Citroën A-Type Howto

© Copyright: J.Cats.


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Disclaimer: This page only provides advice, based on the personal opinion of the author. The author can't be held responsible for anything that results from following this advice.

Table of contents:


General

  • Front, rear, left and right as viewed from sitting in the driver's seat unless noted otherwise
  • Any jacking on the car is done using a piece of wood wider then the chassis, placed under the axle bolts and the jack under the middle of this.
  • When jacking secure the wheels that stay on the ground by putting square pieces of wood or bricks front and aft of the wheel on both sides of the car.
  • NEVER jack up an A type under body, even though the jacking points are on the body.
  • When the car is being worked on by a garage, make sure they lift the car under the chassis, not under the body.


Removing the fan

Removing the fan on 602 or less cc engines
Depending on your car:

  • 2cv, undo the 4 11mm bolts holding the wire mesh.
  • Ami, remove the grille.
  • Dyane, undo the 4 bolts (8mm) securing the nose section to the wings, undo the 4 11mm bolts holding the bumper brackets on the frame or undo the bumper and release the 2 14mm bolts holding the nose onto bumper brackets.
  • Mehari without removeable grille, undo the complete nose section (fit with screws instead of rivets next time!).
  • Mehari with removeable grille, remove the grille.
For all cars:
  • Put the car in gear.
  • Use a pipe(long) socket to undo the bolt (14mm) in the center of the fan.
  • Remove the bolt.
  • Take the car out of gear.
  • Put the pipe socket or some piece of pipe in the center of the fan.
  • The pipe (socket) must not have to much room around it.
  • Hammer the pipe socket placed in the hole, up/down and left/right.
  • After some hammering, the fan WILL come off.
  • If not, undo the bolts (8 and 10mm on the back) holding the plastic fan to the pulley.
  • Heat the pulley gently with a blow torch.
  • This method can result in damage to the pulley, belt and crankshaft seal and should only be used as a last resort.
  • Now hammer the pulley off as described above.
  • Always check the pulley for cracks (around the mounting hole, front AND rear) after taking it off.


Ignition

An ignition that has not been properly is the normal cause of problems such as:

  • bad starting
  • rough running
  • overheating
  • high fuel consumption
Generally 75% of all problems with 2cvs are ignition related. Setting the ignition properly is a job that requires some experience. The only way to get experienced is by doing it.

Points:

  • Remove wire mesh (if fitted), 11mm bolts.
  • Remove the fan (see above).
  • Undo the 5 bottom bolts (8mm) holding the rubber screen down (if fitted).
  • Take off the connector from the bottom of the points box.
  • Undo the 2 bolts (11mm) holding the points box down and remove the points box.
  • Take out the plate fitted behind the points box.
  • Check if the centrifugal weights jump back after turning them.
  • Remove lid from points box.
  • Undo screw holding points, flat connector plate and capacitor wire and remove the points.
  • Check points, if badly damaged replace capacitor (to make sure, replace capacitor every 2nd time)
  • A faulty capacitor causes the points to stick closed.
  • Fit new points (and capacitor) and make sure the screw holding the points down doesn't stick out at the back of the points box.
  • Fit the point box.
  • Check the wire (going to the coil) and connect it to the points box.
  • Now we're going to set the points gap (0,4mm with feeler gauges).
  • Turn the engine (screwdriver on flywheel or move car while in gear).
  • The plastic lip on the bottom part of the points should be at the center of one of the two cams opening the points.
  • At this point the points have maximum opening.
  • Release the screw holding the points down just enough for the top part of the points to be able to move.
  • There is a lip on the top part of the points. By putting a large screwdriver on either side of the lip and turning, the points gap changes.
  • The 0,4mm feeler gauge should JUST slip through without opening the points.
  • Fasten the screw holding the points, tightly, and remeasure the gap.
  • If the gap has changed (as usually) reset the gap. Do this until it's absolutely spot on.
  • To make sure the gap is ok, turn the engine until the points open again.
  • Remeasure the gap.
  • If the gap isn't spot on you either didn't set it properly or there is difference between the 2 cams.
  • If there is difference between the 2 cams, the points cam is faulty and should be replaced.
  • Before we can start adjusting the timing, the gap has to be 100% correct because this determines the angle at which the points are open (dwell angle).
  • Now we set the ignition timing.
  • Below the left top bolt holding engine to gearbox there is a hole on the front of the engine casing, below engine type plate.
  • Put something round with 5-6mm diameter in the hole (rod, drill, nail).
  • Turn the engine again until the rod falls into a hole on the flywheel. The hole is on the middle of the thick part of flywheel.
  • Take the rod out, it should move in and out of the flywheel easily, otherwise turn the engine slightly.
  • Take the 2 wires from the coil and connect a light to these wires. (NOTE: this is different to how haynes does it. 2 advantages: you can't burn the coil this way and can't accidently start the engine)
  • Turn the ignition on (with the ignition key) WITHOUT starting the engine, the oil pressure light comes on or the volt meter starts working.
  • When opening the points, the light should be off.
  • If the light doesn't turn off, something is wrong. Make sure no plastic isolation on the points box has been left out or wires are loose.
  • With the points closed (the 2 bits touching each other), the light should be on.
  • If the light doesn't turn on, something is wrong. A screw driver or your feeler gauge between the points should turn on the light.
  • Slightly loosen the two bolts (11mm) holding the points box.
  • Turn the point box by gently tapping on it (screwdriver and hammer) until the light comes on (just).
  • If you think the box may have turned to much, turn the box back again and start over.
  • To double check, turn the engine 1 full turn (check with rod in flywheel), and check if the light comes on just.
  • If not, you didn't succeed, either timing or gap isn't correct.
  • When you're sure it's ok, fasten the 2 bolts (11mm) holding the box and put the lid on.
  • Connect the wires to the coil, on the coil the connections are marked + and -
  • - is the wire coming from the points.
  • + is the wire coming from the ignition lock.
  • Most points have a breaking in wear. Start the engine and let it run for 1-2 minutes. Recheck both points gap and timing as described above (yes everything for the second time) if you want to be 100% sure of your settings.
  • Refit rubber screen.
  • Put a small drop (not more!) of oil in the center part of the fan and smear it with your finger.
  • Fit the fan and tighten the fan bolt (tight!).
  • Fit the wire mesh.
  • The engine should start on the first turn (when new sparkplugs have been fitted).
Checks to see if the points are set correctly:

  • The points box should be about horizontal.
  • When turning the engine, the points should be opened 63-67 teeth on the flywheel (light off when connected as described here).
  • More then 67 means the points gap is too big, less then 63 means the gap is too small.
Sparkplugs:

  • Depending on the tools you use, the wings might need to be removed.
  • It's best to use a special sparkplug socket with a solid, non moving extension.
  • Remove the sparkplugs ONLY when the engine is COLD.
  • Check the plugs for wear:
    • Presuming the last time the car ran was a long drive:
    • A gray dry plug is good.
    • A black dry plug indicates to rich mixture.
    • A black oily plug indicates oil consumption.
  • Set the plug gap to 0,6mm.
  • Refit the plugs by first turning them into the engine by hand.
  • Don't over tighten but don't leave the plugs too loose.
  • When in doubt use a torque wrench set to ??kgm
  • Make sure the high tension leads connect properly to both the coil and the plugs.


Fuel system

Carburettor:

Click here to open a new window containing the double choke carburettor exploded view with numbered parts.

  1. steel fuel filter with plug an copper washer
  2. lid
  3. choke cable holder
  4. throttle damper lever (not always fitted)
  5. choke butterfly and shaft
  6. seal
  7. float needle valve with copper washer
  8. float
  9. idle mixture adjustment screw
  10. secondary main jet
  11. acceleration jet
  12. secondary air mixture jet
  13. primary air mixture jet / emulsion tube
  14. plug
  15. throttle damper (not always fitted)
  16. primary main jet
  17. idle air mixture screw
  18. choke lever
  19. spring and ball for 18
  20. secondary butterfly lever
  21. idle rpm adjustment screw
  22. connecting rod
  23. primary butterfly lever
  24. stop rod for 17
  25. carburettor body
  26. idle jet
  27. acceleration pump
  28. primary butterfly and shaft
  29. secondary butterfly and shaft
  30. stop for primary butterfly shaft

Carburetor checking:

  • Check that the choke is off.
  • Remove rubber elbow between carb and air filter.
  • Take fuel hose from carb.
  • Remove choke cable
  • Remove carb lid by removing the 6 screws.
  • On some engines the 6th screw is a damper which needs to be removed.
  • Undo all screws 1 turn, then fully remove (so the lid isn't bend).
  • Undo the 14mm bolt on the front of the lid.
  • Underneath is a fine mesh. Clean if needed, refit mesh and bolt.
  • Setting float height:
    • Turn lid upside down.
    • On the side in the center of each float is a small point.
    • Distance from this point to the lid (with seal) should be 18mm.
    • Bend lip on needle valve and/or float in relation to each other to correct.
  • Make sure floats are parallel and don't touch float chamber walls.
  • Check if needle valve is working:
    • Hold lid in normal position, blow through fuel inlet pipe.
    • Move float up and down.
    • In top position valve should be FULLY closed.
    • In any other position it should be open immediately.
    • Make sure the valve doesn't stick.
    • A worn valve will make the carb overflow, it won't close properly.
    • A sticking valve will let the engine stop (high speed) and return to normal after a short time (or stop altogether).
  • On the front of the carb body is the stationary jet, with 8mm head.
  • Remove jet and check for dirt in jet and housing.
  • Refit jet.
  • Looking at the top of the carb body, between the 2 big holes you see 2 screws with a hole in the center.
  • Make sure non of these jets is not properly tightened.
  • Blow these through with compressed air.
  • In the right float chamber is another of these screws, blow this through as well.
  • On the left side of the lid is a lever for operating the choke butterfly.
  • Make sure the butterfly is fully opened and refit the lid to the carb body.
  • With lid fitted the choke should still be fully opened.
  • Fit screws in lid and tighten finger tight.
  • Go round the screws, tightening each half a turn at each pass.
  • Don't over tighten but don't leave them too loose.
  • Fit choke cable.
  • Choke cable should be set in such a way that the choke butterfly is fully opened (upright) with choke turned off.
  • Fit rubber elbow.

Idle adjustment:

  • Make sure the following things are checked and correct:
    • Ignition timing
    • Float height
    • Carb and jets are clean
    • The engine is thoroughly warm (10 min. drive)
    • It preferably to make the idle adjustments after a successful service with test drive.
  • On the throttle lever on the side of the carb is a screw (with a spring on it) which sets the idle speed.
  • Set the idle speed to 800 +/- 50 rpm.
  • This can be done with a rev counter. Strobe lights usually have a rev counting function as well.
  • If the engine won't keep running at 800rpm, either one of the conditions above is not ok or the adjustment is way out.
  • If the conditions are way out skip the step above.
  • The idle adjustment can be made with a gas analyzer. CO should be 0.8-1.6%, CO2 should be 9% or more.
  • When you don't have a gas analyzer, use the method described here.
  • WARNING, This method usually does not give the CO and CO2 reading above but a very well running engine.
  • WARNING, 30% of all A types will probably not pass the technical test with the method described here.
  • On the front of the carb there is a screw with an asymmetrical head positioned at an angle relative to the carb body.
  • This is the IDLE mixture screw. It only has effect on the idle mixture, not normal running.
  • Turn this screw in/down until the rpm drops.
  • Turn the screw up/out until the maximum rpm is reached.
  • Reset the idle speed to 800 rpm.
  • With the mixture screw find the optimum rpm again.
  • Do this until you have 800 rpm and the maximum rpm on the mixture screw.
  • At this point the range of the maximum rpm with the idle screw is 1-2 turns.
  • This means the idle speed doesn't change noticeably within 1-2 turns of the maximum on the mixture screw.
  • If the idle speed drops of dramatically within or just outside this range, one of the conditions above is not ok.
  • With the mixture screw find the middle of the maximum range, then turn down/in 0.5-1 turn depending on the width of the maximum range.

Passing the technical test:

  • Turning the mixture screw down/in is leaner, up/out is richer.
  • Turn the mixture screw all the way down.
  • If everything is ok, all the way down there is a point where the engine will die.
  • Keep the mixture just above this point.
  • Adjust idle speed to about 800 rpm.
  • With the engine warm, it will just run and 85% of the cars will pass the technical test.
  • The other 15% need adjustment with a gas analyzer to pass the test.
  • After the test, return to the optimal setting described above.

Removing the fuel tank:

  • Take of the fuel filler neck (usually just turn it out of the rubber on the tank)
  • Undo the sender wire near the left inner wing (interior) and push this through the body.
  • Detach wire from chassis / bridge on chassis (on some cars).
  • Undo the bolts(11mm) under the rear axle a couple of turns.
  • The tank can slide out of these.
  • Undo the two bolts on the side/rear of the tank.
  • Hold the tank, let it drop a bit and undo the fuel line on top of the tank.
  • Remove the tank (easier with a nearly empty tank), by sliding it rearwards of the front mounts.
  • Note how bolts, plates and plastics are fitted.
  • Remove the fuel sender and pickup unit.
  • Check the filter at the bottom of the fuel pickup.
  • Check for deposit at the bottom of the tank.

Oil System

Oil cooler service

  • The oil cooler is an A-type best way of cooling.
  • Especially in the summer it needs be at optimal efficiency.
  • Every time the ventilator is removed, check the oil cooler.
  • Do this by placing a light behind and and look through.
  • At a certain angle you should be able to look straight through every where.
  • If there is dirt visible clean the oil cooler.
  • This can be done with a steam cleaner(for removing clay) or compressed air.
  • When cleaning go along every row slowly to make sure every airway is clean.
  • Damaged metal plates in each row can be straightened with a small screwdriver.
  • Be carefull, the metal is very weak and you don't want to punch through the oil cooler.
  • To make sure you have enough cooling, don't drive closely behind vehicles (trucks) on hot summer days (no "slip streaming").
  • Instead make sure you have plenty of air going through the oil cooler by staying away from other vehicles.

Oil leaks

A-types shouldn't leak any oil, but they tend to do so. Check oil leaks with the engine at working temperature, the oil is thinner then and leaks show up more easily. Here is a list of the common places for oil leaks to start, and what to do about them:

  • Oil cooler
    Sometimes damaged, this can be seen when starting the engine while hot, you'll see oil dripping off the cooler. Usually the mounting tubes leak, new rubbers come with a gasket set but be carefull, aluminium rust can make te tube snap while undoing the nut on the tube. Nuts can be hard to get at (special tool required)
  • Front crankshaft seal
    The seal hardens when the car has been standing for a long time. When damaged, oil trace going from the bottom of the seal downward. With the engine running sit in front of the seal and you can feel the pulsing air from the crankshaft breathing coming through the seal. This seal is not included in a gasket set.
  • Front camshaft seal
    When the points box is filled with oil, the camshaft seal is the cause. Big problem, the seal is a labyrinth seal, so machined into the camshaft. New camshaft needed (and engine has to be taken apart completely).
  • Oil filler neck
    Very rare leak, means somebody removed the filler and put it back without a new gasket. Gasket is included in the gasket set.
  • Oil pressure sender
    When there is more oil leaking on the left side of the engine. Take off the left wing. Start the engine, rev it and you'll see oil droplets forming at the tip of the sender. Usually the oil pressure warning light coming on in corners or when cold is a good indication the sender is dying and will start leaking soon.
  • Oil lines to the heads
    They can be quite rusty and start leaking after touching them or steam washing the car (rust particles are removed, creating thin spots or holes). Sometime leak at the connection plug on the head, new copper gaskets included in a gasket set.
  • Oil filter
    Much more common then thought. Caused by fitting the wrong filter (wrong thread) or not putting the right filter on properly.
  • Rear crankshaft seal
    Shows up by the front of the flywheel being covered in oil, traces usually start/sun shaped starting from the middle. When the flywheel is off, on oil trace is visible from the bottom of the seal downward. The seal is not included in the gasket set.
  • Drain plug
    Very common leak, usually caused by reusing the copper washer to many times.

Filler tube


Electrics

75% of all electrical problems on a 2cv come from earthing. To check if earthing is the problem, take a wire with a crocodile mouth clamp on each end. Connect one end to the earth wire (or metal housing) of the thing that isn't working and one and to the - connection of the battery. If it works now (fiddle with the wires a bit) it's an earth problem.

Indicators:

  • The indicator light on the dash doesn't work:
    • One of the indicators isn't working (light only works 1 time)
    • Light itself is broken
    • Indicator relay is faulty.
    • The indicator relay is an aluminium cylindrical device with 4 wires on it.
    • The only to test it is to fit another and see if that one does work.
  • An indicator isn't working:
    • Earth
    • The spring behind the bulb doesn't push the contact properly against the bulb.
    • Remove the bulb and push against the contact.
    • When pushed and released, it should jump back a quite a bit.
    • The spring can be felt when fitting the bulb.

Fuel gauge isn't working:

Either the connection near the front of the left inner wing is loose (from removing the rear bench) or you have bad earth. The earth wire runs from a connector of the fuel gauge sender to on of the rear bolts holding the tank. To check:

  • Remove the tank (see fuel system section)
  • If the connections look bad and you want to be sure, drain the tank and let it air for a few days.
  • Otherwise over the fuel pipes so no fumes can get out.
  • Clean the connections on the sender (watch for sparks and petrol fumes, possibly explosive!).
  • If the earth wire is bad, make a new one.
  • Fit the earth wire and test with a resistance(ohm) meter by moving the tank (and the float inside).
  • If necessary remove the float and check or replace.
  • Refit the tank, (easier said then done usually, don't forget the fuel line and wires).


Checking and rebuilting the brakes

Honing of brake parts is done with a tripod with spring loaded moving arms with small stones on the ends. This device is fitted in an electric drill and used at high rpm.

When removing brake components, secure the brake pedal in a lower position, this keeps the brake system from leaking empty.

Some standard checks:

  • Check that the pin on the brake pedal pressing into the master cylinder has a few mm of play.
  • On later cars this pin is adjustable.
  • Check that all wheels turn freely, immediately after pressing the brakes.
  • If one wheel needs some time or doesn't free up at all, the brake cylinder is sticking or the brake shoes need adjusting.
  • If all brakes stick (especially when hot) the master cylinder is bad.

Rebuilting front brakes, discs front

  • Take of all components that are in the way (heater hoses, air filter...)
  • With some pliers, push back and away from the discs, the springs holding the brake pads.
  • The brake pads should now almost fall out.
  • Move the pads around a bit for them to really come out.
  • If the pistons can't be moved back enough, put a screwdriver between the disc and the pad at the top of the caliper, be careful not to
  • If the pads are more then slightly uneven worn a piston is sticking.
  • Drain as much brake fluid as possible from the braking system.
  • Undo the brake line nipple (8mm) from the master cylinder to the caliper (caliper end).
  • Be sure not to bend or damage the brake line or nipple.
  • Undo the bolts (17mm) holding the calipers and remove the calipers.
  • Note which caliper half goes where and check for spacer plates fitted between gearbox and calipers!
  • At this point the discs can be changed.
  • Split the caliper into 2 halves.
  • Cover the hole connecting the 2 halves with a piece of inner tube.
  • Put the caliper half in the bench screw, covering the hole.
  • With compressed air or a spare master cylinder press the piston out of the caliper.
  • Catch the piston when it comes out with a large piece of cloth, especially with air it shoots out.
  • Inspect the outside of the piston.
  • It should be absolutely smooth. Small blemishes can be taken of with waterproof sanding paper.
  • When the piston is damaged, it has to be replaced.
  • Clean the piston.
  • Take the 2 rubber rings out of the caliper half with something pointy, avoid scratches.
  • Throw away the rubber rings, do not reuse them.
  • Clean the caliper (gasoline), blow through all oil ways with compressed air, and dry it out.
  • Inspect the caliper, if there is damage on the piston contact area, this has to be taken out with honing.
  • Make sure the grooves for the rings are clean as well.
  • The piston should smoothly slide in and out of the caliper.
  • Soak the new rubber rings in LHM oil.
  • The flat ring goes into the bottom groove (furthest from disc), the grooved ring in the top groove.
  • Cover the outside of the piston with oil and press it in BY HAND.
  • Take care that the piston is kept straight or it won't go in.
  • The piston can be pressed down with the palm of your hand (with your weight on it).
  • Using some sort of press will result in broken calipers since the piston won't go in straight.
  • Do this for all 4 halves.
  • Clean the discs with brake cleaning spray and a clean cloth.
  • Refit the calipers with a new little ring in between the halves, don't forget the springs!.
  • Some calipers have spacers between caliper and gearbox.
  • After fitting the caliper check that the disc is positioned exactly in the middle of the caliper.
  • When not change position by fitting the spacer or filing a bit of the gearbox mountings.
  • If the calipers and gearbox haven't been changed they should position correctly without modifications.
  • Fit the brake pads (new ones).
  • The pads have one end with a T attached and one end with half a hole.
  • Put the T part between your fingers and point the other side upwards a bit.
  • Put in the pad so the half hole catches the pin on the caliper then move up the T end and slip the spring on the T end.
  • Wiggle the pad a bit to make sure it can't fall out.
  • Take the air out of the system, follow the COMPLETE procedure even if you haven't touched the rear brakes.

Rebuilting front brakes, drums front

  • Remove front wings.
  • Remove driveshaft (14mm bolts).
  • Turn the adjusters (14mm) on the back plate to clear the brake shoes from the drum.
  • When facing the drum, turn the left adjuster clockwise and the right adjuster anti-clockwise.
  • Remove drums, if the adjusters wouldn't turn, tap the drum with a hammer (gently) while pulling of the drum so the brake shoes stay in their position.
  • Check the brake cylinders. When pulling back the rubber boot at each end it should be dry inside.
  • When wet the cylinder are leaking and need replacing / rebuilting.
  • If the cylinders have been leaking on the drum / brake shoes, the brake shoes have to be replaced as well.
  • Undo the wing nuts on the handbrake cables (free off handbrake first!)
  • These can be really stuck, use plenty of penetrating oil or some heat from a small torch.
  • With a 14mm key turn the adjusters on the back plate to clear the brake shoes from the brake cylinder.
  • If the adjusters won't turn, leave them for now.
  • Undo the brake line on the brake cylinder (8mm), beware of brake fluid spillage.
  • Undo the 2 bolts (10mm) holding the brake cylinder.
  • Remove the cylinder, if it won't come out, put a screwdriver between cylinder (metal) and the back plate.
  • If you couldn't turn the adjuster, be careful not to damage the rubber boots.
  • On each brake shoe is a small disc with 2 small round holes and a square one (old cars have a split pin, just take this out).
  • Put some pointy pliers in the round holes.
  • Put your finger on the pin on the back of the back plate.
  • Push the pliers and turn 90 degrees.
  • This releases the discs and the spring holding the shoes to the back plate.
  • Tap back the safety / remove the split pins and undo the bottom bolts (10/11mm).
  • Remove the rear shoe by taking it off the bottom mount and moving the bottom of the shoe backwards until the shoe can be unhooked from the bar between the 2 shoes at the top.
  • Remove the front shoe by turning it and unhooking it from the handbrake cable.
  • Spray the adjusters with penetrating oil and make sure they are turning freely, use heat when needed.
  • Clean the back plates.
  • Take the excenters out of the shoes (turn them and they will fall out).
  • Clean the excenters and fit (in the new shoes) with copper grease on the outer and inner edge.
  • Fit the front brake shoe by turning it and hooking it in the handbrake cable and fitting it on the lower mount.
  • Hook in the spring at the top.
  • Take the back shoe, hook in the spring.
  • Turn the bottom of the shoe outwards until you can hook it in the bar then turn it inwards and fit on the lower mount.
  • Fit the two nuts on the bottom mounts (hand tight) but leave out the securing plate.
  • With some pointy pliers push the 2 pins in the back plate through the shoes.
  • Hold the pins on the back plate.
  • Fit the little discs with the springs behind them by pushing the over the pins until the pins come through, then turn 90 degrees and release.
  • The pin only fits through the discs in one position.
  • If your car uses split pins, fit these (new ones).
  • Take of the 2 nuts at the bottom mount.
  • Turn the excenters until the shoes are as far apart at the bottom as possible.
  • Fit the securing plate and the 2 nuts (11mm).
  • Turn the adjusters until the shoes are as far apart as possible.
  • Rebuilt the brake cylinders (replacing is often cheaper).
    • Take them apart.
    • Clean them, if the inner surface isn't absolutely smooth (rust, pitting) hone them.
    • Apply a light coating of brake grease on pistons and cups (where they touch each other or cylinder wall) when refitting.
    • Fit one cup, piston and boot.
    • Always fit new cups.
    • Boots should be clean, should not be dry and should have no cracks or tears.
    • The boots are fitted by first pressing the center over the piston end and then fitting the outer edge over the cylinder.
    • Put in the spring if available (sometimes there are metal plates protecting the cups from the springs as well).
    • Push in the second cup with the second piston, hold it down and fit the boot.
  • Fit the cylinder and tighten the 2 bolts (10mm).
  • Turn the adjusters until the brake shoes won't move inwards any more.
  • Clean the drum with brake cleaning spray and a clean cloth.
  • If the drum has deep grooves, it needs to be machined to a smooth surface first.
  • Fit the drum, it should fit over the shoes only just.
  • Remove the drum.
  • If the drum doesn't fit over the shoes, adjust the excenters, make sure the distance from all points of the shoe to the center of the back plate/hub is the same.
  • Tighten the nuts at the bottom mounts and secure them.
  • Refit the drum.
  • Refit the brake line (8mm).
  • Refit the driveshaft and tighten the nuts(14mm) properly.
  • Adjust the brakes.
  • Take the air out of the system, follow the COMPLETE procedure even if you haven't touched the front brakes.

Rebuilting rear brakes

  • Jack up the car.
  • Remove the wheel.
  • Turn the adjusters (14mm) on the back plate to clear the brake shoes from the drum.
  • When facing the drum, turn the left adjuster clockwise and the right adjuster anti-clockwise.
  • Take off the center cap by putting a screwdriver into one of the holes in the ring outside the cap.
  • With a small chisel, tap back the part of the nut that has been hammered in, it should be well clear of the tread.
  • Undo the big nut.
  • If the proper 44mm socket is not available, use a big chisel and heavy hammer to loosen the nut by hammering on the corners of the six edges.
  • Remove the drum with a proper drum puller that fits on the wheel studs, do NOT use a pulley puller, this will damage the drum.
  • If a drum puller is not available, take an old wheel, enlarge the hole in the middle for a M16 or bigger bolt to fit through, weld a nut on the back of the wheel and put the bolt in.
  • Fit the wheel in the normal way, and tighten the bolt.
  • When removing the drum with a puller, tighten the puller until there is some force on the drum, then give one blow with the hammer on the big bolt.
  • Sometimes a puller isn't needed at all.
  • When removing drums, if the adjusters wouldn't turn, tap the drum with a hammer (gently) while pulling of the drum so the brake shoes stay in their position.
  • Check the brake cylinders. When pulling back the rubber boot at each end it should be dry inside.
  • When wet the cylinder are leaking and need replacing / rebuilting.
  • If the cylinders have been leaking on the drum / brake shoes, the brake shoes have to be replaced as well.
  • With a 14mm key turn the adjusters on the back plate to clear the brake shoes from the brake cylinder.
  • If the adjusters won't turn, leave them for now.
  • Undo the brake line on the brake cylinder (8mm), beware of brake fluid spillage.
  • Undo the 2 bolts (10mm) holding the brake cylinder.
  • Remove the cylinder, if it won't come out, put a screwdriver between cylinder (metal) and the back plate.
  • If you couldn't turn the adjuster, be careful not to damage the rubber boots.
  • On each brake shoe is a small disc with 2 small round holes and a square one (old cars have a split pin, just take this out).
  • Put some pointy pliers in the round holes.
  • Put your finger on the pin on the back of the back plate.
  • Push the pliers and turn 90 degrees.
  • This releases the discs and the spring holding the shoes to the back plate.
  • Tap back the safety / remove the split pins and undo the bottom bolts (10/11mm).
  • All later cars are fitted with the big U spring instead of the normal spring.
  • Take this of now by putting a screwdriver between the spring and the brake shoe, watch it, it jumps back quite a bit when removed.
  • If your car still has the old system with the normal spring, see above with the front brakes.
  • Spray the adjusters with penetrating oil and make sure they are turning freely, use heat when needed.
  • Clean the back plates.
  • Take the excenters out of the shoes (turn them and they will fall out).
  • Clean the excenters and fit (in the new shoes) with copper grease on the outer and inner edge.
  • Fit the front and rear brake shoes.
  • Fit the two nuts on the bottom mounts (hand tight), but leave out the securing plate.
  • With some pointy pliers push the 2 pins in the back plate through the shoes.
  • Hold the pins on the back plate.
  • Fit the little discs with the springs behind them by pushing the over the pins until the pins come through, then turn 90 degrees and release.
  • The pin only fits through the discs in one position.
  • If your car uses split pins, fit these (new ones).
  • Take of the 2 nuts at the bottom mount.
  • Turn the excenters until the shoes are as far apart at the bottom as possible.
  • Turn the adjusters until the shoes are as close together at the top as possible.
  • Fit the U spring, use some strong pliers.
  • Fit the securing plate and the 2 nuts (11mm).
  • Turn the adjusters until the shoes are as far apart as possible.
  • Rebuilt the brake cylinders (replacing is often cheaper).
    • Take them apart.
    • Clean them, if the inner surface isn't absolutely smooth (rust, pitting) hone them.
    • Apply a light coating of brake grease on pistons and cups (where they touch each other or cylinder wall) when refitting.
    • Fit one cup, piston and boot.
    • Always fit new cups.
    • Boots should be clean, should not be dry and should have no cracks or tears.
    • The boots are fitted by first pressing the center over the piston end and then fitting the outer edge over the cylinder.
    • Put in the spring (sometimes there are metal plates protecting the cups from the springs as well).
    • Push in the second cup with the second piston, hold it down and fit the boot.
  • Fit the cylinder and tighten the 2 bolts (10mm).
  • Turn the adjusters until the brake shoes won't move inwards any more.
  • Clean the drum with brake cleaning spray and a clean cloth.
  • If the drum has deep grooves, it needs to be machined to a smooth surface first.
  • Fit the drum, it should fit over the shoes only just.
  • Remove the drum.
  • If the drum doesn't fit over the shoes, adjust the excenters, make sure the distance from all points of the shoe to the center of the back plate/hub is the same.
  • Tighten the nuts at the bottom mounts and secure them.
  • Refit the drum.
  • Refit the brake line (8mm).
  • Refit the big nut, it can be reused but when heavily damaged (chisel) replace.
  • When fitting a new nut, clear the thread with a thread file before putting on the new nut.
  • Whether or not a new nut is used, the nut should go on without any tools for quite a bit.
  • If not, the thread on the hub or nut is damaged.
  • Replace the nut when damaged and clear the thread with a thread file on the hub.
  • The nut has to be tight enough for all play to be out of the drum.
  • Put plenty of grease on the bearing.
  • Fit the center cap (the replacement plastic ones are far superior).
  • Adjust the brakes.
  • Take the air out of the system, follow the COMPLETE procedure even if you haven't touched the front brakes.

Removing the master cylinder

  • Bleed all fluid from the master cylinder through one of the bleeding nipples on the front brakes.
  • Take off the brakelines (8mm).
  • Remove the reservoir as described below with the appropriate type of master cylinder.
  • Take the 2 rubber rings out of the master cylinder (without using tools).
  • Undo the 2 nuts and bolts(14mm) on the firewall going through the master cylinder.
  • Inside the car, on the pedals there are 2 plates, one on each side of the master cylinder.
  • Undo the wires on the brake light switch.
  • Undo the clutch cable.
  • Undo the accelerator cable.
  • Put a screwdriver between the plate and the master cylinder.
  • Lever the plate away from the master cylinder and pull back the pedals, do this on both sides.
  • Take out the pedals.
  • Take out the master cylinder.
Rebuilting the master cylinder, dual circuit.
  • The dual circuit system has the double square reservoir, usually found with disc brakes.
  • Remove the resevoir by pushing the reservoir sideways, it will pop out of the master cylinder.
  • Remove the rubbers holding the resevoir.
  • In the 2 resevoir holes in the cylinder you can see a small tube sticking out with an opening on one side.
  • Put a 3mm drill in the bench screw.
  • Remove the tube by turning it onto the drill and pulling it out.
  • With both tubes removed the pistons should come out.
  • Tap the back of master cylinder down on something hard to aid the removal.
  • Note the order in which the parts come out (and have to ga back in!)
  • Replace the rubbers on the pistons or the complete pistons.
  • When retaining the pistons make sure the one way valve at the bottom of the pistons works. Fluid should only be going forward, not backwards.
  • Clean the parts with clean brake fluid of the right type.
  • Submerge all parts in new brake fluid before assembling.
  • Fit everything the way it came out.
  • Fit one piston at a time with the long hole top/down and put the small tube back in with the opening to the rear.
  • Fit the clean dry rubbers holding the resevoir, after fitting turn them to make sure the went down far enough and into their seat.
  • Fit the resevoir by pushing it down after the master cylinder has been fitted.
  • Make sure the resevoir has been pushed down far enough for it to properly seal on the rubbers.

Rebuilting the master cylinder, single circuit.

  • The single circuit system has a round tall thin resevoir.
  • Remove the resvoir by undoing the nut at the bottom(??mm) of the resevoir.
  • There are 2 methods to dismantle the 2 different master cylinders.
    1. In the resevoir holes in the cylinder you can see a small tube sticking out with an opening on one side. Take out the tube as described with the dual circuit master cylinder.
    2. There is no small tube sticking out with an opening on one side in the resevoir hole. On the back of the cylinder is a round spring clip. Remove this and the piston can be taken out.

Removing air from the system (bleeding)

  • If the brake pedal is a bit spongy and is much hard after pressing the brakes hard a few times, there is air in the system.
  • Get a glass jar and a plastic hose with a rubber hose on one end (fuel line).
  • Get someone to help.
  • Put some brake oil in the jar.
  • ATTENTION: Make sure you get the RIGHT fluid, LHM (green) or DOT (red/brown).
  • Start with the brake cylinder furthest away (longest brakeline) from the master cylinder (right rear on LHD).
  • While performing this operation, keep checking the level in the brake fluid reservoir.
  • The reservoir may never go empty or you'll have to start all over again.
  • Put the rubber over the nipple and the other end of the hose in the jar, under fluid level.
  • Press the brake pedal to pressurize the system (and keep pressed).
    1. Undo the nipple just enough for the fluid to start to flow.
    2. When the pedal is all the way down, close the nipple.
    3. Let the pedal rise, fluid goes out of the reservoir.
    4. Press the pedal to pressurize the system
  • Repeat these steps until no bubbles come out any more.
  • Then progress to the next brake cylinder, working your way towards the master cylinder.
  • At all time keep an eye on the fluid level in the reservoir.
  • Do not put back the fluid from the jar in the system.
  • Especially on the DOT systems do this every 2 years, using at least 0.5liters of new fluid.
  • The DOT system soaks up water in the brake fluid, rusting brake cylinders and pipes, so the fluid has to be changed regularly.

Adjusting drum brakes (front and rear)

  • Adjusting the rear drums is easier with the wheels removed.
  • Turn the drum/wheel.
  • Free up both adjusters until the drums spins freely.
  • Facing the drum, to free up the left adjuster turn clockwise.
  • Facing the drum, to free up the right adjuster turn anti-clockwise.
  • We start with the left adjuster.
  • Turn the drum anti-clockwise and keep it turning.
  • Turn the adjuster anti-clockwise until you hear the brake shoe touching the drum.
  • Turn the adjuster clockwise until the drum is completely free again.
  • Turn the adjuster anti-clockwise until you are at the edge of the brake shoe touching the drum.
  • If you went to far, redo it again completely.
  • Whatever you do, the last adjustment should be anti-clockwise.
  • The right adjuster.
  • Turn the drum clockwise and keep it turning.
  • Turn the adjuster clockwise until you hear the brake shoe touching the drum.
  • Turn the adjuster anti-clockwise until the drum is completely free again.
  • Turn the adjuster clockwise until you are at the edge of the brake shoe touching the drum.
  • If you went to far, redo it again completely.
  • Whatever you do, the last adjustment should be clockwise.
  • When new brake shoes have been fitted, this operation should be repeated after 100km.

Adjusting the handbrake, drums front.

  • Put the car on a jack.
  • Release the handbrake fully.
  • Check that the wheels spinning fully free (after giving a swing, the should run on quite a bit).
  • Adjust the brakes as described above.
  • Put the handbrake on the 3rd click.
  • Turn each wheel.
  • You should be able to turn the wheels but with considerable effort.
  • Adjust by tightening or loosening the wing nuts on the handbrake cables.
  • These can be really stuck, use plenty of penetrating oil or some heat from a small torch.
  • Most important is that both wheels are exactly equally tight.
  • Undo the handbrake fully.
  • Check that both wheels run freely.
  • If this is not the case, reset the handbrake using the 4th click.

Adjusting the handbrake, discs front.

  • Put the car on a jack (both front wheels of the ground)
  • Release the handbrake fully.
  • Remove heater hoses and air filter.
  • Remove front wings if needed/convenient.
  • Undo the nuts(11mm) on the handbrake cables.
  • Undo the bolts(14mm) securing the excenters.
  • Turn the excenter(24mm), this can be done with adjustable pliers.
  • Standing in front of the car, the excenter on the right caliper half is turned anti-clockwise.
  • Standing in front of the car, the excenter on the left caliper half is turned clockwise.
  • Adjust the excenters in such a manner that there is 3-5mm of play between the small lever and it's resting notch on the caliper.
  • This play is measured by pushing the lever of the notch with a screwdriver until it touches the brakepad and the brake pad touches the disc (a lot of force for pushing).
  • Make sure all 4 levers have the same amount of play.
  • Tighten the excenter securing nuts(14mm) without turning the excenters.
  • Hold the excenters with the pliers to achieve this.
  • Tighten the nuts(11mm) on the handbrake cable.
  • Pull on the cable and turn the nuts up to the caliper, not more!
  • Pull and release the handbrake a few times.
  • Check that the wheels turn freely with the handbrake off.
  • Put the handbrake on the 3rd click.
  • The handbrake should be slightly braking the wheels.
  • Check that both wheels are the same.
  • On the 4th click the wheel shouldn't turn.
  • If this is not the case, release then nuts on the handbrake cable and check the play.
  • Reduce or increase the play (withing 3-5mm) as required.
  • Make sure all 4 levers are the same!
  • With this method the car will even stand the hand brake test on the brake testing machine.


Trouble shooting

Starting or running troubles:

90% of the cases has to do with the ignition. Most of the time the timing is wrong or the points and or capacitor are bad.

The following parts should be in perfect condition:

  • Points and capacitor (ignition timing)
  • Sparkplugs
  • High tension leads (cables to the sparkplugs)
  • Battery
With all these parts replaced any A-type should be a reliable starter at any time during any season.

What to check when the car won't start:

  • Check if there is a spark:
    • Take off a plug lead.
    • Put an old plug in the lead.
    • Hold the lip of the plug onto something steel on the engine (manifold).
    • Have someone start the engine (only a few turns of the engine).
    • Check if you see a spark at the plug.
    • No spark means: loose connection (coil), broken coil, points don't open,
  • Check if there is fuel:
    • Remove rubber elbow between air filter and carb.
    • Operate accelerator (on the side of the carb).
    • Fuel should be spraying into the carb.
    • If not, pull fuel hose from carb.
    • Point hose away from engine.
    • Have someone start the car (only a few turns of the engine).
    • Fuel should gush out of the hose.
    • No fuel from hose: tank empty, fuel line blocked (tank pickup), fuel pump broken/leaking.
    • Fuel from hose: carburetor problem (blocked needle valve or jets).
    • See the fuel system section for further info.
  • If you have a spark and fuel, there a number of possibilities:
    • The ignition timing is badly adjusted.
    • The battery is dying. The engine will turn over but not start. There is just enough power for the starter but not for a decent spark as well.
  • Push start and it will run, if not, the ignition timing is wrong.
The engine will start but hickup (especially when revving) and not have much power (stall when trying to drive away).
  • Either coil or capacitor fault.
  • Typical of coil fault is that the car runs ok when cold but not when hot.
  • Capacitor is a bit more difficult.
  • Get another capacitor (used spare for example!)
  • Bend the eye on the wire so that the eye looks oval and slide it over the - connection on the coil (with the wire going to the points connected to it)
  • Clamp the metal end under the rods running over the oil filler lid with the oil filler lid is open, then close the lid.
  • Start the engine.
  • If there is a big improvement the capacitor is broken.
  • You need to replace the capacitor but this temporary setup will get you home or to a garage.

Sticking brakes:

  • Check which brakes are sticking.
  • This is done by driving the car (be carefull).
  • As soon as the brakes are sticking jack up the car and check which wheels are moving freely and which aren't.
  • Usually, the wheel that is sticking will have a much hotter drum / caliper then the others
  • Sticking disc brakes means rebuilting BOTH calipers.
  • When the rear brakes are rebuilt always replace the brake shoes on BOTH wheels if one needs replacing.
  • Sticking brakes on all wheels means rebuilting or replacing the master cylinder.
  • Before doing this make sure there is some play on the rod operating the master cylinder.
  • The rod shouldn't be tight fitting, the length of the rod is adjustable.


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