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1987 Citroen BX

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Now back on the original trims, which are all nicely restored, after a quick and dirty clean up of the steel rims.  Wheel trims are put on before the bolts now too, so they can't get flung off.  The design of the trims means they don't stop the wheel nuts meeting the face of the wheels properly and the design of the collar on the wheel nuts prevents the trims from being able to be pulled off.


I do like how the chrome trims looked but they weren't as secure on the BX wheels as they were on the Princess wheels and I was concerned I might lose one.  Additionally, I'm embracing the challenge of keeping the BX factory, especially given the rarity of low trim models now.

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Today my wallet had a crash diet so I could order all the fluids and parts needed for the one big job outstanding on this car:  Timing belt.  I've decided to do coolant, water pump, timing belt, tensioner, oil, and oil filter, all at the same time.  It gives me a good service starting point that way and gives the car the best chance of staying as nice as it currently is.

One of the things that had been bugging me is the little LHM leak at the front.  I was waiting to get the car on the lift to see if it really was one of the unions on the brake master cylinder when I realised today that there's a return hose on the top.  While the car was running, I gave the hose a wiggle and sure enough, LHM came out.  Stop wiggling it while the car is running, no LHM comes out.  Turn the car off, LHM comes out.  In the following picture, the black hose to the left that goes to the rusty thing (that's the master cylinder) is what's generating that little green puddle and making everything wet.  I've unplugged a connector that sits right on top of this both so you can see it, and for access.


The return line simply pulls off, and access is fiddly but not as terrible as it might be.  You can see the little rubber hose that connects the plastic line to the metal stub on the cylinder has split in a few places and this is what was leaking.


I'm guessing it's just a very old pipe which is why it's split like that.  To replace it, Mike had a rummage and found some suitable diameter hose.  Since this is only a return line, it doesn't need any clamps, it literally just pushes into place.


A bit of bumbling about after everything was cleaned off and it seems to have solved the leak.  Also, looking down the back of the engine as much as I could, it looks like the tiny spot of black oil under the car has actually been from the LHM leaking here and running down things, washing off old oil from the rocker cover gasket leak - fixed recently - and dirt from the engine and dumping it on the floor.  Hopefully I won't have any oil drops under the car now.


I'm still trying to figure out what exactly is leaking on the back corner of the car, I suspect it's going to be a similar split old return hose issue since it manifests in much the same way.  I just can't see where the leak is exactly, I suspect it's hidden up above the suspension stuff at the back, out of sight, so could be a nuisance to locate without exploratory dismantling.

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It deserves the attention, it's a very good car.  Probably my best purchase ever, in fact.  Picked up the rest of the timing belt kit today since it had arrived and took the opportunity to fuel up which has delivered a mind bogglingly frugal 47mpg for urban-only.

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Yep it's fantastic on fuel, great to see you enjoying it now. It was a faithful servant to me other than the pipe bursting.  The only downside I felt that car had was the drone from the air intake pipe. I eventually found an new old stock replacement but never got to drive it with it fitted, is it more acceptable noise levels now?

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I'll be sure to check the timing side of things when I do the belt, though I think it's just that the 1.7 version of this engine is quiet for an old diesel of its sort.  A modern diesel is certainly quieter, and this one still has that characteristic clatter that makes them so appealing, it's just a happy engine so far as I can tell.  Glad you're enjoying the updates, it's a joy to own so far.

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Was going to have a look at this timing belt job and then discovered I've misplaced my diesel manual.  £5 later I've ordered the relevant tome so perhaps that'll be a job for this weekend.  Found and cured another LHM leak that was leaving a small dot on the floor at the front, this time it was a union going into what I assume is the main LHM pump, a unit to the passenger side of the engine.  Half a turn of the union, a clean of all surfaces I could get to, and that dot has stopped appearing.  The only leak at the front now that I can see (parked over cardboard today to see what it dropped) is the black engine oil spot on the timing belt side.  There is old oil deposits all down the back of the engine on this side but no obvious source and after cleaning the bottom of the engine as far as I could reach, no fresh oil is appearing.  I'm hoping that it's just old oil deposits from the LHM return line leak and the cam cover leak that are now resolved and it's just the hot cycles of the engine melting the remaining oil off the engine and dropping it on the floor.  If I can get the BX up on the workshop lift I'll hit the whole area with some degreaser, it's a pretty awkward thing to clean with the car on axle stands at home.

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Diesel manual arrived recently so I could crack on with this timing belt job.  First, we did a run to the tip and the BX proved itself to be capable and capacious and moved far more conifer trimmings than I was expecting it to.  On getting back, the weather had brightened up and it looked a good day for getting on with the timing belt job.  First up, drop all the coolant out since I was planning to do the water pump at the same time, and then work through the instructions in the manual to get through the various bits of dismantling.  I'm not sure why it tells you to disconnect the battery, perhaps that's just a safety thing.  All went well apart from a minor brainfart when I couldn't figure out how to get the alternator to move (Mike pointed out the bolt I'd missed), and then it should have just been a case of sticking the handbrake on, car in 5th gear, and undo the crankshaft bolt.  Couldn't get the car high enough at home to use the breaker bar, so we improvised with a slightly shorter jack handle.  Even with Mike and me on the bar, we simply couldn't get enough swing to undo the nut because immovable bits of car, or the floor, were in the way.  A shorter bar had the other problem of neither of us having enough strength with a shorter lever to undo the nut.


So after getting that far, I had to put the car back together.  Typically, it absolutely threw it down while doing that too. Then I had trouble bleeding the air out of the system and eventually resorted to driving around the block.  I now know the low coolant light works properly as a result and the heaters are ridiculously hot.  I don't know if the heaters being on in the BX helps the bleeding process, it's just something I do out of habit.  When the lift is free at the unit we'll have another go since we'll then have room for a longer bar which should help us crack that nut off.  Mike assumes there's preload on the crankshaft because while we could get a good amount of rotation on the bolt, it wasn't enough to crack it off, and once you released the pressure of the socket and bar, the nut just returned back to where you started.

All very frustrating.  I really have to have this job done before the 9th if possible because I'm a bit leery of doing a long distance motorway run on an unknown timing belt fitted to an interference engine in a car I actually rather like.  I also learned on the trip around the block that if you forget to fit the air hose it's really rather noisy and droney, it's surprising how much difference that makes to how refined the car is inside.

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I bought one of these recently:


and it positively laughs in the face of these crank bolts.. must be the most satisfying tool I've ever bought... makes these cambelt changes a little more fun!

When I had to use the starter method I think I used a fairly short t-bar held almost against the suspension arm with a cable tie and that did it... a bit sketchy though and it wasn't easy to keep held on..

Getting an extra 60 degrees on the bolt when tightening isn't easy either - you'll need a big long torque wrench or a pole over a breaker bar..


Oh, and you might be able to get the belt off and on without taking the crank bolt out but it'll be tight around the bottom belt cover and probably dirty - These can get very brittle over time and snap around the 11mm bolt heads!

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Made a slightly disturbing discovery today on checking the coolant level.  There's copper glitter in the coolant.  I haven't put K-Seal in the engine and I don't think Dean did either, but someone in the past certainly has.

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I wouldn't worry to much. I've drained it down in the past and flushed it when I had dashboard out. It went all over with me and never once got warm. I can't remember if I put a new radiator in that one. I definitely didn't use that any rad weld in it and it never used a drop of water in my tenure.

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I shan't worry then.  The rad doesn't look new, and doesn't look like it needs replacing so you probably didn't put a new one on this.  In the couple of hundred miles I've done so far it hasn't used a drop of coolant.  I guess it was just some old K-seal lurking in the system from a long time ago that's worked its way through, you know how persistent that stuff can be.  I'm not getting any issues with overheating, or underheating so who knows why there's K-Seal in there.

It has been very soggy here just lately so the wiper has been getting quite a work out.  The brand new front blade has decided to squeak occasionally and the wiper motor is quite loud compared to what I'm used to, I don't think there's anything wrong, I think that's just how it is on this car.  It is a novelty having a car that refuses to fog up when its raining even with the windows shut and the fan off so I guess it must be pretty watertight after all of the welding work we've both done to it!

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Biggest mechanical job the car needed is now completed, that being the timing belt replacement.  It's an awkward job, not impossible to do at home, and also not exactly ideal either.  I found it impossible to undo the crankshaft bolt at home with the tools I did have and had to take the car to Mike's unit to make use of the lift and the really big bars and when the belt needs doing again, assuming I still have the car then, I'll be giving the job to someone else rather than trying to DIY it.  I don't know when the old belt was done which is the reason for doing this, it gives a good datum point for future servicing.  The belt that came off was worn, but not excessively so, and didn't look monstrously old.  I believe it is a replacement belt, I find it unlikely the car's estimated 110k would have been possible on the original belt and if it were the original, I'd certainly expect to see more age related wear and damage than there is here.



I could have probably chanced a few more thousand miles on that belt, realistically.  While we were doing the belt we also did the water pump and I had planned to do the tensioner but for one reason and another, didn't have one.  The tensioner on the car was in really good shape anyway, as was the idler pulley, so I doubt it'll be an issue.  Just as well the water pump was replaced at any rate, whoever had been in here before had used white bathroom sealant (or something very much like it) which had got into the water pump itself and there's probably little bits of it in the engine too.  Not a great deal I can do about that at this point, and since it's not been a problem so far I have to assume it will continue to not be a problem.


I would have liked to show you in more depth how the job was done.  However, there were some slight difference between my engine and the manual (because of course there was, it's a Citroen) and much of the job required more arms than most people come with as standard combined with the need for lemur fingers.  All in all, it was an irritating job because of access, particularly getting the timing belt to sit in place which needed two of us to stop it popping off while you were trying to seat the top or bottom sections of it.  Super annoying.  Still, could be worse, we could have had to be doing a clutch on a Xantia with a turbo.  For putting the locking rod/dowel/drill bit into the hole to lock the flywheel we had to remove the starter motor and use a smaller dowel than suggested in the book, it was little things like that which were a bit annoying.


On hunting for oil leaks, we couldn't locate the source of the oil on the back of the engine, it doesn't appear to be coming from anywhere at all so Mike and I have come to the conclusion it's historic and probably from the leaking return line to the brake doseur since that's the area it's underneath.  The sump plug is definitely weeping a bit of oil and it looks like the sump has been bashed a long time ago.  A new copper washer (I assume it has one, I haven't checked) should resolve the issue at any rate and since an oil change is the next service item I'll do it when I do that.  Other leaks that we think we've identified are of the LHM variety at the back.  Like at the front with the brake doseur line, the leak at the back only happens when the car is parked up overnight and sure enough, on checking over the rear boots, there's those same age-related perish lines on the rubber boots.  When I can afford to, I'll order a replacement pair of boots and then hope it's not too horrendous a job to replace them.  It's worth noting the passenger side boot has had some sealant applied to the perished areas which is now starting to fail.  Since it's only a return leak and only happens when the car is parked, I'm filing this under Because Citroen rather than something to be really worried about.



After all that work the car felt no different really, a bit smoother perhaps, but that could just as well be placebo effect.  Bleeding the coolant system was much easier when Mike identified where the bleed screws actually are, something I couldn't find last time for some reason.  This really marks the starting point of my service history with the car, now it's just a case of doing any new jobs while they're small and steadily improving the car as I go.

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The rubber boots are fairly cheap.Care needs to be taken when getting the clips out to release the strut end from the suspension arm,as it is quite easy to snap them.It's a good idea to soak them in penetrating oil first, although one of yours looks like it is soaked in LHM anyway.

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