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1919-21 Citroen "A" Ground up rebuild/restoration.


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Hello! Yet again I have shot myself in the foot. 
Now in pride of place on stands in my little garage are the bare bones  of my next restoration. I have not found the chassis number yet but from even a rather casual inspection, it is  an early 1919-21 Citroen Type A chassis frame, complete with front and rear axles springs etc but no engine or gearbox (as yet) and no steering box or wheel. I do have four rather rusty wheels. Probably two or just possibly three are useable.  My plan is to rebuild it with a 2/3 seat "Caddy" as in "Golf," boat tail body. While I have in the past owned three 5CV Citroens This is the first, and earliest, Citroen to pass through my garage door.  I can quite confidently say that this is all my late father's fault. He owned while I was in my "teens" and I learnt to drive in his then newish "Light 15".

I have previously and over a great many years owned no less than three early 5CV Citroens all bought as "basket cases" and restored back to a useful life.

 

Bernie j.

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For anyone reading this, if you have or know the "where-abouts" of any of these the very earliest of Citroen parts I would be delighted to hear from you, Talking over "dinner" this evening I was reminded that the date of our next visit to the UK and Europe is "ticking down". Before this can happen I need to do a total rebuild of this Citroen, and no doubt some extra "bits" too.

Please do not "go away" just yet. You may miss out on all the fun.

 

Bernie j.

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Bon Jour Phil

I have had three 5CV including the first one 65 years ago. It spent some time as my daily driver, something that I would not want to do in today's traffic. Attached below are photos of my first and last 5CVs. I will have to make a search to find the photographs of the second one

 

Thank you for a great profile photo of an "A"  It really shows the degree of angle on the front. Not many photographs show that.

I really love the "driver" too.

 

I have now sent off to the publisher and have ordered a copy of this book to add to my collection. A "Chtistmas Present" to myself

 

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210193146_Citroen5CV4.thumb.jpg.1d4093fdbfec5c39c80972783eff6b9f.jpg 

 

Merci beaucoup!

 

Bernie j. 

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)
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Bernie,

 

Congratulations on a new and worthy challenge! You always seem to amaze your Forum followers...I really expected that you would make contact with the "lost Lagonda" or take on some project from a small British producer...maybe Lea-Francis or Singer or even a pre-War AC.  But, no, you dive head first into another French wonder.  I am looking forward to seeing some pictures of the new project and your wonderful accounts of progress (and non-progress).

 

Cheers!

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Thank you Dr Data and A Merry Christmas to all.    Please do not worry, I still have not forgotten the "Lost Lagonda"! 

This Citroen appealed to me first because IT has to be one of the very earliest Citroens with the only Chassis number I have been able to find so far "G40".

A Citroen 5CV was one of the first "Road Registered and drivable "Vintage Cars" I have owned. Also At age 15 or 16, I learnt to drive in my father's then newish Citroen Light Fifteen.

At almost certainly 1919 this has to be one of the oldest Citroen chassis in existence.

So far my "shopping list" includes 1. An early 10hp Motor complete with a Clutch and Gearbox, and a Steering box complete with Steering wheel from the same period and finally an early (short) Radiator.

Unfortunately my local Citroen"Archives" cannot give me a date from the Chassis number only.

I am currently in pursuit of another wheel but more on that later. I do not expect very much to happen right now.  Perhaps Next Year?  (a Joke)

 

Bernie j.

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Edited by oldcar (see edit history)
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Hello Phil.

I did consider buying that book but the price of 75 Euros plus another 75 for postage, making a total of 150 euros seemed a little too much without any knowledge of its contents. If necessary I can always go back and look at it again.  Perhaps you could copy a sample page or two to me.  < twooldlags@gmail.com >.

 

Thank You

 

Bernie j. 

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Bernie,

 

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New year to you and your family, as well.

 

What are your plans for bodywork?  I know you have incredible panel beating skills, but what about woodworking?  I assume that this originally had a coachbuilt body.  Or, are you going to go with a minimalist "speedster" look?

 

Best of luck on this awesome project.

 

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Hello and a Merry Christmas 

I am a very bad restorer, my skills at wood working are minimal, however over the years I have learnt something about working with square section steel tube. As a result, all my project cars have square tube body frames. Generally speaking the results tend to be quite acceptable, especially once the interior of the car is fully trimmed.  A very long time ago I made my very basic "tube bender" using a section of (13 inch) wheel rim to create the radius of the bend.  All the panels are in fact "flat" (aluminium) sheet wrapped around the frame and attached with (Look away) pop rivets. Seat frames are made using the same technique. Seats are upholstered in a good quality, genuine leather while the internal trim "boards" are covered with a matching colour vinyl. Seat backs and floors are covered in a matching colour "pile" carpet. Flat sections of floor are generally Marine Ply wood. 

All my bodies are created straight from my head, without drawings or at best very basic "thumb nail" sketches. 

Now you know, soon I will have no secrets.  What looks right must be right?

This has taken me just about 65 years to learn. Some people will tell you that I have never learnt.

If that is the case, I hope that never do.

My bodies tend not to squeak or rattle!!.

They also tend to be lighter (and stronger) than the wood framed equivelient.

 

Bernie J.

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)
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PLEASE DO NOT FORGET  I am looking for a Motor and Gearbox and preferably a Steering box and a Radiator to help make this long lost Citroen a car again. Prefer something in Australia but anywhere if sufficiently interesting.

You can leave your reply here or send me an email.

 

Bernie Jacobson

 

twooldlags@gmail.com 

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Hi Bernie. Bernard Laurent has a web site where you can see his books: http://www.citroen-5hp-10hp.com/

 

They are full of period catalog illustrations, photographs, advertisements and factory publication extracts; quite helpful for restoration work. You can write directly to him from the web page. He offers free shipping until 5 January (not to Australia, but he might give you a discount!).

 

Phil

 

 

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Meanwhile in the absence of an engine number, or even an engine I can only guess at the actual year of my Citroen Chassis. Going by appearances only, I estimate that it is certainly an "A" type and as such 1919 or 1920. This probably makes it one of the "oldest" Citroens in existence and as such it deserves a proper restoration. This in turn suggests that I will have to continue my search for an early, 1919 - 1920 Citroen 10 hp engine and gearbox & etc.  Meanwhile I am hopeful that I have found a fifth wheel and someone who can replace the rusted rim on one of the other four.

 

Bernie j.

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HERE WE GO AGAIN!

I have now been contacted by email from a person claiming to be "Atwood Megan" offering to sell me either a complete Vintage CITROEN car or any parts from it that I may require. The use of the name "Atwood" rang an alarm bell in my head, earlier this year I was contacted by someone (I am sure the same person) offering to sell me some Renault Parts. That time I innocently paid out around $5,000 only to discover that I had been "ripped off"! Neither the parts or the person existed and my money was gone.

This time I am not "buying". Anyone advertising, wanting to buy parts, BEWARE, this person is out there and as active as ever.

REMEMBER, If it seems to good to be true, it probably is a scam. BEWARE! Check and then Double Check before sending money off to anyone.

 

Bernie j.

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Bernie,

 

There is a "real" Megan Atwood...she is an author, primarily of children's books but also writes on Astrology.  She may or may not be the same Megan Atwood who is a librarian in Oklahoma.  In either event, it sounds doubtful that she would have a vintage Citroen in her back yard, waiting to be parted out.

 

Love the use of steel tubing...still coachbuilding but with modern materials.  Some of the more advanced thinking home builders here in the States are using metal framing instead of traditional 2 x 4 wooden studs.  A particularly good application if you are in an area prone to termite infestations.

 

May you and your family enjoy a happy and safe New Year and may 2021 bring you a nice Citroen drivetrain!

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Hello Dr Data 

I know about the Megan Atwood but our friend uses Atwood Megan. All I can suggest is that you treat anything  from him as dangerous! What ever you do not agree to « buy ». Anything from him! 

 

Bj.

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OK!  we have now done or duty and we are now ready to start the New Year. I have a new gallon pack of Rust Remover and I am about to find out just how well and if it works? Despite advertising widely I have not recieved a single reply offering to sell me a Citroen 10 hp engine. It is now time to move to Plan B. I will not start advertising.   Wanted to Buy a Vintage (Pre-1930) Engine (up to Two Litre) and gearbox. Anything Good Running Order considered. This means that I will have to change tack and rather than a "Restoration Progect" this rebuild will change to the Constructionof a "Vintage Sprint/Hill-climb Special"!  This will no doubt horrify all the Purists but I  am now very conscious that I have only a limited number of years left to complete this task. With my friendly Sand-blaster at "Blast Off" shut down with no guarantee when/if he will be able to start work again I have invested in a gallon container of Rust Remover to start treating the chassis and axles. The first task will be to remove both axles and springs from the chassis frame. This will make turning the chassis frame over so that I can reach both top and bottom so much easier. I may even be able to give the floor a sweep in the process.

Looking at the lable on the Rust Remover container, I see that it dates from 1921 so it too is "in period" with the Citroen.

 

Bernie j.

 

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Posted (edited)

VSCC.jpeg.f24fb3327dade83c24047546ff2af79b.jpeg

 

Having spent an hour or two yesterday giving the chassis a coat of rust dissolver, I can now go over it again with an abrasive disk on my angle grinder. Once this is done I can start the process of removing the axles and springs prior to making a start onpainting it. With the axles etc removed I should have no trouble in lifting the bare chassis frame and turning it over so I can start painting on the under-side first. 

I am still really not sure which direction I want this restoration/rebuild to go in but these things have a habit of resolving themselves. I suppose it all depends on if an original Citroen engine and gearbox turns up or not.  Changing the subject ever so slightly, I have just received a notice from the  UK VSCC telling me that I have now been a member for 50 Years. This qualifies me to the status of a "Heritage Member".

For those lacking in knowledge in these things, St Christopher is/was the Patron Saint of Travellers. In the 1920 & 30s it was a common thing for motorists to have a suitable "St Christopher"  medallion attached to the dashboard of their cars.

I also note that my (almost) lifelong friend and fellow  Australian VSCC Past President, Graeme Steinfort has also been awarded the same honour.

Bj.

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)
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Posted (edited)

This is going to take some time. Yesterday I managed to remove the two brake rods. After an unknown number of years lying exposed to both rain and sun it took several coatings of penetrating oil just to remove the 12 mm  lock nuts at the adjustment ends of these. Todays task will be to remove the rear springs. With both front and rear axles, together with their springs removed will mean that the chassis frame will be much lighter/easier to handle.

Yesterday while buying a new abrasive disk and a new wire brush, I also bought a litre of Ocean Blue (a deep dark blue) gloss paint for the chassis. You could say that this is the official start of my restoration of the Citroen. I have two colour choices for the disc wheels. A bright "Buttercup Yellow" or a much more conservative Black.  This decision will just have to wait for a week or two.  

 

Bj

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)
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Posted (edited)

After another burst of activity I now have all six springs off and the now bare chassis standing on two stands. I can  now start giving it a "proper" clean prior to painting it (Dark Blue)

Next I have to lay out all the spring "blades" in an attempt to make up three matching pairs of springs. Six in total, one pair for the front axle and two pair at the rear. 

All the springs are 1/4 elliptic,  one set of "leading"  on each side at the front and TWO sets(upper & lower)"trailing" at the rear.

If you cannot follow that I am sorry but you will now have to wait until I start assembling it again. At this point I have no printed material, (Hand book or Service Manual) for the Citroen "A" or "B2". The Rear axle is suspended by an upper and a lower spring on each side. 

Most of the people looking at this are far younger than I and probably have far more knowledge (about everything) so I will not attempt to explain the mechanical theory of the Citroens rear suspension.

 

Bj.

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)
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Progress Is unusually slow for one of my projects. With the chassis now reduced to just the bare frame my next task is to turn it over so I can remove any surface rust and "grott" from the underside in preparation for paint. Hopefully I can achieve this today. So that I can move on with the rebuild.  I need to make an early start as today the forecast is for a rather "warm" day with temperatures in the mid to high "30s".

Bj.

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With the chassis now turned over I have removed the broken front spring mount on the left hand side. my next task will be to see if there is a replacement available. If not I will look at repairing the broken one or fabricating a replacement.  

 

Bj.

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Option 2 seems to be the only way to go. I have now drilled out the rivets securing the bracket to the underside of the chassis frame

I have some suitable tube to repair the spring mount so that will give me something to do tomorrow.

As I no longer have an arc welder I will probably use bronze welding rod with my oxy-acetylene torch.

 

Bj

 

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The job is now done with the repaired spring mount ready to be given a final clean up and painted. I have a can of Ocean Blue paint that only needs to be opened and stirred. the rest of the chassis still needs some surface rust removed and a good clean-up before it too is ready for paint. I then can move on to the axles and springs. There is another rolling chassis complete with motor and gearbox etc for sale in north-eastern New South Wales about 600 kms away. I am waiting to recieve photographs etc before rushing off to "look at it". The same vendor has a complete car also for sale but again I would need to see exactly what is there. I just hope that he is not another "Attwood"!  At least he is in Australia. He claims to be 92 years old and waiting for his daughter to organise send in me the photographs. It is horrible to be so suspicious but it is a case of "once bitten, twice  shy".

Now, about the attached photographs, the firs shows the complete "Right hand side, spring mount in position riveted to the chassis side rail". Thses are "handed" with subtle differences between the right and left sides. The second photo shows the Left hand mount removed from the chassis. Finally the repairs in process, all that is required is a good clean up and a coat of paint. I have bought a "can' of Ocean Blue "Kill-rust" gloss paint which is the colour I have selected for the Citroen Chassis and axles etc. It is a very dark blue. I still have to finish cleaning the chassis of surfact rust etc. My usual "Sand Blast" man appears to be closed down due to the Co-vid regulations. This means "hours of fun" with a wire brush on my "angle grinder".  Perhaps next week will see him back in action. Right now he is not replying to my e'mails.

 

Bj.

 

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Edited by oldcar (see edit history)
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Another 24 hours later and  I have a beautiful "French Blue" chassis. Next thing is to sort out the Front Springs, then clean and paint the front axle, It too will be the same blue while the springs will be Black. 

I will not be painting the individual spring "leaves" but giving then a thorough clean, lightly grease the faces of the leaves, assemble them and only THEN paint only the outside of the assembled spring(s)

There are six springs to be "sorted" before they are painted. Two, one each side at the front and two pairs (4) at the rear........

The rear suspension is quite clever. By using a pair of springs on each side, one above the other, there is no need for either radius rods or a "torque tube" enclosed driveshaft. The torque reaction is shared between the upper and lower springs while permitting the springs to react to bumps and potholes in the road surface. While an almost "accidental" Citroen owner, I cannot help myself, I am becoming quite excited at the thought of rebuilding another "pile of old rubbish' back into an attractive,  "interesting" and VERY FRENCH little car.

Don't go away, you may miss something!

Bj.

Edited by oldcar (see edit history)
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