Flying DS Doctor

We had a bit of an unusual call out this week.

A long time customer of ours in Irvine, Scotland was having problems with his DS23. The engine wouldn’t run properly and the semi auto gear shift kept stalling the car, which then would not restart easily. The gentleman, we’ll call him Hugh because that’s his name,  had tried unsuccessfully to find someone (anyone!) reasonably local who knew enough about DS carburettors and the semi-auto set up to help him out. He even had someone who supposedly knew all about them travel over from Edinburgh, only to find that when they arrived, they appeared to have forgotten what they thought they knew! We’d been helping out with diagnosing and advising over the phone and by email, but he was going around in circles and getting nowhere (apart from maybe closer to the looney bin!), so I offered to fly up for the day and sort the car out for him.

This resulted in me being at Heathrow airport at 6am on Tuesday morning, boarding a flight to Glasgow with my tools in a bag. Arriving at Glasgow an hour and 20 minutes later I picked up a hire car and drove the 40 mins  to Hugh’s place in Irvine.  After a quick discussion about the symptoms over a cup of coffee (the first of many that day), I set about checking over the carburettor.

Certainly the float height was about 3mm too high – it always amazes me as to how they get that far out. It doesn’t seem to be wear and judging by the crud on the outside of the carburettor, nobody had seen the inside of it for years. The rest of the carby checked out OK. One of the problems was constant fouling of the spark plugs and I’m not surprised, as that float height would have been causing the fuel to be going into the engine in bucket loads! After reassembling the carburettor, fitting new spark plugs and resetting the ignition timing, the engine ran surprisingly well and once up to temperature the slow idle responded well to adjustment.

A drive around the block showed that the semi-auto clutch and gear change controls needed setting up from scratch, which I duly did and when Hugh took it for a drive, he said it had never run or driven that well in his ownership. The test drive also showed an indicator not working and a headlamp out, both of which I fixed whilst I was at it.

The car also needs the roof off and cant rail repaired as well as a pair of engine mounts, but those jobs will have to wait for another day…..

It must be said that the majority of this was happening on Hugh’s driveway in between (and sometimes during) horizontal rain showers and a bitingly cold wind. I think they call that “summer” in Scotland……

Whilst there, another Citroen DS owner by the name of James called in for a visit. He was from just down the road in Kilmarnock,  had recently bought his DS and is in the process of restoring it. He wanted to meet me and have me cast an experienced eye over his car, which he did and I did. I pointed out a few things that needed attention, but otherwise it was quite a tidy job, slightly customised to his taste and should serve him well.  One anomaly was that it appeared to be a 1970 D Super, but with the identity and engine from a 1968 DS19. The RHD 4 speed manual car came from Australia via The Netherlands, so  what happened when and why to cause it to end up in that spec will never be known.

As darkness fell, there was just time for one more cup of coffee and another chokkie bikkie before I drove back to Glasgow, returned the hire car and boarded the flight back to Heathrow. I finally made it home at 10.30pm after  a strange but enjoyable day.

Now, I really must see if that customer in the Maldives needs a hand with his DS…..

Hugh with his Slough built ID19 and French built DS23




2 Comments on “Flying DS Doctor”

  1. Andrew Stubbs says:

    I have a DS that is giving me quite a bit of grief and I wondered who the flying DS doctor is and whether he fancied another trip north of the border? Please get in touch !

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