By Ian Craib, with an assist from Michel Landry
It did not begin well …
Margaret and I had planned to take the first long trip with our DS-21. Persephone was packed up and ready to go and we awaited the arrival of Michel L, with whom we were planning to travel. Together we planned to meet up with the Cor and CarlaB along the way.
Michel arrived and we started off. We did not make it out of our neighbourhood before Persephone stalled and rolled to a halt. Michel brought out his gloves and tools and we worked to get her going again. She re-started once but then stalled again after 300 meters or so. More mechanical investigation ensued but without success, so CAA was called, and Persephone towed ignominiously back to our house.
Good thing I have two Citroens! Now about two hours late, we reloaded into Dolly and started off for Saratoga. We continued without incident to the pre-planned meeting point, but of course Cor and Carla were long gone. Lunched there and continued along a very nice curvy, hilly, and interesting route through the Adirondacks. All of a sudden Dolly’s rear left door is flapping in the wind and we have to stop again. The latch had come loose but I screwed it in with a temporary fix and we continued on to Saratoga.
We all stayed at the Turf and Spa Motel, which is modest accommodation, but clean and boasting has a nice pool and mineral water whirlpool spa! They were also quite proud to be hosting almost as many Citroens as the main venue, the Springs. I counted 23 Citroens in our lot at the peak, including three of the eventual award winners, so the claim was not exaggerated.
Saratoga Springs is a mid-sized and very pretty town with a vibrant downtown area, very nice Victorian architecture, and an interesting history involving the healing springs and flim-flammery that surrounded them, as well as horse-racing, and various automotive events, and other recreational attractions. The springs are still there and you can sample different tasting spring waters with various purported health benefits for free in Congress Park (walking distance from the motels) and at other locations in the area. Shopping and dining were good as well.
The meet itself was amazing, about 175 cars on show field, all the Citroen variants in evidence including a Chapron, although I did not see a Panhard. However Josée from Montréal said they might be bringing one next year! The drive on Sunday comprised at least 48 cars. My Dolly ended up parked right next to a virtually identical car on the show field from New Jersey. I will admit theirs was in better condition, but a commonplace left-hand drive, plain roof, and a standard boring license plate … nice people though, whom we met again and dined with on the Saturday night event. According to the organizers this was the best and biggest Saratoga yet, and certainly we had perfect weather.
Saratoga is also apparently a good place to undertake repair and maintenance tasks. A lady at our motel with a purplish 2CV was having evident problems starting her vehicle, and when she got it to the show field, proceeded to take the front end apart for the purpose of adjusting the valves. Turned out to be a good place for it as an expert (Axel) was fetched, and proceeded to guide her through the process, which only took an hour or two. Our own Michel also disappeared for a while to do some maintenance work on his DS, to fix a starter solenoid and fuel level sensor.
(From Michel: I got a new starter solenoid for my beast, so now I don’t have to open the hood and use a manual activation of the solenoid. Disappointed that the in-tank sending unit which Brad Nauss brought for me didn’t work, bad product. But the long and difficult job of accessing the tank then closing up again led to a new problem: the old gasket between sending unit and the tank didn’t seal properly ( didn’t have a spare gasket) and I didn’t notice it until we refueled on the way home when gas came pouring out of the tank’s enclosure, I guess I had overfilled the tank. Now I have to do it all over again and this time create a new gasket and make sure the seal is complete. Such are the trials and tribulations of a Citroënaught.)
It was great to meet some of the vendors from whom I have purchased parts and corresponded, such as Kenji from Seattle, the Western Hemispheres folks, and I also met Brad Nauss and bought a number of things from him … $300 on the DS which didn’t make the trip, and $8.95 on the Deuche. A pattern?
Small world experience: a youngish man walked up to me and asked where I got my car. Turns out he was from New Jersey and had tried to purchase it locally before I bought it … for about half the price they were asking there. He did well enough for himself though; his car is the Ami 6 pictured, which won its category.
Monday we all drove home together for most of the way. An excellent experience to be recommended and repeated!
Epilogue: subsequent investigation of my very bad and naughty DS indicates that the source of the problem was a bad ground on the electric fuel pump. This of course was an issue that had never appeared before, in any way, shape or form. How I truly hate and detest electrical problems. Ridiculous.
Also check out Cor B’s photos, with descriptions in the following gallery