Tag Archives: Black Forest

Vorsprung durch Technik


Shakey and I are off to the Black Forest soon. I am very daunted by the prospect. This is a bit daft. I have been to Australia and ridden around on the far side of the world. But for some reason the 400 miles between the Chunnel and the Black Forest are freaking me out.

I don’t speak German. I don’t really read it either, other than the confrontational linguistics set out in my brother’s Commando magazines. These have given me the sure and certain belief that U-Boat captains wear polo necks and sea boots and are Decent Chaps, whereas certain Bad Eggs in the Luftwaffe will shoot at you if you are a sitting duck under your parachute. They have not given me much in the way of useful advice about buying petrol or asking what time breakfast is served.

I have a route in the satnav but Hortense has no power socket. Will the Garmin’s battery last a whole day? I have a road map but the scale is really small and I want to avoid the toll roads. I suppose they will be my fall-back – if I get lost, I can head to the superslab and look for really big direction signs.

I have a co-pilot but I don’t think he is very good at reading maps.

21 years ago I did a very similar trip, in my very first 2CV. That pre-dated satnav by several decades, and I survived fine. I wish I could remember more about the trip than scouring the verge looking for my headlamp glass that had fallen out, and having an al-fresco pee in a field of sunflowers. (Don’t worry, the photo is me gaffa-taping the headlight back together. Not the other thing. It’s not That Kind of Blog.)

There will be no wi-fi in the hotel in the Black Forest. This is possibly even scarier than the thought of navigating in Europe with only a Portuguese three-legged dog for company.

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While my French car gently leaks.

imageIt is my third attempt at leak curing. Hortense is doubly incontinent, she pisses herself with petrol when starting, and loses oil from her rocker covers.

The rocker covers had to come off so that I could redo the valve clearances, which the Expensive Specialists had buggered up. I managed the same job on the Lomax with no leaks, but that must have been beginners luck. The first time on Hortense I think I hadn’t torqued them up enough. “Barely more than hand tight” may be rather different for burly mechanics than it is for me.

So I bought a very cool pre-set torque wrench from Billy’s bike shop – they ordered it in for me specially and were kind to Shakey, so I recommend them highly! – and did them again.

Still got leaks.

So we’ve tried a different pair of covers. If you do them too tight they get”dished” and stop sealing, and I think this may have happened in the past.

Of course, it is possible that she has always leaked from here but I have not noticed before. I could let it go but the workshop manual notes darkly that if you don’t get the covers on correctly, “total oil loss” can result, and that sounds Very Bad.

But not as bad as setting yourself on fire. Petrol should be inside the carb, not outside it, washing over a hot engine. It’s flooding, said Brian, my carb guru. So I ordered an overhaul kit. It came with many mysterious rubber rings.

“Are they O-Rings?” asked @ledwardio. “As in, Oh-where-the-fook-does-that-go-Rings?”

I only got to use one of them in the end. To replace the float you just “tap” the pivot pin out. Like “barely more than hand tight”, this has some kind of special meaning unrelated to what I understand “tap” to mean. 5 minutes with a hammer moved it all of 1mm. So the old float is still in there, along with the old gasket because you can’t change that without taking the float off.

But (touch wood) the replacement needle valve seems to have been enough. Driving no longer involves the faint whiff of petrol from under the bonnet.

We may yet make it to the Black Forest in June. The final hurdle – the MOT!

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