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.
We have a space by the back door that’s south facing and an ideal spot for a climber. Being from Kent I decided to try and see if I could grow a hop in this spot. As a bonus I found a nursery that sells hops a few miles up the valley from where I grew up.
Hops are a rhizome so need space for the roots, from what I’ve read they will grow in containers – provided they are big enough. As this is by the access to the back door space was at a premium so I got two narrow planters, took the bottom off one, and fixed them on top of each other to create more volume. Growing in a container will probably dwarf them and reduce the crop but as I don’t want it growing onto the roof of the house and as I’ve selected an ornamental variety I think it’ll be fine.
The hop comes as a bare root wrapped in moss for protection.
The planter was lined with a bin bag to help protect the wood and the bottom half was filled with topsoil I had for the lawn and the top half with garden centre compost. Then I hollowed out a space for the roots and filled that with compost from the bin.
Following the hop planting guide, the crown is below the surface of the soil which was then well soaked from the rain water butt.
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.
In the Tintin adventure of King Ottokar’s Sceptre the Bordurian Air Force are shown operating Messerschmitt Bf 109s.
However, these were added in the redrawn and colourised 1947 edition. The first, black and white, edition – that was serialised weekly from August 1938 to August 1939 – shows them operating Heinkel He 118 dive bombers.
Whilst the individual panel compositions have basically remained the same, the page composition for this sequence has been changed in going from four pages down to two:
Heinkel He 188
The photo of an He 118 from Wikipedia matches one frame of the book exactly. Hergé was known for keeping extensive scrap books and using them as reference when drawing Tintin books so it is likely that this photo ended up in his scrap book before becoming the basis for this frame.
The He 118 was a prototype German dive bomber design that lost out to the Junkers Ju 87 Stuka in the mid 1930s and was never ordered by the Luftwaffe. So, whilst it would have been contemporary when Hergé was initially writing the book, the Bf 109, being the main fighter of the Luftwaffe during WWII, would have been much more recognisable to readers in 1947.
It seems that Hergé didn’t have many reference images for the He 118 as the inboard sections of the gull wings are drawn as wing root fillets in most images.
Which Bf 109 version is it?
The Bf 109 was probably drawn by Edgar P. Jacobs who, as part of Studios Hergé, oversaw a lot of the background detail work of post-war Tintin books. It doesn’t exactly resemble any one specific variant of the Bf 109: the nose – and specifically the chin mounted radiator – most closely resemble the Jumo engined B that saw service in the Spanish Civil War but the rounded wing tips most closely resemble the F.
Other details that don’t match between versions are the fixed tail wheel (it was made retractable in the F); the lack of bracing struts for the tail plane (they were first removed for the F); the small triangular panels in front of the cockpit are shown as unglazed (first seen in later F models); and it’s shown with five exhaust stubs on each side that would indicate a V10 engine which was never used in the airframe.
It does look somewhat like the Merlin engined HA-1112 but the details of the nose and the lack of under wing radiators don’t match.
Perrin acoustic locator
The Syldavians are shown as using what looks very much like a Perrin acoustic locator to detect the approach of Tintin in his Bordurian aircraft.
This was designed by French Nobel prize winner Jean-Baptiste Perrin and the locator featured on the cover of Popular Mechanics in December 1930 – which may well have found its way into Hergé’s scrapbook.
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.