Mounting the badges on the DS

Before the boot lid can be attached to the car, the Citroen DS badges need to be mounted.   This is something I have unsuccessfully been trying to do for a few weeks.   I found a solution last night that works for me, no idea if this is the ‘correct’ way as I couldn’t find any reference on the internet.  My car, being a 1970 model has the individual letters rather than the rectangular plate.   Personally I prefer the earlier ones.

The badges attach by having a ‘post’ that goes through a hole in the boot lid.   There are then these fasteners that need to be pushed onto the ‘post’  they grip the post via tabs that bend back just enough as they are slid on.    The challenge is that these tabs are very strong and I was unable to push them on with my fingers.   I didn’t want to use anything sharp either, as that could have damaged my new paint.

I found that a 5mm socket was able to push on the edges of the fastener, while not touching the post.   This at least allowed me to push on the fastener, but they were still not bending.  I tried using petroleum jelly to lubricate the post to no avail.

To get more leverage, I used a small ratcheting handle normally used for getting to hard bolts.  It fit nicely in the ball of my hand allowing much more leverage.    The other ball of my hand was on the back of the badge.   This allowed me to push on the fastener.  The ratcheting handle can be seen in the bottom of the photo below.

Citroen DS badges

Before I found this method, I managed to destroy one of the fasteners by trying to expand the tabs with a nail and hammer, so I am one short.   Given each fastener is about 30c, the smart move would have been to order a couple of extras.    I will need a few more rubber covers for the window adjustment screws, another cheap part I should have purchased a few more of.

I bought new badges as the old ones had a lot of overspray and had lost some of their gold.   The new ones look pretty good on the new paint.

Boot Lid

300SE Double relay change

The saga of my non functional A/C is now over.   The 300SE is blowing cold air.   It would want to after all the parts I had to change to get this far.   The final piece of the puzzle was the Klima relay.   This relay controls the engagement of the compressor and had burned out when the clutch shorted.   I ended up buying a rebuilt relay from the same vendor as my rebuilt Climate Control Unit.    The A/C is fixed just in time for the hot Sydney summers.


Coincidently, at the same time I needed to change the Klima relay, I had another relay problem.   Symptoms were very hard starting and poor running when cold, as well as the ABS light on.   This normally points to the Overload Protection Relay.   The Overload Protection Relay protects the sensitive electrics on the car, in this case the engine ECU and the ABS controller.

They are known to go bad after a while and my old one  is date stamped 1996.   This relay is fairly cheap (about $50-60) and protects very expensive components, so if it has not been changed in a while its always worth having a spare on hand.  There are a few different part numbers that vary on year so it is important to get the right relay for the car.    It has a 10W fuse in the top which is worth checking.  Sometimes just this fuse is bad, although most often the whole relay needs replacement.

I now have no more ‘urgent’ repairs on this car.   There are a few smaller items that need attending to that I can do slowly.   For example, the left hand bulb in the instrument cluster is not working.   I need to pull the cluster anyway to fit a gear with one less tooth to make the odometer more accurate.

Mercedes 450SE W116 – The car I almost bought

I have always admired the W116 model.  However, since the introduction of the W126 in 1980 the W116 has lived in its shadow.   My 450SLC has been my primary car for most of the time I have owned it, but with three children, this is no longer possible.  As I needed something that could fit three child seats in a row, a W116 would fit the bill nicely.   I found a car – this 450SE W116 and agreed to buy it.   Unfortunately, the sale fell through after a major mechanical problem was discovered by the seller before I was going to collect the car.    In the end I wasn’t able to find a W116 for the price and condition I was looking for (in the time that I had), so purchased a 300SE W126 instead.

About the 450SE W116

While Mercedes had used the ‘S’ designation for their upper class cars for some time, the W116 model was the first time they used the moniker ‘The S Class’.  Since the W116, the top of the range saloon car has always been referred to as the S Class.

The W116 was introduced in 1972 and carried over a lot of the styling and running gear from the R/C107 range introduced in 1971.    Mercedes has a habit of introducing a lot of new technology in the S class and the W116 was no exception. For example ABS brakes were available later in production and there were a lot of other clever features in the car.  Many of these taken from the experimental safety vehicles of the time.

The W116 was also the first time Mercedes offered a diesel engine in the S class and the 300SD model with its turbo-diesel motor was very popular in the markets it was offered.     The W116 is probably best known for the 6.9, which was a development of the 6.3 litre motor from the 600 and 6.3, now bored out to 6.9 liters with a dry sump and standard hydro-pneumatic suspension.   These cars are very susceptible to rust, so there are now few W116 in good condition left.

The W116 was available in two body lengths, standard (short wheelbase) and Long Wheelbase with 10cm more room for the rear passengers.

About this 450SE W116

This car is a 450SE W116, meaning it has the M117 4.5 liter V8 and the short wheelbase body.   The car was purchased by the previous owner about 10 years ago, originally to provide an interior for another car.   It has been sitting in a carport for some years and looked a little unloved.    However, once the interior was removed, the car was shown to be generally rust free and the paintwork after a wash and polish in surprisingly good condition.       Therefore, the owner set about doing a mechanical refurbishment and sourced a replacement MB-TEX interior.  He also fitted brand new carpets which looked lovely.

My 450SE Mercedes 019

During the refurbishment, the brakes were rebuilt, the timing chain done, replacement cams fitted, suspension checked, new dashboard and carpets fitted.      The car was put back on the road, but a bad water pump meant that it was parked again for a couple of years as other projects took priority.


Sadly, the car sat under a tarp for 2+ years. During that time the paintwork suffered badly with the clear coat lifting on both the front and back and some surface rust developing.   The photo of the car is from before it went into storage.

Why did I almost buy it?

I needed a car that could fit three child seats across the back seat, but only used 1x per week.   Therefore a pre 1986 car fit the bill because it could be put on historic registration that allows 60 uses per year.    The car would park out in the sun all day near a child daycare center, so a car with low running costs, but some body issues was ideal.

I liked that all the known mechanical issues such as water pump, timing chain had been done as well.    The iron block M117 is very long lived, if the timing chain has been done.

Why didn’t I buy it in the end?

As the car was being recommissioned, it was found that even though 18 months ago it ran great, it had lost all compression on one bank of cylinders.     This was too much work for the seller to rectify for the price I agreed to pay.   In the end, he found another buyer who would buy it in non-running condition.     The car is currently being worked on by a mechanic to get it back on the road.

Sometimes new parts are not better

My E-Type has had ongoing problems with the brakes holding on.    This has been on and off since I bought the car in 2010.   Over that time, I have pretty much renewed the entire braking system.   Turns out, that might be part of the problem.    What I have learned, is that the reproduction E-Type Master Cylinder can be problematic.   So much so, that rebuilt units are probably better.

The unit on my car was only around 18 months old, and it was clearly the problem here.    When removed and bench tested, the piston was obviously sticking in the bore.    The theory my mechanic has is that the new parts are susceptible to corrosion, but if they are used every day like a modern car, would probably be OK.   Under irregular use like a classic, they quickly develop these sort of problems.    He has stopped using them on customers cars and now fits rebuilt units.   Same goes for the servo, where a new unit was recently replaced with a rebuilt.

E-Type Master Cylinder

With a rebuilt unit it is possible to ensure the piston and bore have the correct coating to last a long time with irregular use.

This evening I took the car on a longer drive of around 25 miles.   I had almost forgotten how nice the car is to drive when working properly!  I had great pedal feel, the car rolled easily after stops and the engine wasn’t lugging from sticking brakes.   The brakes squealed a bit, probably from the pads being a bit glazed from the sticking.

I will have to drive the car a few more times, but its possible the braking problem is finally solved.   Since I have owned the car I have changed:

  • The master cylinder (twice)
  • The slave cylinder
  • The Servo (twice)
  • All the flexible brake hoses
  • Rebuilt the front calipers
  • Fixed incorrect brake line routing where the rears/fronts were reversed
  • Brake light switch (twice)

I will be very happy if I don’t have to attend to the brakes for quite some time on the E-Type.  The last good drive I had in the car was early 2016, so I am looking forward to a few more.

W126 A/C almost blowing cold

My fight with the W126 Air Conditioning system is almost over.   When I purchased the car, the A/C worked rather well.   After the water pump gave out, it looks like it shorted out the compressor clutch.   Changing out the clutch is not much different to changing out the whole compressor, so I sourced a new compressor and receiver/drier.   This was rather irritating as working air conditioning was factored into the price I paid for the car.

I went through the entire climate control system of the car as part of my troubleshooting.   I found that the car had a missing aspirator fan, a very noisy blower motor, and an intermittent climate control unit.   These were all changed.   The next step was to take the car to my mechanic to fit the new compressor and receiver/drier.  During the disassembly he noticed that the large A/C hose was slightly weeping.  Changing this hose means removing the compressor, so now was the time to do it.   Of course, it is not your regular A/C hose.  It also functions as a way of cooling the petrol going into the fuel distributor.

W126 A/C Hose

The hose was sent off to be repaired, as purchasing this hose new from Mercedes-Benz would probably require giving up your first born child.  This involved leveraging the fittings with new A/C hose.    Interestingly enough, while the hose was being rebuilt, I was driving the car around without this cooling function and didn’t notice any adverse effects.

Sourcing the A/C compressor was not as simple as you might think.   The electronic parts catalog calls for part number A0002302411 for cars equipped with self-leveling rear suspension.  As an Australian delivered car, mine is so equipped.   This translates to a Denso 10P15C.    Cars without self-leveling rear suspension require A0002301111 which is a Denso 10PA17C.  These compressors do not look alike, to the point where it looks unlikely that the wrong compressor would fit without modification.   The 10PA17C is cheaper than the 10P15C.

Today, the new compressor was fitted, along with the new receiver/drier and the car gassed up and ready to go.   When the compressor clutch went out, it shorted out the Klima relay, so this is the final thing that must be replaced.   The A/C does work when the relay is jumped.

At the same time, I had been smelling petrol when starting the car.  Turns out the fuel pressure regulator was faulty and was squirting extra fuel on startup.   Apparently to stop petrol leaking out, this goes into the intake.   Changing the regulator is likely to improve the fuel economy of the car.

This has been a rather expensive exercise, but so long as I am not hit by an inattentive SUV driver, I should have a reliable W126 daily driver for the long term.   Some of the most likely potential problems have now been sorted out.  This includes rebuilding the climate control, new water pump, head gasket etc.

Citroen DS front end wiring – part 2

My efforts in getting the wiring right at the front of the DS continue to disappoint.   This time, I made a harness to test multiple wires at the same time.

Test Harness

This helped somewhat, but I think there may be something not hooked up right at the headlights.   As my car has been fitted with relays, the headlights should both come on at the same time from the passengers side wiring.   They kind of do, except one side is only on very dimly when the other side is on full.   So I also need to check the actual headlight connections.   I did get the indicators to work on the drivers side, so at least that is something.   The horn still blows when high beams are engaged.

I also read more closely the wiring diagram that helpfully indicates the colour of the connectors for each wire.   My car has some level of re-wiring in its past, as these do not correspond to what is actually there.    It is not original to the car, but the more I work on this wiring, the more I am tempted to replace the individual bullet connectors with one big plug.

I also had a go at replacing the passengers door contact switch which had broken.   This should be a 30 second job.   However, the ground wire fell back into the cavity and I was unable to reach it with pick tools and various hooks.   This will have to be a job for another day.    Maybe I need one of those inspection cameras.

Citroen DS Mirrors

One of the first and easiest jobs after the repaint was to fit the Citroen DS Mirrors.  Before the repaint I was continually having the mirrors adjust themselves at speeds above 80km/h.  That is, they would slowly fold inwards until they were touching the car.   I was also disappointed with the quality of the previous mirrors, so purchased new ones of a higher quality.   These are the correct smaller mirror for an 1970 car like mine.

This time, I was determined to have a better solution.   Instead of using the fiber washer that came with the mirror, I decided to use rubber washers.  I used a small one that was a tiny bit smaller than the base of the mirror on the outside, and a larger one for the insight.   This allowed me to really tighten up the nuts that old on the mirror.  The rubber should hopefully ‘grip’ better than the fiber washer and stop the mirror folding back.   I won’t know for a while until I can re-assemble the car and take it for a test drive.   My car originally only came with one mirror, but a few years ago I carefully drilled the hole in the door to add a passengers side mirror.  I find this invaluable for parking.

Citroen DS mirror

Getting the mirrors fitted early was important as I am often moving the car around in tight spaces and I do not want to damage my new paintwork.  I would encourage anyone with a classic car to fit a passengers side mirror if it is not already equipped.  This was actually one of the first things I did a few weeks ago, but I didn’t have time to update this site.    I also re-fitted the antenna.  Another easy thing that can be ticked off the list.     The picture above shows the rather acute angle of the rear drivers side window.   This was one of the primary reasons for doing the window adjustment.

Citroen DS Window Adjustment

The windows in a Citroen DS are frame-less.  This means they need careful adjustment so they seal properly and wind up and down to the correct height.   When my car was painted, the panels were refitted much better than before – they now generally line up!   A proper panel alignment meant my doors were in slightly different positions than before the paint.  Not only that, but the window alignment wasn’t great either.   Therefore, my Citroen DS needed a window adjustment before the door cards could be refitted.

Citroen DS Window Adjustment

There are two adjustment points.   The first is the angle of the window.  Too much angle and the door is hard to close and the window may be damaged.   Too little and the window will not seal and rattle against the car.   This door had too much angle, so I was able to adjust it with the four adjustment screws on the door channel.   Two of the adjustment screws can be seen in the picture above on the edge of the door.     These are normally covered by rubber grommets.

These four adjustment points can also be used for minor vertical alignment.   This was necessary on the front drivers door that was about 1cm too low at max height.

The front passengers door on the other hand had a problem.  This window could be wound up about 5 cm too high.   This puts the window at risk of breaking if the door is closed while the window is raised too high.     After consulting Aussiefrogs, it turns out that I am missing some parts in my window winder mechanism.   I didn’t have those parts so I needed to make my own limiter.    The picture below showed the mounting point for the proper limiter.

Citroen DS Window Adjustment

To make my own limiter, I needed to first add the tab that is supposed to be on the guide rail.   I then needed to add an L shaped piece to the hole shown above that would make contact with the tab.   This is not a perfect solution, nor is it as good as the factory, but it does stop the window from going too high.

Citroen DS Window Adjustment

Final step was to prepare the white ‘cups’ that allow the door cards to attach.   All that is left now is to lubricate the window mechanism and re-fit new moisture barriers.   I will also need to order a few more of the rubber grommets that cover the window winder adjustment.  I only had a couple of spares and most of the upper ones were largely disintegrated.

2017 Rolls Royce Concours

The 2017 Rolls Royce Concours was held at historic Linnwood House, Western Sydney.    As usual, they had a number of guest clubs including the Antique and Classic Car Club,  Rover, Alvis, Wolseley, Jaguar, Range Rover etc.    For some reason the Rover display was very small – perhaps they had another event running at the same time?  I attended in 2015 when the Rover club was also a guest and they had a large selection that year.

This is a nice event.  It is not well known by the general public and has a relaxed atmosphere.    As usual there was a nice selection of Rolls Royce and Bentley motor cars from the marques entire history.   As you would expect Silver Shadow and Silver Spirit models dominated.   There was a reasonable selection of 50s and 60s cars, and a few rather nice pre-war models as well.

This was the first car event my 9 month old daughter attended.    Not a bad one to start with some classy cars on display.   The cars only put her to sleep for some of the time!

E-Type brakes, holding on for dear life

I’ve owned my E-Type for over 5 years now.   During my ownership there has been one issue that has consistently plagued the car – brakes that do not release when they should.   Over my ownership I have replaced pretty much the entire braking system, and some components twice!

A couple of months ago, I had the master cylinder and booster replaced.   At first, I thought this had fixed the problem as the very uneven pedal pressure was gone.   However, sure enough after a couple of more sustained uses of the brakes, the non-release problem was back.

This time, I suspect the rears.   The rear callipers are pretty much now the only part of the brakes that has not either been replaced or rebuilt.   In addition, when trying to reverse the car it felt like it was fighting to get the rear axle moving.    My car does not have original rear brakes, the callipers have been replaced with XJ6 units, a useful upgrade.


Oddly enough, the brake lights were lit up even with the brakes not applied.   What started out as an enjoyable short drive in the car soured a little bit as I had to wait about 20 minutes for the brakes to release enough to move the car.     I also noticed I had forgotten to put the rear plate on the car.   At least it was a short drive!

Some cars seem to have an ongoing gremlin that is not fixed despite many attempts.   My 450SLC is similar with its perennially leaking transmission.    Sure enough, when moving the SLC out of the way to use the Jag, a red pool was visible where the car was parked.     I really would like to get to the bottom of this braking problem on the E-Type.  I have not had a good drive in the car since May 2016.