Awful things are happening in the news but in my small world it has been a good day. Hortense has passed her MOT. For the last few weeks I have been trying to prepare all the things that I can do – we started with an oil and filter change, new plugs, grease on all the kingpins and checking the brake pads. These were all good.
She needed a new headlamp bulb and the handbrake has never quite recovered after I drove for several miles down the A66 with it on. I have form for this. In my defence, when your car makes a cacophony of unusual clicks and groans at anything above walking pace, it’s easy to miss the giveaway squeal.
So I ordered a box of bulbs and replacement handbrake pads from the lovely people at Der Franzose and set about it. The headlamp bulb was very easy. The handbrake pads were very hard. The Haynes BOL doesn’t actually tell you how to replace pads, just how to adjust them. But somewhere on the internet there’s a picture of how to push them out using a butter knife. So I took the air filter off, and undid the eccentrics, and pushed the old ones out, and the 2ps which you can stick behind them as shims, and then reached an impasse.
The new pads, from Ferodo, would not go in.
I asked Mark McArthur Christie, who is one of my 2CV gurus. They go in fairly easily once you’ve got the springs sorted, he said.
Are you sure you’ve got the right ones?
It says 2CV on the box. Though this might be an aspiration rather than a description.
The North Briton came for the weekend. He tried to stuff them in with screwdriver and plumbers grips. They went in a bit and got stuck. No problem, he said, before whipping the calipers off the discs for a full strip and rebuild.
The handbrake pads would not go in because they were 2mm too big.
I am annoyed about this, because when I can’t do something on the car I tend to assume it’s my fault. That women should stick to fondling puppies, and wearing pink, and baking cupcakes, not lying on the drive in the mud and the grease and the gunk while bemused neighbours wonder why I don’t just pay someone else to do it.
He filed them down round the edges, I cleaned the calipers. We bled the brakes and adjusted the eccentrics. By the time we finished there wasn’t enough day left to get to the BMF show, but we did have a lovely time at Duxford instead.
The fog light didn’t come on when I pulled the switch, so I spent an evening feeling proud of myself cleaning all the rust off the contacts to make it a good earth, checking that the unit worked if wired direct to the battery, and making sure it wasn’t just a duff bulb. Then I discovered that it only comes on if the headlights are on too. So I felt a bit of a muppet.
And then I tried to fit the new windscreen wipers and broke the teeny-weeny plastic clip that holds the wiper blade to the arm. Big MOT hugs to Cambridge Discount Autoparts, who dug in their Tub of Obsolete Wiper Bits to find me a replacement one for no charge.
This morning Mr McLeod the MOT tester found the front wheels to be wobbly and the back brake to be essentially ornamental, but since this is normal for 2CVs we have passed. Hopefully this means that I will sleep tonight, for the first time in a week. And then, since timing is everything, I shall try and fix the points.