Citroen DS further adjustments

Today I attended to a few more minor adjustments to the DS.   I plan to take the car to the French car show in mid-July which is a good deadline to complete the most outstanding items.

The first was the bonnet catch cables.   When the car was painted, the cables were not routed correctly.   There is a channel for them to go through in the front wings.   Not being in the proper place puts more pressure on the cables.  I doubt it is enough to break them but it is worth routing them properly.

The next was re-fitting the spare wheel.   I had also purchased one of the inserts for the wheel that holds the jack.   This stops it from rattling around inside the spare wheel.    This also gives a handy place to keep the reproduction tool kit I also purchased and a litre of LHM.

Citroen DS spare wheel

I tried yet again to adjust the passengers front window.   I don’t think the mechanism is properly mounted or has been modified so I was not successful.   It is better than it was.

I also re-fitted the trim above the rear windscreen.  I had previously used Velcro to hold it up which had worked quite well for the last couple of years.   It had come down during the painting process.   I purchased so better Velcro from Clarke Rubber which seems to hold it up quite nicely.


I also fitted a booster seat to the rear of the car.   My soon to be four year old daughter is keen to come to the French car show and is now old enough to ride in the car.   The DS has rear lap/sash seatbelts which are required for a booster seat.

I still need to do a few more things to the car, but nothing that will stop me using it.    Having it off the road for the last 18 months I am looking forward to driving it more.

W126 Transmission Mount

The motor mounts were changed on the 300SE around six months ago, but there was not time to do the Transmission mount.   It was obvious it would need doing from the condition of the motor mounts.   In addition, I was feeling some vibration from the drivetrain at various times.

changing the W126 transmission mount is generally a simple affair.  The transmission is jacked up a little, with care taken not to dent the pan.  The mount is freed via three bolts – two on the crossmember with a 13mm socket and one to the tail of the transmission with a 19mm nut.

The old transmission mount was in poor shape.  The mount had entirely collapsed and the rubber was doing very little.   This was obvious when comparing to the new one.

W126 transmission mount

The installation of the new mount was not straightforward.   For some reason, I could not get the bolts into the mount through the crossmember.   Sure enough, when I removed the mount, there were no threads in the holes!  The new mount is an aftermarket one from Meyle.   This was quite perplexing, but at 11pm I didn’t have the means to do anything about it.    I don’t know if this is because there is a manufacturing defect; I have the wrong mount; or my car has been modified at some time.    The old mount was so bad I did not want to re-install it.   When I examined it to check the threads, it was clear that only some old grease was holding it together.

W126 transmission mount

In the end I installed the new one using only the top mounting.  This was enough to gently move the car out of the way so I could drive home in the 450SLC.

A couple of days later I purchased an M8 thread tap.   This allowed me to re-use the bolts from before to install the mount.   It would have been easier if I had access to a vice and the right tool to hold the tap instead of a pair of cheap vice grips.   Once the thread was tapped the installation of the mount was as straightforward as it should be.   The vibration is gone and you can feel the difference in driving the car.   I’m not really sure if tapping some new threads into the Meyle W126 transmission mount was the right thing to do, but it did seem to be the best option at my disposal.

Next time I will try a different brand W126 transmission mount.

While I was there, I did an oil change on the car and installed a new breather hose.   The old one was rock hard and they are not expensive.   I had cracked one of the vacuum hoses installing a new air filter a few weeks ago, so I also installed a replacement vacuum hose.   The vacuum hoses get brittle with age.

Breather hose


Traction Avant Front Carpet

My Traction Avant has been missing its front carpet since my purchase.   The lack of the front carpet made an otherwise nice car look like a bit of a Jalopy.   The traction Avant front carpet is a single piece like the DS.   As the Traction is a front engine car, it does not need a transmission tunnel.    I was not able to find one that would match my car.

My original aim was to find a front carpet that would match the rest of the carpet in the car.    I tried a bunch of places in Australia and I wasn’t able to find one in any colour.   In the end I found a firm in the UK that was able to supply just a front carpet for me.      They were also good enough to send me a couple of colour samples to check how well it would look.

The available colour was a nice red, nicer than the purple that is in my car.   I wasn’t really in a position to buy a whole set, so I went with the new front carpet only.

Traction Avant Front Carpet

I then purchased some underlay from Clark Rubber and glued it to the back of the carpet.    I’m pretty happy with the result.   It’s not a perfect match, but at least the Traction Avant front carpet is now in place and the car doesn’t look like a Jalopy without it.     It also has a heel pad so I will not wear through it when driving.

Traction Avant Front CarpetThis car has come a long way since I purchased it a couple of years ago.   The valve adjustment has restored the low compression on one cylinder, and the front suspension rebuild has made it much nicer to drive.    The correct fuel pump has also removed the horrible buzzing from the electric one that was in the engine bay.

Citroen DS rear indicator repair

As part of my DS restoration I had already replaced one of the DS rear indicator housings.   I wasn’t particularly impressed with the quality of the reproduction part.   It had been suggested to me that these are actually quite easy to repair.   Instead of paying good money for an inferior part, I decided to give it a go.   I’ve never soldered before, and the repair entails soldering the live wire back to the housing.     I found a rusty old soldering iron in a box of old tools under my house and managed to get the job done.   The solder was probably the messiest ever attempted, but it seems to work.

DS indicator housing

All that needs to happen is the rubber protector is folded back and the live wire soldered to the housing.   I drilled back the original hole as I thought it would be stronger this way.     After that it was a simple matter to re-attach to the car.

Working indicator

The indicator trumpet is a bit fiddly to get back on as everything has to line up properly.    Getting the indicators working was the last thing preventing me from taking the car for a test drive.    I also swapped over the side rear view mirrors while I was there.

For the first time in over 18 months, the car was out for a proper drive on the roads.   After a fresh tank of 98 octane, the car ran well and it was great to drive it again after so long.    I saw that I needed to further adjust the mirrors, but it ran well.     I’ll need to take it for a few more drives to make sure there is nothing else that needs attending to.

Citroen DS front end wiring – part 4

I had gone as far as I could on my own with the DS.   It was time to bring in the experts.   I had spent a number of hours trying to get the lights to work.    I made some progress, but was unable to get them to work correctly.   Luckily Jason, my friendly DS mechanic was able to sort out the mess pretty quickly.   Turns out there were multiple problems all contributing to the strange results I was seeing.   People criticise British car wiring, but French DS wiring is no better.

Firstly there were some bad connectors that needed replacing.   Next, some of the wiring inside the wings were wrong.   Thirdly there were a couple of bad grounds.    I had been mostly looking at the connections where they join the front wing.     We were aided by a great diagnostic tool that I plan to purchase.   It let you test for voltage, ground, send 12v to test a component and much more.   It’s called VGate PowerTest.

Citroen DS Front wiring

The lights on the DS are great for a car of its age, especially the high beams aided by the inner driving lights.

Since the connections to the wings are not great, in the future I plan to replace the individual bullet connectors with a single harness connection for the 8 wires on the passengers side and 6 on the drivers side.  This will make removing the wings easier.  Not sure why Citroen didn’t do this as standard on the DS wiring.

Next we fixed a couple of bad connections for the rear indicators.   I need to solder one of the connectors back, and if that does not work, purchase a new one.       The final wiring related fix that was needed was the door contact switch on the passengers side.   The connectors on the reproduction switches are not the greatest, so the 12v wire had fallen off.   I had tried for ages to get it with magnets and hooks, but apparently the trick is to use a long piece of coat-hanger with a hook bent at the end.   We retrieved the wire and put new connectors on it.     The wiring on the car was now back to working again.     In the future, I plan to put the driving lights on a relay like the headlights, install a battery disconnect switch and use harness connectors at the top of the front wings.

As we did all this work, we identified a number of other things that needed attention:

  • The door mirrors were reversed.   I didn’t know the passengers side is a few cm longer, and I had it on the drivers side.
  • Chrome trim on the side of the roof is rather beat up and can be replaced without removing the roof.
  • The bonnet release cables are incorrectly mounted.
  • Windscreen washer cables not correctly routed and one jet is blocked.
  • LHM leak from the front is caused by leaks from front suspension boots, in particular the passengers side.
  • Window rubbers/felts on the outside/inside are wrong and don’t fit well.
  • Passengers side front window needs adjustment.
  • There are some missing pieces near the top of the bonnet that help hold on the insulation mats that I am yet to fit.

I also replaced the lens for the reproduction tail light with the original one.  In my case it was the housing that was dead and the lens was very poor quality.

Tail light lens

It is hard to see from the photo, but the quality difference is immediately apparent when handing them.

Citroen DS window cranks

You would think that mounting the DS window cranks would not be worthy of a full post, but there was more to it than I thought!  My car had the wrong window cranks installed prior to the crash.   From my research they were from a DS model produced between 1962-1964.    This was an opportunity to fit the correct units while I was purchasing parts.

DS window cranks

Something as simple as this turned into a much more involved project.   Firstly the window cranks I purchased were not much good to me.     They did not come with all the parts I needed to mount them.   No black plastic surrounds, no springs and the little metal pins for the old style cranks were much too short.   I ended up getting all those parts (with two attempts for the right size pins) and was ready to go.

When I was doing this job it wasn’t clear where the springs go.   My first assumption was that they go under the black plastic ‘cups’.   It was clear they did not fit properly there.   It was also clear that they were necessary, the window crank felt very ‘floppy’ without them.   People familiar with this job will already see my error – they go under the door cards.

The parts manual doesn’t make this easy as the diagram does not show the door card at all.   There is a separate diagram for the window winder mechanism (which includes the cranks) and another diagram for the interior (which includes the door cards).

My next move was to partially remove all four door cards and fit the springs.   I find the design rather odd as it pushes the whole card out instead of just the window winder.   Its possible I am wrong in how I have done this but I found a few references to it being this way.

DS Window crank springs

Without the springs, fitting the cranks was a cinch.   With them, I found the easiest way was to push the handle in with my knee and use a small ratchet extension to get the pin started and a drill bit to push it home.   Once I was clear how to do it, I had all four doors done in about 40 minutes.

DS window cranksThe picture above shows the almost finished product.   This is actually the drivers door before I removed the door card and fitted the spring.   The crank is now more snug on the door.  I’m happy with the results, I find the late DS window cranks more stylish than the early ones.

W111 Fuel filler cap door

You can own a car for years and still find interesting design details that you never noticed.  I’ve owned W111’s for around 10 years and today discovered for the first time that the W111 fuel filler cap door can be held open with the fuel cap.   Another example is the little brackets on the DS bumper that keep the rear wings from scraping.

W111 fuel filler cap door

There is a little moulding on the door that holds it open if the cap is placed against it.  All these years I have been holding the door open with my hand or the petrol pump.     Also turns out I am missing one of the rubber bump stops as well.   This is a rather clever piece of design.

I would imagine this is the same for other related models like the W110, W112, W108, W109 etc.

Mounting the DS rear bumper

The restoration of my DS is almost complete.   The DS rear bumper is now back on the car and from the outside the car looks complete.   I’m really happy with how it looks.

DS rear bumper

The bumper is actually quite simple to mount.   In retrospect I should have removed it in one piece instead of disassembling it.   It would have saved me a lot of time.   The two bumper irons are bolted to the body with big rubber isolators to provide a small amount of ‘give’.   What I find odd is that the nuts are really narrow.  You need a 26mm socket but the nut is only about 2mm.  There is plenty of room for a normal sized nut that would be much easier to grip.   There are rubber covers for the exposed threads which is probably what prevented mine from rusting.   The bolts are right behind the tyres meaning they are exposed to water/mud being flicked up from the wheels.   I put a  little grease on the bolts before installing the covers.

The bumper should be mounted with the rear wings removed.   It is too easy to damage them otherwise.  I tried and put a minor scratch on one of mine.

DS rear bumper

You also need to be really careful with the rear wings once the bumpers are mounted.   There are little tabs on the DS rear bumper to stop the wing touching it, but they don’t work especially well and some rubber backing for the bumper would make sense.

Citroen DS Tail light

The rear bumper bar has been ready for fitting since February.  I had not yet mounted it was one of my tail light housings was not working and I figured its easier to replace this with the bar off the car.   A friend in the Citroen Club gave me a used one, which was better than what I had, but also not working.   My next option was to purchase a reproduction part.   The quality of reproduction parts for the DS can be quite spotty, so I was interested to see what the reproduction DS tail light assembly would be like.

On the whole, it looks like an exact copy, but I am a bit disappointed in it.    For starters, the bullet connectors were of a different size and type than the ones used in the DS, so I had to replace them.   The quality of the plastic didn’t seem that great either.

Reproduction Part

We will see how it goes.   The lens is not nearly as faded as the original unit, so I may swap my original lens with the one that came with this reproduction assembly.   The good news is that it mounted properly and works (once I replaced the bullet connectors).   The repro units do not come with bulbs, but all my bulbs were working from before the crash.

Rear Lights

I tried to mount the bumper next, but after putting a small scratch on one of my rear wings.  They will need to be removed to prevent further damage.

I had also ordered a reproduction light assembly for the rear drivers side indicator.    At the same time I also ordered the proper rubber part to isolate the ‘trumpet’ from the rest of the car.   The previous owner had just cut a piece of round rubber and glued it.   The right rubber piece is more of a V shape.   The lens is also held in through a metal strip with a specific bend.   Mine were rather out of shape, so I added a couple of them into my order and this made it much easier to mount the lights.


The first photo shows the improvised rubber part and the second shows the correct one.  I needed to use a razor blade to remove all the old glue from the trumpet.

rear trumpet

The main challenge I have now is the electrics.   At first the indicators were working great.    There is something screwy still going on with the wiring in the car.    When the headlights are turned on, the left hand indicator in the dashboard lights up.  In addition, that side does not work from the stalk.   The front works on the right side, but only the front.   More troubleshooting here is needed.

Citroen DS front end wiring – part 3

Before I can get the DS back on the road, I need to sort out the front end wiring.    This controls the headlights, indicators, horns etc.   There is obviously something wrong here as I had been seeing strange behaviour in the lights.   I spent some time on this late last year, and made only minimal progress.   I had some suggestions to check the grounds.   At the time I cleaned them and while they did look dirty it did not seem to make much difference.

To test properly, I bought a proper test light.   This did allow me to more easily identify some of the wires and get basic stuff like the indicators hooked up.   I also got the side lights working correctly.    Headlights and main beams appear to be hooked up properly but one side is still not nearly as bright as the other.    This is especially apparent on high beam.

Citroen DS dipped beam

Citroen DS Main Beam

The first photo is the dipped beam and the second is the main beam.   The driver side is great, the passengers side still needs some work.   I was also not able to get the driving lights working yet.   I need to check, but it does not look they are using relays like the main and dipped beam.    It may be worth adding relays for these lights as well.    The Citroen DS headlights are very good for a car of its age (when they are working properly).

At least the lights are not staying on after the switch is turned off, and the light switch actuating the horn, so some progress has been made!