C'est Bleriot - 1987 17RD Hatchback

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vulgalour
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C'est Bleriot - 1987 17RD Hatchback

Post by vulgalour » Sat Jan 12, 2019 8:27 pm

You may remember me from the very stripey and rusty BX estate thread where Dollywobbler said...
Dollywobbler wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2013 7:57 pm
Like you, I suspect another BX will be along at some point.


... and I'm finally pleased to report that he was, as is often the case, correct. I am now the very happy owner of this brilliant 17RD hatchback in the best BX colour.

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Since having to sadly part ways with the old stripey estate I've mourned that loss. The Golf mentioned at the end of Stripey's thread I actually hated so much I ended up making a convoluted swap to exchange it for another Princess that had done 130,000 miles, had a blown head gasket, and had been off the road since the 90s. At one point I had three Princesses, and all of them were broken, now I just have one and it's my daily driver, the same one I had when I had Stripey. I've also had a Ledbury Maestro, a Renault 6TL, an Austin 1100, a Citroen Xantia estate, and for a number of years, a rather brilliant 1994 Rover 414 which is now up for sale because I can only afford to look after 2 cars and the Princess is not a car I plan to part with any time soon.

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This thread won't be about those cars though. This thread will be about Bleriot, as he's been named by previous owners (and all my cars end up with names one way or another) and all the ups and downs (ha) of BX ownership.

Actually there's no ups, only downs at the moment, because the day Bleriot was moved for collection preparation he came over all French and burst a suspension pipe. So that is basically where the story will begin, momentarily.

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Re: C'est Bleriot - 1987 17RD Hatchback

Post by vulgalour » Sat Jan 12, 2019 8:39 pm

Be aware, this will be a fairly substantial update. BX ownership has been a long time coming and I got rather excited about this car, and still am for that matter, and the content will be copied from other fora I use until I'm up to speed here.

11th January 2019

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That there was one of our many breaks on the way home. It turned out to be a very long day, with an 8:30am start (7am for Mike), and not getting home until nearly 10pm. Accidents, break downs, more accidents, lots of breakdowns, roadworks, traffic, and seats that sent your bum to sleep were all contributors to this super long day.

It was a good day, all the same. Seller was brilliant, as expected to be honest, and while slow the journey was relatively uneventful. Getting the BX on the truck was a little tricky because of clearance at the apex and getting it off again required a couple of planks of wood under the back wheels to give us enough height to clear the apex. With a burst LHM pipe there's no brakes except for the handbrake (which works very well!) so it's a bit of an adventure.

First impressions is that this is a very good car. What problems it does have, are easy to see. The problem areas BXs suffer from have either already been fixed, need minimal attention, or haven't become a problem yet so getting it all tip top shouldn't be too painful. It drives, the clutch is actually nice (unusual for my purchases) and the diesel engine suprisingly quiet given its vintage.

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I'll be going in tomorrow for a more detailed fettle. Honestly, I can't see it needing a great deal. It feels 'right'. Nothing feels particularly flimsy or worn out and the worst cosmetic issue seems to be the vinyl trim getting a bleaching in the French sunshine, something this car spent quite a bit of its life in since it used to travel between the UK and France regularly from what I'm told. Looking at the interior, it really does have that south-of-France bleached look that cars only seem to get over there.

The one thing I really can't get over is how clean it all is. Usually my purchase are super grotty and need a deep clean, but not this one. It seems to mostly just need things like the vinyl being redyed and some of the satin black bits repainted to make it look like a new car. There's not even any parking dings down the flanks, and these cars are particularly bad for those because of the origami styling.

Suffice to say, I'm incredibly happy, and still very excited about this car. It's so utterly different to the Princess that it feels a much better counterpart to it than the Rover, and it's shockingly comfortable.

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Re: C'est Bleriot - 1987 17RD Hatchback

Post by vulgalour » Sat Jan 12, 2019 8:45 pm

Today, the 12th of January 2019

The first day you actually get stuck into a car is one full of excitement and trepidation. What am I going to find? Let's have a dig and see. First job was to work out just how I was going to get the car on the lift since most of the points I want to put the jack are also points the lift wants to go and I need to jack the car up a bit to get it high enough to get on the lift pads. I did figure it out eventually and gingerly raised the car into the air knowing just how flimsy the underside of a BX can be. The sill rails seemed the safest bet so that's what I went with since I couldn't get the pads under anything else. If you're wondering why everything is covered in dirt and grass, that's because Dean (the previous owner) has one of those unpaved access roads and the central berm is just high enough for the BX to grade it when the suspension is broken. No harm done, it just looks a mess.
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There was still plenty of mud and grass underneath from the landscaping the car had done to Dean's access road. A quick scrub with a soft wire brush got rid of it all and while there's a few spots that underseal needs redoing I couldn't really find what had stopped us getting off the truck. The exhaust was slightly misaligned so I'm going to go with Dollywobbler's suggestion when we were loading that it was the centre exhaust pipe clamp which looked pretty new with long-ish bolt legs. One thing I did notice straight away was a plug hanging down near the pipes at the back of the front subframe. It was easy to see where it came from so I wondered if this might just be the easiest fix in the world for the STOP light Dean had mentioned had stopped working.
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Clean it up plug it in and...
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Who said fixing hydropneumatic cars was difficult? I'm sure doing the front-to-back pipes will be a breeze now, right? RIGHT? Er... yeah. I spent some time trying to figure out where the leak actually was and where the pipes went. I could identify the two pipes that had already been replaced and the two pipes that hadn't, one of which looks more scabrous than the other. The leak itself is hidden from view somewhere above the rear passenger sphere, which lends credence to Dean's assertion that it's the front-to-back pipe over the subframe that's popped, as if there was ever any doubt of course.
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Then I got a bit stuck. I couldn't trace the route of the pipes because I couldn't see exactly where they went around that bit without removing the subframe. To help, I removed the back half of the exhaust, which was simply a case of undoing one clamp and unhooking a few rubber hangers. This allowed me to see better where the new pipes had been put so I could do a better job of tracing. It looks like one pipe I need to remove goes into the height corrector unit (the round thing to the right), and the other looks to go into the multi-pipe block to the right on the subframe crossmember. I got the union in the height corrector unscrewed but the pipe itself won't come out of the corrector unit. The pipe feels fragile too, in that way rusty steel pipes do, so I'm concerned that if I put too much force in I'll snap the pipe off and give myself too much work. Help would be appreciated on how to proceed here, I don't want to fluff it up. (EDIT: some help and advice has already been given by Dean, so I know a bit better what to do. More help and advice welcome on any BX jobs I'm facing anyway, I'm all about sharing info and solving problems with these threads).
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I traced the lines to the front of the car, and it looks like the both end at the vertical valve/union block to the right in the second image below. I couldn't see where else they might go and the manual didn't provide much help on removal and routing of pipes.
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I decided to put this part of the job aside and seek advice. I don't want to remove or damage things I don't need to. It does look like a fairly straightforward job once you've identified which pipes require replacing.

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Re: C'est Bleriot - 1987 17RD Hatchback

Post by vulgalour » Sat Jan 12, 2019 8:47 pm

Since I couldn't go further on the suspension side of things, I looked at what I could do. Since this is a BX, rust is a concern and thanks to the estate I used to have, I knew where to look. This car doesn't really have much rust to speak of and being white, any rust it does have is going to be very visible. I knew about some spidering on a rear wing which, unfortunately, is going to involve repainting rather a large section of the wing to correct. It doesn't seem to need any welding at least, and it is very difficult to see, so this is low priority.
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The other big weakness is the boot. I put my big boy pants on and started stripping out the boot trims, knowing just how frightening this part can end up being. Amazingly, it's incredibly good underneath everything.
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There's just two small areas that require some attention. A small section of sealant has failed on the passenger side, and some rot has begun on the driver's side. This is all flat panels with excellent access so shouldn't be bad to fix at all. Looking underneath the car the inner arches are remarkably clean, and the rear apron is in excellent shape. I'll remove the bumper to do the repairs properly and get everything cleaned, painted, and protected to keep it this good once the welding is done. This was a very pleasant surprise, I was expecting this area of the car to be much worse even though it looks so nice on the outside.
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Up front I wanted to check out the only other bit of rust of note which was the inner wings. This is another common BX weak point and worth exploring. There was some foam-backed stuff applied to the inner wings and when I noticed it was holding on to water I decided the best thing to do was to whip it all off and deal with whatever was lurking underneath. Absolutely no point pretending it would be okay and letting it fester since I have the luxury of time and space to sort this out. Amazingly, it really wasn't that bad at all, just a bit ugly. The damage that is there appears to be localised to the bit where the vertical inner arch meets the horizontal, with a little bit in the nose on the passenger side. The driver's side nose piece seems very solid. I also had a look at the front crossmember that was advised at MoT and that too looks like it only needs a fresh bit of underseal to replace the bit we accidentally removed and is otherwise very solid. I will remove the front wings, lights, and bumper to rectify all of this since it's all very easy to dismantle and then make sure there's plenty of paint and protection applied to keep it good afterwards.
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This was a very pleasant surprise. The floors and sills are amazingly sound throughout, with the exception of the few spots that need a fresh bit of protection from the scraping it got loading and unloading. There's no crusty tender bits underneath. I knew it was a good solid car, I didn't expect it to be quite this solid.

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Re: C'est Bleriot - 1987 17RD Hatchback

Post by vulgalour » Sat Jan 12, 2019 8:49 pm

Probably the thing that this car has suffered the most with is sun damage and it's made some of the interior parts brittle. I'll be keeping an eye out for spares and refurbishing what I can. In the meantime, I'm going to be very careful with what's in the car. Unfortunately, even with the best will in the world sometimes brittle plastics will just break. When I removed the parcel shelf to inspect the boot, a couple of rivets holding the hinge bar broke and, as I was removing the parcel shelf itself, one of the plastic hinges that holds onto it on the back seat shattered. I also found a random bit of broken plastic that looks like it might be from one of the front seat back trims, I just haven't found the bit it matches yet.
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The rest of the trims came out without incident. While all of the various switches in the BX work perfectly fine, the passenger window over ride on the driver's side could do with either a repaint or a replacement, as could the switches and part of the dash pod.
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I've also got to add a bit of sealant to the rubber seal corners to get them to hold down. In the photo it looks rusty, which is odd because it doesn't in person. I'll use a bit of the usual polyurethane sealant and some tape to hold this down for a few hours to a day and that should sort it, the seal is very flexible still, it's just lifted in the very corners. Dean did make me aware of this at purchase, I'm not worried about it since it's not hiding other problems.
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Up front there's just generic floor mats, in the back we've got some nice Citroen branded rubber ones. I'd like a matching front pair eventually I think. I'd like to replace the mudflaps all round with fresh ones if I can, the front ones are missing and the driver's rear one is damaged. I'm holding out for the right ones, and they're low priority since there's other things I'd like to spend on first.
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The engine bay is probably one of the cleanest diesel engine bays I've ever seen. There's lots of space to work around everything and see everything. I suspect the rocker cover seal is leaking, as usual, so I'll be replacing that. Otherwise, nothing really appears to be amiss and it's going to be fairly easy to make and keep this area spotless.
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Re: C'est Bleriot - 1987 17RD Hatchback

Post by vulgalour » Sat Jan 12, 2019 8:51 pm

There's a few original details on the car that I really like that have survived really well. I want as much as possible to return this car to the original specification and keep it that way, which is giving me a bit of a quandary over the badges and stickers on the boot since while not original, they are a part of the car's history and character. They'll stay put until I make up my mind. I really need to get a front number plate to match the rear, the font is just superb.
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Other than poking and prodding I wanted to achieve something today and I'm a bit too brain-fried to deal with welding. I needed something easy, something that would make a nice big change for minimal effort and which I could do with existing products so I didn't have to go out and buy something, or wait for an order to arrive. I know, let's sort out that rear spoiler and wiper arm!
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After cleaning, priming, and masking I got it all painted with lovely fresh satin black paint.
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I might do it again, I can do better than this. It's a marked improvement at least. I do need to reseat the wiper arm a bit higher too, I put it back on in the wrong place. A little victory, at any rate.
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Normally I'd be pulling everything apart for a deep clean and documenting that but I don't need to and that's weird. The wheel is clean, the stalks are clean, there's no grubby bits anywhere. Even the wiper blades are fine. It's like somebody before me really liked this car and looked after it. I'm hoping to get in and get on with the welding over the next couple of days, I'll have to figure out what colour it is (I think it's Polar White from memory, but that might also be the Xantia, which is a different white) so I can use a white that matches on the repairs. I'm sure I'll find more jobs to do once I get stuck in a bit more, and I do plan to do things like the cambelt and check the brakes, etc. as a matter of routine.

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Re: C'est Bleriot - 1987 17RD Hatchback

Post by panky » Sat Jan 12, 2019 11:35 pm

What a little belter. Looks looks you've got yourself a guddun.
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Re: C'est Bleriot - 1987 17RD Hatchback

Post by rutter123 » Sun Jan 13, 2019 12:02 pm

All the rust in the usual suspect places but not too bad I've seen worse, worst bit will be removing the windscreen to repair the top corner-rust here can potentially rot out the a-pillars and bulkhead but I assume you will be removing the front wings to repair the inner's anyway. My advice is get the bodywork and welding in order paying particular attention to the rear axle mounts as they are quite well hidden and can reveal a whole new world of pain. Good luck
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Re: C'est Bleriot - 1987 17RD Hatchback

Post by Jaba » Sun Jan 13, 2019 1:27 pm

There is a lot of info there but as far as the front to rear pipes are concerned it looks to me as though the top pipe and the third one down have been replaced. The 2nd one down goes from the rear suspension 4way to the brake doseur valve. The 4th pipe, the bottom one is a return pipe and not under great pressure it goes from the RHCorrector (you just yank the pipe out by the way) to a rubber return pipe above the front subframe.
I think its important to locate the source of the leak first as you mention its in the rear sphere area which is not really below the front to rear pipes. For example the rear suspension supply pipe can leak as can the rear brake pipe as well as the suspension cylinder itself.

Its brilliant that Bleriot will fly again.
The Joy of BX with just one Citroën to my name now. Will I sing Bye Bye to my GTI or will it be Till death us do part.

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Re: C'est Bleriot - 1987 17RD Hatchback

Post by vulgalour » Sun Jan 13, 2019 6:19 pm

Fortunately, the windscreen surround, and what work the A pillars needed, were done by Dean. He also did some of the sill end work that needed doing. He had intended to do the other work I'm now doing, but with two other white BXs, a couple of XMs, and at least one more Citroen in addition to that he decided to slim the fleet down a bit. He was really honest about the car and so far I haven't found anything I didn't already know about with the exception of the boot repair I completed today, which wasn't really even visible from outside and I only found it because I went looking for it.

If my old estate taught me anything it's that you have to nip rust in the bud on BXs if you stand any chances of keeping them in good health. The metal is so thin that the rust just gallops through when it gets hold so you really can't afford to put off repairs. Thankfully, construction is relatively simple so repairs are generally very easy compared to some other cars I've worked on and I've found the metal on this car is quite nice to weld. You just have to take your time with things, especially with the fumes the galvanised steel can produce, but that's okay because you end up doing a better job as a result, normally.

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Got cracking on the welding today. I've started in the boot. Unfortunately, I couldn't remove the rear bumper because the fixings were being the usual pain and since I was concerned about breaking things, I left the bumper on and just worked from inside the car instead. This way I got the repair work done in the time I had spare instead of spending all day fighting with the bumper. It's not a factory style repair, I just let in a suitable patch with a 90 degree bend rather than mimicking Citroen's construction. Sploshed some zinc rich primer on once welded (no close up, it looks like I used a pigeon) and then had just enough time to seam seal it on both sides after this photo was taken. Happily, the passenger side spot didn't need any welding as once it was cleaned back the metal was good and it just needed a bit of fresh sealant to replace the bit that had lifted.
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I would have liked to got the boot repairs painted and all the trim back in but it was too dark and too cold in the unit to really see what I was doing so I'll leave things as they are for now and come back to it tomorrow, most likely. I did discover the colour of the BX is Alpine White rather than Polar White and Halfords stock a reasonable match for the areas I'm working on, so I grabbed a can of that today. I didn't have time to do more welding work, and couldn't do more painting work, so I started dismantling the worst part of the car I knew about by first pulling out the headlight and indicator pod and then unbolting the front wing. I was pleased to see the wing is actually in very good shape, with just some very minor rust staining to treat and repaint to keep it this way.
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With the wing off, I got to see a bit of rust that I wasn't aware of, but wasn't surprising, which is where a couple of skins join. It should be a straightforward repair since access is very good, the cleaning up is likely what will take the most time on this. The reason it's a funny shape like that is that's the line of a seam where two panels overlap. This is a fairly common spot, as far as I'm aware. The other side of this is a panel seam with a smear of white sealant over the top of it.
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I expect the other side will be a similar, but less bad, story. Better to deal with this stuff now and have it done. I'm hoping to get in tomorrow and get some progress on the front end and get the boot repair painted and all the interior back in, I don't want to have too much of the car apart at a time.
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Re: C'est Bleriot - 1987 17RD Hatchback

Post by vulgalour » Mon Jan 14, 2019 6:28 pm

Part of the reason for me getting stuck into the BX so quickly is that I'm back at work on Tuesday so I wanted to get through as much as I possibly could before then. It's the busiest week of the month for me and I didn't want to be distracted too much by the desire to fettle the BX. That means there won't be another substantial update now until probably Sunday. There might be some smaller cosmetic updates, like the wheel trims I'll be restoring, in the meantime. We'll see how I get on with work.

I managed to get in a couple of hours earlier today so that meant I could actually get some paint on the boot corner repair and have time to put all the trims back in. There's nothing else to do at the back of the car now.
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Then I decided the best course of action was to strip the front end down. I was going to have to take the bumper off anyway to sort out the passenger side, and it was so easy to remove the rest of the panels and lights it would have been daft not to do it all in one go. Lots of cableties where captive nuts and bolts should be, presumably because the daft captive bolts Citroen used had all pinged off in that way they do. I found a little extra work to be done in the front crossmember, nothing serious and all easy access stuff. Overall, it's in pretty good shape.
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Next to have a look at the driver's side inner wing. Dean had warned me it needed work in here, it was on his to do list, so I wasn't surprised to find stuff to do. More of that white sealant stuff had to be dug out and it revealed a handful of smaller patches required of the usual sort. The worst bit is on the outer wing side of the inner wing where the suspension sphere sits, a common place for BXs to go and not terribly involved to repair. Happily, the front lower part of the wing that the bumper slots into is in excellent shape and will provide a perfect pattern for rebuilding the passenger side. Here's some before and after shots.
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This had all taken rather longer than you might expect, so I wasn't going to get any welding done today. Instead, I focused on getting things started on the passenger wing, so the first job was to explore the rusty bits to see what I was dealing with. The bumper hanger on this side had sat in a modified bit of bracketry wedged into the rust hole, which worked and wasn't done in a way that damaged the bumper or original hanger. I'll now just be putting it right again with fresh steel. Thankfully, the reference point for the bumper slot on the leading edge hasn't rotted away so I shouldn't have too much trouble lining the repair piece up in the correct place. Everything from the suspension point back looks in good shape, there's been at least one reasonable repair made that I don't see any need to redo.
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With things explored, I had enough time to start chopping out the rusty bits. Almost every piece I need to replace is flat, with excellent access, so this should be about as enjoyable as these jobs get. I chopped out quite a large square for the piece next to the suspension. This was so it would be easier to both clean up the inner skin which needs a small patch letting in, and so I could more easily weld in the repair patch which I'll make out of fresh steel.
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I then started cutting back the rust in the inner arch. Again, this is a much simpler shape than it first appears since it's essentially a long curved rectangle for the most part and won't be difficult to fabricate.
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From inside the engine bay you can get an idea of access a bit better, especially now I've moved the wires out of the way. The little outrigger type piece under the car is still really solid so I just need to finish trimming out the platform that goes between the headlight and the inner arch where it's rotten so I can let a new square in. That bit will be a little trickier just because I can't dismantle things further for access, other than that it should be easy enough to repair since it's just another rectangle to go in here with no fussy bends and wiggles.
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I saved the pieces I cut off for reference, even though I can template from the other side if needed, there's nothing of them I can really use again beyond that.
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Then it was time to go home. Car looks a bit forlorn with all the front stripped down.
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Re: C'est Bleriot - 1987 17RD Hatchback

Post by vulgalour » Thu Jan 17, 2019 3:53 pm

Another BX update! I found myself with a few hours to kill so it seemed as good a time as any to see what I could do on the car in the time I had available. I wanted to start with the most gaping hole first which is the passenger inner wing. That meant cleaning back to good metal, a surprisingly easy task since it really does seem on this car that the rust you can see is all the rust there is. I was surprised to find evidence of previous welding but no sign of patches being let in. There was a random line of welding on the inner wing near the suspension turret that didn't make any sense. The other thing that made no sense was the big patch of filler I hit that was covering nothing. Underneath the filler was the original paint and good steel, and the filler itself mostly came off in big chunks. Very odd.
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With that out and the last of the rust cut away on the inner wing that I needed to, I cut out some fresh steel and made up a piece to go in. I'm welding the patch on top of the original steel rather than butt-welding because this is repair work, rather than restoration, and the BX steel is very thin and difficult to butt-weld. Before welding the piece in I was sure to cut away all the rust and access to both sides of the repair is very good so I can be sure to paint and seal all of this afterwards so that it hopefully lasts for many years to come.
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Getting that panel in suddenly made the remaining repairs look a lot less daunting. This was the most complicated shape I needed to make and it went surprisingly smoothly and welded very nicely compared to the rubbish I'm used to working on. Packed up and left the car feeling a good bit better about the work left to do when I get my next bit of time off. I've got a bit more work to do to make the panel look as nice as it can, you can see the bit at the top where there's some rust I haven't patched, I'll deal with that next.
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I almost forgot, we also got the rear washer jet working again by removing it and putting some compressed air through it to clear a blockage. I had been concerned it was a split hose somewhere and I'd have to pull the car apart to find that, so it was a relief to discover it was just a blocked jet.

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Re: C'est Bleriot - 1987 17RD Hatchback

Post by panky » Thu Jan 17, 2019 4:40 pm

Great progress, glad to see it getting some attention
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Re: C'est Bleriot - 1987 17RD Hatchback

Post by Tim Leech » Fri Jan 18, 2019 12:48 pm

Welcome back, glad to see Bleriot is in good hands, its a real survivor and being an early Mk2 17RD is very rare now
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1991 BX 19TZI Auto A/C
1994 Xantia 1.8i SX
1972 Morris Marina 1.8 SDL
1979 Rover SD1 V8-S
1980 Morris Marina 1.7HL
2002 Rover 75 CDTi Connossieur SE AUTO Nav
2003 Rover 25 1.6i XL 5 DR

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vulgalour
BXpert
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Posts: 423
Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2013 11:30 am
Location: Middlesbrough & Kent
My Cars: 1980 Austin Princess 1.7 HL
1987 Citroen BX 17RD
x 74

Re: C'est Bleriot - 1987 17RD Hatchback

Post by vulgalour » Sat Jan 19, 2019 3:14 pm

Thank you both. I'll be getting some more sparkly stick action in tomorrow, all being well, and am aiming to finish the passenger side wing since it's a fairly straightforward set of repairs there now.

For the vertical wiggly strengthener type panels on the front crossmember I was going to just cut out the rust and let a flat piece in of similar dimension, but does anyone know if there's a replacement panel available? The outer two could do with being removed and replaced with new ones really and it would be nice to put factory wiggled ones back in if I could.