Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Thorn in my Side

Regular readers will know that this adventure has been great fun and, almost entirely a great success from sell-up, through house hunting, our move in convoy, then gutting and rebuilding the house and now getting established in the garden and setting up the small-holding with the animals. I've written good, positive reports and almost entirely these have been written from a happy place. There is, though, one remaining area where we have had no such success and which is still a constant source of irritation, stress and hassle, a real thorn in my side. That is the 2CV.

A hobby car, and (in UK) great fun to own, I decided to bring it with us and keep it as a second car mainly for fun and emergencies. Prior to leaving UK, I had my 2CV fixer bloke, 2CV Llew, do a good thorough job on preparing it for the journey and generally making it as good as you could, to give it a hopeful start when I was out of his range - lots of metal got replaced and new panels welded in from floors, sills through the firewall / bulkhead, it got a full service and even all the wheels were taken off, cleaned and rust treated. Llew also created a trailer for it with the same wheel-hubs and wheels and tyres so that I traveled with, effectively, 4 spare tyres. You'll know that the convoy succeeded, and both the Fiat Panda and the 2CV and trailer made the 500 mile run without missing a beat.

It was when we hit our destination in Ireland that things started to go wrong. We tried to register it in Ireland as an Irish car on the same day as we did the Fiat - the Fiat 'flew' through but the 2CV got held up for 3 months or so because the Registrations computer could not cope with a 1986 2CV. We chased and harried but to no avail. Luckily, when we were in the office in Sligo waiting for the Fiat to process, we had got talking to a lady from a local garage who had volunteered 2 bits of useful information, first that her business was mainly importing cars, so she was well versed in the office side and well know at the Sligo NCT ( registrations and 'MOT' tests) office as a regular 'customer'. Second that the garage, which is in our local town of Ballaghaderreen was formerly a Citroen main dealer and that a number of her mechanics (including her husband) were experienced in Citroens and 'loved' 2CVs. We adopted the 'lady' (Helene) and her garage as A GOOD THING and started to use them for all our garage needs. Short-term, this was mainly prep'ing the Fiat for its NCT test.

Eventually we got fed up with waiting for Sligo NCT and Helene offered to chase our case in person, a move which resulted in us finally getting released from the log jam. Now registered, we could finally get the 2CV insured and taxed and could think about the test. Unfortunately, just at this stage  a frost cracked the windscreen right across, starting at an old stone-chip hole which had been there for all the 10 years+ I had owned the car. We now hit the issue of getting hold of spares for repairs, most of which have to come from specialist suppliers the UK. 2CV Llew is also a good source of bits, but those who know him will agree that although we all love him he is NOT one for the deadlines or doing anything urgently.

We were more months after he promised to send a windscreen waiting for him to get it to us and then eventually, just as we'd given up, 2 things happened (again). First a chance conversation with Helene and an internet search revealed that Sligo Windscreens, in the next county actually had one in stock and would supply and fit it for £190. We agreed and then the second thing, Llew finally got it together but could only find couriers for £80 or so. Eventually I was coming to UK for my barge week, and I decided to  bring it back with me - check-in luggage at £24! I suddenly had 2 windscreens. The car chose this week to stop idling. It would run OK at high revs and was perfectly drive-able but if you pulled up at a junction you had to sit with your foot on the throttle or it would die. The NCT test involves a fair few stages where the engine is left running, so this was no good for the test.

So, in went the car a month or so back for its NCT pre-test, to get the windscreen changed, the idle fixed and any other niggles sorted prior to the test. We were now the €190 plus another €200 poorer. The approach the garage use on such old cars is to fix all the obvious stuff, then submit it for test. Then you only have to fix the fails, you don't spend an arm and a leg fixing stuff which you might have got away with. The test is €55. In the event, we failed but not too badly - we had bad play in a front near side wheel bearing, a worn "rubber bush" in the steering, and 2 tyres which did not have the required "type approval" E numbers embossed on them (they were too old).

We were right back into sourcing bits from the UK and the car was back in the garage. You have 30 days from an NCT fail, to get the (€28) re-test. We booked it for today (20th) giving us, we thought, plenty of time. The wheel bearing came and (a horrible job NOBODY likes) got fixed. The garage then told me that they were not sure what the testers had meant by 'rubber bush' but they now had play in the kingpins, so we went through it all again sourcing the pins. Finally with that fixed, and us running very close to the 30 day limit, the garage found that there was indeed a rubber 'bush' in the steering (actually called an 'anti-rattle plate'; part 46 in our middle diagram if you are interested) with play, so last Thursday 'we' ordered that bit.

The retest was due Tuesday and the part had not arrived Monday, nor today, the day of the test. When it failed to arrive on the Monday I decided to re-book (postpone) the test, which you can do for €11, but nearly came a cropper. I saw two slots available on this Saturday but opted to take, instead, a slot next Tuesday (27th) but the website bounced this request telling me my 30 days were up on Saturday 24th, so I had no choice but to book for Saturday at 5 to 5, one of the two remaining slots on line.

So here, we stand, haggard and worn out from all this emotional roller coaster ride. It's only a hobby car but I love it so all these set backs upset me and drive me close to despair. I am now numb to the point of considering giving up if there are any more setbacks and I will be so so unbelievably happy if it all ends happily on Saturday night. We are now waiting for the part to arrive this week and be fitted (a fairly straight forward, 'easy' task, say the garage). I am like a kid waiting for Christmas or his Birthday, hardly able to contain himself waiting but helpless to do anything to help the situation. Fingers are crossed. Fervent prayers are offered. I appreciate that many of you will have far more important things to worry about and are wondering why all the fuss. It's probably a 2CV driver thing.....

I'll let you know.


mazylou said...


Anne Wilson said...

Has it arrived yet? I do hope so. Do you have a plan B? or should that be Plan Y or even Z