when it left the factory, hopefully that should put a crimp in the style of the tin worm which was close to getting established in places.
Of the four variants of 2CV grills the third (number 3) is my favourite – this is the three bar aluminium version (1965-1974). As the bonnet opening was the same shape for grills number 2 to 4 was the same they are interchangeable and the plastic number 4 grill on Judith was broken I picked up reproduction number 3 grill to replace it.
After taking off the old grill, the mesh stone shield that sits behind it and the numberplate I was faced with the old enemy: iron oxide. Round the edges of the bonnet opening the paint had been chipped, the numberplate rubs on the central fold of the bonnet and had gone back through the wafer thin paint, and the mesh was starting to pick up some surface rust. There was also a slight dent in the bonnet at the offside top corner of the opening.
Still, an initial dry fit of the new grill looked good.
After a somewhat inexpert bit of panel beating on the dent, a clean-up of the rust, some rust remedy, etch primer on the bare metal and a keying of the old paint, the bonnet opening was ready for a re-spray.
My rattle can technique needs some work as there were a few runs in the paint (holding the can too close and trying to put too much paint on in one go) and it was quite cold so it dried a bit matt. However, it’s going to be hidden behind the grill and numberplate so a good place to practice.
After the paint had been left for at least a week to cure (another learning moment) and the final touch ups had been done (and left to cure) the grill could be fitted.
The plastic number 4 grill clips in but the number 3 needs bolting in at the top: for this I used countersunk, 16mm, M6, stainless, hex socket bolts with nylock nuts and a broad washer. It has two tabs on the bottom that need bending over to secure it against the lower lip of the opening. The mesh had been coated with the trusty satin black and is held in at the top with the new bolts and at the bottom with the original screws and washers. Finally the grill surround needed a bit of gentle bending to conform properly to the bonnet.
The last thing before re-fitting the numberplate was a strip of anti-rub “helecopter” tape down the centre line fold of the bonnet to protect the paint from rubbing off again.
All that’s missing now is a set of chevrons for the bonnet.
Had a ride along in a very nice soft top Trabant, with 26hp it’s very similar to a 2CV (with 29hp) in that it’s all about the conservation of momentum!
This car dates from 1983 and the soft top conversion was done in 1994. There are rails down the side of the car that were added during the conversion and you have to step over them getting in and out of the car. Numerous parts in the interior are from a Golf – including the front seats.
The engine is a two cylinder, two stroke – inline and transverse.
The black box at the back with the red diamond is the fuel tank, it’s gravity fed and there’s a control inside that turns a stop cock on and off for the fuel flow and a third position for reserve which opens a lower fuel pickup. This has an additional fuel level sender behind the fuel cap.
On the left of the bock it has a crank driven fan that’s blowing under the jacket and out through the heating system. Seems that the main causes of overheating in a Trabi are under maintenance and/or over driving. back in the day K’s grandad drove his to Romania for a summer holiday with no issues.
It’s not got the magic carpet ride of a 2CV but it’s sprung to ride rough surfaces and the owner was similarly loading it up into corners. As an air cooled two pot it has a similar rasp but being in line and a two stroke it doesn’t have the whirring hum of a 2CV. Bit hard to see but it’s got a transverse leaf spring across the two front wheels.
With everything assembled, and with TomB engineering’s assistance, it was finally time to see if the engine would start.
The engine was checked over and all the torque settings were confirmed. For the heads this meant an initial tightening followed by a final tightening when the manifold had been bolted on.
The engine was mounted up to a refurbished gear box I’d acquired earlier, along with a starter motor that was sold-as-seen. With no clutch between the gearbox input splines and the engine flywheel this mean that the starter motor would be able to turn the engine over without driving the gearbox. With the wiring loom attached to provide power to the ignition and fuel pump, the coil and HT leads in place to provide juice to the spark plugs and a battery wired up to the starter and earthed to the gearbox it was ready to go.
The initial push of the ignition button was rewarded by a click and whirr from the starter motor, so at least that was good. The ignition is the same 123 unit fitted to Judith so the indicator light showed that it was powered and the timing could be set. However, the fuel pump wasn’t priming. Once we’d worked it out it was obvious: the loom had no earth – when it’s in the car it has all sorts of earths that make their way back to the gearbox but that was missing here. One fly lead later and the fuel pump primed and filled the carburettor.
Now we were ready to go again but the battery was now flat from turning over the engine whilst we were trying to diagnose the fuel pump’s missing earth – the starter would click but not whirr. Running jump cables from Lotte gave us the power we needed and, after a few seconds it caught! It ran for about 20s before starting to die and I cut the ignition. Still, that’s pretty impressive given the choke and throttle were set at about half as a guess – some dynamic adjustment of them could probably have kept it alive.
All in all I’m very happy with this: I’ve rebuilt an engine and it ran.
On my way down to York in the C1 I pulled into the excellent Mainsgill Farm Shop for some provisions. As I made my way across the car park there was a rattle from the back. A quick visual inspection revealed the cause – the exhaust hanger on the back box had snapped and it was resting on the rear beam.
Whilst it was still attached when I left home, it had presumably managed some distance before I had noticed. It wasn’t dragging, and it wasn’t leaking so I figured it would make it the rest of the way to York.
Before heading home, TomB engineering fashioned me a temporary exhaust hanger that was more than adequate to get me back.
The culprit was pretty easy to identify – the hanger was heavily corroded and the 10 years of vibrations had caused it to neck to breaking point.
The following weekend I took a trip to TMS motor spares to pick up a new back box. Getting the old back box off proved somewhat challenging – first I had to cut off what was left of the old exhaust clamp as the bolts were more rust than metal. Then it came to separating the joint with the centre pipe.
This did not want to budge – despite persuasion with a full tang screwdriver and a mallet. As it had gone bad I had to cut it off.
However, I was expecting this to be a butt joint – as on the 2CV – but, once I’d finished cutting, I realised it had been a socket joint…
So, at this point I knew I was now going to need a new centre section even if I didn’t want to fully admit it to myself yet – especially given it was now Saturday afternoon meaning I wouldn’t be able to get a new pipe until Monday morning.
Still, I could still remove the old centre section in preparation. Fortunately the two spring loaded bolts that went into the cat exit flange weren’t too badly corroded and were only a two swear rating to free up. Being the same age as the rear section, the centre section was, unsurprisingly, similarly heavy with surface rust even if it wasn’t holed.
However, once it was off the car and I could have a good look at it I found that the front exhaust hanger was in much the same state as the rear – heavily necked and not far off failing.
So it turned out to be fortunate that I’d cut through the wrong bit as it now meant that I was going to be replacing it before it failed and whilst I had everything apart anyway. If it had failed in a few weeks time and I’d had to spend another weekend under the car swearing at the exhaust I would have blamed past me for not having done the job right in the first place.
There was still one major obstacle to overcome – getting the oxygen sensor out.
The Book of Lies™ says “The oxygen sensors are delicate and may not work if dropped or knocked, if the power supply is disrupted, or if any cleaning materials are used on them.” I translated that to mean: “Dose it in penetrating fluid, apply blow torch until cherry red, clamp with mole grips and beat with a hammer.”
The only alteration I made to that was to substitute the mole grips for a correctly sized 22m spanner. With the aid of +2 gloves of power and full application of my not inconsiderable body weight, after a few heat cycles it came free and I went backwards, fortunately my landing was cushioned by my not inconsiderable derrière. A four swear rating for this job.
Reassembly was the reverse of removal – but without a blowtorch and an angle grinder. Joking aside, everything went back together remarkably easily – the only point of note is there’s a gasket made of compressed wire wool in the joint between the cat and the centre section.
With the exhaust fitted and everything tightened up nicely I turned on the engine to check for leaks – all good!
I was concerned that I might have damaged the oxygen sensor when spraying Super Crack Ultra on the cherry red mounting but the ECU seemed happy.
After a short shakedown it was still holding together so I went for a longer run to get everything fully up to temperature – there were some funky hot metal smells which would have been worrying if I hadn’t just replaced the exhaust but everything held up fine.
As I want the ignition independently isolated from the accessory electrics I’ve had to split the coil positive off at its join with the accessory circuit and wire it back in switched in series with that circuit.
The original 2CV fuse box uses glass fuses in a plastic case glued to the firewall at the back of the engine. As long as nothing goes wrong with it this works as well as it needs to but it’s not a solution you’d choose to keep if you were changing things.
As I’ve got a bare wiring loom for my Burton project, and I’ve done the hard work of identifying which connector is which, it was a relatively simple – if time consuming – task to replace each of the old glass fuse terminals with a female blade connector and cover them with an appropriately coloured piece of heat shrink. These then fit onto the male blade terminals of a generic after market fuse box.
Whilst there are only five fuses in a standard 2CV fuse box I’ve gone for eight as that gives me room to add fuses for some of the additional circuits I’m going to be adding – notably an electric fuel pump.
Whilst still not objectively easy, having a stripped wiring loom makes it significantly easier to identify which connector is which. To start with I’ll need the ignition and starter circuits so I can run the engine but having five holes in the wiring loom where the fuses are supposed to go makes figuring out what’s what more difficult than needs be.
So, after an evening probing around with a multimeter I’ve now identified both ends of all five fuses and which of those ends match up.
To make my life easier I have numbered them from 1 to 5:
Instruments, indicator, wipers, alternator field (16A)
Stop, interior and hazard lights (16A)
Near side running lights (10A)
Fog light (16A)
Off side running lights (10A)
Next step will to be connect these up to a blade fuse box which will make life significantly easier and allow for fusing additional circuits.