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.
Apparently the climb classifications (4,3,2,1,HC) in the Le Tour de France are based on the gear you’d need to use in a 2CV to get up that hill. This is quite clearly horse poop and – as the owner of a 2CV – I have a 100% subjective personal anecdote to prove it:
The Le Tour has been past the village were I grew up twice (’94 & ’07) and both times there was a 4th cat near by. There’s no way you’d get a 2CV up those hills in 4th – they’re solid 3rd and maybe a quick dip to 2nd near the top if you didn’t get a good run at them on the way in.
As for HC (which is supposedly impassable to a 2CV) I similarly call horse. 1st gear in a 2CV is so low it won’t even get you half way across a set of traffic lights without needing to change up – you’ll run out of grip on the tyres long before you torque stall the engine. (Admittedly the grupetto would be faster up the hill but that’s not the point.)
Generally your biggest problem on hills in a 2CV is some idiot in a modern car in front of you that slows down for the corners – it’s all about conservation of momentum, as this person ably demonstrates.
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.
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.