Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, BX, Jag XJ-S, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

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

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CitroJim
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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog (Xantia, 107 and "others")

Post by CitroJim »

Excellent work Zel :D

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Zelandeth
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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog (Xantia, 107 and "others")

Post by Zelandeth »

Have flushed the cooling system out and now filled with the correct coolant mix. Will probably stick some Forte in there in due course given that people seem to swear by it and we are dealing with a 30 year old radiator and heater matrix!

Discovered when running it today that the rocker cover seal was proving utterly incontinent and dribbling an alarming amount of oil down the side of the engine. Have now treated it to some instant gasket and will see if that resolves it, in the meantime will get a new gasket on order.

Edit:

Yep, the rocker cover now appears oil tight.

Had it running for quite a while this afternoon without any sign of problems, and have exercised the brakes as best I can within the confines of the driveway. I do need to confirm the fan works though. For a start, it takes a long time for the temperature to creep up to 93C which is the cut in point for the fan according to the manual. That's because it's got a cooling system the size of your average central heating system, and a radiator not that much smaller than the Saab's despite having an engine half the size.

93 is higher than I'd normally like to see on the gauge anyway (80C is normal running temp), so methinks I'll be adding an override switch like I've got in the Saab. ...Have a bag of switches somewhere from a scrapper, so reckon I'll be using the blank space for front fogs for that one.

Big milestone though is that it's booked in for the MOT on Friday. We'll see how big a shopping list I come out of that with! Already aware that the brake hoses don't look too clever so will get those ordered tonight. She's been off the road since last September though so I'd be surprised if there aren't other things that need sorting, the rear suspension arm bushes for one (though they didn't actually cause any issues at the last MOT). That's a job the garage is getting though and I'm not getting involved in!

Got a couple of very brief running videos just to prove to me that it's alive that I can throw at YouTube if anyone's interested.

Finally for now, the obligatory beauty shot of the now fully reassembled and tidied up engine bay. Only thing I really still need to do in there is scrape some of the exhaust goop off the downpipes where it's oozed out - I may have forgotten quite how much Firegum expands once it gets hot!

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May whip the bolts holding the exhaust on down to size a bit as well as they're kinda stupidly long (just what I happened to have about that would fit).

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Zelandeth
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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog (Xantia, 107 and "others")

Post by Zelandeth »

Had planned to do a few things today, but ended up having a significant delay as the first thing I had to do was run over to Oxford to rescue an e-bike with a puncture. Would be the rear wheel wouldn't it as that's the one that takes about two hours to remove due to having to dismantle the whole bike first. As it is, it was due a service anyway (still under warranty) so just picked up from Abby's work and dropped at the shop.

Heavy and awkward beast of a thing to get into a car that is. Huge as well, *just* fits in the back of the Saab.

On the plus side, gave the Saab a nice long run for a change.

Then set back to work on the Skoda, mostly just "spit and polish" jobs now really.

First thing I did was to attack the splash guard on the offside with degreaser to clean up the oil slick that was there from my initially leaking rocker cover - at least now I should be able to confirm that it is in fact not leaking any more - was hard to tell before as so much oil had pooled that it was still occasionally dripping onto the drive.

Next port of call was to grab the pressure washer and its really aggressive rotating jet attachment (the one I used to completely clear the Xantia's roof of clearcoat - it doesn't generally go near painted surfaces for obvious reasons - good for cleaning block paving though).. Target here was basically the entire front suspension setup and any exposed metalwork. I reckon this car has spent a lot of time standing somewhere that's not wet, but slightly humid and everything under the car has a shocking looking of flaky surface rust. Especially things like the wishbones and the springs. All perfectly solid, just looking like hell. Few minutes with that had as expected done a stellar job of blasting all the loose crud off, and it should dry reasonably quickly as it's quite warm. Also used the same approach to peel off (or start bits that I subsequently peeled off) quite a few bits of the original underbody sealant that were loose. At the weekend I'm probably going to attack the underside of the car with Dinitrol (or whatever similar stuff I currently have in stock), so I wanted to get as much loose stuff off as possible. Want to wait till after the MOT for that though so the tester can actually see what the car looks like rather than wondering what the shiny new sealant is hiding!

Final order of the day was a bit of interior work...mainly to shut my OCD up.

My Estelle, as with virtually every one out there suffers from the usual disintegrating seat problem.

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They all do it. The problem is that the cloth used is not UV stable, so when exposed to sunlight it just starts to break down chemically and the seats start to fall to bits like that. The only real solution is to get them re-covered (as any other used items are generally going to be just as bad!), but I really can't justify spending that sort of money yet - especially on a car that doesn't even have an MOT yet - I might consider it if she gets a pass without any major work...Something needed to be done though as it was really the first thing that your eye was drawn to when you opened the door.

As expected, bespoke covers for an Estelle aren't exactly easy to find - so generic ones are the only real option. I learned something today...Trying to fit modern generic seat covers to the seats in an older car is a massive exercise in frustration during which I'm pretty certain I learned (or invented) several new swear words.

The basis issue is this - older cars had generally smaller, less sculpted seats than modern ones, but featuring a *lot* more padding. The actual cushion on the driver's seat in the Estelle is a good three or four inches deep at the front edge. That's one of the reasons they're so comfy! It does however mean that getting the covers to do anything resembling actually fitting is incredibly tricky! The headrests are also about twice the size of the covers for them, so they just got left.

After what felt like about a week and a half of standing on my head, skinning my knuckles (the carpet in that car is incredibly abrasive!) and swearing at it, this was the result.

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Some of the wrinkles will settle down once they've stretched a bit, and the rear seat actually looks a lot better now than when I took the photo an hour or so back. Still looks like it's got a set of cheap seat covers from Halfords on, but it looks a heck of a lot better I reckon than it does with the insides of the seats hanging out.

...The "Airbag" labels have to go though!

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Zelandeth
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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog (Xantia, 107 and "others")

Post by Zelandeth »

Okay then, our fate is in the hands of the MOT gods now. It's as ready as it's going to get.

Today did the basic checks to make sure it doesn't fail on something daft. Including but not limited to a complete lighting check, horn, windscreen washers - which weren't working until I wiggled the spade connectors on the motor...this is why we do this...

Then slapped a final coat of wax on, gave the other half of the interior plastics a wipe over and dressed all the exterior plastics.

...Always forget how massive a difference just dressing the plastics can make to how tidy or not a car looks.

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Really need to get some white paint and touch in the lettering on the mudflaps...that's bugging me.

Sadly I won't be walking away with an MOT certificate tomorrow, but rather will be booking the car in for further work - managed to poke a hole in the outer offside sill today, and there are several bits along the underside there that don't look too clever either. Nearside in contrast looks okay at least. Still, not entirely unexpected at this age.

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At least compared to the complex curves and such you have to deal with on modern cars, it should be (relatively) simple to repair.

I (and my wallet) hope.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog (Xantia, 107 and "others")

Post by Hell Razor5543 »

OUCH! Mind you, that should be (compared to a modern car with complex shapes) a simple repair, as you say. [-o<

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Zelandeth
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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog (Xantia, 107 and "others")

Post by Zelandeth »

It's also in an area that is black stone chip coloured rather than needing to be colour matched.

It's not that much of a surprise to be honest given the tendency of these cars to dissolve on contact with water (probably why there are so few of them left), just more of an annoyance.

...being honest I do wonder how thoroughly it was looked at at the last test as it doesn't look any worse now than it did back then...

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CitroJim
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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog (Xantia, 107 and "others")

Post by CitroJim »

Shame about the hole Zel but otherwise it is looking truly fantastic :D

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog (Xantia, 107 and "others")

Post by Xantianut »

Ay up!

Sortable I reckon.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog (Xantia, 107 and "others")

Post by RichardW »

Good luck with the rest of the MOT! It might pass with that actually - as long as it's >30cm away from the seatbelt mount or suspension pick up, it's not a fail. Shouldn't be took hard to patch it - bit more involved if you want it hidden. Usual problem though is that was looks like a small hole turns into a much larger one once you attack it!

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Zelandeth
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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog (Xantia, 107 and "others")

Post by Zelandeth »

Well that went pretty well all things considered. Only fail points were as expected a few holes getting poked in the offside inner and outer sills. Booked in for next Thursday to be sorted.

It doesn'thave to be massively pretty as that area will be getting repainted with black stone chip, and you can hide a lot under that with some careful dressing of the repair and some high build primer!

Apparently have a fuel vapourisation issue as well on hot starts, something these cars are a bit prone to. Manually priming the carb the second time sorted the problem. Issue seems to be the fuel boiling off from the float chamber. Wonder if I could improvise a better heat shield (the carb does sit basically right on top of the centre branch of the exhaust manifold).

Brakes had almost stopped scraping by the time I got back home too! Tested fine on the rollers though which says to me that the should clean up just fine after a bit of a spirited drive. ...this being the first run since I had the head off was more cautious than enthusiastic.

Seriously had forgotten how much fun that car is to drive though, both from people's reactions (I counted three people taking my photo, two waving and a conversation with the teller in the fuel station - in a twelve mile round trip) and just for the actual act of driving it.

Hard to explain really, but it's very much one of those cars that somehow comes across as being far more alive than any tin box has any right to.

Oh, and in my post first trip in forever inspection managed to find a fuel leak - dripping helpfully right onto the front branch of the exhaust manifold...just needed the union nipped up so now sorted. Goes to show why you should always do a thorough check over when a car first sees the road after a long period standing though.

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Zelandeth
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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog (Xantia, 107 and "others")

Post by Zelandeth »

Despite being Entirely Too Warm (TM) today I was determined to get something useful done rather than spending the *entire* day hiding in an air conditioned room. I have to confess to not handling the warm well...I blame the fact that I grew up in north-east Scotland where anything over 70F/21C is considered a warm day and any day that it is warm the humidity tends to be well below 50%. Suffice to say, I was not handling 35C and 72% very well.

Still...this gave me the ideal conditions for two things.

1. Getting some surface rust treatment done on the Skoda. The underside shows evidence of having sat somewhere slightly damp for quite a long while, while everything is solid there is a large amount of surface corrosion on any exposed metalwork. This is a quick look at the underside.

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Yes, the whole offside rear suspension arm is sitting a bit of an angle as well due to deterioration of one of the bushes - it'll be getting sorted in the next couple of weeks.

I'm basically attacking everything I can get at with a wire brush to scrub the loose crud off then Kurusting the living daylights out of everything - after that most areas will be getting drowned in Dinitrol.

While I was out there I threw a bit of VHT black paint on the exhaust silencer as it was already starting to look rusty in a couple of places - I'd bet money that 90% of this has burned off by the time it's done the 12 miles to and from the MOT station!

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Yes, all you can see there is in fact the entire exhaust system.

2. The other thing for which a 30+C day is good for is a proper stress-test of the cooling system.

First thing I did was to crawl under the front of the car and poke around to ascertain that the cooling fan itself actually did work when the thermoswitch was bridged (so if it turned out that was duff I could stuff a link in there to get the car to cool - and made sure I had the aforementioned link on hand). It did - and showered me in a wonderful collection of bits of rust and cobwebs.

Then I reconnected things and started the car up, set it to a fast idle and waited. ...and waited...and waited...and waited. Took about 25 minutes but eventually the system started to actually reach equilibrium and start to actually rise. Crept up to a fraction of a millimetre under 90C on the gauge then dropped back to about 87C as soon as the fan kicked in. It's hard to tell when it does that actually as the fan is really quiet.

This is where it was quite happily to sit for a good 15 minutes while the engine was being held at 1500rpm while the car was stationary (heater set to cold and off as well, so the radiator was doing the lot).

While it initially still looked far further up the gauge than I would generally like on most cars, if you look at things relative the the green "normal" range as it's printed there, this is actually perfectly fine really.

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Also had a crawl around under there at that point and confirmed that the entire height of the radiator is in fact doing its work, which given its age I'll take as a win!

I then after that decided to go and hide in the cool again...
Last edited by Zelandeth on 19 Jul 2016, 22:30, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog (Xantia, 107 and "others")

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Zelandeth
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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog (Xantia, 107 and "others")

Post by Zelandeth »

Have tried a few different brands before, they all seem to flash off pretty quickly on account of how darn hot the exhaust on these cars seems to run!

Don't think it actually makes any real difference to the longevity of the exhaust to be honest, it's more just my "it looks scruffy therefore it must be painted" reflex.

Just realised looking at the photo that there's a huge bit I've missed on the underside of the tailpipe as well so will need to go back with more tomorrow!

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Zelandeth
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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog (Xantia, 107 and "others")

Post by Zelandeth »

She has an MOT!

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog (Xantia, 107 and "others")

Post by daviemck2006 »

Yaaaayyyyyyy

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