Nice engine, no brakes - Faine 445

By: Jon Faine

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engine engine

Jon reckons the combo of a healthy engine and no brakes will be character-building


Home detention

The 1926 B2 Citroen ‘Caddy’ Replica is moving along. The covid lockdown induced rate of progress is alarming and probably happening at a faster rate than the actual car will ever go. I have recently been filling in the home detention time fettling the engine in readiness for it to be re-introduced to the chassis.

The cast block motor with detachable head and aluminium crankcase is a four cylinder 10 horsepower side valve lump, designed to propel the jalopy at a princely expected top speed of about 60-70km/h. Since the brakes are next to useless, this is reckless and possibly dangerous. So naturally I want it to go even faster.

The wooden frame metal clad body that I am making will be a lot lighter than the typical coach built saloon of the era. My boat-tail two seater (plus pointless inaccessible dicky seat) ought to come in at about half the weight of the usual four door and five or six seater accommodation. No un-aerodynamic hood or heavy running boards, the steel mudguards replaced with lightweight butterfly wings instead - it all will help make for a better power to weight ratio.

I might even reach a top speed of 75 or 80km/h! Terrifying.

| Read next: Polishing the 1926 Citroen chassis


During my stewardship, the motor has been seen to be running. Ten years ago, when I purchased the B2 on Ebay as an abandoned project, the vendor knew little of its history. He advertised it as a 5CV, the smaller sibling of a B2. It had no body at all from the firewall back, as it had been converted to a farm hack. I figured that if the seller did not even know which model of car he was selling, he did not know much that was helpful to its restoration.

Incidentally, the 5CV – or Baby Citroen – has a unique role in Australian motoring history. A 5CV Citroen was the first motor car ever to circumnavigate this continent, and the actual car that did it is in the National Museum in Canberra. The B2 was Citroen’s next offering, with a bigger chassis, better suspension, a more powerful motor and popular for import in running chassis form.

Citroen was also an early adopter of the novel idea of a "self- starter" which meant the B2 was a practical offering in the booming market for new fangled contraptions in the post Great War years.

The obliging seller of my car had a dream of restoring it in partnership with his brother -in-law. When the brother-in-law became an ex brother-in-law and divorced his sister, the B2 sat in storage for years, but had already been the beneficiary of some significant work. I was told that the motor had been overhauled, at a cost of $3000 which was a lot to spend ten or more years ago. I have no idea what was done for all that money, other than "the motor was done up". With help from the car club, the test starting of the motor was a short lived affair. The absence of any muffler and functioning radiator was a small problem, but it certainly made the right sort of banging noises. I have no intention of ripping it all apart unless I need to.


So now I am about to confidently re-install the motor into the nearly finished chassis. It has given me the opportunity to play dress ups with the motor and to tart it up without having to worry about the insides.

First job was to try to replace the damaged timing gear cover. The aluminium on a spare polished up nicely and once the studs were replaced the only problem was easing the broken one off the crankcase. A combination of levers, lubricants, gear pullers and swearing did the trick but it took half a Saturday. The all important and hard to replace cork gasket was preserved.

Then the brass carbie was dismantled, cleaned out, buffed and polished and all the moving bits rebushed and treated to new fibre washers. All the linkages were polished and painted, threads restored and new nuts and washers all around. Calibration will have to await a test start later in the process.

Some heat resistant paint, new spark plugs, more polishing of the grotty alloy fan and brass water outlet, more scraping on every surface and removable part – and hooray, a pretty little motor emerges that might even make the car move one day soon.


From Unique Cars #445, Oct 2020

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