Citrojim's Activa, 207 and Bike Tales

Tell us your ongoing tales and experiences with your French car here. Post pictures of your car here as well.

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Post by CitroJim » 02 Sep 2008, 18:58

Yesterday I drove a 406 2.1TD saloon far enough to gain a good feel for it. A good, solid, comfy and very competent car that feels just a bit big, stodgy and lumbering.

Today I travelled (as a passenger) the same route in a TDCi Mondy. It feels much like the 406 in a lot of ways but Ford must have been to the same school of suspension design as the maker of my lad's 200SX suspension. In short, there does not seem to be a lot there. Ford seems to have given the idea of good suspension no more than lip-service. Sure it handles well and is very nimble for such a size of car but it's not pleasant for the passengers. It is harsh and bumpy to a degree I found surprising.

I hopped out of the Mondy and more-or-less straight into my 2.1TD for a trip to Felixstowe.

What a difference :D Despite being on the same floorpan as a 406, the Xantia totally different in feel. It is delightfully nimble and nigh-on perfect in the suspension department. neither too hard nor too soft yet very, very controlled and precise compared with the two tin-sprung cars of recent acquaintance. There's a word to describle it, something like compliance? but essentially it really feels like the suspension is totally in tune with the job it has to do. A specialist if you like.

These days I only drive Xantias and it is rare for me to drive an ordinary car and as a result I get used to the hydropneumatic syspension and take it for granted. It is only when an opportunity is taken to drive something different that it comes home to me just how incredibly good hydropneumatic suspension is. One does tend to forget.

Over at Stratford at the weekend, I went for a ride in a MK1 BX 19GT across the infield of the racetrack (i.e. bumpy grass) and in all honesty it was as if we were travelling along a billiard table. I later found out just how bumpy it was when I took a trip over the same route in my Activa and it was bumpy, believe me. The old BX just smoothed the whole lot out! A delight 8)

I believe that at one time the TV film crews had their cameras mounted atop a hydropneumatic Citroen in order to film horse races without too much camera-shake. Was it a CX? It all makes sense now why they chose a Citroen for the job.

Off to Southampton tomorrow. Shall I take the Activa or 2.1?
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Post by Toby_HDi » 02 Sep 2008, 19:01

citrojim wrote:I believe that at one time the TV film crews had their cameras mounted atop a hydropneumatic Citroen in order to film horse races without too much camera-shake. Was it a CX? It all makes sense now why they chose a Citroen for the job.


I believe it was a CX

Top Gear did do something similar as a way of testing the suspension on the C6
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Post by myglaren » 02 Sep 2008, 19:55

I think it is a crying shame that Peugeot seem to be systematically killing off all the good stuff that Citroen has evolved over the years, for no discernible advantage.

I can't forgive them for losing the single spoke steering wheel and more so the dismantling of the integrated hydropneumatic system in the C5. Citroens should have Citroen brakes, no argument.
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Post by CitroJim » 13 Sep 2008, 22:10

Steve, I totally agree with everything you said above. Imagine a 406 with Hydropneumatic suspension. It would improve it no end.

It's been an active (no pun intended :lol: ) couple of weeks and about time I did an update on here. A lot has happened.

My 2.1TD has been working hard these past two weeks and seen a lot of miles put under its wheels. In all the time it's not missed a single beat, given one moment for concern or used any oil, water or LHM. I check it over weekly but never find a need to do anything except clean it inside and out.

I had to take a trip to Southampton last week so to give the 2.1 a rest I took my Activa and was delighted I did. I love driving my Activa and it was a good excuse to give it a decent run. As I was in the area, I called in to see MikeT on the way and have a good old natter, look at his work in progress and cast an eye over his cylinder head. Sadly I felt it needed a skim. I also enjoyed a couple of cups of Mike's fine coffee :lol: Thanks for those Mike!

I've a minor problem with my Activa. It's happened twice now and both on long journeys on fast roads. It happened firstly whilst chasing Gareth in his Activa along the A14 and more worryingly, in the middle lane of the M3 on the way back from Southampton. Cruising steady at 70mph, the engine will die for a second or two, the tacho falling to zero. Just once in a journey, just for a second :? When it happened on the M3 I noticed that not only did the tacho drop to zero but the temperature gauge did as well as some warning lights coming on. It looks like the ECU is momentarily loosing supplies. Trouble is, I just cannot provoke it and I've had a really good look around and tried allsorts but the electrics refuses to yield up its secret. I suspect the double injection relay or one of the power feeds to the injection ECU is being lost momentarily but until the problem goes "hard" it'll be the very devil to find. It's not happened since the M3 and from then on it flew home without a murmer and has continued to do so... On relating the tale to Robyn, my 15 year old daughter, she said, "It easy Dad, just ask the Lexia what's wrong" If only life were so simple Robyn :( Even the mightly Lexia is not that clever.

Last Sunday I went to see my parents in Somerset in the 2.1 as I had a load of cargo for Dad, including his woodturning lathe, otherwise I'd have taken the Activa plus tools... By coincidence John (jgra1) was in the locality and we met up for a Lexia session on his car and to say hello. It was an absolute pleasure to meet John and Adele. It transpired that John and I grew up not many miles away from where I did down in Somerset. Small world :D

As recorded elseware, John and I had further adventures that day on the A303. I felt terrible not carrying a spare fuel filter in the car and from now on I do. In fact the spare I now carry for a 1.9 got used last night :lol:

On Thursday Xac called me to say he'd bought SturdyBloke's (Craig) Xantia and would I fancy a run to Swansea on Friday evening with him to collect the car? Yes I did and at around 5pm on Friday we set off in my 2.1. We reached Craig's house at about 9:30 and enjoyed a most pleasant chat and cuppa with Craig. A short while later Andmcit (Andrew) joined us and we four proceeded to have very much an impromptu social gathering outside Craig's house. It turned out an incredibly enjoyable evening and time flew by. It was fantastic to meet both Andrew and Craig. Before we knew it, it was the early hours of Saturday morning and we were still nattering :D During the natter, Xac and Craig came to the conclusion that the fuel filter in (by now) Xac's new Xantia had not been changed so as a precuation Xac swapped it with the spare I now carry in the car. In the event, Xac and I arrived back in Milton Keynes at about 05:30 rather tired but happy. It had been a truely memorable and thoroughly enjoyable Friday evening :D

Today the cars got their normal Saturday wash and check-over and I spent another fruitless hour trying to nail the Activa problem :( I gave up and spent the rest of the day in horticultural persuits.

I'm going down to see Gareth (XantiaMan583) tomorrow to have my Activa wheels refurbished. I'll be going well tooled up, just in case the fault goes "hard" (although ideally it would be nice if it were to happen outside Gareth's house rather than the M25, say). I'm looking forward to seeing for myself the incredible transformation Gareth has made to my old Activa :D

In the week I drove a nearly new Transit van. Running along at 50mph in fifth gear I felt it was revving a bit hard for the speed. I looked at the gear knob only to see a "6" on it. Doh! A six-speed 'box :D It makes a tremendous difference. I wish the 2.1 had one of those...
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Post by XantiaMan » 14 Sep 2008, 16:10

A quick hint of whats been happening today to Jim's Activa...

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Post by CitroJim » 14 Sep 2008, 18:17

A picture is worth a thousand words they say but those above only tell a fraction of the story. All you see in the pictures are shiny wheels. The work that Gareth put into them was something else entirely :D

He started by removing a pair of wheels from the car, deflating them and "breaking" the tyre beads from the rim. There followed the preparation involving much sanding, mostly with his little DA sander but a surprising amount by hand on the fine details, cleaning and priming.

Three of the wheels were not too bad and Gareth prepared them with relative ease. the fourth had a bit of corrosion and Gareth spent ages on it, finally ending the prep. with a coat of high-build primer.

The sliver base coat was prepared and sprayed after using special tyre shields and a valve shield. Whilst Gareth prepared the base-coat he showed me how he would mix the red my Activa is painted in. It comprises at least six separate pigments, some coppery, a brown one and several reds, one a really bright scarlet!

The wheels were flatted down and sprayed with their base-coat. Gareth used cellulose on mine whereas he'd normally use a water-based paint. After three coats of this, he seemed satisfied and put the wheels aside to dry. At this stage they looked magnificent but there was more to come. A batch of two-pack lacquer was mixed and several coats sprayed on. This was the icing on the cake and this lacquer, as it dried, imparted the deepest, most lusterous shine I've ever seen, straight from the spray gun. These wheels really do look seriously shiny and smooth :D

The above was repeated on the remaining two wheels. Five hours all told!

Gareth is a craftsman and perfectionist when it comes to paint. There is no other way to tell it. He is. To watch him do the work is sheer poetry in motion. It is always a joy and pleasure to watch a maestro at work.

In a lull, whilst the last wheels were drying, Gareth showed me how he does fine paintwork refinishing. He did a quarter of my bonnet and one wing. From these areas he removed all the "swirls" and buffed it up to a perfectly smooth mirror finish. It is incredible what can be achieved :D

Thanks for all your hard work today Gareth. I'm delighted with the result :D :D

If you want wheels refurbished, the choice of person to do them is a real no-brainer!

In other news, I'm pleased to report that Mme l'Activa behaved herself impeccably today and showed no sign of her previous disdain for motorways and fast A roads. Maybe she knew she was having her wheels done and was her way of showing appreciation or it may have been on account of the contents of the boot: Tools, multi-meter, wiring diagrams and a spare double injection relay :lol: She has a bit to do to fully restore my faith and confidence in her but today she simply purred and consumed a surprisigly small amount of petrol. She was a real joy to drive :D

On the way to Gareth's I got caugnt up in a ragged convoy of generally chavved-up VWs on their way to a show I presume. They were a right pain, mucking aroud on the M25, swapping lanes and generally hindering others. It was a relief to pass them and loose them. The only vehicle of note in all of them was a very tidy early MK1 Golf GTi but even that had been lightly chavved and spoilt. Why do they do it?

All in all, a cracking day! Again, thanks a million Gareth :D
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Post by XantiaMan » 14 Sep 2008, 18:27

No problem Jim, its a small way of saying thanks for the huge amount of time and help you have given me on both my cars. That OSR wheel was a bit of a bugger, and its still not perfect, but with the good weather conditions that laquer went on nice and smooth with very little orange peel. It should keep them going for a couple of years, french car wheels are really terrible for corroding and i was lucky i caught mine before they got too bad. Next step is sorting out your bumpers corners, once thats done the 3M treatment over the whole car and you should have pretty much the mintiest Activa left on the road!

BTW, the reason for cellulose basecoat being used was for a couple of reasons. Its a very good replacement for the original colour used on that age of car, quite a fine pigment compared to my later Activa which has a more coarse look to it, secondly as it was for a friends car i wasnt using work materials 8) It's been a while since i've used a solvent basecoat and TBH water based is so much better now i've got used to it, no issues with reactions caused by incompatable paints, only 1 1/2 coats needed compared to 2-3 for solvent and its also much better for the enviroment and my lungs! The finish is better too, with the pigment settling out far more evenly than old school cellulose. Used correctly you can still get a good result, but definatly a sign of good progress.
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Post by CitroJim » 16 Sep 2008, 08:09

Those minty wheels have drawn rather a lot of admiring looks already Gareth :D

Last night Xac and I gave his new Xantia a good look-over. This is Craig's (SturdyBloke) old Xantia.

Fundamentally it is a very, very sound car and drives like a dream :D It has only a few minor issues to resolve. The ABS light is on and the first reason for this is the front NS sensor is duff. It was a bit confusing at first as all we could see was the connector on the end of the ABS loom with nothing plugged into it :shock: It appears the ABS sensor lead had a close encounter with the driveshaft at some time and tore it. The end of the sensor cable was found about six inches away sans plug :lol:

We tested the end of the sensor cable but sadly it was open-circuit. I started trimming the cable back but darkness and my dad's Taxi duteis curtaied this activity to its conclusion.

A quick test with l'Lexia showed both front sensors are faulty but I'm not sure. The Lexia does sometimes show both sensors duff when one is open circuit. We'll have a further look this evening.

An oil leak on the OS Front at the rear of the subframe was found to be a split steering rack gaiter. I'm glad it's this one as this is the easy side. The other one is a lot trickier but thankfully, is OK. Where it was, I was a bit concerned it was the steering pinion valve leaking LHM but thankfuully, this component is bone-dry :lol:

Another minor problem is a tendency for the engine to knock (actually sounds like pinking) and sound very over-advanced with a non-functional tacho on occasions. A stop and restart often resolves the issue and the engine then runs sweetly. A Lexia session showed a permanant fault on the needle lift sensor and on testing, the sensor is open-circuit. Strangely, the K light does not come on although the light itself works. :? Looking at the Lexia shows exactly what happens when the needle lift sensor fails. You can see the advance setting the ECU wants to apply and the actual advance set. In this case, at idle, the ECU wanted to set 8 degrees and the actual was 0 degrees. Surprisingly, the engine rus a treat despite no advance.


Another very, very minor problem is the temperature gauge. It reads 10 degrees low according to the Lexia :roll:

Apart from that, the car is excellent and these really are minor and easily resolved problems.
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Post by CitroJim » 20 Sep 2008, 22:57

It has been rather wonderful to read through the tributes to Alan S on this forum, the BX Club forum and the Aussiefrogs Forum.

I was given the news yesterday lunchtime whilst at work. I don't mind admitting I was terribly upset and it showed quite plainly. One minute it was bubbly old Jim, laughhing and joking as I do and the next it was a very sad Jim. Most sad was when several people enquired why, and when told, they were rather dismissive. "It was just someone you knew from an internet forum, why so upset?" Clearly, they have no inkling as to the strength of friendships that can be bonded via the internet, the forum and the sharing of a common interest.

Not a hour after I heard of Alan's death, there came another shock. The sister of a close friend and workmate was found dead after a suspected suicide. Last night I was alone but for MSN Messenger and it was a godsend and a half to have it to chat to a few good friends. At one point I had four conversations on the go all at once. This to me is the greatest value of the internet. Many knock it but recent events just go to show how bloody wonderful the social networking side of it is.

Today I have shamelessly escaped into the world of cars; always my best therapy :D Mark (my son) and I gave his 2.1TD 406 a good service today and I had my first good look at it and gave it a good check-over. It badly needed an oil change as it had done 10K on it's oil and it was not good. I replaced the fuel filter as that had clearly not been changed for a good few thousand either. Apart from that, the car is in magnificent condition. Until today it even still had it's undertray in place. Unfortunately, as I removed it to get to the oil drain plug, two studs sheared through being terribly corroded and it was decided not to refit it. It looks as if it had not been off in a long time as the studs were incredibly rusty. I wonder if previous oil changes (dealer serviced) had been done using a vacuum extractor?

My Lexia will read the engine ECU if you tell it the car is a 2.1TD Xantia but will read no other ECUs. The engine ECU was clear of faults.

My Activa has a towbar fitted and the visible parts are a bit on the rusty side so today I thought I'd paint it to make it look better. So as to do a proper job, I put the car up on high, axle standed it and dropped down the spare wheel. I was delighted to see the car has a pristine spare with the original tyre that has never been used. In fact, the underside of the car as a whole is pretty well immaculate except for one thing and that is is the towbar. It is as rusty as a horse-shoe and looks like it has been fitted to an ocean-going trawler for a good ten years. It is so bad I'm going to have to remove it completely and do it properly. That could be a job as the bolts are badly corroded. It's a nice towbar as well, having a detatchable swan-neck.

Whilst I was under the car, one of my neighbours young lads came across for a look-see at what I was up to as he is apt to do. He looked under the car and asked "What are all those green balls under there for?" "Those are the springs" I say. He looks mighty confused "They don't look like springs to me!" Now how do you tell an 8 year old how a sphere works without really baffling him? Today he watched in fascination as I carried out Citarobics on one of my cars.

I have a sphere on my desk at work, along with a part of a broken 1.9TD camshaft and a 205GTi piston and conrod. Many ask what the green ball is and when told, a lot of intellegent adults have a bit of difficulty in seeing how such a tiny thing like a sphere can support the load of a car and act as a spring, shock absorber and a self-levelling device all at the same time! If I'm feeling devilish I tell them it's my crystal ball to help me decypher cryptic Help Desk calls. Quite often I really could do with a crystal ball for that very purpose :lol:

Clothes shopping with the girls tomorrow. Something I actually really enjoy :D
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Post by red_dwarfers » 21 Sep 2008, 09:50

Friday wasn't that great for you, not one but two people. Im sorry to hear about your workmate :cry:

You must have a fair sized desk for all that Jim! A rather....interesting assortment for an IT man :lol: My desk was filled up with those darned HP versions of the Eee PC, nothing but trouble when imaging them!
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Post by CitroJim » 21 Sep 2008, 10:24

red_dwarfers wrote: A rather....interesting assortment for an IT man :lol:


I'm only a pretend IT man Kev :roll: Just a job to keep the wolf from the door. My real trade is now virtually gone, swept away by the internet and instant global communications. My proper trade, and the one I hold all the qualifications and passion for is heavy-duty HF Radio Communications. I'm still far more at home with high power radio transmitters and big aerial arrays than IT :D It used to be fun to fix a duff transmitter. You looked for the scorch marks or the missing component that had been blown literally to bits and had entirely disappeared. Boy, could they ever go bang when they had a strop on :lol: :lol:

And mercury vapour rectifiers and their gorgeous purple glow.. Anodes on the PA valves glowing cherry-red if the thing was a little mis-tuned... Flourescent tubes lighting up all on their own in the presence of massive RF fields...

That's REAL electronics :D

Don't get me started, I'll be here all day :roll:

Do you ever recall seeing huge masts and tangles of wires high in the sky in fields years ago and generally known as "Radio Stations" or even "Wireless Stations"? That's my first love. There are very few left now and the remnants of one can still just be seen at Rugby by the side of the M1 near J18 although likely for not much longer. The massive LF towers have already been demolished :cry:

Those artifacts on my desk remind me of those now far-off days and the fact that at the end of the day I can go and do some proper engineering!

I have a lot more artifacts stashed away but as I say, don't get me started!
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Post by CitroJim » 23 Sep 2008, 11:13

Bloody funny thing on the forums this morning At five AM both the FCF and BXC were running so slowly as to be practically unusable. Running like a Xantia V6 on two cylinders..

I checked my server and internet connection and they were fine. Remoted into the web server. It looked perfect. Called up the FCF homepage. It loaded quickly. Checked web ascces to my server over a VPN. Fine. But still the forums ran like dogs. Checked my test forum. Fine. Why?

Back at the web server I used the browser to look at my website that lives on my server. As slow as a slow thing to load.

The problem was a very slow internet connection between the webserver and my server that made database queries/responses very slow. Quite exactly what it was I'm not sure as from two different ISPs I could get fast access to both servers but between the servers it was very slow. All OK now though. It must have been an internal routing problem between the webserver backbone and the Pipex network.

Had me scratching my head for a bit..
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Post by CitroJim » 28 Sep 2008, 11:52

Had an absolutely brilliant day yesterday :D I took my Activa for a spin and went to see Richard (DickieG) to have a look at his new DS. I only intended to spend an hour or so there and ended up there all day :lol:

The DS is lovely. In brilliant condition and they are just something else. Totally unique and a real challange. Words alone are insufficient to describe a DS properly. It was the first time I'd properly seen one. Previously I'd only loked at them at shows but this time I could have a real look and touch :lol: I even got to help Richard in a couple of jobs on it! A Citroen like no other. Every car since has been a backward step. What on earth must it have seemed like when the DS was first introduced in 1955? They must have thought aliens had landed and the DS was their space-ship. 50 or so years on, the DS still looks out of this world and some of the mechanics and hydraulics are!!!

Richard took me for a lively spin in his V6 Xantia. It left me speechless for a while. They don't 'arf go :lol: The ultimate Xantia Q car! I would so love one but alas, too many obstacles at the moment :(

Just imagine a V6 Activa...

So, the experience of an DS and a V6 in one day. Not a lot can top that really...

Regular readers of this drivel will be aware of two minor issues on my Activa; the slightly bouncy rear suspension and the couple of instances of cutting out. The latter has not reared it's head since the last time despite a couple of long motorway runs so I think it can be considered now OK. The former issue was looked at, and the reason found, with the aid of Richard's sphere tester. It's just an HP pump, a PR block, an LHM reservoir and a gauge. It still faintly staggers me that you can pressurise a sphere to 70-odd bars just by turning the pump pulley about five revolutions by hand.

All the rear spheres are well down on pressure, including the Activa balancing sphere. All the spheres are Westroen ones and still have just under a year to run on their 3-year warranty :D

Finally, I replaced the O ring in the HP pump that was responsible for a tiny weep. Gosh, that's a surprisingly mucky job. The amount of LHM lost in doing so is remarkable. Sorry about the puddle on your drive Richard :oops:

Good job LHM quickly evaporates and all traces disappear a lot faster than engine oil :roll:

Thanks again Richard for a really memorable day :D
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Post by DickieG » 29 Sep 2008, 21:55

Had a great day on Saturday catching up with Jim, it was nice to see my old Activa is still looking good and in fact a bit brighter since Gareth worked his wonders with his buffer and re-furbished the wheels.

Following a 'going over' to see exactly what I'd bought, I got my DS on the road again on Sunday and spent the rest of the day with the biggest grin on my face I'd had in a long time :lol: partly through my achievements in sorting out a few issues with engine smoothness and the hydraulic gear change but mainly through the sheer enjoyment of driving her. The attention a DS gets is unbelievable, people stare, point and when you stop, take photo's, you'd have thought I had a celebrity in the back of the car.

The ride really is out of this world, I deliberately chose a route over some speed bumps which in my Xantia estate (fitted with softer/comfort sphere's) the comfortable maximum speed is about 25 mph but when the DS went over them at the same speed I genuinely couldn't feel them! To say it was weird is an understatement because my eyes saw a serious bump ahead but my body/brain never felt them.

The Goddess, what a car everyone should have one :lol:
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Post by joss » 30 Sep 2008, 12:13

I used to get driven to primary school every day by a friend's dad in his DS, all I knew at the time was that it was very comfy, and looked different to other cars.

I missed it when they moved back to Italy and my mum had to take me to school, in her 65 Singer Gazelle - a different experience altogether (when it made it)!
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