On the list of things to do from the previous blog was to sort out the gutter (drip channel) – the tiny ‘U’ shaped bit of metal that runs along the side of the roof down to the nut that secures the back of the front wings to the body. These often rot away down the A posts and as such are missing from many 2CV’s and have long since disappeared from my van. As I’m replacing all of the structures around the drip channels it would be remiss of me not to re-instate them. Armed with a new length of drip channel, a pair of tin snips, hole punch and the welder, I stood back and wondered how on earth I would be able to bend a curve into a thin strip of metal folded into a right angle without kinking or creasing it and keeping it flat to the A post whilst fixing it into place.
The other problem was that since these were missing originally – and as I had already detached the old A panels from the A posts, there was no clue left as to whether the channels should fit under the A panels or over the top of them. Half an hour of looking at, trial fitting, standing back and generally being unconvinced either way left me (and Pete) at an impasse. I sent a text to Tony at Le Garagiste in Ipswich (THE 2CV guru), asking for guidance and added a thumb’s up, smiley face and a Munch ‘scream’ emoticon to the text and awaited a reply. ‘Your text has been forwarded to a landline number’ was the only response I got. I idly wondered how the emoticons would be translated from text message to the spoken word – in particular ‘The Scream’ and then realised that I would never get a reply from Tony and even if I did, it would make no sense at all. It was Sunday and I didn’t want to ring him to explain so left it at that. By this time, Between us, Pete and I figured it out. Drip channel first, then A panel.
Here’s a picture where you can see the drip channel ending abruptly, level with the end of where the old A panel was (just above the copper coloured primer)
Having agreed that the drip channel must fit under the A panel we then set about making it fit around the curve of the A post. I’ve seen curves put into wheel arch flanges by using a stretcher / shrinker tool. I was going to buy one of these and have been waiting for a second hand set to appear on eBay or Gumtree for at least 5 years, but have had no luck.
Here’s what you can do with a stretcher shrinker
I might as well run on about stretcher shrinkers for a bit – they are a brilliant tool, but the cost can be prohibitive – here’s why. You can buy one stretcher/shrinker hand operated machine for about £150 – £200. It comes with 2 jaws, one to stretch and one to shrink, so unless you want to spend most of your time swapping the jaws over when you are making compound pieces (like the one on the right above) then you’ll need to buy 2 machines (another £200). Then you’ll quickly realise that you can’t make it work properly and hold the steel at the same time (you only have 2 hands, right?), so you’ll need to buy a foot operated model (another £200) so before you know it you’ve spent £600 on just one tool..
”How do they work’ I hear you ask… They are like a horizontally mounted vice with jaws which are about 2 inches wide and half an inch deep. One set has teeth cut into both jaws which oppose each other facing inwards from the outside edge – this is the shrinker. As the jaws are clamped onto the steel, the teeth force the steel together, thereby shrinking it. If you shrink half a strip of steel it will put a curve in it. The stretchers teeth are oriented the opposite way and therefore have the opposite effect. Using both tools on a piece of steel pre-folded at right angles will enable the piece on the right above to easily be fabricated since it is made by stretching on one plane and shrinking on another.
Anyway, I don’t have one of these wonder tools so have to make do with a more pragmatic approach which was to cut a series of slots in the channel and bend it around the A post a section at a time, welding, bending, welding, bending and so on
After the gutters had been formed around the bend in the A Post, we (Pete and I) offered up the A panels, so see how they fitted. All is looking good with the ‘cut and shut’ job on the gutters hidden out of sight.
I won’t do any more with the gutters until I’ve chopped off the bottom of the A posts and made good the join between the A posts and sills.
I started work on fitting the windscreen repair panel to the front. This repair panel is not made very precisely and to be brutally honest, does not fit very well at all. The caps which fit over the top of the A panels are not very well formed (see above picture) and the channels which run up the front of the A posts don’t close around them as they should. In an attempt to resolve this, I added a small strip of steel to the A posts – (see below), so that I’d have something to clamp and puddle weld to. It’s still not a good fit and after I’d punched some holes in it, bent it about even more and generally ruined it, I gave up and decided to swap it out for a new panel. It turns out that the best fitting panel is the one made using the original Citroen tooling. At £300, this is not an option – I just don’t have the budget for it. – Apparently the manufacturers do not want to wear out their nice tooling by making repair panels at a lower profit margin and they would prefer to make more money by selling the complete fabrication. I’m happy to scrap the old panel and try again with a new one, but it is irritating nonetheless. I am minded to write a letter to Parts Industries to see what they have to say, but I’m not expecting much as they are a Dutch company and as sure as eggs are eggs, will be typically empirical in their response – ‘if you want a good fit, then you have to buy the more expensive part…’ is what I expect they will say – in true Dutch style. An example of this is when my sister in law went in to a cheese shop in Amsterdam and asked them if they had some Edam for sale. The response from the assistant was: ‘Well, you are in a cheese shop and this is Amsterdam, so of course we have Edam….’
Anyway – that’s enough moaning from me. I’ll have another go at it when I get the replacement screen repair panel.
In other news the rear bumpers have arrived from France. I’m looking forward to sorting these out and will be fitting them later.