DSpecial 1972 - Suspension going a bit "firm"
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  1. #1
    Member danspooner's Avatar
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    Default DSpecial 1972 - Suspension going a bit "firm"

    Hopefully this is a simple one:

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    Over the last two or three months, I thought I could feel the suspension/ride gradually getting a bit "firm" in my '72 DSpecial, not floating over speed humps, potholes, etc. I thought I might be imagining it, so I finally gave each corner of the car a bounce up and down. Rear - fine both sides; front - drivers side firm as anything (hardly moves), passenger side not exactly soft, but some movement.

    Other possibly related symptoms: 1. Hydraulic pump seems to cycle a bit more quickly than it used to (short burst of around 2-3 seconds on, then around 10-15 seconds off - a year or so ago was say 5-6 seconds on, 15 - 20 seconds off); 2. Car seems to "sink" a bit more quickly after the engine is stopped (10-15 mins) in recent months (perhaps 30 mins or so previously) - although I might well be imagining this.

    Am I right to deduce the front spheres probably need re-gassing? I replaced the main pressure regulator/accumulator sphere two or three years ago when I first bought the car (shot - continuous on/off pressure cycling). Everything else works fine (suspension goes up and down, ride height adjusts properly via the lever; steering generally ok, same as always; brakes similarly no change).

    So, if anyone can confirm, or if I'm wrong, let me know what it might be, that would be great. Also, any advice/tricks with getting the spheres off and back on - it seems simple enough in theory, but everything seems logical and straightforward in theory with these cars!

    Cheers!

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    1000+ Posts michaelr's Avatar
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    Hi Dan. These things sneak up on you I think... no one notices the gradual deterioration.

    There is a NSW Citroen Club "Tech Day " (fix-it day) coming up on 27th May which would be the perfect opportunity to have someone show you how best to remove the spheres safely, check pressures and re-gas. However if you plan on driving the car in the mean time it would be best to do the work sooner as flat spheres put a lot of strain on the system.

    The front spheres usually come off reasonably easily but the rear ones can be stubborn due to road grime and spray. You need to put the suspension in the lowest position and also open the pressure bleed screw before you can loosen the front spheres. You should be able to wobble the sphere a little which shows all pressure is gone then unscrew with a strap wrench. The rear spheres on the other hand need "cracking" loose while still under pressure then de-pressurising the system before continuing to unscrew.

    I would suggest you call the club president to ask how best to get them re-gassed if you can not wait
    Michael
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    In the past: Renault 750, Dauphine, R4, R8, R10, Peugeot 504 Familiale, ID 19 (x2), Safari (x2)

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    If you plan on driving the car in the meantime...don't.
    It doesn't put any extra strain on the "system", it is already full of fluid.

    It does put strain on the suspension arms and the mounting points, which ultimately leads to cracking of the suspension mounts. This costs a lot more than a little nitrogen.

    I suggest you also remove the accumulator sphere and have it checked. A three year interval between checking pressures is at the limit, if you want the maximum life from the sphere.
    Last edited by richo; 9th April 2012 at 12:19 PM. Reason: typo repair

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    Quote Originally Posted by danspooner View Post
    Hopefully this is a simple one:

    Over the last two or three months, I thought I could feel the suspension/ride gradually getting a bit "firm" in my '72 DSpecial, not floating over speed humps, potholes, etc. I thought I might be imagining it, so I finally gave each corner of the car a bounce up and down. Rear - fine both sides; front - drivers side firm as anything (hardly moves), passenger side not exactly soft, but some movement.

    Other possibly related symptoms: 1. Hydraulic pump seems to cycle a bit more quickly than it used to (short burst of around 2-3 seconds on, then around 10-15 seconds off - a year or so ago was say 5-6 seconds on, 15 - 20 seconds off); 2. Car seems to "sink" a bit more quickly after the engine is stopped (10-15 mins) in recent months (perhaps 30 mins or so previously) - although I might well be imagining this.

    Am I right to deduce the front spheres probably need re-gassing? I replaced the main pressure regulator/accumulator sphere two or three years ago when I first bought the car (shot - continuous on/off pressure cycling). Everything else works fine (suspension goes up and down, ride height adjusts properly via the lever; steering generally ok, same as always; brakes similarly no change).

    So, if anyone can confirm, or if I'm wrong, let me know what it might be, that would be great. Also, any advice/tricks with getting the spheres off and back on - it seems simple enough in theory, but everything seems logical and straightforward in theory with these cars!

    Cheers!
    Dan,

    Do follow Richo's advice and check the pressure in the accumulator sphere. Based on what you have observed my guess is that the drivers side sphere may well be shot - re-gassing may not be possible. The passenger side as well as the rear units most likely can be re-gassed. What normally happens is that the Nitrogen in the sphere is dissipated either via long term diffusion through the rubber or explosively via a damage diaphragm. OTOH both the single and two part units can suffer from a condition where by system fluid will by-pass the internal diaphragm and, over time, creep into the upper part of the sphere where the gas is. This can be easily deduced when the unit is pressure checked. Either will make the suspension rock hard on that side and renders the sphere NG.

    One note - if you remove the suspension pressure and still cannot rock the front units a bit - place a floor jack under the car and lift the front of the car off the ground, allowing the front wheels to drop fully. This will allow any residual pressure in the front suspension units to flow into the suspension cylinders and allow easy removal of the spheres. The rear units, esp. in you case, should be easy to remove as they have not been on the car all that long. While back there, check the condition of the rear suspension gators for cracks and tears and the amount of fluid in them. If they are swollen (ie, full of fluid) this indicates that the rear suspension seals are wearing out.

    Steve

  5. #5
    Member danspooner's Avatar
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    Hi all - thanks for all this good advice - and yes, I've read a few previous threads about cracked suspension mounts, so the car's going nowhere until I've sorted the spheres! Luckily I haven't driven much more than a few dozen gentle weekend kms since (thinking back) the suspension has been getting harder. The spheres are two-piece, and I've got a couple of spare single piece units that might have a bit of gas in them, so I may be able to keep the car on the road while getting the spheres regassed/repaired.

    Cheers!

  6. #6
    Member danspooner's Avatar
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    I was trying to upload a photo of one of the spheres that were currently on the car (two piece), and a photo of one of a pair of spare units (single piece) that came with a box of bits and pieces with the car (with little aluminium protective caps over the ends, so looking in good condition), before fitting them, just to check they are compatible units. But, I couldn't get the photo upload to work, so I put them on anyway, started the car, and stood back - I guess 5000 psi (or whatever it is) can make quite a loud "pop" if anything's not quite right!

    Anyway, all seems fine, suspension went up nicely, and down again too using the height adjust lever, is nice and softy-bouncy, and nothing seemed amiss with a little drive around the block. So, seems the new 1 piece spheres are in serviceable condition, even if they have probably been sat in a box of spares for several years.

    Of the two piece units that came off the car - the drivers side unit (suspension "hard") sounds very sick - sloshy oil sound when shaken - presume diaphragm "gone", so sphere full of oil. The other side still had some suspension movement, and nothing seems untoward with that side's sphere, so presume diaphragm still ok, and still got some gas inside, so has pushed all the oil out when the hydraulics were depressurised (is that logic correct?)

    So, seems I'm fine in the short term, but probably long term should get the two two-piece spheres overhauled, and possibly the rears too while I'm at it, and also the main accumulator could do with re-gassing soon-ish.

    I'll have another go at uploading the pics, to see if anyone can identify the particular units I've just put on the car.

    Cheers,

    Dan

  7. #7
    Member danspooner's Avatar
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    Default Spare spheres photos

    Here's one of the spheres that was on the car (two piece), and one of the spare units (single piece) I've just fitted.

    The numbers on the spares are a little hard to read, but are:

    95613813
    6-192 and a large "X"
    And there are also "metal stamped" numbers 11 and 75.

    So, they're on, and they seem to work ok, but are they an "appropriate" replacement?

    Cheers,

    Dan
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails DSpecial 1972 - Suspension going a bit "firm"-img_0638-copy-2.jpg   DSpecial 1972 - Suspension going a bit "firm"-img_0640.jpg   DSpecial 1972 - Suspension going a bit "firm"-img_0642.jpg  

  8. #8
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    Not all spheres were created equal though. There are different spheres for different jobs and they vary in capacity, membrane material, initial/static pressure and damping rates. One-piece / welded accumulator spheres look superficially like suspension spheres, but have no damper in the threaded end. The way the car handles is affected by the type of damping and the initial pressure, so you need to give yourself some assurance that the spheres you fitted are at least similar to what you removed. When you removed the caps, did they have a riveted disc on the end? If there was just an open hole in either of them, then it was an accumulator sphere and that side will have no damping. Apologies if you know this, but it's important to ask since the wrong sphere can cause problems.

    Edit: OK, I see the pictures posted at the same time as my post. 75 presumably means 75 Bar, which I think would most likely make it a CX front. I thought DS used 57 Bar at the front, but I can't recall if that's also for the welded variety. Anyway, it's not an accumulator sphere!

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    If they're single piece Dan, there is usually a figure stamped in the top to indicate the pressure in bar. For a D fronts are 59.
    Rears are 26, or in the case of a Safari 35.
    That should give you some indication of if they are D type one piece spheres.

    So Dan, what's the two digit number stamped in the one piece sphere which can be seen on the bottom right of the filler cap in the third image?

    Suspension sphere diaphragms when they give way won't usually "pop". It's a gradual thing, the old nitril type material lasts for a long time, but not forever. The new Desmopan material is very forgivingand I'm yet to see a failed unit from a D. So rebuilding will have a long life.

    It would be best if you knew the exact pressure of the spheres you have fitted to the front, a tester being the only accurate way of measuring. At least you have a useable outcome, for the time being. That's the best part, being able to drive the car without the niggling thought in the back of your mind that you just might be doing damage.

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    Right, now we're getting somewhere.
    75 indicates 75 bar, these are actually for a CX front sphere, way too much for a D.

  11. #11
    Member danspooner's Avatar
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    Thanks for your replies David and Richo. When I first bought the car, with a dead accumulator, Citroen Club NSW's Bruce Elsgood explained that the spares I had were suspension not accumulator, because of the damper disc things. So, I was pretty sure they were suspension spheres, just not sure whether they were specific ones for my model car - I have read a few previous threads about the spheres being different for each model of Citroen.

    So, with a 75 and an 11 stamped on the spheres, I presume they are one pressure or the other. So, do any Citroens have 75 bar units, or any have 11 bar units? Seems they might be very high pressure fronts, or very low pressure rears, for some Citroen model or other!

  12. #12
    VIP Sponsor richo's Avatar
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    As I mentioned Dan in my previous reply, 75 indicates 75 bar, which is for the front of a CX, not for a D.

    There is no Citroen suspnesion sphere which is only 11 bar.
    If they had only 11 bar in them, trust me, the front would be quite hard.

  13. #13
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    I've never seen a sphere stamped with 11 - and I've seen and tested a damn lot of the things! The lowest pressure sphere I know of is as referred to above by Richo - 26 on the rear of a D sedan.

    CX fronts are 75 bar and are stamped as such. They are also a large volume sphere and longish. Longer than a welded accumulator sphere.
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    Yes, they are long-ish rather than round - so, this must be what they are, CX fronts. I guess they will be ok in the short term?

    I'm heading overseas for a few months in 6 weeks time, so overhauling the original spheres will be a job for later in the year, I reckon.

    Thanks all.

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    I could have your old spheres rebuilt fully and returned to you within a week.
    The ride would be an improvment on what you have now, guaranteed.

  16. #16
    Member danspooner's Avatar
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    But hopefully the ride now will be better than it was!

    I'm not going to do much with the car for the next few months, so not much point in doing this just yet, and then leaving everything sat in the garage going "flat" again. I've got a few other things that will need sorting too, so I'm going to leave it until I get back.

    Turnaround times noted, for when I get back and start working on the car again.

    Cheers,

    Dan

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    In regards to the welded single part spheres. Shape and overall volume differed depending on the manufacturer. My only experience, being in the US, has been with units designed for the CX's, SM and D's. The two main units we saw were either from the factory or IFHS.

    In addition by-pass holes and damper shimming are also different between the various types. Both the
    D and SM spheres can be 'over charged' a bit giving a bit more of a compliant ride. OTOH the CX units cannot be as at 75 bar they are quite close to the total weight exerted on the units by the car.

    Steve

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    Quote Originally Posted by danspooner View Post
    But hopefully the ride now will be better than it was!

    I'm not going to do much with the car for the next few months, so not much point in doing this just yet, and then leaving everything sat in the garage going "flat" again. I've got a few other things that will need sorting too, so I'm going to leave it until I get back.

    Turnaround times noted, for when I get back and start working on the car again.

    Cheers,

    Dan
    If it's sitting depressurised, as it will be I suppose, they won't go flat in a few months. I have some spheres still at 95% pressure after three years of only intermittent use.

    Not that I'm saying you should do them as a matter of urgency if it is not being driven. Good you stopped using it when you did though!

    Cheers
    JohnW

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    Default sphere re-gass

    If you need your spheres checked and re-gassed, the Citroen Car Club can do this for Club members generally at the regular technical days....
    CITROEN CAR CLUB of NSW - MEMBER. www.citroencarclub.org.au. . .www.facebook.com/CCCNSW
    08FD DSPECIAL "Dear Prudence wont you come out to play?"
    00FF7512 DS23SAFARI "Pull up to my bumper Baby, in your long black limousine."
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    Member danspooner's Avatar
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    Ah - I might get lynched if I turn up to a Citroen Car Club event any time soon - unfortunate loss of a ball joint separator - long story..

    One of the spheres sounds very sick (oil sloshing around inside it) - so seems like it needs an overhaul, new diaphragm. So, simple regas isn't going to do it anyway, unfortunately.

    Dan

  21. #21
    Fellow Frogger! Mort Subite's Avatar
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    new diaphrams are available and spheres are easy to re-build.
    CITROEN CAR CLUB of NSW - MEMBER. www.citroencarclub.org.au. . .www.facebook.com/CCCNSW
    08FD DSPECIAL "Dear Prudence wont you come out to play?"
    00FF7512 DS23SAFARI "Pull up to my bumper Baby, in your long black limousine."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mort Subite View Post
    new diaphrams are available and spheres are easy to re-build.
    Easy to rebuild poorly and without proper knowledge easy to make a real meal of it.

    I've fixed the odd "rebuilt" sphere, scrapped a couple of "rebuilt" spheres too, they were knackered, broken internal shims, the rebuilder didn't realise were missing.
    Painted threads and sealing surfaces, I could go on, but won't.

    Guess it depends on the standard you feel is deserving of the D major feature and virtue.

  23. #23
    Fellow Frogger! Mort Subite's Avatar
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    Cool.
    "new diaphrams are available and spheres are easy to re-build."
    Ive not had any problem having spheres rebuilt from split diaphrams

    there will come a time when all we can do is fit later model sealed units.
    CITROEN CAR CLUB of NSW - MEMBER. www.citroencarclub.org.au. . .www.facebook.com/CCCNSW
    08FD DSPECIAL "Dear Prudence wont you come out to play?"
    00FF7512 DS23SAFARI "Pull up to my bumper Baby, in your long black limousine."
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    Rebuildable spheres are rebuildable, almost infinitely.

    Anyone who stocks diaphragms, guarantees their work, will likely have diaphragms for the forseeable future. currently I hold stock for at least a couple of years, in advance.
    Stored under the correct conditions, the diaphragms and other consumable parts will last my lifetime.
    After that time, I'll cease being concerned.

    Until the sphere is unservicable for reasons of metal fatigue, corrosion or failure of a shim in the case of a riveted sphere, or parts are no longer available for the rebuildable damper two piece sphere, then they can be rebuilt.

    People like myself take great pride in their ability to rebuild, guarantee the product and the performance of that product.
    To achieve this result, there is pedantic care and attention paid to all aspects of the job including the nuances and details which are not contained in any workshop manual, learned by experience and knowledge gained from a lifetime involved in engineering.

    I will NEVER fit a one piece sphere to my D, EVER!

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by danspooner View Post
    Ah - I might get lynched if I turn up to a Citroen Car Club event any time soon - unfortunate loss of a ball joint separator - long story..
    Dan

    saying sorry work wonders.

    Car Clubs need member input and support otherwise they vanish and the knowledge goes too.
    CITROEN CAR CLUB of NSW - MEMBER. www.citroencarclub.org.au. . .www.facebook.com/CCCNSW
    08FD DSPECIAL "Dear Prudence wont you come out to play?"
    00FF7512 DS23SAFARI "Pull up to my bumper Baby, in your long black limousine."
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