How to adjust SEV Marchal cassette points

In the 1970’s French company S.E.V. Marchal brought out a new type of ignition with the traditional points built into a cassette. This made removal and fitting must faster and easier, but you could no longer set the points gap with a feeler gauge. A dwell meter must be used instead. Most garages would have had a dwell meter for accurate setting of standard points so this would not have been a problem, however for the DIY owner used to setting points with a feeler gauge (or “eyecrometer”) it posed a problem. From the enquiries we’ve getting, it seems this still poses a problem, even for professional garages. Many garages now do not even have staff who know how a traditional points based ignition system works, let alone have equipment for checking and setting the system. And it’s not really surprising seeing as most vehicle manufacturers had changed over to electronic ignition systems by the early 1980’s.

Just as modern vehicle technology has rendered most DIY vehicle maintenance obsolete or impossible on today’s cars, the modern garage can no longer properly cater for vehicles made before 1980. This is where specialist garages like us are invaluable. We know how your car works and how to repair / adjust and service it using the correct parts and grades of oil. We can also help DIY owners and modern garages with information about maintaining the older vehicle, the information sheet below on how to set cassette points being case in point, if you’ll pardon the pun.

Instruction sheet : SEV Cassette points

BUY Cassette points


SEV Marchal cassette points


BUY condenser for cassette points


Condenser for cassette points

Citroen DS oil filter assembly

Have you seen our oil filter set and wondered where all the bits go?

The set consists of the oil filter, 2 x O rings, the cover plate gasket, copper washer for the filter bolt and a sealing washer for the oil drain plug.

Here is a video showing where all the bits go, apart from the drain plug washer which is pretty obvious!

Below is the workshop manual page from the end of the video for your reference.

D Oil filter replacement

Gorilla Snot

We recently had a Citroen DS23 in the workshop for a number of jobs, one of which involved checking the oil filter bits were all intact as the previous service had been carried out by a local garage, rather than a specialist.

Luckily the oil filter bits were all present and correct, but when I was cleaning the bits to put back in, I discovered something very worrying. The gauze pre-filter that the oil passes through before entering the paper filter was almost completely blocked up with stringy, rubbery bits.

It turns out that when the garage fitted the new filter they had a problem with the cover plate gasket leaking. Their solution was to remove the plate and gasket and apply excessive amounts of “gorilla snot”, otherwise known as silicone sealer, RTV, instant gasket etc. to both sides of the gasket and refit. This stopped the leak all right but when they did up the plate, the excess sealant squeezed out of the joint. What squeezed out to the outside they would have wiped away, but what happens to the stuff that squeezes out into the engine? In use it breaks off and is carried around in the oil until it lodges somewhere, usually restricting or blocking the oil flow, which is what happened here. This is why this type of sealer should NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, EVER be used on an engine unless the engine has been specifically designed for it. Many modern engines have a groove which you put this type of sealant into rather than using a gasket, but our classic engines are not like this.

Any good automotive engineer will tell you this and I do not even have any of this sealant in the workshop. It’s not necessary and it is dangerous when misused.

Leaks from the oil filter cover plate are usually caused by distortion of the plate around the bolt holes. When it is tightened up the bolts pull the part of the plate by the holes closer to the sump. When the plate is off, it should be placed on a solid flat surface and tapped back flat with a medium sized hammer. Once clean and flat, a minimal amount of your chosen gasket sealant (not silicone!!!!) should be applied to the plate and the gasket pressed into place. We prefer using a good quality non-setting gasket sealant like Hylomar Universal Blue, and even then, very sparingly. Make sure the sump face is clean and dry, all traces of old gaskets or sealant having been removed, then smear grease on the face of the gasket that sits against the sump and bolt it on. Do not over tighten the bolts which all should have shake proof washers fitted.

Doing it this way, I’ve never had a sump plate leak and it is easy to disassemble the joint next time you need to change the filter. Using Gorilla Snot is not necessary and is likely to wreck your engine if misused! You have been warned…..



Setting valve clearances (tappets) on Citroen DS and ID

These instructions are for the short stroke engine (post 1966) but the procedure is the same for the earlier models, only the settings differ.

(For the pre 1966 long stroke engine the valve clearances must be set with the engine cold and should be 0.2mm (.008”) on the inlet valves and 0.25mm (.010”) on the exhaust valves.)

Before you start you may wish to have a new rocker cover gasket and set of spark plug tube seals to hand as these can go hard with age and if so, will leak when refitted. It is bad practice and a bit of a bodge to use sealant on these gaskets.


Firstly it is recommended that the valve clearances (tappets) are set when the engine is warm, except on fuel injected engines when they should be set cold. Carburettor fed  engines can be set cold too, if necessary, and both settings are provided below.

With engine warm, set clearances to 0.2mm (.008”) on the inlet valves and 0.25mm (.010”) on the exhaust valves.

 With the engine cold, set clearances to 0.15mm (.006”) on the inlet valves and 0.2mm (.008”) on the exhaust valves.

  1. Turn the engine using the crank handle or by jacking up one front wheel and supporting it securely, putting the car in top gear and then turning the wheel forward to turn the engine. Always turn the engine in the normal direction of rotation (clockwise when viewed from the front). You can remove the spark plugs if you wish to make it easier to turn the engine. Turn the engine until number 1 exhaust valve is fully open (all the way down but not starting to come up again).
  2. You are now ready to adjust the valve clearances on inlet valve number 3 and exhaust valve number 4. To adjust the clearance, loosen the lock nut and slide your feeler gauge of the appropriate thickness between the top of the valve and the rocker arm. Adjust the screw until the feeler gauge blade is a firm sliding fit in the gap, then tighten the lock nut whilst holding the screw to stop it moving.
  3. Once the nut is tight, recheck the clearance.
  4.  Repeat procedure for the next valve. Once you have done both valves, turn the engine until number 3 exhaust valve is fully open and set the clearances on Inlet number 4 and exhaust number 2.
  5. Once you have done both those valves, turn engine until number 4 exhaust valve is fully open and set the clearances on Inlet number 2 and exhaust number 1.
  6. Once you have done both those valves, turn engine until number 2 exhaust valve is fully open and set the clearances on Inlet number 1 and exhaust number 3

The job is now done and you can refit the rocker cover and spark plugs and put the car back on its wheels if you jacked it up earlier.

setting valve clearances

Valve gear on a Citroen D model engine, 1966>

Caution! Losing a part when changing oil filter may mean an engine rebuild!

I have seen too many of these mistakes now that I feel compelled to warn anyone who changes their own Citroen DS or ID oil and filter about it.

There is a part which the oil filter sits on, a kind of stepped washer, which can stick to the oil filter cartridge and be unknowingly discarded with it. When this happens, the new oil filter is not clamped into place properly when assembly is refitted into the oil pump. Although not correct, this in itself will not cause any problem as the oil pump still works and oil pressure can be maintained, it’s just that the oil will bypass the filter and therefore not be filtered before being distributed around the engine.

The problem arises because the oil filter cartridge has a thin gasket glued to either end and when the filter is not clamped into place, the upper gasket is free to come unstuck and work its way into the oil pump. The wayward gasket can severely restrict, and even completely block the oil pump inlet which starves the engine of oil and this eventually results in a nasty rattling sound and an engine rebuild.

I have found a number of filters like this recently, some with 2 or 3 oil filter cartridge gaskets stuck in the pump which indicate it has been that way for that many filter changes. Only luck has prevented these from blocking the oil pump enough to starve the engine of oil, however so far only two have had their luck run out and the engine has been starved of oil enough to wreck the bearings, but not turn the pressure warning light on.

This mistake is usually made by DIYers who did not know the part was missing, or even supposed to be there, and this is understandable, but unfortunately, some of these cars I know to have had relatively recent servicing by other “professionals” who ought to have known better. Hopefully this article will serve to warn others who may otherwise make the same mistake in ignorance. Use the parts book diagram below to check that you have all the parts intact prior to reassembly. Item 23, which the oil filter sits on, is the part which is often lost.

Citroen DS oil pump components

Parts book page for Citroen DS oil pump and oil filter

When changing the engine oil and filter you will need the following parts: Oil filter(item 21), gasket for oil filter cover plate and a new drain plug washer. Parts you may also need are the large O ring (item 35) and small O ring (item 34), depending on the condition of yours. These O rings often go hard with age and break, so if you need all parts, they are also sold as a kit.