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Citroen BX 16TRS: For the love of cars


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1 hour ago, TheOtherStu said:

I remember times much older than that being more interesting. As a child of the 70s, 90s cars were bland. Think entry level Sierras, Escorts, Astras and Chavaliers. I know people like to think that it was roads full of Pug GTIs. Golf GTIs and Scoobies, but it really wasn't.

If ever there was a "beige" decade, the 90s was it.

The 70s and 80s for me had far more interesting cars. Even an Austin Princess was far more interesting than a Sierra 1.6L.

Oh yes I would agree, bland was embraced in the 90s, but there seemed to be enough 80s stuff still kicking around so that you might have a chance to complete an I-spy book that called for an Audi 80 B2, try that today, you would have to cheat and go to FOTU

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37 minutes ago, MisterH said:

Oh yes I would agree, bland was embraced in the 90s, but there seemed to be enough 80s stuff still kicking around so that you might have a chance to complete an I-spy book that called for an Audi 80 B2, try that today, you would have to cheat and go to FOTU

Ah, that Audi 80 (and 100). I remember those coming out. I had all the brochures in my bedroom. Along with the latest Passat and Jetta ones - a friend of my Dad was a salesman for VAG and used to bring them round for me to peruse.

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16 minutes ago, TheOtherStu said:

Ah, that Audi 80 (and 100). I remember those coming out. I had all the brochures in my bedroom. Along with the latest Passat and Jetta ones - a friend of my Dad was a salesman for VAG and used to bring them round for me to peruse.

My uncle was a midnight racer back in the day in his Colt Celeste, when my Grandfather retired he thought it would be fun to take him round all the dealerships as a test pilot. Cut a long story short fell in love with a ur-quattro, bought it, and never put my father or uncle on the insurance. And now thanks to that decision I am obsessed with old cars...

But don't mean to hijack the BX thread here, so all can be explained in this article:


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A couple of weeks ago (April 2018) I set about recycling this thread onto another forum, and in doing so had to go through each image and 'un-photobucket' it. So now, all done!

A renewed bout of BX enthusiasm (having watched the 'Blaze' channel last night) finds me at the computer, updating a BX thread. Last week was a momentous week, because I actually did something on the TRS! The last work pictured here was from 2016, and then I managed to do some jobs in 2017 (but not many), so I'll update those before the tiny amount of 2018 I managed last Tuesday evening.

The piffling amount of labour I managed to muster in 2017 revolved around the subframe, plus one or two other small bits. First, I'll start with the last of 2016, which was...

Wheels! If you remember (it was a long time ago, after all) I sent my wheel rims away to be acid dipped so I could work on them, and our grit blaster provided a source of amusement to the original paint coating on the BX's steel rims. I was particularly keen to save these wheels, because not only are they original (like pretty much everything on the car!), they are actually date stamped 1983. If I'm going to dick around trying to put this car back on the road while preserving as much as possible, changing the wheels would be a massive no-no.

When the wheels came back, I was informed they'd also been coated just to stop them rusting again. This was a thoughtful touch, though if I'm honest it completely screwed my plans! They did look good though: 


However, up close, the pitting is plain to see, and I'll need to get creative with a welder to plug these holes up:


...because these rims will be about as air-tight as I am:


This creates a slight issue, because they've actually been powdercoated. I wanted to galvanise the rims to prevent them rusting again, and powdercoat is not going to do that. And I can't shot blast them myself, because......well, it's a bit of a circle. I'll decide what to do here, but I may just have to forgo the galvanising I ideally craved. At least the wheels have been sat upstairs for the last million years since I did anything!

I also tried a trick that I'd been reading about for just as long, but never had. A hot-air gun! Specifically, a hot-air gun pointed at some very pink bumpers in an attempt to make them less pink. 10mins on the rear corner brought about this:


I'd call that a success! And no, those wheels aren't staying on the car. They'd be a periodically correct accessory (or should that be 'accessorie') for the TRS, but alas they were borrowed from the GT to wheel it up onto the dolly. I won't do the rest of the bumpers for now, as they're pretty badly stained and need a good scrub first.

I also bought a brand new, old stock rev counter on eBay for the princely sum of £10. The rev counter in the TRS doesn't work, and while it's likely to be something wiring-related, rather than a failed 17k mile old component, I thought it'd look nice in a cabinet even if I never needed it:


So, that was the end of 2016. But what did 2017 bring?

Well, unsurprisingly it was back to the subframe. And that - even more unsurprisingly - had rusted a bit more!


Repairs were still underway though, and that was a positive not to be sniffed at. So much of getting through projects like this is about keeping your pecker up (in a manner of speaking). You have to stay happy and positive, because when you're down and grumpy, you get little done (and anything you do get done tends to be hashed and rushed). So quality over quantity, every time, and at least the repairs are going well on the subframe.

I did decide not to use the cracked 300k donor subframe, though, as I found it wasn't actually in very good condition under all the muck. A low-mileage, rust-free unit off a TZD Turbo popped up on a BX forum for £50 (that crucially, had been steam cleaned, which was worth the £50 alone!):


I set about harvesting the required bits from that instead:



And shot-blasted the various bits I needed so they could be fitted to the TRS subframe:


There's no way I could have made that single piece in less than 3 attempts and 3 months!

Now, some of you will be asking "That's all very well and good you BX-loving freak, but how are you going to maintain the alignment?!"  Ah, I'm one step ahead of the question I just imagined you asking there! 

I made a jig:


Which when fitted to a subframe, looks like:


Other than taking this picture....:


...and moving the TRS to the other side of the workshop, I did nothing else on it in 2017. Slow times!

2018 hasn't started with much gusto, either! However, on Tuesday, I continued with the subframe rebuild, and when I get 5 mins, I'll upload the pics and hoist them up :)

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The latest update brings us bang up-to-date with unloved-by-my-family-and-friends-but-two-shits-I-give-not-because-I-love-it BX proceedings.

I bought a DSLR camera. How canz u tel?:


It's a continuation on the theme, and the theme is subframe! Progress is progress though, and this is how the subframe currently sits...clamped up and ready to start rebuilding:



And, erm, three puddle welds later:


Hey, at least it's starting to look like a subframe again:


OK, I didn't say I got loads done. I did take some pics of future work though...



Yeeeeaaahhh! Loads of work. Love it! Honestly, I don't really want the free time anyway....

Subframe continues this week, amongst loads of other jobs. I reckon I could get it done and ready for coating by the end of the week. Reckon I'll do it?

I don't...

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On 6/24/2021 at 7:13 PM, High Jetter said:

Wow. Just wow. What an epic thread - just another 5 years to catch up on laboriously type out? I can't wait for the next instalment.

Luckily most of this is pre-typed, I'm just tweaking it to work on this forum (which is much more intuitive than the one it was originally written on!) I can't remember how up-to-date I got, but I think I'm about 18 months behind, in real time.

On 6/25/2021 at 8:42 PM, artdjones said:

The bearings were a very elegant solution, but the rubber bushings were durable enough.

They proved to be, yes, though they did have to engineer meatier ones than the ones bearing cars had.

On 6/26/2021 at 2:01 PM, MisterH said:

wow I have only just picked up on this thread, and I must say it is absolutely wonderful to hear this story, the way you talk with such passion and love for this beautiful piece of FrenchTat (I agree the phase 1 cars are my favourite, a RHD 19GT would be tremendous) 

I am always interested to hear stories from the Soton area in the 80s and 90s, my Grandfather bought an Audi quattro from Testwood Motors in 1986, and I am always trying to envisage the world that he drove it in, as he passed away in the late 90s, before I could meet him.

That car was written off after a stroke at the wheel, but such was the strength of feeling we bought it back and restored it, and she is still with us today, and largely responsible for forging my tastes in quirky cars (remember it was a quirky classic in the early noughties)

Reading your piece is just so joyful, thank you for sharing it!

My dad has a 19GT that I did a mini-resto on some years ago. He doesn't drive it, mind.

On 6/26/2021 at 2:04 PM, MisterH said:

There are a few BXs here I remember, and possibly my grandfather's quattro (though obscured by sun)


Loving the retro Southampton vids! That's as I remember it, though Calshot Spit has moved around a fair bit since then!

3 minutes ago, Fumbler said:

This thread is all kinds of excellent. I love it! What colour grey did the paint shop go with in the end? Was it an RAL (or other code) grey or did they mix it up using the colour that was originally on the wheels for reference?

I don't know, to be honest. It's not quite the right shade for the BX rims, though it's not a million miles out. I think it's an old VW air-cooled shade. One day I'll paint over with the right colour, but the finish is decent.

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No progress on the freakishy-low mileage BX to speak of. Not physical progress anyway.

But there is progress of a mental-variety. "Such as what?".....asked no one.

Well, a guy I know posts Youtube videos under the channel name 'Hub Nut' (you lot ever heard of him?!) You can find the channel here:

One of the more recent videos he did was a mini-series on taking a broken Invacar (yup....an actual Invacar) and fixing it up so it can be returned to the road. The finishing line for this project to cross, was to complete the work and drive the car to the 'Festival of the Unexceptional' (which is a festival I REALLY should have gone to by now). Bearing in mind that he lives in Wales, and the festival was near Northampton (I think), that's quite the effort in itself.

(He did manage it BTW)

I've always enjoyed the idea of heaping even more pressure and time-constraints on my already time-sapping lifestyle (nothing exciting, just a business and a young family), so it seems like the ideal challenge! I want to get the BX TRS ready for next year's FOTU. And I already have confirmation that such a BX would be acceptable, as this very car here....



....was present this year (though it didn't feature in Ian's video).

I've also decided - sorry, there are no pictures to share here, this is just rambling - that I want to try and keep the BX as original as possible. It's so painfully unaltered from 1983 that I think it'd be a shame to take it to bits to renew anything that isn't completely necessary. It does mean it's going to look slightly on the 'dogged' side more than I'd intended, but I think these days with so much motors from the 80s coming out of the woodwork, that trying to preserve one as it actually was in the 80's is the way forwards, so to that end, I'll only change what actually needs changing. Ripped seats, bubbled wheel arches, faded parcel shelf.....it'll likely all stay. I want it driving mechanically well, and for the most part it'll still look OK enough, as the paint is surprisingly un-faded. The car in the show above, while very nice, didn't look original to my eyes (because it isn't, as the owner would freely admit! He's put a lot into it).

So yeah, work will continue (along with the GT, which is painfully behind schedule) and I'm now aiming for the Festival of the Unexceptional 2019 as the deadline for it. 

That's if they host one, of course....(doesn't matter, I missed the deadline by two years anyway...)


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Happy to report the BX TRS is trickling along. I wouldn't go as far as to say it's beating along at a decent rate of knots, but nor is it a static exhibit. Well....the car is, but the subframe - which I've been working on since what feels like the Bronze Age - isn't.

Following on from my pics above, the new O/S spar was grafted in from the donor subframe (a turbodiesel model...I think. It's a mk2, anyway).
Originally I wanted to get it dip-galvanised, but I've not found anywhere willing to touch it, because they're all concerned it'll be full of oil and grease (and, oddly enough, it only serves to raise their concerns further when they learn that it's from a 1983 Citroen. Weird!) So I'll be forgoing the zinc, and just going with some heavy-duty protection. To that end, I gave the innards a dusting of paint before assembling/welding. It'll be awhile before it's all painted and sealed inside, so I wanted the raw surfaces to be protected. It'll all burn up in parts, but it's better than nothing.


Then I began putting all the skills collected in Yr2 at school to good use, and started cutting out more card:


....which was then transferred to cutting out metal:


Probably looks a slightly odd shape to be cutting out, but there is method in the madness:


Then it was time to get my Hamster to chew some holes in it...


And then time to start melting it on (Hamster was unable to assist with this):


You'd never know! (Apart from the ground-down welds, difference in finish of the two metals and 'hand-made' nature of what I'd made):


For the second stage of this (because these pics were taken weeks apart!) we're leaving the relative warmth and satisfaction of DSLR-sourced images, and switching to my phone. Yeah....sorry about that!:


I needed to source further sections from the donor subframe. This piece isn't actually in brilliant condition on the surface, but I just can't fabricate something like that myself, so the aim is to make good with this one:


The chosen piece fits! It's almost like I measured it, or something...:


Once I'd shot-blasted it, it was clear that the corrosion was only lightly on the surface, and that it looked worse than it really was because of the gaping holes I had to drill into it to release it from the big piece of metal Citroen had spot-welded it to (using something slightly more advanced than my MIG welder!):


I'm using the original spot-weld points to assemble the new spar, but the reality is that my puddle welds can't be proven to be as strong as the factory spot-welds (they may well be even stronger, but the issue is that I just don't know). So, belt & braces....I (lightly) seam-weld around the edge once it's all in place. I can grind this down later so that visually it's no different to the other side (other than the fact it's got bits of mk2 subframe in it, but unless you're a total BX geek, you wouldn't spot that!)


Subframe is really coming along. I've got one more little bit to fabricate and weld in, and then I'll go around the seam on the other side looking for trouble. I may well just seam weld all the way around it for added strength.


Once the metalwork is finished, I'll be ready to paint it before building it back up with new/renewed versions of everything that went on it before. Oh yes, I haven't done any of that yet either....

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Moar subfr4m3!!!

Yeah, it's pretty much there now. To pick up from the last update, all the metalwork and welding has been completed. I wasn't happy with the rot building up between the seams on the 'good' side, and I wasn't convinced that the rust-converter would work its way right inside, so I cut some little windows out to grind away the corrosion before it turned into something nastier in the future:


(Stuff like this is why I take FOREVER to finish jobs!)

Then it was welded and linished off, and eventually I had a solid mk1 BX subframe again:


Once the welding was done, I attempted to rid it of the surface rust in our small-scale grit-blaster, but sadly it didn't really fit, and I only managed to re-blast about 50% of the subframe (mind you, it was the worst 50% at least). So, I applied a load of rust converter and had to delay painting for another 24hrs. It's worth it though - no point taking all this time and then rushing the last bit. Moral of the story? If you shotblast a subframe, don't leave it 2 years before you paint it!


Once the treatment had finished, it was out with the paint. I went for something hardcore!:


Once that's gone off (and it will....like concrete) I'll flat back the brush marks and give it a quick lick with some gloss black spray. Originally, this era of BX would have had a sort of dark-bronze/brown colour rust coating, but I've decided I'm not sufficiently arst to find a colour match!

I might actually be able to pick some spanners up on it soon!

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OK, so an update didn't follow shortly after. In my defence, it hasn't [i]quite[/i] been a year since the last post! Not far off though; the BX is 36 years old in a couple of weeks!

I've had so much going on (as we all do) that any spare time available on the old crock has been sparse at best. But, a workshop move-around prompted things to get moving again a little while ago, and I'm now moving on where I left off. I wouldn't say I was charging forward...more ticking over, but I've left it in gear.

One of the first things I needed to sort out for this car, was another car. A donor car, in fact. Sad as it is to do it, the reality is that I will likely need quite a few parts over the course of this project (and another BX project that I'm doing...a thread on that to follow!) So it's a case of one car dies, but it saves two others, which would have otherwise been dead too.

Enter E574 MYR!


It pains me a little to do this, but here is £50's worth of BX. 200k miles on the clock; an engine that smokes and loses fuel, and sills that are made of air.
It still pains me, however, as it's a pretty rare BX; an early turbo diesel estate specced as the 'DTR Turbo'. Effectively, it's an early GTi-specification car, but with a TD engine. The DTR Turbo was the TD version of the TRS. Why wasn't it called the TRD Turbo? They are, anywhere but English-speaking countries, but here, TRD looks like 'turd'! 
The DTR was replaced by the TZD Turbo, which is a trim lots of previous owners will likely recognise. Basically, it was one of the first plush turbo-diesel French cars; Cars that began the diesel invasion of the 1980's. Bow down to, or lambast it as you see fit...

Probably less than ten of these left now, and it's going to be one less.


As mentioned, it is very rotten, and in most places...except one of the most common places for an estate: The rear arches. You see, the estate BXs weren't actually built by Citroen, they were assembled in Rorthais by Heuliez. As a result, rust protection wasn't quite as tough as on the hatchbacks! But, there is a reason I needed estate rear arches...

You see, in BX-land, there are mk1 and mk2 cars (which many of you probably know).

Mk1 (1982 - 1986):


Mk2 (1986 - 1994): 


There are plenty of differences, such as the shape of the bumpers; The amber small front indicator vs. the larger clear one; The door mirrors; The dashboard (mk1 had the rocker switch indicators, while the mk2 was a bit more conventional (because people minced about the earlier car). There were plenty of differences, but one of the ones that many people don't spot, are the wheel arches. They're the same shape, but the mk1 has slimmer arches; The mk2's were more flared, presumably to make it look a little more aggressive/conventional, or possibly because they knew wider alloy wheels would be needed (the only mk1s with wider alloy wheels were the Sport and 4TC, and neither had regular wheel arches!)

However, nobody thought to tell Heuliez!*


Mk1 rear...mk2 front!

[i]*Well, they probably did, and there were probably plenty of communications between designers, engineers and senior bods from each company, with various meetings at boardroom level and detailed analysis of the wheres and whys and why nots and...stuff. I'm guessing it wasn't an accident, I just don't know the reason why the estate never received the mk2 rear arches. Maybe Heuliez wanted to charge more to make new pressings...who knows! Someone, I expect, but there's no jeopardy or lolz in that, so we'll just assume Heuliez forgot because they were drunk on wine and cheese. No wait, is that racist? I'm not sure. I don't think it is. It's like suggesting Parisians are romantic, or Italians passionate, or Germans....just..., well, German. I'm waffling now, but I'm guessing you worked that out.[/i]

So, here are the mk1...no, mk2...well, it is a mk2, but it's an estate, so...it's like a mk1.5? Well no, I suppose it's not, because that would insinuate the arches made up 50% of what constitutes a mk1 or mk2, and they don't, as I outlined above. I guess I'll need to break the car down mathmatically, and figure out what ratio of a BX constitutes it being a mk1 or mk2, and get back to you with an amended 'mk' number.


So, rather unusually, these are in pretty good order, which is more than can be said for my TRS...


And, because I've spent so long twattering on about cheese, wine and racism, I've run out of time to say what I was going to say, but it's technical geekery and refurbishing old stuff. I'll have to pick it up tomorrow or something!

I'm not stoned, honestly! It's just how my mind works, and its tiring!

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An update on the rattly old red rotbox is well overdue (this was Jan '20), mostly on account of the fact I started it a couple of months ago, but never actually finished it!

(apologies if this is a bit hap-hazardly written, as I'm filling it in inbetween actually working!)

Anyway, I'm pleased to report things with the BX TRS are good. There have been some ups and downs (including the suspension), but on the whole, it's been a positive period.

So, back in October, I was still pratting around with that front subframe (did I mention it's a rare one?! Oh.) The fabrication and repair work was now done, but as it sat, it was a bare subframe, and that wouldn't be much use. I therefore decided to repopulate it with the various componentry that used to live there.

The bearings were already in place, but I knew the most time consuming piece was going to be the pipework. Despite my line of work as a sort-of-restoration-guy, I hadn't done much pipework on Citroens before. It was one area I'd never really had to address in all the years of knobbing about with them, but, I'd repiped the brake, clutch and fuel circuits on plenty of TVRs, so I figured that as the Citroen flares are normally easier to do, and the pipe thinner, that it should be a piece of cake in comparison. And, it was! Sorry, no jeopardy here.

To begin with the pipework, I needed to have ready all the components the pipework routed to. As this BX doesn't have power-steering (a blessing to my timescales), I didn't have quite as much fart around with as I otherwise might have done. But, I did have the majority of pipes to sort, as most of the originals were rotten clean through...or away entirely!


Later BXs used a black plastic coating around the pipework for added corrosion resistance, but earlier cars like this mk1 made do with bare steel. It was a good quality steel, sure, but it was steel all the same. The blustery Welsh coastline had clearly proven too much!

But now, it was time to start getting dirty, rusted parts of unknown servicability (that I'd removed about 3-4 years ago) together, and seeing what went where!

The first part, was the hydraulic safety/security valve. On a hydropneumatic Citroen, the majority of the system is simply hydraulic. The pneumatic element only comes into play when you get as far as the springing of the car, so unless you're dealing with spheres, it's hydraulic. 
Everybody seems to act like they're too complicated, but that's only if you're ignorant. If I can grasp it, anybody can grasp it! Some green blood (aka LHM) sits in a reservoir (a round green metal one mounted in the offside inner wing), where it is drawn through a rubber hose by the high-pressure pump, and compressed until it's very, very fizzy (about 1400psi fizzy). 
Once it's fizzed up, it's directed through a large-bore (6.5mm I.D.) metal pipe. On a car with power steering, it goes through a priority valve for this first, but being as this car doesn't have that, we'll keep it simple! So, at the other end of this metal pipe, is the pressure regulator (the thing that goes pssshhhh-tick every so often). This sits on front of the gearbox, and has a green sphere (or rust-coloured sphere, in my case) screwed onto it, like you would an oil filter. The pressure regulator allows the pressurised LHM through a small port and into the sphere. The sphere itself is very similar to that you'd find on end of one of the wheels, but its role is slightly different; It's basically a small but very strong balloon!

Imagine you have a generic balloon, the mouth of which is inserted onto a tube to allow the balloon to exhale. There's no knot, just your finger and thumb acting as a human 'tap' (so you could release it slightly and let the balloon down....and make funny squeaking noises!) But in this case, rather than blowing it up conventionally, it's got it's own supply for the air you pump, which goes in somewhere else, not the mouth of the balloon. So, the following alternative theory isn't exactly how it works, but it's the simplest way to imagine it (making this up as I go along):

* Your leg = the engine
* Footpump = hydraulic pump
* Pressurised air supply direct to balloon = pressurised LHM from the engine-driven pump
* Balloon = accumulator sphere
* Four small balloons = suspension spheres
* Four noisy whistles = the brakes
* The pinching action of your finger and thumb = the pressure regulator
* The tube the balloon is mounted on = the circuit to the safety valve
* The safety valve = your boss

Your job is to operate the footpump, and keep the balloon pumped up to a certain size. Easy, right? If it goes a bit flat, you just pump a couple of times - job done! You've barely got to do anything, because unless you have a leak, the balloon will pretty much just stay inflated.

However...there are also four smaller balloons in each corner of the room, which are all at the end of the pipe your balloon is stretched onto, and they also need to be regulated to a certain size. You have to inflate those by momentarily releasing and then reapplying your grip on your balloon, which in turn inflates those balloons a bit (and makes a 'psshhh-tick' noise), but of course, that also flattens your balloon in the process. 
Annoyingly, every now and then, someone who calls themself Mr Bump comes along and tries to jump on those four balloons, at completely random intervals. What a knob! So now, you're probably going to have to keep pumping more often, and releasing pressure when you need to. How tiring!

And then, on top of this, there are four whistles. For some reason, these whistles are deemed to be very important, and although nobody is jumping on them, you are told that, occassionally, these whistles need to...well, whistle, and loudly! You don't have to worry about operating them, but you do have to make sure they have a sufficient supply of air that they'll actually make a noise when somebody else does.
So now, your easy job has become complicated. Your boss has come along and informed you that, to help, they'll divert the pressure to the whistles and the four balloons independantly, so that one doesn't affect the other too much. All you need to do is keep the pressure up.
However, if you don't keep the pressure up, the boss is going to stand on the pipe that goes to the whistles (so that they hold pressure briefly long enough to be blown for a short while longer), and forgets about the pipe that goes to the four balloons. These go flat, and the idiot Mr Bump can jump on the hard ground as much as he wants.
Then the boss informs EVERYBODY that you've let the pressure down, with a big red stop light.

I'm not smoking something, honest! That's just the easiest way to imagine it. I might go and give the pump and the regulator a quick cuddle now...that's a quite a shit life :(

Anyway, back to reality, and this little valve is the first port of call from the green blood, once it's been whizzed up to around 1400psi, and released by the pressure regulator. 
There's a sprung valve inside, which requires a minimum set pressure to operate (the minimum set pressure the car can operate). If the pressure coming from the regulator (which on a healthy system has pretty much just been stored in the accumulator sphere) is sufficient, the spring is overpowered, and the valve remains open to both the brake and suspension circuits. Happy days.
However, if there is a drop in pressure (due to the engine dying and the pump stopping as a result, for example) as soon as it becomes lower than the pressure of the circuit, the valve slams shut and isolates the pressure in the braking circuit with everything that the accumulator had left. It also throws on the STOP light (which is what the little sensor is for). So, if you lose the engine, or the hydraulic input from the pump/regulator, maybe even down to a snapped belt, you've still got enough braking pressure left to halt the car safely. The suspension has to make do with whatever it had left, but a bumpy car you can stop is better than a smooth car that you can't.

So, let's meet the little valve (aka The Boss):


In this image, I've unwound the cap that holds the spring in position, and with it removed (having retreived the spring after it shot off across the workshop at tremendous speed):


Now, it's all manky and rusty because the wicked Welsh climate has had its wicked way with it over the past three decades, but as you can see, there is a hole in the top. That isn't actually meant to be a hole, it's meant to be a spigot. There is still a hosetail for this spigot, but sadly it's lodged in the end of a very old and brittle rubber hose. Balls.
The purpose of the hose is a return to the reservoir. Anything the safety valve deems unneccessary goes back to the tank (or onto your driveway, if you've got a leaky hose).
Citroens have long utilised this design, which CX, GS and even DS models employing a near-identical component, but during the time of the BX's reign, some clever dick suggested they used a strong type of plastic for the cap instead, as that wouldn't rust. And, they were right; they didn't. But, the plastic looks wrong for an early BX, and being the anal sort that I am, I decided I wanted to keep it looking OE. I put a call to arms out in the Citroen community, but I didn't have much patience (not that any offers came back anyway). Loath to fit one of my plastic spares, I set about repairing the old one. That's the whole ethos of this car - repair and reuse, not replace. I want it as original as possible.

To put this into effect, I went routing around in some old boxes, and found this old hosetail, pictured on the left:


The cup of tea isn't relevant, that was just...I was thirsty.

The washer is relevant, though. The metal cap had rusted and lost a lot of weight at the end. The sides were a bit pitted, but still plenty tough enough. The end, though? I wasn't totally confident the spring wouldn't just pierce through the end! That's where the washer came in.

I drilled out the rusted remains of the original spigot, so that the replacement would fit through the hole snugly...


Then I cut down the hose tail until it was almost just a pipe! I left a bit on the end to locate in the hole in the cap:


Then, I pushed it through the hole from the bottom, and clamped the new spigot in place:


A quick tack-weld later:


Then the washer came into play, to give it some strength back:


Seems like a lot of work for such a small component on an old car, doesn't it?!

Anyway, some primer later...:


And it was ready for many coats of not-quite-Citroen's-original-LHM-green-but-something-close-to-it-from-the-RAL-chart:


With the security valve reassembled and painted, I realised there weere other items that needed attention. I've also just realised that I've lost some pictures, so cannot document the new 'hardy' disc (rubber coupling between steering column and rack) that I fitted, or the cleaned up height-corrector, or the cleaned up steering rack....there's loads.

Anyway, in this image, you can see the old rack boots had been removed, the racks cleaned and greased, and the new hardy disc just visible near the top. The old one had totally split!


And in the meantime, I'd received new OMGcarpartsindapostgoodness from Autodoc, which is always a nice thing. It's the closest thing we have to the memories of unwrapping gifts at Christmas time as an excited child.


The new steering rack boots were contained within, along with a sum total of parts amounting to 180% more than I'd paid for the car. 

This included:


Track rod ends! My intentions had always been to hunt out the OEM options for any spare parts for this car, and Autodoc is a great site to do that on. Luckily, my BX is a great car to do that on, too, as the majority of it is as it left the line at Rennes! This means I know, for example, that the OEM for the steering rack boots was Continental.
Now, the track rod ends weren't yielding any clues, and they may well not have been original anyway, but I put my old partsman hat back on, and went for the best available brand I could. In this case, it was Monroe (or, what purported to be Monroe - you never know these days, like with Pagid or TRW). Given the options (and given that I discovered that First Line's supplier is the same as Sasic - I avoided those!), Monroe was the best of a bad bunch.
I had a phone call from a German fellow a day later, asking "Vot iz diz peace of sheet you arrgh buying diz part vor?" Not really, he didn't. 
He said that there was only one Monroe part in stock, and that the opposite side would have to be a different brand. I took a punt on an 'ABS' item, and got a partial refund. When they arrived, I was elated to discover that they were, in fact, the same part! Happy days!


These were duly painted in my magic gloss black stuff that I paint pretty much anything I come into contact with:


And eventually, all my work on this bastard subframe culminated in something I could actually use!


It's not finalised or perfected, but it's ready to go back on the car. Which is nice, because I haven't actually touched the car for about 3 years. Next job, dig it out from its pit!

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Admittedly, I'm a very long behind with this thread, so shall do my best to bring things up to speed before I go home, as I'm waiting for some paint to go off!

So, up to now, I have a painted, rebuilt subframe sat waiting for me on a shelf. Having spent hours farting around painting track rod ends, it dawned on me that readying some wishbones might prove a sensible use of time, being that they effectively connect the front wheels to the car.

Here's a wishbone:


Those who've been paying attention (and I wouldn't blame you for not doing so) will recall that this is a very early bearing subframe-car...I may have mentioned that once or twice before. Being such means that unlike a normal BX, you cannot follow standard protocol, i.e:

  1. Pop into Euro Car Parts. 
  2. Be looked at blankly when trying to explain what a Citroen BX is. 
  3. Then be looked at blankly while you try to explain what a wishbone is.
  4. Give up, go home and find some complete wishbones on eBay for next to nothing.
  5. Smash forehead with a rusted suspension sphere when you clock the invoice has come from 'Euro Car Parts Ltd'.

Instead, you don't bother going to Euro Car Parts, or even somewhere competent. You don't bother, because you know they will not have said wishbones, complete with bushes. The only option, is to fit new bushes to the old wishbones, because these bushes are suitable for cars with a bearing subframe (which I may, or may not have mentioned that I have, and is rare, and cool).
As fortune would have it, SKF knew what kind of woes would present themselves to me at this juncture, and had to forethought to include a new set of bushes in the bearing kits that I fitted in the subframes. I think that's fantastic customer service, personally. More companies should look into the future, and predict shit that hasn't happened yet.

So, I had bushes, and I had wishbones. However, the existing bushes in the wishbones had been in there since 30th November 1983, and the bulk of that time was spent in Swansea. If I were a bush in Swansea, I'd be anchoring myself in there pretty tight.


Not looking clever, is it? That's got headache written all over it.

Luckily, I have a 30tonne press at my disposal, but left to its own devices it would have no issue in snapping a flimsy BX wishbone in half. For that reason, and because I knew I'd be exterting more than a couple of grunts, I rigged up some bracing to support the wishbone enough to really lean on it. 


(The picture in the press is the side that didn't need the bracing, but I took a picture of the wrong piece of action. Bite me! I'm no pro....)

Fully expecting to have to exert all of the available 30tonnes, I prepared myself for the shock and subsequent BANG that would follow when either the bush gave way, or something old, rare and unobtainable broke by adopting the face Rowan Atkinson did in the episode of Mr Bean where he accidentally anesthetised his dentist (played by Richard Wilson, who didn't believe it) and had to perform his own filling. The bit where he's drilling: [i]that[/i] face. 
My efforts to bring spare underwear to work, however, proved...well, pointless. Because, much to my amazement, there was no BANG; nor shock, or shudder:


It just pushed out. All of them did. 

It was dead easy, true, but do you like how I injected some jeopardy there? How I captivated you? How I made it all 'edge of the seat' reading? Because that's how they do TV, that is. It must be amazing to watch me at work here! You're all very lucky.

So, having wasted many, many words basically conveying that I've removed four wishbone bushes from a pair of wishbones, I prepped, painted and re-bushed them. In the process of doing this, I completely forgot to take any pictures, but use your imaginations. They ended up all black, and shiney.

They were refitted to the subframe, which was now ready to be reattached to the car....


...which was immobilised, perched on four axle stands on the other side of the workshop, having resided there for at least some years...


I placed it on that trolley thing, and wheeled it over to the two-post ramp. It all went very easily, with no further jeopardy, or drama. I definitely didn't have to remove the limit-stop switch on the four-post ramp to allow it to raise about 1cm higher so that it would clear the aerial, and I certainly didn't have to do that because I steadfastly refused to remove the aerial as that would involve disturbing the original fixings that house the interior light, because it's so original and all the other boring stuff I harp on about. 

(The fact that it doesn't even have a radio is a somewhat ironic addition to the tale)

Anyway, ramp reached a few hours short while later, I was ready to move on to phase two.


...which I will have to add later, as once again I've waffled and run out of time.

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Due to there being some kind of 'situation' on the go, pretty much everywhere (this was March 2020.....), I thought I'd see if I could begin bringing all my various threads up to date. I've actually got two more to start, believe it or not! No, three more, in fact!

So, on with the BX. Probably been more productive with this one than all the others, which was my goal at the beginning of the year, as I wanted to finally get it on the road. I had plans to take it to Hagerty's "Festival of the Unexceptional", and although so far the event has not been cancelled, I'm not going to hedge any bets that I'll be going! I'll still apply, though it turns out they want pictures of the car looking resplendent in order to process applications. There's a small problem there...

So, phase two! Car is now on the two-post ramp. It made a handy workshop lamp for carrying out proper work on paying cars underneath..


The front subframe needs to go back on, but before that, there are a number of items to sort out, what with the improved access having no front subframe affords you. Chief among which, are the rather rusty suspension and brake pipes. In a car which has, at its core, a high-pressure hydraulic system responsible for suspending the car, and stopping the car (if steering the car, if it were a tiny bit later), having porous pipes made of rust is not ideal. In fact (as you probably figured out yourself) it's downright bad. It needs sorting out, and it's one of the longest-running issues the car has had, because it had leaky pipes on the day I picked it up. It's not like it has caught me off-guard! Question is, how bad are they? 

Well, I decided it was basically going to be a case of starting at the front, and working backwards. I planned to renew anything that was really bad first, and then assuming I had some pipe and fittings left over at the end, I'd go back through and renew anything that looked like it might cause grief later down the line.
The first port of call was the brake doseur valve. Hydro-Citroens don't have a brake servo, or even a brake master cylinder. In a conventional car so-fitted, the driver creates the pressure needed to create the friction on the surface on the brake disc or drum by pressing down on the brake pedal (assuming we're not looking at new cars with fly-by-wire systems). It's a simple transfer of fluid; The force you exert on the brake pedal exerts that force onto the brakes. It's not a 1:1 ratio, and when you start bringing boosters like brake servos in, you alter things further. These are power-assisted brakes.
In the BX, things are totally different, as the brakes are fully-powered. For a start, you don't need to create the pressure in the circuit, because the car is sitting on miles of pipework containing bright green mineral oil that has been pressurised to around 1400psi. All you need is a little valve on the end of a pedal, and you can divert that pressure directly onto the brake discs. In the case of the DS or SM, you didn't even get a pedal! You just got a rubber mushroom-shaped blob on the floor.
This is why old Citroen brakes have a reputation for being fierce. You don't apply force to the brake pedal when you're out and about in your hydro-Citroen, you just put your foot on the pedal. The pressure with which you rest your foot is all you need to control them, and the fact there's a valve under your foot, rather than a cylinder, is why there is an 'odd' feeling, and very little pedal travel. The valve itself is tiny; The whole pedal arrangement is there purely to make the car less alien to drivers. In theory, you could operate the brakes with your little finger, if you had a remote valve on the dashboard! Citroen explored ways of making the brakes less of an 'issue' to drivers than they were widely considered (although to me, having brakes capable of putting your head through the instrument panel isn't a bad thing!) But the public are a ham-fisted (or footed) collective, and eventually the brakes were removed from the circuit with the first C5 model (the fugly one from 2001) that confined the hydraulics to the suspension alone (and made the car worse.)

Here's the underside of the brake doseur valve on the bulkhead:


The brakes get priority over anything else in the circuit, so if the pressure suddenly drops (due to an 'Oh shit!' moment), the brakes are the last thing that should still be working. The two feed pipes leading to the doseur are always under pressure, which takes a bit of time to get your head around, as - you think brakes - you think pipes that are only pressurised when the brakes are applied, but that's only the case between the doseur and the brakes themselves - the supply to the doseur is constant. And those pipes are rotten:


Having attended to those, and any other pipework that could be done before the subframe was reattached (the subframe carries the bulk of the pipework, in fairness), I thought I'd take the opportunity to do the cambelt, since I have no idea when it was last done. These are interference engines, so if it goes ping, it's ready for the bin.

The belt is pretty easy to change on these engines, and even better, the tensioner is spring-loaded, meaning belt tension is governed by the tensioner itself, rather than me having to guess! I took the opportunity to renew the tensioner wheel, however, as I've no idea how old the existing was. Don't get me wrong, I'm loving unearthing 36 year old French delights, and in most cases keeping as many of the original parts as possible, but a cambelt tensioner is hidden. That would be going too far.

I'll apply the same logic to the water pump too. Seeing how healthy the innards of the engine looked after all this time was reassuring:


I fitted the new water pump, though the uppermost bolt had to be fitted blind, as it wasn't possible to get the tools up there AND see what I was doing. The bolt seemed to go tight much quicker than the others, so I told myself I'd simple wound it in by hand much further than the others, and that the thread must be clean and clear. I've always liked that bolt, as it looks out for me. It seeks to make life easier. 95% in by hand, and the last little bit with the tools. Lovely.

Then there was a 'pinging' noise.

Then I found this on the floor:



Then the meds kicked back in.

So, turns out that the fact I was doing it hidden meant I hadn't noticed that part of the tensioner body for the cambelt had lodged itself behind the waterpump slighty, so I was, in fact, torquing it down onto that. Quiet at the back! Stop sniggering! I'm a professsshhonalle dont u no?

I debated whether or not to remove the pump to inspect it, but the gasket had now been clamped up (because that was the LAST FUCKEN BOLT), so if I were to remove it, I might discover it was fine,and that this piece of monkey metal simply filled in a little gap that would have otherwise left the cambelt exposed.
On the other hand, if the cambelt is tensioned, and then the car is finally on the road, and in three years time I'm out and about enjoying myself on the sunny French coast or something, and my £15 water pump shits itself and throws the cambelt off....

Bugger it, it's got to come off. I was hoping the INA part I'd sourced was going to be a replica of the OEM one, but it wasn't anyway, so no matter.

My local Motaquip factors (Paddington in Fareham, if you're wondering) are decent, and they sourced me a replacement Motaquip part, which to be fair, wasn't hugely more than the INA part from Autodoc. INA is a decent brand, and in the absence of an OEM pump, it's fine. Motaquip, on the other hand, used to be owned by PSA! Many of the parts were OEM or even genuine, even if they came in a Motaquip box! Maybe I'll get lucky?!

Nope. You notice I said they USED to be owned by PSA...they're not any more. Still mostly decent gear, though. Oh look, the water pump is INA :hehe:


So, new pump on....again, and the engine is sorted. New belts, new bearings...good times.

I fire the engine up to check it all out, and celebration is indeed warranted. It runs well. No further issues to report, and definitely no chance of unearthing future issues that will cause me a headache. Nope, no chance.

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This thread has turned into a fairly accurate representation of myself! It promises much, delivers little (this update came in June '20), and never at the times it says it will. It's almost like it's disorganised chaos!

No! That can't be right, can it? Well, it's certainly an odd time we all find ourselves in, so I'll cut myself some slack. There have been comings and goings in my car world, but the 16TRS is still here, and still plodding along. Well, it's not plodded for a couple of months now, but prior to COVID, it was!
I'm still some way behind, so I'll try to get up to speed as briskly as I can. Writing stuff like this seems a bit self-indulgent, but for me it's an excellent way of keeping a diary of what I've spent my life doing, because I sure as hell won't remember!

OK, so we're at the point where I've rebuilt the front subframe of the BX (rather than replacing it, because I didn't want to lose Le Bearings). I've also now renewed the cambelt, tensioners/idlers and water pump, along with the spark plugs, the engine oil & filter, and the air filter. The rebuilt carburettor has been refitted, but the body is still largely as-was, so before the subframe goes back in and makes access to certain areas much more difficult than it needs to be, I need to sort out some of the scabs.


"What scabs?!" You might ask. Well, that's not the front wheelarch of this car (above, look up!); It's the arch of the donor estate which will so valiantly give its life for the cause. See the bracket, with the pipe posted through it? That's actually the handbrake cable. You idiot! You thought that was a pipe!
Anyway, that bracket is indeed the guide for the handbrake cable, which in the case of a hydraulically-suspended Cit, operates the front wheels, because reasons. (There are actually sound logical reasons for this design, but saying 'because reasons' is it a bit of a thing, these days). In the top of the bracket, mounts the brake flexi pipe, which is absent in the image above as I've uncerimoniously removed said hose with a large pair of bolt cutters.

Decades of sitting around in Swansea doing sweet FA for most of its existance have meant that these brackets have practically rusted away on the TRS. Being spot-welded to the body behind them, the outer skin of that has also rusted away behind them, natch:


Some tickling with the grinder later reveals that - thankfully - the chassis rail behind it is fine:


A series of images of the repair and subsequent bracket-fitting would normally follow, but half of the pictures I'm trying to upload here are failing due to some kind of error, and it's taken me an hour just to do the little bit above! I'm going to have to stop using this in-built photo hosting feature and get a grown-up one to carry on! Sadly, I've run out of time as I need to go to work.

I'll try and pick it up at lunchtime :)

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17 minutes ago, richykitchy said:

It still pains me, however, as it's a pretty rare BX; an early turbo diesel estate specced as the 'DTR Turbo'. Effectively, it's an early GTi-specification car, but with a TD engine. The DTR Turbo was the TD version of the TRS. Why wasn't it called the TRD Turbo? They are, anywhere but English-speaking countries, but here, TRD looks like 'turd'!

There's an additional. TRD is Toyota's old racing arm (before they became Gazoo Racing).

Stands for Toyota Racing Development. Although it does imply it's from 1987, so who knew.


You could be right about the Turd reference though. In Europe, our cars are badged as TTE (or Toyota Team Europe)

For the same reason btw, that the MR2 was not the MR2 in France (If you say it in French, you'll realise that it sounds like Merde or shit).

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Right, let's have another crack!

So, bracket in place:


And then welded in along with a section underneath to beef the inner rail up, followed by some paint:


Same carried out on the other side, and then I overcoated everything with a splash of the original Rouge Valleunga (Sunrise red). The subframe can now go back on, and I can crack on with connecting all the suspension and brakes. 


At this point, of course, I've never seen the car raise itself. When I got it, it was a leaky mess, and all it's done since is sit around. Strictly speaking, I've only driven it 20metres at most, and that's with no brakes or suspension! All I can really do is attempt to put the car back together, and hope that there are no hidden hydraulic issues buried underneath!

Anyway, it was finally ready to re-install the overhauled subframe.


Once that was fitted, it was time to carry out the exchange of fluids and filters. (It was much less sexually gross that it sounds)


This is actually the prep fluid for Evans Waterless Coolant. I fitted that in both my 16 Valve, and the 19GT I did for my dad. These BX mk1 dashboards don't have coolant temperature gauges, only an 'oh shit' lamp! I'd rather learn that I had a mechanical issue before the coolant had boiled away, so it's effectively just a fail safe. I also have lots of nearly 37yr old rubber hoses, and radiator, and heater matrix....everything is pretty much original (that I can tell). The waterless stuff doesn't pressurise, which means I've got less chance of a very old part letting go. That's quite important, as I have this twisted perversion to leave as much of the car as original as possible (pretty much because most BXs are now anything but, and this is a bit of a timewarp!)

Something to purify the air...


And some small boxes of sparks...


So, with the timing belt done, the subframe fastened in and all the fluids in place, I decided to hook up some electrical juice and see if it would light up.


Cawse' it did!

So, the next step was to attend to all the little rusted barbs of steel, otherwise known as the hydraulic pipework. On any BX, there are four 3.5mm pipes (or 3x 3.5mm & 1x 4.5mm, if it has ABS) that run from the front of the car, to the back axle. One of these is the feed to the rear suspension cylinders, via the height corrector valve which knows how much the rear cylinders need; one to the brakes (which is interrupted at the brake valve by the feed to the rear height corrector, as a mains of modulating the pressure on the brakes according to the weight in the back of the car); another line to the height corrector (as a pressure supply so it can operate), and a functional return (as opposed to a leak-off), which goes to the 'Octopus' and sees the fluid the height corrector doesn't need returned to the reservoir.


(A picture speaks a thousand words, right?)

Now, on a BX, there are two approaches to the hydraulic pipework dilemma. The correct approach is to drop the rear axle, drop the fuel tank....well, drop everything, and then make new pipework, front to back. Mmmmm....involving!
The alternative approach is to cut 'n shut the lines, relieving the neccessity to remove all the above.l Obviously a significant increase in speed, and a significant decrease in effort are worthy positives for this approach, but, it's often considered a bodge job, as aside from the fact it's difficult to flare pipes in-situ and prevent leaks, it's also likely that the pipework out of sight will be equally poor condition.

Obviously, I've got for the bodge job.

There's method to this, however. Firstly, this car has a fair amount of corrosion, sure, but it's not the corrosion most BXs would suffer. It hasn't done winters in the salt, and it hasn't done muddy puddles. As a result, though it features the earlier type of pipe (i.e. not protected with anything), the sections that run up and over the tank are in pretty good shape. Secondly, I want to disturb as little as possible on this car, and that includes not removing back axles and fuel tanks. I want it as 'factory fresh' as possible (lolz....it's anything but fresh!)

So, I'm cutting & shutting. I've weighed up the options, and in this intance, I'm making that call. At the end of the day, if I've made the wrong call, I'll be rewarded with a slippery green floor in the workshop as a reward!

The best way to attack this, for my money, is using these nifty little compression-type joints. Two loose olives, a central joining union, and two nuts. Means I don't need to flare the pipe, though they can be a little tricky to get a good seal on.


The downside? This assortment of bags cost £175:


I shit you not. That's 175% more than I paid for the car (alright Vorderman, I realise 175% of nothing is not £175 - it's for effect)

But, it's a means to an end, and the pipework is done (mostly).


Along with the pipework, some Michelins I had knocking around have been fitted to the original BX steel wheels. 


Many in the BX world have questioned my sanity, refurbing the original steelies, when so many are available as spares. As I always tell them, however: Date stamps, innit:


That's a rare rim! Plus, these ones were made by someone else:


The spare rim is still holed, but I'll go back to that later. These have a light grey coating on them for now, but they'll actually be overpainted with the correct silvery-grey.

I had it in mind that I wanted to get the car on its wheels, running and with working suspension, before the end of 2019. I finished 2018 by getting the GT back to my dad, so it seemed fitting that the following year should end in a similar fashion. Naturally, I couldn't wait to put the wheels back on:


The next task in getting it running and seeing if the suspension will raise, was to make the suspension work. At the moment, an exceptionally grubby LHM reservoir and a lack of LHM fluid within was preventing this, so that needed sorting.
There are a number of filters inside the reservoir, all of them cleanable thankfully. There are two on the main pickup unit (which also acts as a main cap):


Then, if you reach inside with your hand, you'll find the moon disc.


(You will cut your hands to shreds doing this. Easier to just accept it)

One disc:


The moon disc is also a filter. It acts as a baffle which sits over the top of a 'sump' in the base of the reservoir. Thanks to gravity, any crap in the fluid accumulates there, ready to be cleaned away, thus:


With the tank clean, I fill it full of fluid, as well as the suction hose to the pump, so it has a fighting chance of bleeding itself in. With every other connection made, and all the oils in place (except the gearbox oil, but hey...I'm not gonna drive it, right?) It was time to attempt to start the car again.


Success!! See the green light along the bottom? That's a VFD rev counter; The BX is risen!

Well, not yet. That's the next bit! I've started the engine with the pressure bypass screw open on the pressure regulator. This means that the pump will continue to pump away, it's just that the system will send it right back to the reservoir again, without charging any of the circuits.
Once I'm ready (aka once I've plucked up the bollocks to attempt it), I need to close the valve and cycle the suspension lever. Worth remembering that last time I did this, it pissed LHM all over our trailer!

On this occasion, however...


He is RISEN! (Other religous connotations are available). Before long, he (sorry, He) will also be driven!

Here He is!:


Driven outside for the firs.......ah, yeah. That bit.

Right, so you know for ages and ages, that in previous posts I kept alludiing to something going wrong? It was quite a clickbaity tactic, I'll admit, and it kept literally one of you on the edge of your chair! But, I kept suggesting that all was not well, and that there were choppy waters ahead etc.? Do you remember that? No? Well, that was a waste of time, wasn't it.

OK, so to the problem! Yes, it's outside. It's there, because I pushed it there. Why did I push it, you ask. Well, that would be because it wouldn't drive.

Ya, really.

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So, one 1983 Citroen BX. It hasn't been on the road since 2007 (at least). It's now raising itself under its own power, which it didn't do before, but it is no longer mobile, which it was before. It seems there is a law of sod, and it has me bang to rights.

It didn't take me too long to figure out what had happened, however. It was seemingly selecting gears just fine, though the speedo wasn't working, so I knew the output side wasn't turning. I decided to remove the driveshafts (again) to see if I could learn anything, as although I could remove the end cover on the box itself (to see if the input shaft was turning 5th gear) I felt that it was unlikely to be something deep inside the box, as the car drove before without issue (not to mention the box has only done 17k miles!) A real headscratcher for a while, as I literally hadn't touched any of the related componentry other than to remove and refit the drivesha.....

...ah. I wonder! I did start the engine initially without the driveshafts in, and no gear oil. I fitted them after I'd confirmed it ran, and could carry on going back together. The car wasn't in gear, so no heat or friction to cause an issue. The only possibility is that there was enough inertia in the transmission while the engine was running to rotate something (like when you jack up a car with the engine idling, in neutral, and then spot the wheels slowly rotating). 
Thing is, I'd done that plenty of times with BXs before, with no issue. Why would this be any different?

In a somewhat baffled state, I consulted other humans afflicted with the same BX disease I have, to see if they knew anything of it. I was thinking I'd done something bad to the diff, but couldn't think what.
It was suggested that on the 1400 'suitcase' engine (aka XY, or Simca engine), removal of both driveshafts causes the differential to fall apart internally! This sounded crazy, and my BX isn't a 1400 either, but nevertheless I decided to pick up the Haynes manual and see if it mentioned this somewhere. It was a different engine, but it might be a clue.
In the end, it was better than a clue; it was the answer! There was no mention of the XY differential suffering with this problem, but, listed under the XU5 (the 1.6 lump I have), was a sentence that described how on the earliest versions of the BX (and they don't get much earlier than this one), you had to fashion a tool to leave in place of a removed driveshaft, before you remove the other side. The planet gears in the diff aren't pegged, and the only thing holding them into the differential, are the driveshafts (a splined design which posted directly into the planet gears themselves). Later cars (such as literally every other BX I'd removed the driveshafts on) have pegged diffs (presumably after main dealer technicians started sending envelopes full of poo to the production committee who signed them off), and so that's why I'd never encountered this before. And, of course, I'd started the engine with no driveshafts in, so it's possible that, had I not done that, the interferance fit of all the parts might have held them in position, but as soon as I fired up the engine it all moved, with predictable results.

As far as I was concerned, this was a load of fucking dogshite, and I was not happy. I didn't want to take the gearbox out and disturb all the lovely original untouched-since-Rennes '83 fixings, and other original goodness (the same goodness that will no doubt fail as soon as I put it on the road, and remind me that I'm so stupid sometimes).
However, happily, Citroen had already planned for this eventuality, by making the differential REMOVABLE! Yes, a removable differential, on a boggo, humdrum family hatchback! Access is tight(ish), but I've done it on my 16v, and on a 205 GTi in the past, so this should be simple.

I didn't need to remove the driveshaft (as the prick was already out), so the next step was to remove the speedo drive casing and output bearing carrier:


(note the speedo cable end dangling there, and the gearbox ID label, which is still as bright as new! 2BL 03 is the gearbox code, which would identify the ratios in this box....if I was so inclined to look for them....which I'm not.)

Of course, if I get the diff off and find no issue, it's back to square one, but on the basis I can't feel any spline slots in the input bores, I'd say it's a pretty good indication!

With the fixings removed, I start easing the diff forwards. I've had to ratchet strap the engine to something immobile and winch it forwards to give me some more room at the back, because some cockend put the subframe back in.


Yup....there's definitely an absence of planet gear there! Moments later, a metallic 'chink'!:


Two loose cogs, sittin' on the deck. First I lol'd and then I said 'feck!'

Well, if the cogs fell out, in theory they should be able to fall back in, so that's the plan. To make this possible, I decided I needed to fashion a tool, as per the Haynes B.O.L. In the manual, they suggest cutting down a broom handle, but that is well too pikey for me innit. 
I locate an old driveshaft, and chop the end off:


Boom! One differential alignment and cog holder-inner...tool. Now I can attempt to refit both evacuated cogs, and make the BX mobile (under its own steam, not mine) once more!


Trying to fit the planet gears though this tight gap was a bit like trying to push hot-spaghetti up a cat's arse (nicked that from the tale of Vulcan 607). It's probably not how it's meant to be done, but there isn't the room to remove the diff entirely without unshipping the subframe again, and-a theres-a no-a way-I'm-a doing-a that.

This went on for some time (trying to fit the gears back in, not trying to type like an extra from a Dolmio advert. Eventually, I was successful, as can be evidenced by the difference in the two images below:


Guess who's not going to do that again?! 

As a means of celebration, I fitted the wheeltrims to the wheels and took it for the first proper bimble....around the yard!


The craziest thing? The suspension spheres are 36 years old, and by rights they should be rock solid by now. Are they? No! It's smooth and supply, and they're working perfectly! 

Old French cars, eh? They're so unreliable!

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6 minutes ago, TheOtherStu said:

There's an additional. TRD is Toyota's old racing arm (before they became Gazoo Racing).

Stands for Toyota Racing Development. Although it does imply it's from 1987, so who knew.


You could be right about the Turd reference though. In Europe, our cars are badged as TTE (or Toyota Team Europe)

For the same reason btw, that the MR2 was not the MR2 in France (If you say it in French, you'll realise that it sounds like Merde or shit).

Yeah, I've got a mate who's into the Toyota stuff and he mentioned TRD before. This predates that, though, and like I say, they're known as 'TRD' models in most markets (ones that don't speak English, basically). The 'turd' thing, despite sounding funny, has actually been confirmed as true.

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Never been a bx fan but the way this is written kept me captivated and loved reading it , the hot spaghetti up a cats arse genuinely made me laugh out loud , these are the kind of stories that I need for my next stint in managed quarantine on the 14th of this month so if anyone has any links to similar stories I would be a happy chap 👍

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What a GREAT story! Just read it all the way through. It has me wondering how Citroen were able to price their cars competitively in the market, what with all the additional hydraulic pipework and associated gubbins. Glad they did though!

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  • 2 years later...

Update time! (for the last time on here)

I realise I've kinda stopped with these threads now since I moved on to doing YouTube videos instead, but there's just not the time to do both sadly. Plenty of others on here, though!

Sad to say that I sold the BX a couple of weeks ago. I did a video version of this thread (not quite as in-depth, but it still ran on for nearly an hour!) So if anybody here enjoyed the read, this one puts it into visual context a bit more:

Le vid

Was a tough day seeing it go, but it's gone to a very good home so overall I'm happy. I covered 6500 miles in it in approx. two years and five months.

Onwards and upwards! Thanks for all the kind words.

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