Sunday, 28 April 2019

A Quick Word About.......Brake Pads

Brake Pads
Replacement from disc brake pads are available at a reasonable price but people in the know (and with very long memories) say they are not as good as originals. As people who know about these things, I'll let Citroen Classics tell the story. From their website HERE:

Textar used to make the original brake pads for D models and these were sold via Citroen and later via the aftermarket. They were a bit pricey, but by far the best brake pad available.
Original Equipment - 'Textar' brand brake pads
An inferior alternative came on the market at about half the price and so many people bought the cheap alternative, oblivious to the shortcomings of these pads and only seeing the price, that demand for the good Textar pads dropped to the point where Textar stopped making them. Now people who actually drive their cars and notice if the brakes are working properly or not and who want/need the good pads cannot get them.......

So there you have it.......

From my longish memory, in the 1990s Textars were about £80 and the cheap replacements were about £40. In particular, the Textars are felt to be superior as their fin arrangements aided air flow and brake cooling - and so reduced the chances of brake fade. The backs on some cheap copies were, and are still not, finned.
Reproductions: poor fin design (photocopyright Der Franzose)
Now it should be said at this point that if you shop around, you can find reproduction brake pads that are virtually identical to the Textars - though of course the brake lining material will have been changed to meet modern asbestos-free safety requirements.
Copies and Textars (photo Copyright Citroen-Andre)
Anyway, I dug out the pairs of pads that had been removed from my car. YES – they were Textars! I would have been happy to put those back into service except….when I dug out the second pair I found that the wearing surface of one had broken away from the backing plate – and not cleanly either. It looked quite crumbly.The mating surfaces were both grubby – suggesting the break had happened sometime ago and probably when the car was in use.

I must have discovered this when I first dismantled the brakes several years ago – it had just completely slipped my mind. Even if I could find an adhesive to reset the pad, I felt it was just too crumbly to give a good fix – and I didn’t want to risk a pad breaking up when in use.

Maybe this loose pad goes some way to explain the embarrassing and irritating low speed ‘farting’ my brakes would make when the car was stopping and virtually at a standstill (walking pace down to stopped). I do know there are other possible causes for this though.

This is probably a good time to explain how the wear warning indicators work. With the ignition on, a positive signal is fed from behind the dashboard to wires embedded into, and below the surface of the brake pads. My broken Textar is of some use here: 
Back of brake pad showing wear warning indicator wire embedded
When one or other of the pads wears down sufficiently far to expose the wire, it is earthed through the disc to the chassis completing an electrical circuit. This then illuminates a warning light on the dash. This warning light varies according to what dash your car has, but mine would look something like this:
Dash warning light - in this case showing low hydraulic pressure (Photo: Kelvin Ming)
I had picked up a set of NOS (new old stock) Ferodo brand pads many years ago – but these were the ‘ID19’ version without the electrical wires that connect to the ‘brake pad wear’ warning light. They have lovely fins, though I'm just noticing that while the pads themselves are the same size as the Textars, the backing plates are a different shape and bigger. it remains to be seen whether they will fit. I suspect they are for a pre-1966 car.

I checked my other gearboxes but no spare pairs of pads. They had already been removed. Bugger.

I can either:

- Use my Ferodo pads without ‘wear warning’ wires (assuming they fit)
- Try adding wires – but risk weakening the braking material in the process
- Buy some modern replacements with wires
- Find a part worn set of Textars from elsewhere
- Seek out some very expensive Textars. The current going rate is about £250!
In My Dreams: A Lovely new Set of Textars
It’s good to have choices! On the serious side, I’ve got time to explore this: swapping up pads at some point down the line should be straightforward.

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Front Brake Discs - Checking Runout

My front disc brakes looked quite a mess. Quite rusty. Not so much on the rubbing surface, but everywhere else - where they bolt on and around the rim edges. I guess this is partly down to road dirt when the car was my daily drive and partly down to many years sitting unloved in a barn.
Discs - June 2015
Back then I cleaned them up wire a wire wheel on a drill and was fairly happy with the results. I didn’t give them a protective layer of oil for obvious reasons. Returning to them now, they had started to show a patina of rust all over again and generally looked a little tired. Replacement discs are widely available and, thankfully on a DS, are surprisingly easy to fit.  However I had heard that, because of poor steel quality, they tend to wear quite quickly. Especially when in combination with modern asbestos-free disc pads.

Another option is to have my current discs grit-blasted. However there was no point in doing this if the discs were already excessively worn or warped. As a first step therefore, I needed to carry out some checks on the discs. Brake specifications are listed in Operation DX. 451-00 in Manual 518 and Operation D.450-00 in volume 1 of Manual 814.

My disks were well within tolerance for disc thickness and with no obvious cracks, grooves or ‘hot spots’ on the surface. The other key test that you find in the manual is for disc ‘run-out’  - effectively the degree of any warp in the disc. Some degree of variance/ warp should probably be expected, but Citroen specify tolerance for this.

The way to test this is to fit a gauge to a stable surface, with it's needle on the edge of a fitted disc. Rotating the dic reveals the degree of warp or run-out.  
From the manual: fitting and using the run-out gauge

First job though, was to replace the studs in the drive shafts. When I’d removed the shafts, half of the studs had come out with their nuts. These studs needed to be reset in the shaft flanges. I double-nutted them on the opposite ends to the stubborn nuts to give me some purchase. The studs were cleaned up on my wire wheel and degreased. I ran a small wire brush over the female threads and followed up with a nylon brush dipped in isopropanol alcohol.

With the studs and threads de-greased, I applied threadlock to each and double-nutted them back on the flanges.
Studs cleaned and refitted
I made sure there were no contaminants (grit or burrs) on the surfaces where the discs would bold. Now I was ready.

To test run-out I made up a simple rig to hold my dial gauge. I used the template for tool MR.630-52/21 already included in the Manual for this purpose. You can find it in the ‘Special Tools’ pages at the end of the first section of Volume 2 of Manual 814.
Bracket for measuring run-out with a gauge
I bought a length of 4mm steel bar from my local DIY store and bashed it around a bit in a vice. I hade to use an angle grinder to narrow the end where the gauge fitted so that it was reversible and could be used on both sides of the car.
Homemade bracket for run-out gauge
Gauge Fitted
This test was quite time consuming……..Following the instructions from step 23 onwards of Operation DX.330-4 of manual 518, (or Step 9 of 343-4 in section 1 of Volume 2 of manual 814) the discs were fitted to the differential shafts. The discs don’t bolt directly to the differential shafts. Instead they are sandwiched between the drive shaft and the flange of the differential shaft. Fitting them now, I had to use several washers on each stud/ nut to cover for the absence of the flange of the drive shaft. I tightened each disc down but not to the final torque figure.

Relative to the disc, the gauge needs to be fitted to something that doesn’t move. With a disc in place, the dial gauge bracket was bolted to the top hole where the parking brake calipers would eventually fit. I didn’t have a suitable bolt so used one of the caliper bolts – together with a socket as a spacer. The gauge needs to be set up so that it is contact with the outermost edge of the disc radius on the side of the disc that faces the wheel.
Dial gauge in place on the right hand disc.....
I rotated the other differential. Simply for ease of reading, I found the ‘low’ spot and zero-ed the dial. Rotating the disc again I measured the degree of change in the dial gauge. With the help of my son Tom, I made a video to show this process in action:
VIDEO: Testing Disc Brake Run Out (left hand disc)

I had a fair amount of needle judder (due to the gauges sensitivity and the discs roughness), but (as can be seen) the first test consistently gave a disc run out of about 0.22mm (yes – as much as that!). Joking aside, the Citroen specified tolerance is 0.15mm, so that test was a ‘fail’. The remedy is to remove the disc, rotate it 120 degrees clockwise relative to the studs (and so hub flange), refit and test again. That was the time consuming bit…..Allowing for machining tolerances on the mating surfaces of the disc and hub flange, presumably the aim is to see if there is a particular position (of the three possibles) that gives a reading within tolerance. If you find one - fit the disc in that position.

Before moving the disc, I used chalk to mark the ‘low’ and ‘high’ spots on the disk and hub for ‘test 1’. ‘Test 2’ gave the same results…..As did ‘test 3’…... The chalk marks were in broadly the same areas of the disc circumference – i.e. they moved around relative to a particular stud on the hub - indicating that the warp was on the disc itself and not a high spot on a particular part of the hub. That was good news as I didn’t want to have to pull the differential off again and get it machined.

I did the tests several times - so that’s several circuits - just to confirm my conclusions: run out on the disc and in excess of Citroen-specified tolerance. In this situation, the Citroen manual simply says ‘change the disc”, however the specifications also give tolerances for skimming (grinding) the discs – implying that for some problems, rectification is possible.

I went through the same process for the disc from the other side and found that one to be within tolerance – 0.10mm in all three positions. Just for good measure I then did it all over again trying the discs on the opposite sides! I arrived at a point where one disc was 0.10 and so within tolerance, but the other was 0.22mm and so out of tolerance.

Now 0.07mm (out of) out of tolerance didn’t sound a lot to me! But of course that did represent 0.07mm beyond a given figure – and I guess there has to be some kind of limit. I sought advice on various forums as to how critical these margins were in practice. I got some helpful answers but, as you can probably expect, these fell into both the ‘don’t worry’ and ‘do worry’ camps…..

One option for curing disc problems is to fit special abrasive brake pads. These are available from Der Franzose and so probably the other suppliers too.
"Brake Sharpening" Pads
Franzose say that these are/ were used in Citroen workshops though I’ve not found any reference to their use in in the workshop manuals as one of the remedies for brake disc run-out problems.  To use special pads the car needs to be assembled and running. I guess that they are a crude way of fixing problems and it would be difficult to measure the impact on disc run post-use with everything re-assembled.

In the end I sent my two discs of to my local engineer with the brake units for skimming and blasting. Decisions were needed:

Assuming that my out-of-tolerance disc is of uniform thickness and simply slightly warped, then any high/ low spots really need to be removed from both faces of the disc – to maintain uniformity. It would have been tempting to remove only enough to bring the disc back within tolerance – but that would have had the effect of lopping the top half off the warp ‘hump’ creating a flattened warp peak with a rise and fall both sides. Would that create new brake problems? To prevent this, the whole 0.22mm would have to come off. Same on the other side…..that meant reducing the overall disc thickness by 0.44mm. That was starting to sound like a lot….That was almost half the permissible wear on a disc – meaning that I was reducing the life of the disc and hastening the need for the new discs I was trying to avoid!

More decisions: to give unifom braking performance on both wheels, should the other in-tolerance disc be skimmed – just to give it a clean surface like the other disc?

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Winter Diversions 2 - Learning To Weld

It’s been very quiet around here on the DS front…..

Because of all the building work we are having done, the garage has been emptied and gutted. 
Still Now
This all started back in November 2018 and there is no way my DS and various parts could have stayed in there while all this work went on. Instead, the car is off site (back at the farm where it languished for so many years). I vowed at the time that the car would be gone no longer than five months. Well that's not working out at all. I think the main building work will take another couple of months and, even then, I want to paint the garage floor and will need to rack out the garage again before I can bring the car back and work on it. At the moment all the parts are stacked in boxes in my workshop……

…..and the wooden shed at the end of the garden. 
So what have I been up to? Well, I decided to learn to weld! As a DS owner I have a sneaking feeling it might come in handy. I talked myself into it on the basis of being able to save costs by rebuilding my own doors. I was, however fully aware that was a rather skilled art and that I would not be in a position to tackle that job on day one (ed. If at all….). First, I would need to learn some 'craft'. If panel welding proved too tricky, then Plan B was just to use the welder on a number of smaller jobs around the car and for fabricating things. Plan C was that I could re-sell it on if I discovered that me and welding did not get on…..

I won't presume to tell you how to weld because, as a novice myself, I have very little idea. I did think though, that it might be helpful if I explained how I approached all of this. As ever, it started with research.

I  started by eyeing up the different welders that were on the market - new and second hand. I read posts, queries and problems in welding forums, and picked the brains of a couple of people who have restored their own Ds. I reached the following conclusions (Note: other conclusions are also available!)
  • ‘Cebora’ brand welders are well-respected in the hobby/ home, non/ semi-professional market. They have been (still are?) re-branded and badged as ‘Snap-On’ welders with the accompanying hoik in price.
  • The wire spool and feed mechanism is a crucial component for successful MIG welding. Cheaper welders can have poor quality and inconsistent feed mechanisms.
Example of a wire feed mechanism
  • Go for a more powerful welder (more amps). I’d seen dirt cheap, low amp, welders that are only able to cope with the thinnest of metals and wouldn’t be able to cope with some jobs I might want to undertake.
  • Go for a welder that provides for a wide current range and that allows you maximum control over that range. I’d seen cheap welders that had little more than an on/ off switch – so no flexibility to cope with different thicknesses of metal.
  • Similarly, go for a welder that allows you maximum control over wire-feed speed.
Welding current (1 -6 dial) and wire speed (1-11) controls
  • Check the cycle time/ duty time as stated on the spec. plate on the welder. This tells you how much resting ‘down time’ there will need to be between bouts of welding.
  • MIG welding needs gas. Many people see this as an unnecessary inconvenience but the gas is there for a reason - it's not optional. It provides a shield around the weld and ensures that the weld is neat, strong and fit for purpose. The give-away on any prospective welding machine is that the welder will have gas hoses and a pressure regulator valve. You can buy welders that don't use gas (instead they use core-fluxed welding wire) - but that's not really MIG welding. So go for gas! Get a gas welder and you have a choice.
  • There are different regulators/ valves for different gas bottles. You will need the right one for the gas you intend to buy/ use - otherwise you will need to buy an appropriate replacement regulator for your welder. That's pretty straightforward, just more expense.
Older style regulator - but suitable for MIG Argon mix and for standard BOC bottle fittings
  • Buying gas under contract is not cost effective for someone with my planned usage. Research local gas suppliers. Where will you get yours?
  • Different welders use different wire thicknesses. Body panels are only 0.8mm thick (!)  so, for body panel welding, you will typically want to use lower currents and so a welder that can handle the thinner 0.6mm welding wire. However you may also want to do larger welding jobs so need a welder that can also take 0.8mm wire. 
  • Some modern welders have a ‘tack weld’ time function that allows you to have a short controlled burst of weld. Handy for ‘stitching’ thin panels together and for reducing the risk of ‘blow through’ from applying heat for too long.
  • Buying a welder is only the first step. There will be lots of things you then need to source/ buy before you can weld. Most importantly: personal protective equipment (PPE) but also welding gas and other ancillaries and consumables. Leave some budget for these.
MIG Welding Machines
I bought a MIG welder off Fleabay at Christmas.  I ended up with a Cebora ‘Autostar 180’. It's probably 20 years old but in very good condition.
Ebay purchase
The same welder is also marketed as a Snap-On ‘Pro-MIG 160’. The internals are the same but the badging is very individual and only an idiot could fail to tell them apart.
Two brands, one welder.
With a name like 'Autostar 180' it would be tempting to think that you were getting a welder with a max welding current of 180 amps. That's not the case. The actual max welding current is 145 amps. So don’t be misled by a name.

But 145 amps is not bad. I should be able to weld metal up to 6mm thick. Maybe 8mm at a push. There are many small, cheap welders badged as ‘130s’. The actual welding current of these may only be 90 amps, or less in some cases. Added to this, they can have poor duty cycle times, a very narrow operating range and very limited control of how that range is adjusted. If you're shopping for a welder, all the clues are marked on a plate. This tells you about the operating range and other characteristics. Allow me to translate:
Welder Technical Specification Plate
    • The '1' in the top row tells you it has a 'single-phase'  transformer/ rectifier - meaning it can be used on a domestic circuit and has a standard three-pin plug fitted. '3' would mean 'three phase' and require significant re-wiring of your house.
    • The table below this gives you an indication of the welding potential of the particular machine. Related to 'duty time' (see below), the table shows it's maximum capability in one column and in another the power level at which it can comfortably operate without any downtime (that's the '100%' column)
    • The top row of the table  tells you that the voltage and current draw is between 20 amps/ 15v and 145 amps/ 21 volts according to which setting you select (so the maximum welding current is 145 amps).
    • The I2 figures state given welding currents and include the max. value (145 amps)
    • Correspondingly, the 'X' figure and the %s,  tell you what proportion of 10 mins the welder can run for at the corresponding current setting - so mine can operate for 2 mins 30 secs at 145 amps before it overheats. After it's duty time, it needs a 7 min 30 second rest. It also shows you the maximum current it can weld without a break: it can weld all day long (100%) at 75 amps. For welding thin body panels, I expect to be making lots of short tack welds  - so there will be plenty of down time and the duty cycle should not be an issue.
    • The U2 is the corresponding voltage for the approriate welding currents.
    • The I1 figures tell you the corresponding draw on your domestic supply. 
    • The U1 value shows that this model is for the UK market and so a 240V domestic supply.
    • 'IP21' refers to the strength of the case.
    • The big 'S' at the bottom tells you that the welder can take a little bit of dampness but should not be used in the rain.
As you can see, mine has a range of between 145 amps and 20 amps with six settings dividing max. from min. - so a fair degree of flexibility in the settings. The duty time is also more than acceptable for what I think I will need. (If I'm welding body panels, I won't be expecting to weld long beads or the panels will warp). It has a fixed torch (fixed into the body). More modern welders have a ‘euro’ adaptor and the torch unplugs from the welder. It’s designed to handle 0.6mm or 0.8mm wire. The wire feed mechanism seems sturdy and the wire speed control goes all the way up to "11" !! It looks used but not abused and I’m told it was bought secondhand from a body shop – so has probably been used for exactly the same job I plan to use it for. All in all it seems to tick the right boxes. I’m not kidding myself: better welders are available but I think I’ll be happy with mine. 

Further Necessary Expenditure
PPE (personal protective equipment):

  • ‘Auto-darkening’ welding helmet. Very common these days. bit like polarising sunglasses, these ‘black out’ as soon as the welding arc is struck. When the weld stops, the viewing panel clears. Simples! The difference is that they are either battery or solar powered. Check out the reaction time from light to darkened. Mine will change from light to dark in 1/25000ths of a second. That's a fixed speed - not adjustable. Others can be faster. 
Auto-darkening welding helmet
The helmets have other adjustable features and so tend to have a series of controls inside them. 
Helmet set up controls
Look out how sensitive the mask is to detecting changes in light - i.e whether you can adjust the threshold that triggers the darkening action.  Better helmets have more sensors - which mean, whatever the angle of your head, they are better at sensing changes in light and the need to darken. Mine has four sensors. Also see how long the delay is before the window becomes light again. This can be anything up to a second. Although you want the helmet to go dark quickly, you don't want it going light as quickly as a bit of delay helps protect your eyes as the weld cools. Make sure the helmet can be adjusted to the right level of shade needed for MIG welding – you want something including a range encompassing "shade 10" to "shade 13". (On mine, the 'mode' control is a just a quicker way of adjusting shade). Also, try to get one with as big a viewing window as you can afford. The window in mine is 100mm x 73mm. Doesn't sound a lot, but that's quite generous.
  • Long leather gloves to protect not only your hands, but also your wrists – preferably with a degree of heat insulation. If you’ve got big hands – beware. Even gloves marketed as ‘XL’ size can be a tight fit – making them uncomfortable and impractical.
  • Goggles or glasses. With molten metal flying around, you may want to also wear safety glasses or goggles in addition to your helmet.
  • You might also want to think about a breathing mask. (See further below). 
  • Footwear. Wear some. You don’t want molten metal on your M&S slippers.
Other Equipment
I also bought some tools and some ancillaries:

  • Spare welding tips for 0.6mm wire
  • Spare welding tips for 0.8mm wire
  • A reel of 0.6mm welding wire 
  • A pair of welding pliers. A little extravagant. The main use is for trimming the ends of welding wire, but they are also shaped to help remove hot welding gun tips and to clean spatter from inside the welding shroud.
    Welding pliers
  • Joddlers
I bought a pair with two functions: they can be used for creating a slight offset edge to a panels for overlap seams.....
Joddled Edge
......and they can also punch holes for plug welds:
Punched Holes for Plug Welding
  •       A second cheap angle grinder - again, a bit extravagant, but it means that I can have one fitted with a thin cutting disc and one fitted with a thicker surface cleaning disc. (Thanks for the tip Peter!)
  •       And of course I bought gas.........
The main gas used in MIG welding is Argon. A typical mix especially for MIG welding will be argon (95%) – with a little CO2 mixed in (5%). Some suppliers supply a mix that has 3% CO2 and 2% oxygen.

To reduce cost, some people, on friendly terms with a pub landlord, use pub gas. In other words cellar gas. BUT you have to make sure you use the right one - pure CO2. Some pub gases are a mix of gases to stop the drink (bitter for example) being too fizzy. You don't want to be using that gas....... and bitter shouldn't be fizzy anyway.

BOC (British Oxygen Company) might appear a first choice for a supplier of gas bottle, however their business model doesn’t suit the hobby welder who may only want to weld once in a while – or indeed may have a specific short term project and no requirement thereafter. They require you to set up a contract. Their prices are high and their terms include ongoing costs of bottle rental - whether you are welding or not. 

Instead I went with ‘Adams Gas’ – a hobby supplier. That have outlets all over the place. My nearest one happens to be a farm on the outskirts of town. A deposit needs to be paid on the first bottle (this is refundable if/ when you return the bottle) and of course you pay for contents – but that’s it. No hidden charges. Get a bottle and use it as quickly or slowly as you lilke. No contracts involved. You can buy small 9 litre bottles, but I worked out that a 20 litre bottle offered good value.

I still need to buy one (or two different) pairs of snips and several clamps for holding pieces of steel plate together. I'm sure there will be other things I need - such as hammers and dollies?

First Tentative Steps
I looked into welding courses but there were none near me and they were expensive. With the amount I'd need to pay for a welder, ancillaries, consumables, repair sections and the cost of the course, I could have just got someone to repair my doors for me! So I decided to try to teach myself. Before I even turned on the welder, I watched a good number of videos on Youtube. No matter what video you find, they attract very mixed comments in terms of criticism and the right/ wrong way to do things so, while I picked up some basics, I decided that the best way to learn will be by doing……

Although it’s very unlikely I will be running beads on body panels, I started by practicing running some beads on scraps primarily just to gain confidence in handling the equipment but of course also to see what power and wire feed settings worked on different thicknesses, and to see how the torch position and movement speed affected things. I also tried some deliberate ‘fails’ – just so I could understand how to correct errors (that’s my  story and I’m sticking to it).

Very first efforts…….
Very First Efforts
I got a bit braver.......
One Thing badly welded to Another Thing
Ultimately I will have to aim to become a lot more skilled at this if I am going to be welding thin body panels as this is fraught with welding difficulties:  firstly in terms of the thin metal heating, warping and distorting as you try to join pieces, and secondly from the risk of the weight of the molten weld falling through the panels you are repairing – leaving a bigger hole than you started with…….

To get some practice in, I got hold of a dented car door from a skip (just happened to be a Citroen door!). As I needed to weld to clean, bare metal, this door also gave me the opportunity to experiment with various paint strippers and grinding wheels.
Practicing on a Real Thing
I deliberately ran the welder at too much current to find out what ‘bad’ looked like and how ‘blow through’ appeared. "Blow through" is where the weight of the molten metal falls through the welding surface. The light pressure of the shielding gas may play a part, but I reckon gravity is the main culprit. It looks like this:
"Blow Through"
In hindsight, practicing on this door was not such a good idea! It is lined with sound-deadening material and possibly zinc* and has lots of plastic bits tucked away inside. The heat from the welding soon started to generate some very noxious fumes that were clearly unhealthy.

·      * Do not weld zinc plated metals! Remove the zinc! Exposure to zinc-oxide can cause ‘metal fume fever’ – which has flu-like symptoms (so a.k.a. “Welders flu”). And we all know how bad Man Flu can be eh, men?

I've now bought myself some 0.8mm sheet steel. I'll be using some of it to practice on and will have plenty left over for any patching or fabrication that might be needed on my doors or elsewhere. Though the plan at the moment is to fit replacement door bottom kits and buy complete new door skins - to avoid seams and moisture traps if water runs down the inside of the door. 

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Winter Diversions 1 - Sharing The Love

The February Citroenian plopped through my door at the end of January and the following advert caught my eye:
Lots of people (as far away as Australia!) have helped me with my own restoration and the thing you realise is to take the opportunities to do the same and help others when you can - be it with knowledge, experience, a helping hand or parts. In this instance I had some spare seats that were just the thing Tim was looking for. This also had the potential to be a "win-win". 

Many years ago I'd acquired a couple of sets of Rhovyline-covered, early-style, low back, lever-operated seats. When I moved house in 2002, these ended up in the eaves of my parents garage down in Essex. As with my car, they sat forgotten for many, many years - but my aged parents would occasionally remind me they still had them. The last time they had mentioned this was Christmas 2018, and I had gradually come to realise that they were worried about them on my behalf. I had resolved to move them (somewhere) if only to stop my parents worrying. 

Anyway - here was a potential solution. I rang my parents to remind myself quite what I had stored away. I had no idea what the covers and foam would be like (they were pretty poor when i got them), but if Tim only wanted the frames, then he was welcome to them.

I rang Tim, checking what car he needed them for. It turned out that he has a 1968 DS21 bvh.  Seat condition wasn't going to be an issue: Tim planned to buy new foam liners and had sourced some red fabric. He was planning on making new covers with his own fair hands. The seats would be just fine and so I duly offered them up. 

It wouldn't have been practical or cost-effective for Tim to have the seats couriered. It turned out that Tim is based in Suffolk and, with my parents being down in Essex  - that was not too far away at all. Rather than me collect the seats and then have Tim collect them from me at a later date, it made sense just to meet at my parents and get it over and done with. A date was set. Tim would be driving his DS. That was a bonus. My car is also a 1968 DS21 bvh Pallas, so there was a great  opportunity to compare cars and notes. Especially as, at some point in time, his car had acquired a DX2 engine - just like mine once had.

Leaving early in the morning I arrived at my parents with time for a cup of tea and a sandwich before it was time to fish the seats out of the eaves. 
Waiting To Go
It wasn't much of a surprise to find that mice had been nesting in at least one of the seats. Boy, did it stink! 
There's a mouse nest in there somewhere.....

It was more of a surprise to find that they had chewed a neat, deep, round crater in the underside of the rear seat!
Mouse Action
Mouse Crater......
Tim arrived and over a cup of tea we spent some time admiring his car. He'd bought it while living in France. He'd spotted it at a garage where it had been left for work - either never completed or never paid-for. Maybe both. Anyway, there it sat. It took the intervention of another French friend before the garage owner agreed to sell it to this Englishman. Tim was thoroughly enjoying owning and driving his car and uses it to tow a vintage caravan - which he also plans to re-upholster! 
Tim's lovely 1968 DS21
I think Tim said his car had recently had a full engine rebuild, and he was getting through a few other jobs. He had, for example, re-sprayed the wrinkle finish on his dashboard using what we concluded would have been VHT grey wrinkle paint. I recall many years ago that Charles Vyse had also done this on his 1966 DS21 "Snoopy".
The dashboard has been re-painted with wrinkle paint
The colour of the wrinkle paint wasn't the factory-correct 'gris rose' but on seeing it, I felt that if I had the choice between smooth gris rose, or wrinkled mid grey - I would go for the wrinkled: that seemed to be that factor that made the mid period DS dashboard what it was meant to be, and the mid grey colour was not out of keeping.

As well as picking up a DX2 engine at some point, the car had also picked up a tired leather interior from a later car along the way, which was why Tim wanted to put back in a set of 'proper' lever operated seats. He'd been on a fruitless search for replacement "Jersey Rhovyline" fabric to recover his seats. It's a lovely material, with a felt-like feel. It's warm in winter but cool in summer. Unfortunately, that fabric is no longer manufactured. You can buy covers (and the foam) for the earlier style of seats from the usual suspects. The colours are a good match to what would have been available at the time. Unfortunately the material used is Jersey Nylon - as used from 1970 onwards. 

Tim was more than happy with the seats frames. The seats themselves tend to go a little bald and loose their shape because the 'Dunlopillo' foam inside hardens and compresses. Although he had managed to find some suitable fabric he was happy with, he was even happier to see that the Rhovyline covers on the seats I was giving him were dark red - just the look he was trying to recreate.  Since he planned to buy new foam anyway, Tim was considering washing and re-using the covers from my seats. On that basis, I gave him the two halves of the rear seat too. I've also got the other red front seat somewhere and when I find it I'll give Tim a call. Perhaps it's just as well I didn't have it at the moment: all the seat pieces just about fitted in his DS. I took a couple more reference photos of under his bonnet to aid my own rebuild and with that he was on his way.
All Loaded Up and Ready To Go
Since I was on a road trip, and sharing the love, I'd also made arrangements to drop in and see Peter 'Badabec' on my return journey. He's over Epping Forest way. He had been kind enough to give me a set of pistons and liners when I was rebuilding my engine. More recently he'd lent me a gearbox input shaft to help realign my clutch  - and I needed to get  that back to him.
Using Peter's gearbox shaft to refit my clutch
Peter had restored his own D Super 5 and carried out a number of improvements along the way. He's a great believer in fitting relays to ease the burden on electrical switches and wiring: using relays for your headlights means they can be wired to draw power straight from the battery, rather than through the delicate contacts of switches and so can be more consistently brighter. Fitting the relays requires a bit of a re-think of the wiring loom so a rebuild is the ideal time to 'future-proof' the car. 

My 1968 DS has a single relay fitted for the high beam of both headlamps. There is no relay for the low beams. I've already bought a couple of period 'Sanor' relays and am planning to fit those as part of the rebuild. As Peter has done, I'm thinking of mounting them to the battery cage under the bonnet and have sourced an old mounting bracket from Citroen Classics with that in mind.
Peter's Ambulance - All Relayed-Up
Peter had also devised a very clever solution to the poor design of the plastic-bodied valve mounted on top of the heater matrix in later cars. He used an in-line valve intended for a TX1 taxi cab.
TX1 taxi heater valve
Like the later Ds, it's also cable-operated, but the open and closed positions are the reverse of the Citroen tap (and so the reverse of the hot/ cold indicator on the dashboard lever). It will still work that way, but to rectify this, Peter took the tap apart and swapped the lever around.  For the hose connection to the top of the matrix, Peter made a plate from 1/8" brass, soldered on a 15mm copper 90 degree elbow and a short length of copper pipe. It all looks like this. All very neat and looks as though Citroen designed it that way. 
Peter's in-line heater valve
As well as owning, driving, maintaining and improving his D Super 5, Peter is now also getting stuck into restoring a DS20 Safari - and I was very keen to see it. When he bought it, it was an ambulance, and part of the transformation will be to return it to standard spec. 

I say "standard spec" but I'm sure there will be a few modifications along the way.

I'll keep you posted!