Traction oil service – how simple

The traction avant is the easiest car I own to do a basic service.   There is no oil filter, so the oil is simply drained and topped up.    The transmission is right up front, and not obscured by the ducting of the DS, so it can be done while sitting in front of the car.    The downside of course is that since there is no oil filter, you need to do it more often, and there are a lot of grease points to consider.

I wasn’t sure when the last service had been performed on the traction, so I wanted to do it and at least have a baseline.   I’m glad I did, as the transmission oil level was quite low, and the engine oil rather dark.    I also greased the front suspension (except for one point I could not get my grease gun to – I will need to get one with a flexible hose).

DS sill trim – replacement part 1

The other day I had removed all the sill trim from the DS, and re-routed the speaker wires so new trim can be fitted.   Next step was to fit the silver trim that faces the outside of the car, but is only visible when the doors are open, and the inner weather strip.

The trim is glued on, but needs to be slightly trimmed to size, and on the rear doors, cut to accommodate the closing mechanism.  I used spray adhesive.   The trim also folds around below the car and is sandwiched between the sill and the stainless steel sill cover.

Silver trimOnce fitted, the chrome strip and the weatherstrip can also be fitted.   I also had to slightly trim the weatherstrip.

Chrome strip

My old weatherstrips were crumbling and the trim was cracking in places, so this repair makes it look a whole lot better.


Re-routing the DS rear speaker wires

I had originally tucked the wiring for the rear speakers in the DS under the marine carpet that was on the inside of the sills.   However, I am now replacing that and gluing down the correct vinyl, so wanted a better solution.

The DS wiring harness actually goes between the inner and outer sill, along with some hydraulic lines.   This is not normally accessible, but I already had the stainless steel sill covers off, so it was a good time to re-wire those speakers.  It is not easy to feed the wires in there, but worth it I think.


The cables can be fed through next to some other cable that has an opening that leads into the right spot.   many of the openings actually lead into the box section which is inaccessible.   This opening allows you to push the cable into some kind of chamber, and you’ll need tweezers to grab it and pull it out through along with the factory wiring harness.


The hardes part, is getting the wires up through the bottom of the C-pillar.   In the end I found a brake bleed hose was the best compromise between flexibility and rigidity to push it up through the cavity.   The brake hose is too wide to pull up the speaker cable, but you can first attach a single wire to hose, pull it through and then use that single wire to pull through the speaker wires.


From there, the factory has provided an opening to the boot for the boot light that can be used for the speaker wire.

Speaker wire through

All in all, this job took a few hours, although much of it was experimenting with different ways of pulling the wires through.   It is much neater and means if I ever need to get to the speaker wire, I will not need to pull up my new trim.


Citroen DS sill trim – removal

The sill trim on my DS was in poor condition – the rubbers were perished, the outer sill trim was cracking, and the trim on the inside sills had been replaced with Marine carpet.   Most of the information I could find on the Internet referred to a DS Pallas, and I wanted to keep my car as a DS Comfort.

Sill Trim

The photo above illustrates the setup on the DS Comfort:   From the bottom, you have the stainless steel outer sill trim.   This is also present on a DS Pallas, not not ID variants (e.g. ID19, D Special, D Super etc).

then hidden by the doors, you have the silver fabric sill cover.   Above that there is a chrome strip that holds the inner part of the door seal, and then above that there is the Vinyl inner sill cover.  The Vinyl sill cover is the same as the ID model, and the DS Pallas has a chrome embellisher and carpet.

To remove, the stainless steel sill cover is just held on with a bunch of screws.   It is two pieces that are joined together, so you need to be careful to support both ends as you remove it.   As I understand it, the inner vinyl cover is glued to the sill, and fits into a slot on the chrome strip, so it can be peeled off.   The seats are only secured by four bolts, so it is easier to simply remove them.

Seats removed

This also gives you an opportunity to clean the sills before the new covers go on.   once the Vinyl inner cover is removed, then the screws that hold on the chrome strip are revealed.   These screws also hold on the inner door seal.   The outer trim that is hidden by the door is also glued on.  Mine had cracked and become very brittle, so it came off in a few pieces.



The previous owner had taken quite a bit of time to carefully cut the marine carpet to the shape of the sills.

marine carpetOnce all this trim is removed, the surfaces can be cleaned.   It is especially important to clean under where the stainless steel covers are, as my car that is rarely used in the rain still had mud hiding here, that would ultimately lead to rust.   Overall this job is not hard once you work out how to do it, and probably takes a couple of hours.   I was assisted by a friend from the CCCNSW which helped speed things up.

Traction will select a gear… Sometimes.

I had the traction towed home a week ago as I was unable to select a gear despite the clutch being fully depressed.   I didn’t think anything was seriously wrong, as I had been driving fine around that time.   After doing some research on the Traction Yahoo Group, and looking carefully at the linkages, I was able to determine that they sometimes bind when I am moving from the 1/R side to the 2/3 side or vice versa.   You can eventually free it, but every now and again it sticks.   I don’t think I have fully fixed the problem yet, but at least I know how to address it.   I also moved the spark plug lead that looked like it might sometimes be getting in the way to the other side of the linkage.

Traction Rods

I also found the access to the fuel tank sender is in the boot under a little plate – and quite easy to get to.   Something for the future.


JDCA run to St Albans

Today the JDCA organized a run up to St Albans, which is just north of Sydney.   I hadn’t had a chance to take the E-Type on a long run, so thought it would be a good opportunity.   It was one of the biggest car club runs I have been on with nearly 100 sign ups and at least 20 E-Types joining in.  E-Types ranged from early 3.8 flat floors right up to late S3s, with most of the major variants covered.


The run started in Glenorie (I took Galston Gorge which is a far nicer drive in an E than the M2) and proceeded along the Old Northern Road to Webbs Creek Ferry (adjacent to Wisemans Ferry), and then up the river to St. Albans.    It was a lovely drive and one I had not known about before – I knew of Webbs Creek ferry, but didn’t know where the road went – only that I had seen the other end of it far north and it was unsealed.   The road is sealed, at least to St. Albans and it is worth a drive as there is a very nice pub and a gently meandering road to get there.


While the run was organised by the E-Type register, there were a few XKs, MK2s, a Mk1, XJs and some modern Jags too.


Top Gear should finish with the departure of Clarkson

There have been some rather amusing columns written over the last few weeks that the departure of Jeremy Clarkson somehow paves the way for a ‘kinder, gentler’ (read more PC) Top Gear.   More reviews on affordable cars; more eco friendly; no off colour comments.    What a lot of rubbish.   Nobody wants to watch a programme like that.    How many teenage boys have a poster of a Toyota Camry about their bed?   Or a Prius?   Who even aspires to drive a car like that?   Sure they are sold in large numbers, but that is because they are practical and serve a purpose, not because as a vehicle they aspire any sort of passion.    The open road in a Ferrari has far more allure than 6:30am sitting in bumper to bumper traffic in a drab Camry sipping a cold coffee.

Top gear was a great programme in its heyday.   Its best was probably behind it, but it still amused and entertained millions of viewers every week.     The last thing the BBC should do is try to re-create it with a non-offensive Clarkson (Top Gear Australia tried that, and it was shocking) or turn it into the PC programme leftish commentators have always wanted it to be.    A new car programme, that takes the format in a new direction, just like Clarkson and Wilman did back in 2002 would be a far better idea.

For me, the highlights of Top Gear would be:

  • The cheap car challenges, in particular the Italian Supercars
  • The extended international road trips, in particular The Amazon, Botswana and Vietnam
  • When they took on a challenge – the Britcar race, building “Geoff”, Stretch limos etc.
  • Over the years they occasionally slipped in a great segment about a particular car or manufacturer – such as the one on Lancia, or the Citroen DS.

I always found the star in a reasonably priced car segment boring and mostly skipped passed that one.  The cool wall was also rather tedious. In later years the show got a bit too much of a caricature of itself, but still managed to slip in some great segments from time to time.     It was one of the few TV shows I regularly watched, hopefully something new, interesting and different would take its place.

Traction won’t select a gear

Today I was planning to change the oil in the engine and gearbox of the traction.   I took it for a drive to heat up the oil so it would drain out nicely.   It was a lovely evening and I was enjoying the drive, then all of a sudden, I was unable to engage gears.   Despite pushing the clutch to the floor, I was unable to select any gear.


The car was running nicely, so I don’t think the fragile traction gearbox has given up.  My assumption is that the problem is to do with the gear linkages or clutch, but I am n0t sure.

I had to wait nearly two hours at a fairly busy intersection for a tow.   It was interesting to see the cars that were attentive to see my waving people around me – since the TA  does not have hazard lights.   From two hours and a few hundred cars, by far the most inattentive drivers are P platers and drivers of large SUVs.   SUV drivers were always the ones that got so close they had to reverse to get around me.

Since it was late Monday night, I had the car towed back to the garage, and I’ll need to work out how to get it going again from there.   It might need to be towed to a proper workshop.

The other thing I did today was extend the overflow tube from the radiator so it did not coat the inside of the engine bay.

Replacement accumulator fixed heavy steering while parking

Last year I replaced my accumulator sphere on the DS.   The main driver for this was that I was getting short ‘cycle’ times.  (i.e. the hydraulic pump would kick in very regularly to maintain system pressure, which puts stress on the system).   At the time, I did get an improvement in cycle time.   Secondarily I was hoping to cure a problem where the power steering would get very heavy while parking.   My theory was that there was not enough reserve pressure, which meant that the power assist was not working as well as it could.

However, the good news is that the steering is now much better parking.   If you have very heavy steering while parking on your DS, it may be worth looking at your accumulator sphere.  New spheres are not expensive, although a huge pain to change out.

Minor repairs to the Traction

This evening I spent some time looking over the traction.     One of the things noted in the condition report was that the number plate lamp was inoperative.   After eliminating it was not the blown fuse, I took the light apart, and the problem was that it was just dirty.   A good clean and the lamp was working again.

Working lamp

I also polished the front grille with some Autosol.   I wasn’t able to make that much improvement as much of the grille has lost the chrome coating and is down to the base metal, but i was able to clean it a little.     It is not apparent from the photo, but the bumper is a tad too high and would likely prevent the use of the starting handle.


I also looked under the car.  Overall it looked good.   Minor transmission leak, and a couple of minor rust areas, but mostly very solid.