Electronic Ignition - Manifold Gaskets

Electronic Ignition

1st October 2014 - Well the car took a 'hissy fit' today and cut out around 1.25 miles from home. Checked it over and there was no fuel issue so checked for a spark at the plugs and there was nothing.

Swapped the new coil for an old one and still nothing, so it looked like a faulty 'Powernition' electronic distributor that came fitted to the car when I bought it. Called a recovery truck and the driver was of the same opinion, faulty distributor so the car was duly recovered home and placed in the garage.

Finding someone to take a look at the 'Powernition' distributor with a view to repairing it however proved impossible so it meant replacing it completely.

My friend James had a used (but not very much) '123' Electronic distributor designed for use on several Citroen models, including the Perfo engined Traction Avant so I swapped mine for the 123 and the car fired up straight away, though ran a bit 'rough' After some trial and error the timing was reset and all appeared OK.

Rather than getting potentially stuck at the roadside again in the future I sourced a new mechanical distributor from Claude Renel in France, wrapped it in heatshrink and tucked it away in the boot of the car 'just in case' as I didn't want to get stuck at the roadside again.

19th October 2014 we went to Driffield (and back) for a Citroen Rally and covered 240 miles with no more problems.

In January 2019 after driving another Traction Avant and talking to James Geddes at Traction Repairs about our cars performance as it seemed to lack the 'get up and go' of the one I test drove, I decided to take the 123 Electronic ignition out and replaced it with the mechanical type. The car actually starts and runs better on the 'old fashioned' technology. I have sold the electronic unit on for the cost of the replacement mechanical one as well!

123 Electronic V Ducellier Mechanical Visually, the 2 distributors look very much alike as can be seen in the image as it appears the makers of the 123 unit copied the Ducellier distributor but without the external vacuum advance unit as the internal 'electronics' are pre programmed with the correct advance curve.

Personally I'm not convinced that it's a worthwhile upgrade.

Cost wise, the mechanical Distributor is circa 25% of a replacement electronic unit so I could replace it at least 3 times in the future and still be better off financially (replacing the points, condenser, rotor arm and distributor cap would cost circa £21.00 in total should something go wrong). So it appears that counter to the claims made, not everything out there equates to actual 'progress' in the Classic Car world!

Starter Motor again!

September 2015 Well not quite a year on from the starter motor problem in France and the replacement I originally sourced failed.

It had been playing up since mid July and it was my own fault for not investigating sooner.

Had to order yet another one, this time an 'exchange' 12 volt one from Traction Owners Club Spares.

Fitted that 11th September and now the car starts again on the push of a button.

Manifold Gasket Replacement

17th October 2016 - Time today for some maintenance on the Traction Avant as there had been a small sign of 'soot' at the No 4 cylinder exhaust manifold joint (circled in red in 1 image) for a while. The cylinder head had been rebuilt before I bought the car so it was left untouched during the engine rebuild in 2014.

Whilst the weather was still reasonably warm, I decided to take the opportunity to replace the manifold gaskets today. Not difficult to do, but the carburettor needs to come off to get at 1 bolt and to get that off, means taking the rocker cover off 1st.

Sooty Manifold left side of the manifold Right hand side of the manifold

Some of the bolts have restricted access due to the shape of the manifold and luckily I bought a cheap set of combination spanners from Aldi a couple of years back which proved invaluable as the ring ends have nice thin walls.

Once the manifold was off, the gaskets were in worse condition than originally thought (they were changed before I bought the car 4 years ago and were left untouched when the bottom end was rebuilt)

Everything was thoroughly cleaned up, checked for level etc. before refitting and the opportunity taken to change the starter motor once again with one I had rebuilt to original factory spec by 'Rob' at Broadway Electrical in Essex. (The other starter will be kept as a spare given the cars previous history of blowing them )

Old V New New gaskets in place Manifold refitted

New, copper coated, heat resistant, lock nuts were used to reattach the manifold to give things that 'period' look. The fuel feed pipe from the pump to the carburettor was also replaced with some 8mm bore copper pipe in an effort to reduce the effects of Ethanol in modern petrol (the hose that had been in place less than 6 months had already began to feel 'spongy')

The arthritic fingers are now complaining loudly so that's enough car maintenance for a while. (Next job is the rear suspension silentblocs but James at Traction Repairs will be doing those)

Last Update: 25th January 2019