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Zel's Motoring Adventures...Lada, Citroen, Mercedes & AC Model 70 - 14/09 - Van Tidying.

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Again been running around all day so haven't had much chance to do much useful.

A few days ago though I finally got around to properly sorting something which had been bugging me on the Xantia since the day I got it.  As with about 80% of them I've seen, the window seals were lifting at the rear of the driver's door and front of the rear offside passenger door.

This meant they always sat a little proud, and periodically would get snagged by passers by, so you'd come back to this.IMG_20181104_222915.thumb.jpg.a967778db070aa8bddbb64a29d8647ce.jpg

There should be a little clip behind there, but this is long gone on mine.

So as seems to be becoming traditional for me, I solved this issue by glooping the offending item in Sikaflex and fastening it in place while this set.


End result?


I'll take that.  What I wasn't expecting was in addition to looking far better this has also reduced the wind noise in the cabin at motorway speeds very noticeably.


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14 minutes ago, LightBulbFun said:

given the amount of noise it made, I wonder how much drag it produced and if you will see any MPG improvements now you have fixed it? :)

MPG improvement...hahahaha...don't forget that there's a TCT engine in this thing...thirsty doesn't come close.  25mpg is a very good day. 

She'll manage mid 30s on a run no bother, but our local area isn't exactly friendly for a heavily turbocharged engine from the early 80s (possibly earlier, tired enough I'm struggling to remember...).

One more reason having the Invacar on fleet is hoped to save me a few quid for local runs...

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So a quick update on the headlight upgrade experiment.

Here's something that is worth looking at - the actual beam image.

H4 (retrofit into R2 headlight).


LED H4 replacement (in actual H4 headlight).


Out of curiosity I went and put the LED one into the driver's side too - obviously requiring manual alignment as this headlight is still set up for an R2 lamp not H4...no deal-breaker though.

What's interesting is that I actually seem to have a far better beam on the offside one than nearside...


That's actually not bad...it's not stellar, but it's certainly serviceable... I've driven cars with aged headlight reflectors which went through the MOT every year without issues with far worse beam definition.

I have a feeling that what I'm seeing here in terms of a left/right difference is that the offside light while old is a genuine Hella one whereas the nearside is a Depo branded replacement...so it may just be a poorer quality headlight.  Can't say I've ever heard of Depo...though it was in a Euro Car Parts box, which doesn't instill confidence!

Backing up the truck a little (somewhat literally in this case given Merc would actually have supplied the vehicle to AutoTrail as a cab and open chassis) gives a better look at how things really look.


That's deliberately underexposed to show the beam cutoff.  I'm happy nobody is getting blinded and no nuns or kittens will be harmed if I go for a road test.

This better shows how much light actually gets where you need it (though the white door has obviously washed out).



Main beam.


I'm actually quite impressed.  I'm not quite sure how much is purely psychological because of the light being a cleaner white, but the LEDs do seem to do a better job of actually lighting the area in front of the van.

Even under our quite bright LED streetlights it's quite clear where the main throw of the headlights is here.  In comparison, you can barely see that the road is being lit when doing this in the Citroen.


It's hard to see in the photo, but there's na decent spill off to the left too - this is noticeably better than with the standard H4 lamp.

I'm very surprised.  I had honestly expected these things to be about as much use as a Christmas Cracker flashlight...but they actually seem to work...and actually work pretty well... longevity however is a completely different matter.  I still would be surprised if the thermal management of these is even close to adequate.

I think I really need to re-run this test with the Lada as it's got a properly matched set of headlights and actually has a really good set of headlights out the box.  It lacking an MOT however is is somewhat inconvenient...so might have to wait a bit.  That car does lend itself to testing better though as the lamps can easily be changed in seconds.  The van requires the grill and respective headlight to be pulled.  Only takes a minute but is still a faff.

Overall though... I'm really surprised.  I'd expected these to either give out a pitifully useless amount of light or to blind everyone.  Reasonable beam control and useful output were surprises.

Obviously they can not be recommended even if they were reliable though given the lack of (real!) E markings and type approval... they're not legal for road use, which is why they will be removed tomorrow.

Does show though that the possibility of a proper H4 LED replacement isn't maybe a complete sun dream...it might be a real thing some day.

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What a bloody waste of a whole afternoon.

Gardening.  Bloody hate it.

Exhibit A:


Which of course refused to run properly.  Meaning I'd already put my back out, wrenched my right shoulder and smacked my right arm into the bin before we'd even got close to any actual work.

After well over an hour I eventually came to the conclusion that the only logical issue could be stale fuel...even though it's hardly been in there for ages...Figured I'd mix some fresh up and see how it went.  Realised at that point I was out of two stroke oil.

Cue much swearing as this required me to go out and face the retail park which is always utter carnage at the weekend - especially 1530 on a Sunday when everyone is scrambling to get stuff before everything closes.

As predicted it was an utter zoo - not helped by one of the poorest car park layouts I've ever seen.

Eventually got in and back out (after a 15 minute queue in Halfords where they had a single till in use), and got back to the task at hand.

After a further half hour of faffing around I got the hedge trimmer mostly running okay.


So that's essentially four hours work start to finish... really doesn't feel like a productive use of my time!

I've done to the boundary of hour property.  I got an earful from the neighbor along that way for offering to do the whole stretch several years ago...so that bit just stays overgrown.

If I've any energy available after dinner I'll see about getting into the garage as there's no shortage of things to do in there, but not holding my breath.  Given the current energy and discomfort levels it's definitely not a givun.

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Very quick evening update.

New plates are on.



The old ones really had had it.


Flash shows just how bad they were.


Small job in the grand scheme of things, but nice to have it ticked off the list.  Do need to get some proper fasteners for the front one though to tidy it up.  I do have some in a box somewhere...

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looks very nice! :) 

are those rear plastic screws new ones or old ones? I was warned that they can get brittle with age so I plan to replace the ones on REV with new ones at some point so I dont lose one of her plates because of them

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They're the ones which came with the car.  Seem to be in good order though.

I'll be replacing them all with stainless machine screws with the appropriate coloured caps though once I figure out which box they're in anyway.

Sorting out my garage really needs to happen.  I'm getting thoroughly fed up of not being able to find anything.

Even if it's a while before I can get all the shelving in, I need to go and attack the one wall with a bunch of books...there's a huge amount of stuff which currently sits in piles on the floor which could be hung up, and would mean some tools could at least have a proper home rather than "wherever I've managed to wedge it so it hopefully doesn't fall over and scratch the car I've just painted."

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On 9/9/2019 at 12:38 AM, Noel Tidybeard said:

maybe the citreon is a better test bed for OMGLED bulbs- you could improve from crap to adequate! lol

I'm keeping an eye on Wish, if a set of H1 (need to double check if they're H1 or H7...The S1 cars use one, the S2 the other and I can never remember which is which) lamps turn up as similarly cheaply as these did I may well do a similar experiment.  The only reason I grabbed these though was that they were so ridiculously cheap, £3 including postage that it came under the heading of being worth it purely to satisfy my curiosity. I'll also need two sets for the Xantia as it has physically separate lamps for dip and main.  Both of which are barely passable - even with relays mounted in the headlights themselves to eliminate the usual issues with voltage drop on the supply lines.


The new gearbox mounts have arrived for the Invacar.


Here's the part number stamped into the rubber - worth knowing as it would surprise me if these weren't used in other vehicles.  Land Rover is sticking in my mind, though I've no idea whether I'm making that up.


...Not forgetting the paper label still attached with twine.


Wow.  I honestly didn't realise know utterly shot the ones I've currently got on the car are until I picked these up.  The ones on there currently are distinctly "squidgy" and you can easily move the two sides around by hand.  These are really quite solid...Based on this information it wouldn't surprise me if this significantly improves my "clutch judder" issue.

Still feeling pretty wrecked from the garden work at the weekend and we've got a friend currently staying over with us due to ill health while their partner is away on business, so time isn't on my side currently - nevertheless I'd really like to get these fitted in the next couple of days.  It would allow me to tick off another item that's been on the whiteboard since I had KPL and that always feels good.

Having seen how shot my current mounts are as well makes me feel more justified in binning the couple of random ones I have floating around - I fitted the best two that I had in stock when I did the engine transplant...so the "spares" I have are beyond redemption I think...

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Task one for the afternoon, get the correct lamps back into the headlights on the van as I was satisfied the LED experiment had run its course.  While it was an interesting diversion, they aren't road legal so there was never any intention of them staying in there beyond getting some test images photographed.

Looks much less jarring with things the right sort of colour temperature.


Something I did while I was there was to clean up the offside headlight a bit.

While it's hard to catch on camera it was very obvious that quite a lot of light was being scattered by dirt on the inside of the lens.  Quite visible looking closely at it.




That can't have been doing anything any favours.

Helpfully, the lenses on these lights are simply held in by four tabs screwed to the case and a good quality foam gasket, so they're easily dismantled.

With the lens off it's clear that the reflector is actually in better shape than I'd thought.  Not perfect as there is a bit of clouding and the coating is flaking from a couple of areas, but it's quite serviceable and can stay in place until I come across another new light.  RHD lights for these don't come up for sale all that often on eBay etc these days, and ones from mainstream suppliers are expensive.  There is a company in Germany which offer a re-silvering service for reflectors...I remember giving serious consideration to getting the nearside one done a couple of years back on the Saab as it was badly tarnished and had an advisory for "No clear beam image" on that light going back at least as far as 2005 on every MOT.


It's pretty immediately visible how much cleaner things look with all the gunk scrubbed off the inside of the lens.


Which has sharpened up the beam definition visibly looking at it across the street.

Visible looking directly at it too, I like this photo as it really shows how the reflector, the shade in the lamp and the diffraction pattern in the lens all work together to get the light where you want it.


Looking at the nearside one, even with the correct lamp back in the beam still isn't as well defined as the offside one - so I think this just has to be chalked up to being a poorer quality replacement lamp housing.  Being a £30 special from Euro Car Parts, this doesn't surprise me.


Might be a few days, but I'll try to get the same photos as I did with the LED kit fitted so that I can show those for comparison.


Moving to the Invacar, I had a look at getting the new gearbox mounts fitted, before deciding that's a job for another day.  For a start I need the trolley jack to support the engine and it's currently sitting under the nearside rear suspension arm because I'm lacking a nearside rear wheel.  I don't have the patience to dig out the axle stands from the far end of the garage and switch stuff around today...plus I'd rather do jobs which involve messing with the weight distribution when it's fitted with all three wheels.

So...back to the stuck wheel stud.  You know sometimes you come across jobs which just decide that they're going to fight you at every turn?  This is one of those jobs.

After a not insignificant amount of swearing due to poor access (due to the proximity of the central mounting flange on he hub), I eventually got a new thread cut in the mangled remains of the stripped stud.  Got a locknut fitted, got everthing good and hot (it's been soaking in Plusgas for several days now) and...



Cue more swearing.

Scratching my head for ideas which didn't involve drilling the blasted thing out, I grabbed the grinder and set about cutting flats into it in the hope that I might be able to get decent purchase on it with something.  No dice - I can't get in with the decent Stilsons as the top jaw keeps fouling on the hub centre before I can get things locked up.

Next attempt...cut two further flats on it so I can get a 5/16" AF brake adjuster spanner on it.  Result: One snapped spanner.

I had really been hoping to avoid getting the welder involved given the proximity of much fibreglass and the fact that the car can't be moved out of the garage currently...but needs must.  With much water and two fire extinguishers on hand I set about welding a nut onto the remains of the stud.  The weld held...the stud didn't. 

Thoroughly hacked off by this point I set about getting the thing as hot as practical again, and set about battering on the closest sized socket I could find using the large hammer.  This didn't strip...but just snapped the stud off even closer to the surface of the hub.

At this point I got the thin cutting disc on the grinder and cut a thin slot in it and battered it with the impact driver and a very well fitting bit.  Immediately just mangled the slot on the first smack of the hammer.

Got the grinder back out again and have ground it back flush with the face.  I'll get a couple of new drill bits tomorrow and we'll just drill the sucker out.  Have ordered an imperial tap & die kit in the thorough expectation that I'm probably going to need to sort the threads out afterwards.

I do find myself wondering at this point if this stud was ever actually made of an appropriate material from day one...so far this one seems to have behaved as though it's made of monkey metal!

Investigation has revealed that the other wheel nut holes in the hubs have M12x1.5 threads in them.  These however only go in approximately 10mm, the thread doesn't run all the way through - even though the hole does go all the way through the hub.  So wheel bolt length must have been critical in the original application.  The PCD does look to be smaller than the one used by the wheels on there, albeit by the tiniest of amounts, it's barely visible lining the spacer ring which usually sits between the brake drum and the wheel up with the holes.

Stay tuned to find out how this probably goes even more spectacularly wrong and I continue to make an utter meal of what should be a dead simple job!


Second same-day update.

Given I basically can't leave the house nor get too deeply involved in anything today, it's a day for little jobs which have hovered around in the to do lists being annoying but non critical.

The main target this afternoon was the dog guard in the van.  This was grabbed off the scrap pile one day I needed to take the (then singular) dog out on my own and didn't have anyone to accompany him in the back of the van...so I needed something to keep him out the cab.  So I grabbed the old dog guard which I'd thrown on the scrap pile about a year before and wedged it in place.

This works, but is hardly ideal.


Several drawbacks.  It's just sitting in the space between the seats in the cab and the front of the sofa on the offside and bulkhead on the nearside, latterly with the bottom of the uprights cable-tied to the seatbelt buckles to try to keep them in place and stop it flapping around a bit (it didn't work).  This means that it rocks backwards and forwards every time you accelerate or brake.  As a result it also rattles something fierce.  Finally, it makes getting from the cab into the back of the van a pain as you need to step over it.  I find this moderately annoying, but Abby has a bad hip and really struggles with it.  So a bit of re-engineering happened today.

Being designed to be stuck in the boot of a car the original attachment points obviously were useless...however being a bunch of pipes essentially that just clip together meant that it didn't take me long to find a suitable means of securing it in the plumbing bits box.


This has allowed me to engineer it such that it has a "stowed" configuration...


Which is far more out the way and is easy enough to step over.  I need to find a couple of suitable rubber bungs to stick on the end of the uprights so I don't take my eye out the first time I trip over the dog in the back.

...Plus a "deployed" configuration for when we have the dog(s) on board.


While this wouldn't do it for many dogs (it would take a Spaniel about 3.2 nanoseconds to gain access to the cab!) ours both behave when travelling, so it's more than up to the job.

The uprights may well get trimmed down to size a little now it's fixed in place - the nearside one anyway - the offside one usually has the stock of bags for me to forget to take into the shop with me whenever I go shopping hanging from it so is actually quite useful.


Will be handy to help prevent the ongoing problem we have of pillows disappearing into the cab from the bed too, which I've found to be a recurring issue for me.

I'd like to switch to a sliding gate arrangement at some point, though I'm not sure if I'll ever get enough time to sufficiently engineer that...especially as it would need to be rattle free given my hate of all things which rattle!  Haven't been able to go for a test run today, but it doesn't buzz due to the engine vibration at idle, so is already an improvement on the original arrangement.  Obviously a coat of paint wouldn't go amiss either...

Glad to have achieved at least something this afternoon!

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3 hours ago, Zelandeth said:

given my hate of all things which rattle! 

and yet you own an invacar :mrgreen:

happy to see the engine mounts showed up :)

I do wonder how the ones in REV are, and how the 2 spares we have are given what you said and how bad your old spares where (although are the engine and gearbox mounts the same? I have in my spare parts lists 2 "Rubber engine mounts" )

(tho as mentioned iv not noticed anything untoward with REV in the regard of launch aside from the bogging down when launching if you try and go WOT but I dont think thats a gearbox mount issue!)

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The engine mount is the big chunky beast immediately rearward of the crankshaft pulley.


The mount is just the rubber block and a metal plate under it (it's essentially a bigger version of the ones I mentioned arrived today), the retaining bracket it bolts into is just how it's attached to the chassis.  I had to transfer that over because *someone* took an angle grinder to the one in TPA when removing the original engine...

Goodness only knows what they sourced that out of.  The engine sits resting directly down on that, so it lives a relatively easy life.  The one on KPL was serviceable, the only reason it had to be changed was that I couldn't get the bolt out of it when I needed to get the engine out and would up destroying it while trying.

Unusually the only other places the drivetrain is supported is at the end of the outriggers from the front of the gearbox.

You can see one in the foreground here (having already lost the outer plate).


These fell to bits on KPL when I tried to remove them, but due to the rear wheel tubs being missing they had been essentially open to the elements for a couple of decades.  UV alone can destroy quite a few types of rubber over that sort of time.

Unless they're visibly sagging or you get obvious symptoms like judder when moving off or excessive shunt when coming on/off the power when underway (a bit is inevitable with this type of drive due to the tensioned side of the belt swapping under this situation) I'd not worry too much about them.

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very interesting :) so if I am reading/looking at things correctly

the entire drive train is only mounted by 3 points 1 on the engine which then bolts to the gearbox which is supported by 2 more mounts?

I wonder if the mounts we have in the spare parts stash are engine mounts like you show or are gearbox mounts, ill have to check :) (although also listed in the spare parts list is 2 "engine mounting brackets" so im inclined to think they are engine mounts rather then gearbox mounts)


its interesting to see that one of KPLs "original" pulleys was painted red, I noticed one of the pulleys on Dolly (OPH868R) was also painted red :) 




(while the left pulley has remained consistent in all the pictures i have I think, I have noticed a couple different styles of right pulley, it would be interesting to know why the difference etc)


for comparisons heres REV451Rs pulleys :) 



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Yep. It relies on the engine and box being rigidly bolted together, just attached to the car at three points.

The "engine mounting bracket" could be even more complicated if you want to go by vague descriptions...the bracket between the gearbox mount and the box itself is just bolted on...as is the bracket on the bodywork that the main engine mounting block bolts to...

*Ducks to evade the inevitable hail of things being thrown in his direction*

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If I dare poke my nose in now my angle grinder technique has been picked up on...

With the headlamps, could you not order new units and just swap the lenses over? Think that's what I did on my old W123 in the end.

I do now have a source of pulleys, belts and other Invacar spares. No idea of condition, but I can see they might well be useful for the Autoshite Invacar Massive.

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1 hour ago, dollywobbler said:

I do now have a source of pulleys, belts and other Invacar spares. No idea of condition, but I can see they might well be useful for the Autoshite Invacar Massive.

Ooohh a spares stash is always nice! I look forward to seeing whats in there!  :) (esp if it has pulleys as those seem to be in demand somewhat, so am happy we got a NOS set with Dolly/REV, although they are currently fitted to TPA :) )

Autoshite Invacar Massive... thats the AIM of the game! :mrgreen:

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2 hours ago, dollywobbler said:

If I dare poke my nose in now my angle grinder technique has been picked up on...

With the headlamps, could you not order new units and just swap the lenses over? Think that's what I did on my old W123 in the end.

I do now have a source of pulleys, belts and other Invacar spares. No idea of condition, but I can see they might well be useful for the Autoshite Invacar Massive.

No ill will meant at all regarding the angle grinder DW, I'd have done exactly the same were the roles reversed!

Regarding headlights, I'm going to do a bit of experiment.  I still have the original N/S headlight that was on the van when I got it, it was replaced as the reflector is absolutely knackered.  I will try swapping the lens on that over to the unit that's currently in the N/S headlight and see if that improves things.  Depends really if the quality control issue with the Depo one is in the lens, the reflector or a combination of the two.

Getting replacements seems to be a classic case of market demand issues.  T1 vans are pretty much extinct in the UK now, and as such there's very little demand for RHD headlights.  LHD ones are easy to find, but RHD not so much.  Merc can get them...for £380 plus the VAT...Don't think we'll be doing that.  Haven't discounted the idea of modifying an LHD light...though the question really is whether there are differences in the reflector?  Lens obviously I can swap over...the tricky bit would likely be adjusting the lampholder (and possibly the shield) as that will need to rotate somewhat if my understanding is right.  Obviously I would need to do more research and study the units more closely prior to attempting this.


Always good to hear of a source of Invacar spares, especially if they've been stored reasonably well - that was the downside with the stash I got with KPL, sadly most of it had been so poorly stored that I wound up binning a lot of stuff as it was just rusted beyond recognition due to poor storage.  Definitely think that a winter project for me HAS to be getting my garage in order.  I know that storage over where Dolly and REV are living isn't infinite, so being able to offer some space to assist there would be nice.  Especially as I actually HAVE a decent amount of room I think if I just got it in order.  Just such a disaster area at the moment means that there's stupid amounts of space wasted.  I'd also like to actually be able to you know...use the engine analyser again at some point.  You can barely even see it at the moment.

Lots and lots of shelving and some time would go a long, long way to bringing some order to the madness.

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Another afternoon primarily spent in the garden, just had time for one little tinkering session before shutting up shop for the day.

Figured I would see if I could make one good headlight out of one knackered old one and one decidedly mediocre modern replacement.

The original N/S light unit was still sitting in its box in the scrap pile, because I've not cleared that stack out in ages.


Pulling the lens reveals that the reflector is indeed knackered as I'd suspected.  This really didn't provide any useful beam at all despite still having at least something of a shine to most of the surface.


The bung that the wiring harness is supposed to pass through on the way into the headlight had been dislodged on this light, so I suspect water ingress through there is the main reason this is in such a poor state compared to the other one.

Ten minutes of cleaning later had the lens looking nice and clean, like new you could even say...goes to show how durable glass actually is I guess.


Comparing it side by side with the Depo one, the features in the Hella one look far better defined.  Everything looks a bit "soft" on the other one.

Original Hella one is on the right in the image below.  What you can't tell from the images is that the Hella lens is nearly twice the weight of the Depo one.


The seal fitted to the Depo light was just a generic foam strip as well rather than a properly contoured seal, so that was reused from the original light.

Despite the glass being a good bit thicker, everything fitted together just fine.  The fact that the lights now visually match again satisfies my OCD tendencies.


Glad to report that aside from looking better, the beam quality is vastly improved.  Bit hard to see here in daylight, but hopefully you can see that they are much more evenly matched now.

A *little* difference is still to be expected I think as the lamps aren't matched - the offside one is a Halfords own branded R2-H4 upgrade, while the nearside is an ancient Osram H4.


Might try to get a better photo once it's dark just for comparative purposes.

Beam image is clearly far better defined now though.


This image obviously is flipped the other way up by the time it gets to the road due to the wonders of optics (the downward kink to the left of the image is what actually forms the kick up to the left of the beam on the road).

For comparative purposes (and because the photo I got yesterday was poor because I was too close), here's the offside one.  They're pretty well matched now.


So hats off to @dollywobbler for the suggestion of making one headlight out of the two...It was definitely worth swapping the better lens over, seemed blindingly obvious once it was suggested but the idea hadn't occurred to me until it was mentioned.  Having had a closer look, it would be quite a bit tricker to convert an LHD one as the lamp is indeed rotated slightly - so I'd need to detatch that assembly from the back of the reflector without damaging it and get it properly aligned.  When there's a company who can restore a unit for £70 a side (at least it was a couple of years ago) it doesn't really seem worth going to that degree of faff when you're still going to be looking at £30-50 for the headlight anyway and then still needing to do all that messing about...Based on my prior attempts to detach things from reflectors, probably breaking the thing anyway...Reckon if I don't stumble across another O/S headlamp at the right price I'll just get it refurbished if it gets worse to the extent of being an issue.  It's not as though I do a huge amount of night driving these days anyway.  Thankfully, given I'm in the Xantia more often than not and while that car has many great qualities, decent headlights are not among them.

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Today has been a bit of a disaster...eventually said "screw it" and decided to retreat to the garage.

Been a while since I've done any real cleaning/valet type stuff...van has no shortage of targets.

The run marks here by the high level tail lights are impervious to normal washing materials, TFR and so far elbow grease.


One thing I'd not until this point hit it with was cutting compound and the power polisher.


That's helped!

Other side was similarly grubby.


The whole thing is matt as well, so it needs going over anyhow.  Makes you realise how much bigger than a car it is...though it should come up pretty well eventually.


Of course I had the obligatory "first time using this polisher" moment where I cut all the way through the paint.

The top surface of the rear bumper has a lot of staining on it from where someone had taped something to it, the polisher I was glad to see made short work of that.


Digging that sealant out and reapplying it in a vaguely tidy way is high on the to do list.

I just need to start at one corner and go over the whole thing with the polisher...including the roof ideally if I can figure out how the fluff to get to the middle of it without falling through it.

Aside from the obviously rusty front apron, the worst bit of the cab was the sandpaper like texture of the bonnet.  I'd done a bit of that by hand originally so knew it would come up well...heck of a lot quicker with mechanical help!


I need to stop procrastinating about it and just buy a new bonnet.  The vinyl graphics are basically holding the offside corner together.  Yes it's £150 (at a guess £300 delivered, painted and with the graphics remade) but hopefully shouldn't need to be touched again... especially as I'll obviously rustproof the snot out of it before fitting.  If going down that road I should probably just do the apron at the same time... imagine that would do a massive amount towards tidying it up though... likewise trying to sort the ridiculous panel gaps...the bonnet was obviously refitted by a blind monkey at some point...

The thought occurs as well that if I painted the whole windscreen scuttle with the same colour of white it would help make the rust look rather less obvious...

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I don't think I'll.ever complain that reviving weathered paint on a car is tedious and time consuming ever again.  Reckon we're about 1/3 done now

Back is looking almost presentable now.



The rear window was covered in a lot of very fine scratches before which gave it a cloudy appearance.  Glad to report that it revived to an as new finish without any headaches.


Calling the back done for now.  This isn't a final job, I'm just wanting to get to a presentable finish...need to get the spare wheel off and the tall ladder out to properly reach the top and the middle of the bumper.

Definitely need to get all the beading off here and re-seal under it.  I'm just going to work on the assumption that they all need doing as that way I'm far more likely to have a water tight van afterwards.  Especially as bathroom sealer seems to have been the material of choice for the most recent round of repairs by the previous previous keeper.

Speaking of the roof...yeah... it's been a few years since this was clean.


That front roof light will be getting changed soon.  That one does leak very slightly under really heavy rain... probably just needs a new head of sealant around it, but as the frame inside is cracked in a couple of places it just makes sense to change it I reckon.  Sadly I suspect finding one in anything other than white seems unlikely these days...

Moving on to the offside...yep, it's as bad as anywhere else.


You should be able to see my reflection here...


Yep...can definitely see where I got to!



This was probably a couple of hours work - albeit feeling like far more because I kept getting interrupted.

Once this is done the next step will be to basically drown the thing in wax to protect the paint as best as I can.

Doubt I'll have a chance to get to the museum tomorrow as I have just too many things to get done...might be lucky though, stranger things have happened.

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I wonder if the stud had previously been heated to loosen a stuck nut? Red hot would destroy the heat treatment it would have had initially.

It may be an illusion, but have you checked the headlamp voltage on the van? They look a little on the yellow side. And as you probably know, it's quite a steep exponential curve of output versus voltage.

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1 hour ago, mat_the_cat said:

It may be an illusion, but have you checked the headlamp voltage on the van? They look a little on the yellow side. And as you probably know, it's quite a steep exponential curve of output versus voltage.

Should have mentioned it - the engine wasn't running when those photos were taken, so yes they'd be a bit on the dim side.

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This is definitely being one of those weeks.  Blarg.  Nothing important or relevant on here, just life being annoying.

I really need to give the poor Activa some attention this week...I know I've been saying that for months now, but it really is getting urgent.

Tyres.  These have had it.


This is actually the better of the front two.  I'm hoping that this will put a stop to the tendency the car has developed in the last couple of weeks to pull to the right under hard acceleration. 

There's also the exhaust which needs replacing...the slightly rorty exhaust note I can live with for now...the rattle however is going to drive me mad.

Figuring out what the fluff what if clonking up front...had assumed nearside lower ball joint...but changing that made no difference, and it wasn't something MOT worthy apparently.  Really hoping not the lower Activa ram bush as those are a pig to find... pretty sure a lot of the car needs to come apart to get at it too.

Need to do something about the paint.  The clear coat peel is getting utterly ridiculous now.  Exhibit A: Offside front wing.


The radiator grill and front bumper are now 80% clear coat free.  Bonnet would probably be just as bad if it hadn't previously been resprayed.  There are a lot of sweep marks there though.  Exhibit B:


Historically I'd tended to try to be gentle with the paint to try to avoid blowing any more of the clear coat off...think it's got to the stage now I can forget about that as it's just so patchy now.  The areas where it's failing have turned distinctly orange too rather than red which is just making it worse.

Interesting to see that if you hit the layer beneath the clearcoat with cutting compound, it actually polishes up reasonably well and the right colour.


So I think I may well just attack the thing with the pressure washer and then the polisher... I'm hardly going to make it worse!

Have now mostly finished the cutting phase on the first side of the van.

The new foam heads I got for the polisher work way better than the one which came with the polisher, especially on the troublesome blue dimpled bits.



Clouding was cleaned from the windows easily.


It didn't threaten to remove the graphics like the original mop was doing either.



Realised that there weren't actually any photos showing TPA with the new plates on in daylight...so here's one from this afternoon.


With a bit of luck hopefully I'll be able to eventually get a photo of them on the car outside...

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Can't sleep...so here's what I managed to get done yesterday evening.

With the odd torque-steer like symptoms in the Activa having become really quite annoying (and noticeably worse on a damp road) I finally got around to swapping the tyres around (after playing musical jacks and transferring TPA to the axle stands).

Some of you may remember me fuming at one point last year when the council decided to resurface several of the roads round here right in the peak of summer when the surface temperature was massively too high for the materials they were using unless they were to actually close the road until it set.  No signage up either...so the first you knew was then you suddenly found yourself sliding across gravelly treacle.  Yeah... I'm still finding lumps of it.


That's not just pebbles in there - it's a solid block of tarmac.

Might be time to get a new clip lined up for that fuel tank filler neck hose.

Having looked closer the rear tyres are definitely going to need changing too...plenty of tread left on them and one looks just fine...the other though not so much.



They're only fit for scrap.  Will need to get it booked in for those to be changed this week.

While unrelated to any current issues I did spot one fault while I had the wheels off in the form of a split outer CV boot on the nearside.  That's something else for the list.

For those who are curious, with the nearside front wheel removed you can see the bit which does half the Activa magic over and above the system on a normal Xantia.


The thing you're looking for is the small hydraulic ram connected between the bottom of the suspension  and the anti-roll-bar.  There's one tied into the rear suspension on the opposite corner, and it's by pushing and pulling with those two rams (they are double acting I believe so do both pull and push) that the car effectively eliminates all body roll.

Don't worry that the handbrake cable looks tight - it is a bit with the suspension set to service high (which should always be done before jacking the car up), but is perfectly fine at normal ride height.

Having swapped the tyres around so the ones with decent tread at least we're on the front we went out for a test run...odd pulling to one side feeling still present, totally unchanged.  Balls.

Asking the question over on another forum brought about a pretty immediate response that this is likely to be down to worn front and/or lower control arm bushes.  Depending on how much things need to be dismantled to get those changed I may well just get all of the bushes on the control arms changed in one hit as it will save me money in the long run only having to strip things down once.

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