January - December 2013
The first few days of 2013 saw Bess's sills given a brush-up with
thin coats of the correct colour from Halfords and then a quick
wash with very much thinned Citroen Fijian Blue which gives an
awesome match to the existing paintwork on the rest of the car.
The Fijian blue needs a second brush-over to achieve its full
potential since it looks a bit streaky at the moment with some of
the underseal leaching through, but I am sure that another wash of
slightly thinned paint will look a bit better (famous last...).
Maybe a quick skim over with an aerosol of laquer will help later
The following weekend of Jan 2013 and a bash at hand-painting the
sills gives flawed a result, even with thin washes, so I decide to
do a judicious spray-over with an aerosol of Fijian blue (I keep
saying that)... just a light spray with minimal masking of
surrounding areas. Chancy, but the results look pretty OK, in my
unbiassed opinion so the car is returned to everyday use on the
road.... it was a teabag only three weeks ago, but now just look
at its magnificent provenance.
Mid-January 2013 and Blue Bess is firmly back in use as routine
transport to the wild, wicked, wet and wintery woods.
Late Jan 2013 and snow brings more fun in the wilds.
Now in late spring (end of May 2013) and groovy things are
happening. I finally take delivery of a new, deep electric blue
1.7 GL made in 1991. One of the last few thousand to be made, in
fact it was registered 3 months after 340 production ceased, so
perhaps this could be called a 'murdered-out' model. This one will
be worked on while the main Blue Bess is used as regular
This one is pretty good apart from rust around the rear nearside
wheel arch, the front valance and the front offside wheel arch.
There's a bit of a ding on the rear bumper but its hardly worth
The interior trim is all pretty good and just needs a clean-out
which starts in the boot and rear passenger compartment.
Cleaning-up around the rear hatch (why do my restorations always
start with the boot?) shows the floor to be rust-free and the
interior of the boot is pretty free from knocks and scratches.
There is a nice thick boot mat, too, which I've not seen before.
Engine-wise this car seems to be OK too, so fingers crossed that
at a mileage of 58k, it might be alright for a bit.
A couple of minor faults show up on the first look around, namely
a broken rear, offside inner door handle and the buttons for the
electric mirrors are missing. The said mirrors only partly work
and the electric window motors are a bit wonky, too, but they will
be tackled in due course.
Early June 2013 has seen the rear driver's side interior door
handle fixed and the electric mirrors have been given a generous
spray of oil to free them up. With a bit of encouragement, to my
amazement, they all seem to work OK and even the little knobs that
had fallen off the switches on the transmission tunnel were found
hiding under the carpets and under the seats, etc.
There's something looking very dodgy about this passenger side
electric window motor and that's because I have partly dismantled
it to refill the gearbox with grease and to spray WD40 into the
motor itself. The motor has come back to life very well indeed,
again to my surprise, so it may just be a case of putting it all
back together again, which is proving to be a little harder than
expected, as usual.
Its now mid-June 2013 and what has been going on? Well, it looks
as though the electric motor for the front passenger window has
been fixed by removing it, dismantling it and cleaning the
commutator as well as greasing it all up and putting it back
together again, with some waxoyl in the door-bottom.
Indeed a few tests show that the electric window is now working
fine, albeit a bit noisily. The front passenger side footwell has
also been brushed-out and the trim given a general polish up.
Late June 2013 has seen the electric window motor in driver's door
removed, cleaned out, re-greased and refitted. It seems to be
working quietly and well, so hopefully it will be OK for a while.
The inner plastic seal for this door was missing so a home-made
one had to be cut to shape and stuck in place with white blu-tack!
Not ideal but anything to keep the wet and drafts out should help!
The reassembled door trim all looks fine as shown below where
everything bar the door-pull can be seen gleaming.
The weekend right at the very end of June 2013 was spent sorting
out the broken mounting for the steering coloumn switches (wipers
and indicators, etc). The old one was removed and one that I had
repaired with Araldite (the godess of glue) a few years ago was
slotted into place and the switches were fitted back onto it. The
radio was decoded (for my own reference its 0347).
I'm going to have a go at changing the passenger side electric
window motor again because it clearly judders too much when in use
so I think a cleaned-up second hand jobbie will be better.
Meanwhile, the Summer sunshine is picking up quite well.
Its early July 2013 and the passenger side front door has been
reassembled with a cleaned-out electric window motor from the
original Blue Bess which works more quietly than the original one.
This just about wraps-up the work on the interior and so efforts
move to the rear brakes which need some semi-major work on freeing
off the drums, cleaning them out, greasing the back-plates and
subsequent reassembly. This has been done for the driver's side
rear wheel. There's not too much rust under the car in this area,
although the rear shock absorbers look a bit dodgy and should be
The left-hand piccy serves to demonstrate some of the rust around
the wheel arches but its never as bad as it looks, honest.
The weekend around the middle of July 2013 has seen the car turned
around which established that the brakes are no longer binding.
Nevertheless the rear of the car was jacked-up onto axle stands
and the passenger side rear brakes cleaned out.
A bit of a look around the underside at the rear of the car shows
some light rust here and there with the exhaust pipe probably
being on its last legs, but I will leave it for the time being.
The brake pipes look pretty OK - all of which is not bad given
that this car is from a hard place up north, Hull!
Anyhow, the rear underside is given a dose of waxoyl which makes
it all look a bit slippery and greasy but hopefully it will help
keep the tin worm at bay for a bit. The differential oil has also
been topped up, too, and the cover plate bolts re-tightened to try
to stop a slight leak.
Must get some new O-rings for the exhaust pipe! Indeed, this has
We soldier on into late July 2013 and the rear shock absorbers are
almost removed, bar sawing away at the old rubber bushes. The new
shocks arrive and a couple of nyloc nuts (of the right thread!)
are sourced for these. The gearbox filler plug has been removed
and the gearbox found to contain plenty of oil which is good news
and things will be left as they are in this area (or volume) bar
the filler plug which was majorly knackered upon its removal with
an Irwin type of bolt-gripper! However, a new plug has been
sourced from Skandix!
The weekends up to the end of July 2013 and early Aug have seen
the new rear shock absorbers fitted and torqued up.
The gear box filler plug has been replaced and a general
look-around underneath the rear shows most things to be OK.
Efforts to adjust the handbrake showed that one of the rear wheels
(offside) was binding still so more effort will be required before
the car is mobile again. I am thinking that it might be a ridge in
the drum so I will try to smooth it off with a Dremel, asap and
Inspired by the registration plate, I finally commit myself to
calling this motor Blue Jess after many strenuous and rigorous
efforts to decide on a decent and respectable name. Indeed, lively
works are in progress to resolve the irremediable rear brake which
jams and refuses to let go. Use of a Dremel to remove the small
ridge that had developed on the outer rim did not lead to any
satisfaction or indeed resolution of the problem. A closer look at
the said brake and a bit of dismantling shows that that there is a
lever type of mechanism behind the shoes which appears to have
jammed so this issuette will have to be tackled asap.
The lever type-of-thing that was sticking was eventually hammered
back into a flexible state and removed to allow a generous amount
of oil and copper-grease to be applied. Everything was then
re-assembled back on the car and it seems to be working fine now,
so the handbrake was finally adjusted.
However, during the above efforts to free-up the rear brake
mechanism, a lot of brake fluid leaked out of the system and so
the brakes will have to be bled through. To try and do this all in
one go, the front of the car was also raised up on blocks and
efforts were made to remove the front bleed nipples, which is
where, inevitably, things have stalled slightly due to
difficulties in removing said items from the callipers. I am
desperate to do it without breaking them.
Anyhow, what is clear is that the sills of the car are not too bad
rust-wise, but there is a fair amount of surface rust on the
suspension components which will have to be wire-brushed off and
painted with waxoyl, while the efforts to remove the bleed nipples
have stalled somewhat, although they have been given plenty of
penetrating oil and a bash or two with a hammer to shake them up a
Work resumes on the brake bleed nipples by procurement of a set of
small, long-reach sockets which allows one of the nipples to be
removed. However the other refuses to budge and has to be sawn-off
at the top and its hexagonal part filed back to give it a neat
cross-section. Hammering on a smaller socket as tightly as
possible finally allows it to be removed so that two new nipples
can now be fitted, proud and erect, in their rightful places, as
shown for the off-side front. This finally allows the whole
braking system to be bled with new fluid.
Towards the end of August 2013 efforts are made to paint up the
middle section of the underside and the front suspension
components with a mixtures of waxoyl and black underseal which
seems to go OK, apart from the fact that it shows up some scary
rust under both of the front wheel arches.
This rust seems to go right through to the under-wing area and box
section, as well as the bonnet and bulkhead. All wicked work for a
welder at some stage in the future.
Late August / early Sept 2013 and with the majority of the easy
stuff done to the underside its time to get the car back on its
wheels and scope out the future plans. Remember this is a car that
looks nice from some directions but not others.
Nedless to say, it will all be sorted out one day. In the meantime
its time to get on with some minimal servicing-type of jobs under
the bonnet and hence the plugs are given a clean-up which revealed
a fairly significant oil leak from the rocker cover gasket. A new
gasket was ordered and the dizzy cap was given a clean-out after
much-time was spent trying to remove it. To avoid that particular
problem again, the inaccessible round-topped screws on the cap
have been replaced with hexagonal-headed bolts.
Efforts are then made to replace the cam-belt using the wicked
trick of slitting the old one around the perimeter and pulling the
outer part off while leaving the inner bit in place to keep the
setup correct. So far so good till my foolishly bad attempts at
fitting a new belt result in it being damaged so yet another new
one has to be ordered. My mistake was to not loosen off the top
tensioner (the one with the very big nut on it, trying to say
something) while winding the new belt on by moving the car in
gear. The alternator belt will also be replaced since it was
pretty well cracked on the underside.
After all this, I must remember to fit the new belt with the arrow
pointing the right way (as shown from the top, driver's side),
when it arrives. All the hoses and the radiator look pretty good,
as one might hope for a 58k car, indeed almost the same mileage as
the dreadful Escort, purchased in 1988, when this whole story
began (see main page).
After much fiddling about with the tensioners during a few days in
early Sept 2013 when my head was under a permanent storm cloud,
the new belt still defies my efforts to fit it. However in mid
Sept when everything is lined up as per Haynes manual - sprocket
marks are pointing the right way and aligned with white marks on
the belt, arrows are pointing the right way and the number one
cylinder at TDC, finally the belt slips over the idler with the
help of a plastic aerosal can lid, cut in half. Perhaps now we can
get on with the rest of this job and put everything back together
Cursed are they who live in interesting times because on getting
it all back together and running the engine it all sounded a bit
like one of the pulleys (which I had not replaced) was graunching
a bit. Hence it all had to come off again and a new pair of
Anyhow, finally getting it all back together with new tensioners
at the end of September 2013 revealed that there was only a slight
reduction in the graunching sound so I convince myself that it is
perfectly normal and that everything will be OK. I think it will!
Hence, attention moves on to cleaning out the carburettor and
generally re-connecting all of the vacuum hoses around the carb
and dizzy correctly so that the heater does not blow vaporised
engine oil into the passenger compartment.
Early October 2013 and attention turns to the leaky expansion tank
and associated bits and bobs around the battery compartment where
there is some rust that will be removed with a few doses of pink
jelly and eventually painted over.
Plenty of cleaning-out work on the expansion tank and the very
olefactory screen-wash tank seems to have brought them up nicely
and, after a few scrapings around the battery shelf, a dose of
zinc primer was brushed on. Hoping to get the right paint for this
car (paint code 232-6) or a very close match. The carby was given
a few more doses of spray-on cleaner, inside and out.
Mid-October 2013 has seen the battery tray sprayed-up reasonably
sadisfactorily with a colour-matched aerosol and given a bit of a
colour-cut blue-type of polish. The plastic water tanks have been
cleaned-out and/or replaced, etc, so its all looking pretty groovy
on the battery-side of the engine bay and everything seems to
A quick update on events up to late'ish October 2013 which have
seen the front wings removed, revealing a fair old dose of rust.
The rust on the inner wings is relatively light and has been given
a dose of pink jelly to nibble away at it. Meanwhile, the wings
themselves, which are pretty dodgy around the arch and
lower-regions, have been taken to a welder who says they are
irrepairable but if I can get some wings with decent bottoms, he
will cut them off and use them to repair the ones off from my car.
This might just work out since I want to keep as much of the
The front panel turns out to have some holes in it, too, which
will need a bit of repairing on both sides.
I am cautiously optimistic that it is all relatively not too bad,
although it is pretty terrible.
Late Oct 13 and a Saturday morning is spent travelling around
deepest south-London to track down someone who has a decent
collection of Volvo 340 wings. Eventually the place is found and
it transpires the said collection resides in a railway arch. This
surely is an awesome and wicked cave of parts and the bloke has
even installed a wooden second-floor (which I was not allowed to
see) using scaffolding poles. After much rummaging around
upstairs, he produced two silver-grey wings with decent bottoms
and pretty decent everything else. These will be used as donors
for the wheel arch and lower sections, unless I change my mind.
The rest of my spare time that weekend is spent rubbing down and
undercoating the front inner wing rust, and a start is made at
removing the rear bumper.
A bit of time in late Oct / early Nov 2013 is spent removing the
rear bumper - as I found with Blue Bess, this particular process
is quite a trial of endurance since the bolts seem have really
tight-fitting threads and just turning the nut, even when it is
loose, is a fairly big effort. One of them had to be
Dremelled-off, but the others were not too bad.
Anyhow, as can be seen this reveals that the rear valance is
relatively wonky with rust which has gone right through to the
side-light cavity one one side, but then again it is not too bad.
So what are we going to do? Well, how's about giving it a
wire-brushing and then painting it bright pink so the welder won't
miss any of it?? It'll cheer him up.
Another mid-November weekend is spent fitting the front wings back
on after giving the wicked and evil rusty patches in the
wheel-arches a dose of pink paint to highlight them nicely for the
Finally, the front bumper was fitted again after a bit more
highlighting around the front panel area.
All that's left to be done is to refit the steering wheel and
remove some of the interior trim close to the bulkhead so that the
welder can (hopefully) repair some of the many holes in that area.
Yet another mid-November weekend is spent re-fitting the steering
wheel and generally removing trim bits under the dashboard so that
the welder can give it all a thorough bash around there.
As can be seen, its all clicking- and hanging-together pretty well
and the engine runs relatively reliably so I am hoping the welder
does not say "bin it" as so many have done before. A few repair
panels were put on the back seat together with the 'new' front
wings so he can use them around the wheel arches, etc.
Anyhow, the car is booked in for an early December trip to the
welding/MOT type of place. Awesome.
Meanwhile, getting towards late Nov 2013, work continues on the
plastic under-engine tray which is quite badly cracked. This has
been a lesson in what not to do because an attempt to repair it
with fibre-glass has been a complete flop - the fibreglass just
won't stick, even after a pretty thorugh de-greasing job on the
tray itself. I think it'll have to be fixed with re-inforced duct
tape, which shouldn't be too bad. Tres bien.
In the end I managed to get an OK repair to the tray by using bumper-repair filler mixed with fibreglass which stuck much better!
So what's next?