Work began on removing the suspension from the chassis. A few difficulties were encountered now!
|The central suspension units before dismantling.|
The first job was to remove the dampers. Note that the front of the front damper comes off with the plate at the end of the axle - it looks awkward but proves to be no problem - three bolts each side. Removing the dampers from their mountings is more difficult, because the metal inserts inside the rubber bushes will almost certainly be seized to the mounting bolts. Remove the nuts from the damper mountings. A ball-joint separator was useful to drive down behind the end of the damper and separate it from its mounting (stub) bolt. At this point we were tempted to cut the whole thing apart and fit new dampers. If you don't intend to do that you will find that the rubber bush will come away from the inner metal bush. The latter gets left on the stub bolt, but is of a split construction, so the split can be opened up slightly with a cold chisel and Plus-Gas applied. Without too much difficulty the bush can be turned and then pulled off the bolt. It can be pressed back into the rubber bush using a vice, lubrcating it with old brake fluid.
|A ball joint separator helps to remove the seized damper bushes.|
The ends of the suspension rods were now removed from the knife edges. The spring clips were removed from each end of the knife edges, a bit of Plus-Gas applied and the knife edges driven out - not too difficult.
The tricky bit comes next. At each end of the suspension cylinder are large threaded cylinders, with large nuts at each end. Refer to the Haynes manual - although it is not too clear in some respects, as you will see. The nuts were very difficult to remove. I had heard about this, so I had bought a set of new ones. A very silly price - about £20 for eight from the Citroën agent. I found out later that Cit-Bits in Bristol sell good salvaged ones for 50p each! If you have new or salvaged replacements you can set out to cut the old ones off. Since you care changing the chassis you can also cut into the mounting cylinders. This is what we did, and an angle grinder proved indispensable.
|The old suspension mountings cut apart.|
It was necessary to remove the ends of the tie rods, since the old (and therefore also the new) nuts won't go over the eyes. This involved unscrewing the rod at the adjustment point. It was hard to get these started, and a bit of heat from the blow-torch and copious Plus-Gas was needed, but once the thread was broken the rest came away quite easily. The rods screw into a blind hole and I suppose the corrosion doesn't get a chance to penetrate. Take care with the exposed section of the thread since it is possible that height adjustment on the new chassis will necessitate the use of this length of thread. They were badly corroded and I cleaned them up with a fine knife-edged file, but they were far from perfect.
Even after cutting off the nuts and removing the tie-rod ends there was still a problem. Having cut up the mounting brackets it was possible to remove the whole assembly, but to put it back onto the new chassis the front screwed adjusting cylinder has to be freed from the large metal-backed rubber cone that bears against the suspension cylinder. This is necessary in order to bring it forward and then slide it back into the chassis mounting. This will become obvious once you start.
|Diagram showing suspension cylinder mounting.|
The rubber cone was easily prised out of its backing plate, but the backing plate was seized to the inner cylinder. It was not obvious at first just where the assembly should come apart. It turned out that the backing plate to inner cylinder joint (see diagram) is the one that had to be broken. Lots of heat, Plus-Gas, and a heavy hammer - using the old chassis cylinder mount to drive it against - and eventually it came free. The cylinders etc. cleaned up reasonably well. I used the knife-edged file to clean up the threads, and felt reasonably confident about reusing the assembly with new nuts. Cit-Bits offered salvaged tube assemblies at £8 each, but I didn't need to use them in the end.