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.   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.

Dawn drive up the Putty road with the Citroen Club

Despite my overheating problems last year, I had enjoyed the Citroen Club drive up the Putty road last year, and was keen to have another go in the DS with a new water pump and flushed radiator.     This year was the same format, drive up for breakfast at the cafe halfway along the Putty road, Lunch at one of the wineries and then drive back through Wollombi.

Given the problems I had with overheating last year, I was rather dismayed that at 5:15 this morning, my temperature gauge was not working.   Turns out the flying lead had become wrapped around the steering column and turning corners had ripped the ends of the wires.   I was able to do a quick and dirty temporary fix to ensure peace of mind on the drive.


Turnout this year was not as good as last year, but we had two DS, A Traction Avant, an XM and two modern Citroens.

Big Six

The traction was a rare Slough Big 6 with the small boot.   However, unfortunately the owner found the steering heavy and had replaced the Big Six motor with an ID19 motor and gearbox, and the  front suspension with that from a 6H.   Seems a shame to do this conversion in such a rare car.

Tellingly, not a single car on the run had historic registration (despite four of them being eligible), again showing how poor this system is in NSW.

The run was a lot of fun, and the DS was even overtaking slow moving hatchbacks.   Of course, many motorbikes (and their shadow, Police cars) were on the road, but not enough to make the drive unpleasant, and Putty is far enough away that you don’t get stuck behind push bikes.    I wasn’t able to stay for lunch, but all in all a good day.

The NSW CMC stance on historic registration is disappointing and short sighted

Today I read a report from the NSW Council of Motor Clubs about their stance on historic registration.  (It was published in the Magazine of the Jaguar Drivers Club of Australia).   Basically their stance is to support the status quo (with minor amendments for street rods) and so NSW continues to have the worst historic registration system in the country.  Obviously the final decision rests with the NSW Government, but in order for the Government to act, the CMC would need to support change.   I find this stance disappointing and short sighted.

As I understand it from speaking to people inside the three clubs I am a member of, and reading various submissions, the main reason why clubs oppose a change to a system like they have in Victoria and South Australia (with 45 and 90 day permits for example), is the concern that if owners of classic cars can use them at non-sanctioned club events, then the clubs will become less relevant and attendance at club events, and even membership of smaller clubs will suffer.     The other argument is that the costs will go up – This argument, while true, and is actually a non starter – we already know the cost for the Victorian and South Australian schemes and they are still reasonable and much better value.

Actually I think the opposite is true.   Lets face it, many car clubs are suffering from declining and aging membership.   While there is nothing wrong with aging membership in itself, it means eventually there will not be enough new members to keep numbers up.   Without enough new members, who is going to be the next custodian of some of the lovely old cars that are sitting in garages all around the country?   If the cars are not used?  Who is going to wear them out so they need repair, or parts, or restoration?    To support the classic car hobby, we need thriving businesses that can compete with each other on price, quality and service, and without the cars actually being used, these business will eventually start to close down resulting in lost knowledge and higher prices.   Garage queens are the worst thing for the classic car hobby.

I’m 35 years old and often one of the youngest attendees at various car club events that I go to.   The current historic system is completely useless to me, so I keep four cars on full registration, which is hugely expensive for the amount of times per year they get used, and the biggest car related cost I have.     Having a young family and work commitments means that while I would like to attend more club events, it is often impractical for me to do so, so I find other ways and reasons to use my cars – maybe a late night drive….  maybe while I’m doing some errands….   Maybe taking a classic if I’m going on a weekend away with my family.     None of these things are possible with the NSW system, but would be in Victoria or SA.    I know plenty of people in my age group or younger that have an interest in older cars, but it is too impractical and expensive to get involved.    And why would you join the club if you don’t own the car, or plan to buy it?

Personally, were NSW to adopt a Victorian style system, I would continue to be a car club member.   They offer interesting events that I would like to do more of, the opportunity to learn from knowledgeable members and chances to meet people with similar hobbies and interests.     But as well as getting to the occasional club event like I do now, I would also be able to use my cars in a more cost effective way, and in time would even consider buying more.   I might even convince a few more people to get involved in the classic car hobby.   There are always great low-cost classics for sale, yet the cost of registration makes the whole proposition too expensive for a hobby.

The CMC report mentions that in Victoria historic registration went from 10,000 to 50,000 and implies that it is somehow a bad thing.   This is a great thing!  Most of these cars would not be on the road anymore without this system.  True there are probably a few people who abuse the system, and they should be prosecuted.   There may even be a few minor loopholes that can be closed (e.g. campervans, or towing, or commercial use).   But people in NSW abuse the current system too, and when rules are broken, rule breakers should be punished, not the majority.    I also have friends in these states who have rescued old cars that were on the brink of scrappage and brought up them up a roadworthy state to be enjoyed under their system.

The reason why this decision is so short sighted is that the classic car club movement desperately needs to attract the next generation of members.   With the spiraling cost of housing in Sydney, and the time pressures on those people for work and family, the current system simply puts the ability to consider having a classic car out of reach of most younger New South Welshmen.   Once you get people interested in the hobby, they’ll join the clubs – they’ll need the wealth of information that the club members have to offer.   But you’re not going to get members if they are not already interested in the hobby.     Sadly, over the next twenty years I see many once thriving clubs folding, and some of the lesser known but really interested and historic vehicles unable to find a new custodian to lavish the same care and attention that their previous ones have.

Jeff Kennett might have enticed the Grand Prix and other events to Melbourne, and his successors might just poach all the classic cars too!

Traction Avant – Further evaluation

This evening I went over to the garage to look at the Traction in more detail.   Overall I am still very happy with the purchase.  A couple of things that I noticed.

  1. There was a frayed wire in the boot for the number plate light.  I used electrical tape to ensure that it does not touch the metal.  Not sure if this is the cause, but one of the two fuses in the car was blown, so I replaced that with a 20A, which was what was in there.  Net result was no ascertainable difference.   Number plate light still didn’t work, and I couldn’t see any difference of other things now working.
  2. There was a set of brand new lap belts in the boot, still in boxes.  I will have these fitted at some point – there are already lap belts in the rear.
  3. Car has already been converted to negative earth and alternator
  4. Coolant is very dirty, as is brake fluid.  Oil looks nice and clean.
  5. Coolant overflow tube too short
  6. Throttle is a bit sticky, probably needs lubrication
  7. Fuel gauge does not work (was hoping fuse would fix this).
  8. Trafficators do not work
  9. Speedometer reads about 20mph optimistic
  10. Michelin tyres are correct and look fairly new
  11. Paint jobs i nice.   There are a few scratches and one or two places with a few bubbles, but overall very nice
  12. Interior is nice – the dome light has been removed for some reason, but the rest of it is very good.   Previous owner has also re-done the dash wood in a walnut veneer.    Missing front carpet.  Seats have been re-done in vinyl at some point, but in good condition.
  13. Clutch needs slight adjustment – needs to be pushed through the floor to fully engage.
  14. Has an aftermarket fuel pump fitted that  makes and almighty racket

The car drives along the road nicely.   And on a nice autumn evening you get great air flow from the opening windscreen and the opening scuttle panel.


New Addition: 1954 Citroen Light 15

Today I went and picked up the latest addition to the garage, a 1954 Citroen Light 15.    Being a Light 15, this car  is a Traction Avant and was built in Slough, UK.


I don’t have a lot of history for the car, but it has been registered in NSW since 1984 and recently had $18,000 of mechanical work done by European Autocare in Penrith (a well known Citroen Specialist).    The previous owner has spent quite a bit of money on this car and it shows.

There are still a few things that need putting right, but for the most part they can be done over time.   Getting it home I did have a slight mishap in that it stalled and wouldn’t restart – fortunately caused by a faulty coil connection.


Overall I have always wanted a Traction and this one was too good to pass up.