203 Wagon Restoration
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Thread: 203 Wagon Restoration

  1. #1
    Fellow Frogger! Commerciale's Avatar
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    Default 203 Wagon Restoration

    It's probably time for me to expose this job to the World. But first, I need to make clear where I am coming from in order not to offend many of the 203 punters who frequent this site.

    It has long been my opinion that no-one in Australia so far has attempted a 203 restoration that seeks to ensure that the subject vehicle emerges authentic in all parts, including fasteners. What I have started with is a relatively rare version of the 203 wagon which was largely unmolested, rust free (yes-you read right) and, I believe, low mileage. From this base I felt a strong obligation to ensure that as much originality as possible is preserved while removing the daggy bits.

    The story starts in 1973 when I purchased the wagon from a slightly dodgey dealer in lower priced used cars. It had apparently been used as a surf wagon, being fitted with curtains, filled with beach sand and had holes where a stereo previously resided. The radiator showed signs of recent overheating with a stretched top tank and a neat hole drilled in the cap to relieve pressure. The dealer assured me that a new head gasket had been fitted and all was well. A price of $150 was negotiated. ACT registration was obtained after a new tail pipe was fitted. A vicious underfloor knocking was cured by tightening the upper gearbox mount bolt and four cylinders restored by a new set of plugs. It can be very hard getting across an intersection in a healthy 203 - one running on two cylinders is usually beaten by the change of lights!

    The wagon provided useful second car transport for a couple of years until power started to drop off. A tear down revealed that all the rings had broken into small pieces, tearing out the piston lands. The direct metal big ends also showed bad wear, despite the crankshaft being within tolerance. My thoughts were that the previous surfie owner had probably pulled it out of a shed and roared the crap out of it without changing the oil.

    Needing a replacement, I sold it to a friend and bought a 1955 203C5 wagon (very rusty and another story), Said friend fitted new rings on second hand pistons, shell big end conrods and new mains. He drove it 100 miles to his shed where it rested from 1976 to 2009.

    By about 2008 I had developed a longing for another 203. Realising that original and rust free examples were virtually non-existant my thoughts returned to the wagon. Yes, it was for sale and a deal done. The attached photos show its retrieval and state after washing. The whole was sound but very tired. All rubber was unusable and the pee of a thousand rats and possums had promoted a great deal of surface rust.

    A few details. It's a 203U6A with a C2 gearbox, an interim model made between June and September 1954. Given that the serial number is 900+ on from June 1954, the CKD kit probably left France during that month. Australian assembly was by NSW distributors, Harden and Johnston.

    Restoration proper commenced on my retirement in January 2011. This has consisted so far of total stripdown, sourcing parts from France and elswhere, abrasive blasting and repainting. More pictures to come in future posts.

    Tony

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    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 203 Wagon Restoration-183.jpg   203 Wagon Restoration-185.jpg   203 Wagon Restoration-195.jpg   203 Wagon Restoration-copy-2-p1010020.jpg  

  2. #2
    Fellow Frogger! wombat200's Avatar
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    Wonderful to see one of these being done well!

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    Fellow Frogger! fnqvmuch's Avatar
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    nothing offensive yet
    and a profound thank you for sharing
    a thing of beauty, esp w/ those badges and blank door

  4. #4
    Fellow Frogger! Commerciale's Avatar
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    More stripdown photos and instant progress on the restoration.

    Yes, the plain tailgate does, IMHO look better than the C5 style. Pity, you say, about the ding in it and the cheap non-original tail lights. However, watch this space.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 203 Wagon Restoration-copy-p1010255.jpg   203 Wagon Restoration-copy-p1010253.jpg   203 Wagon Restoration-copy-2-p1010021.jpg   203 Wagon Restoration-picture-002-2-.jpg   203 Wagon Restoration-picture-004.jpg  

  5. #5
    1000+ Posts Bad Bertie's Avatar
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    What a great find and looking so straight an all. Give me first refusal to buy if you ever wish to sell after you've done all the hard work of course!

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    Default I am green with envy

    Looking at the photos takes me back to my childhood when the old man had two of them. The same banana yellow colour as yours was originally.

    Looking forward to your next lot of photos

    Dano

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    IWS
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    This section of your story rang bells with me

    Quote Originally Posted by Commerciale View Post
    The story starts in 1973 when I purchased the wagon from a slightly dodgey dealer in lower priced used cars. It had apparently been used as a surf wagon, being fitted with curtains, filled with beach sand and had holes where a stereo previously resided.
    If so, I looked at that very same car in 1973 with a mate who shared my enthusiasm for Pugs!

    Great to see what you are doing with it now, and amazing to think of the journey from dodgy car yard to restoration.

    Ian.

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    1000+ Posts Haakon's Avatar
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    Does anyone know who drives the 203 wagon in Narrabundah, Canberra?

    It's a daily driver, and very "original" looking

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    Quote Originally Posted by Haakon View Post
    Does anyone know who drives the 203 wagon in Narrabundah, Canberra?

    It's a daily driver, and very "original" looking
    Would that be Alan Johnson, perhaps? He's certainly had some interesting Peugeots over the past 35 years that I've known him.

    Cheers
    Al

  10. #10
    Fellow Frogger! Commerciale's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Russell Hall View Post
    Nice to see the restoration. The question or originality of restoration is not often raised with 203's owing to the majority of restorers wishing to modernize or alter certain aspects to fit them to modern traffic. Because of this there is little information collected as to original trims, materials and paints and the appropriate features for year levels. Quite the opposite of some British makes. The level of originality varies with the restorer- for example the owner of an early Holden which had no trafficators at all refuses to fit turn indicators. Some people take off blinkers and revert to semaphores but that means hand signals must be used that nobody understands. So for use in other than club runs certain modifications are sensibly dictated for safety. As the 403 is newer original condition cars can still be found but original unrestored 203's are very rare. Invariably owned by little old ladies and ideally with a good history to go with them.
    I would not support a general statement that original restorations on 203's don't take place because such restorers tend to work in isolation and you don't hear of them. Suddenly a shed door is opened and a splendid car revealed.
    Restoring an Australian assembled car is made more difficult because of different paints and possibly some materials. Matching trim materials exactly is not easy. It is sometimes difficult to make judgements on what was an original feature and what was added later unless the history of the vehicle is known. When the original owner is found they often turn up different information on a car. Assumptions are often proven wrong. I know that happened both with my 403 and 203.
    Good luck with it. I may get to see it sometime.
    Sorry Russell, but you seem to have sought to counter an allegedly general statement with another. I, for one, have never seen an authentically restored 203 in Australia. Can you direct me to one?

    Not that I will be seeking the high moral ground on this one. I readily admit to a few small transgressions, such as insert big end bearings, but where authentic bits are readily available I will be using them.

    As regards to authenticity of paint and trim I have been lucky that the wagon had largely escaped the moderniser. The low mileage (35,000 which I believe is not 135,000) may attest to this combined with the original features I have been able to identify from the parts book. The painter has been able to duplicate the original body colours, albeit in too-shiny two pack. I have sourced replacement fawn wool headlining identified from unfaded samples of the original but will have to use an identically patterned stretch vinyl in place of the original non-stretch variety. I threw out the rotten original rear carpet in 1973 but expect to find a fairly close replacement.

    Yes, few people now understand the significance of hand signals. I am sure that most following my 1925 Dodge roadster assume that I am attempting to dry my nail polish! The 203 trafficators will be retained and I hope will become obvious in their purpose to the great unwashed motoring public.

    Finally (here is where I start to offend), modernisation is not restoration. But people can do whatever they want to their own cars. It's a bit like free speech. I do not care what others do any would hope that similarly, no-one would criticise me for being somewhat pedantic in my restoration standards.

    Tony

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    Great work so far!

    I have a Christmas or birthday card somewhere of a yellow or cream 203 wagon which I got 20 or more years ago. I wonder if it's the same car!
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  12. #12
    Fellow Frogger! Commerciale's Avatar
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    A few more photos.

    It is obvious why the 203 rusts where it does. The first photo shows how dust penetrates into the sill area behind the front wheels. This area seems to have been protected by only a lick and promise of red undercoat. I have been lucky as the road detritus did not stay wet, rendering only surface rust rather than the usual perforation. The Australian assemblers, in their infinate wisdom, also applied bituminous underseal to anything that didn't move. This blocked the drains carefully pressed into the bottom of the top hat sections behind the sills which trapped any water collecting in that area.

    Speaking of undercoat, I had visions of scraping it off with laquer thinner and a putty knife. A couple of years would have done it (an me probably). However, the sandblaster assured me that he could achieve the task. Sure enough, he was as good as his word. The stripping was achieved with a range of media - garnet for the underseal and heavy bits, glass beads for the interior and soda for the outer panels. My subsequent enquiry about the underseal was greeted with much muttering and head shaking - rather him than me but the end result was great.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 203 Wagon Restoration-p1010364.jpg   203 Wagon Restoration-picture-008-2-.jpg   203 Wagon Restoration-picture-001-2-.jpg  

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    Hi-That is in amazing condition.I have a mate who is currently restoring his 203 Panel Van.
    I am sure there are not many around-at least not on the road.
    The unfortunate part is that the guy he bought it from about 2 years ago had my mate help him push it OUTSIDE about 10 years ago.
    It always amazes me when I see cars restored & there seems to be massive $$$$ spent but absolutely no regard to the original or even at least any form of practical improvement.
    Looks like you will -cruising down the road by next weekend.
    Might add that a lot of restorers do not like using 2 pak as it is not 'The Original Look'
    My perspective is that there is a certain amount of poetic licence that can be used as when the cars were originally what was used was available at the time & all of the trim [partic. seat,door & roof] etc. would have not been consistent world-wide.

    Pekay.

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    Fellow Frogger! Commerciale's Avatar
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    Yes, two pack is probably too shiny but it will remain one of the compromises I have had to make. My painter was not confident that he could obtain acrylic laquer of sufficient quality for him to guarentee the job. In any event, acrylic lacquer would not replicate the original finish which was pyroxylin lacquer (Duco) - even more unobtainable.

    However, look at the photos and see what you think.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 203 Wagon Restoration-copy-p1010289.jpg   203 Wagon Restoration-copy-p1010307.jpg   203 Wagon Restoration-picture-056-2-.jpg  

  15. #15
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    Great job. Your wagon looks a treat Tony.

    cant wait to see it complete and on the road

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    Budding Architect ???? pugrambo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Commerciale View Post
    Yes, two pack is probably too shiny but it will remain one of the compromises I have had to make. My painter was not confident that he could obtain acrylic laquer of sufficient quality for him to guarentee the job. In any event, acrylic lacquer would not replicate the original finish which was pyroxylin lacquer (Duco) - even more unobtainable.

    However, look at the photos and see what you think.
    put it this way

    if we were back in 1955 at the motor show and this wagon was on show for all to see how shiny do you think it would have been to entice people over to the peugeot stand to have a look at it ??
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    1000+ Posts catshamlet's Avatar
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    Looks bloody great, but...

    your suspension looks like it may be a wee bit hard. And some bigger wheels wouldn't go amiss.

    Other than that, it looks wonderful.



    Mike.
    Started out with nothing, still got most of it left.

  18. #18
    Fellow Frogger! luthier's Avatar
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    What a knockout job.
    Just wondering, did you do a job on the underneath before all of this?
    I like the trolley arrangement but you might have used a rotisserie right in the beginning?
    I am very inspired by this work, thanks.

    O yes another question. Did you get it sandblasted on site? Wonderful result, when I think of all the grinding with abrasive discs that I did on my blue car. The 49er will need some grinding to get some deep rust out but sandblasting would be wonderful for all that tricky stuff in the engine bay and round under the dash and all the tricky corners.

    And another, did you use two pack for the grey inside paint?

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    Fellow Frogger! Commerciale's Avatar
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    The trolley was my idea as I had to move the shell around my shed during restoration and get it on a trailer for transportation to Goulburn where the blaster and the painter are located. Being of thrifty nature (ie tight as a whale's....) I made it as cheaply as possible - castors from Ebay and treated pine sleepers from Bunnies. It cost around $190 all up. I bolted the shell to the trolly for transport and it certainly went nowhere during the trip.

    The blaster did the whole job at his workshop by lifting each end of the shell in turn. The painter got to the bottom of the pan by holding the shell up sideways with an engine hoist. He was wrapped by the idea of being able to easily move the whole mess around his workshop, including in and out of the paint booth.

    The grey paint inside is indeed two pack as it extends to the exposed surfaces of the doors and the yet to be fitted dash. Painting the floor was probably a little OTT but while he had paint in the gun....

    I will probably want to get rid of the trolly later in the year when the suspension goes back in. The price will be free to good home.

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    Fellow Frogger! luthier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Commerciale View Post

    I will probably want to get rid of the trolly later in the year when the suspension goes back in. The price will be free to good home.
    O yeah, I have a pretty good home.

  21. #21
    Fellow Frogger! Commerciale's Avatar
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    Now having great fun screwing on all the new and shiny bits. Pity about the greasy bits still lying about the shed. However, I do have an excuse as painting weather in Canberra is slipping away with the dead hand of winter upon us. However, refitting the glass and sundry rubber bits should keep me occupied for some time.

    It is great to see a 203 without pimply door handles and mascot. Yes, they do exist, even though I had to have the new old stock door handles replated in order to get rid of the scratches and sub-standard original chrome. I picked the mascot up in a Dijon junk shop. It had minimal pimpling but still required replating.

    I repolished the stainless steel grille bars and window surrounds using a kit from Bunnies - grey buffing soap with a sisal wheel to remove scratches and white with a calico wheel to polish, finishing with Autosol for good measure. This is a monotonous task but the results have been worth it.

    The back end now looks better with the tailgate ding removed and proper Frankani 180 tail lights fitted. The bumpers are still with the plater but should set off the whole thing.

    A set of 185x16 Michelin X tyres have now arrived from Longstones at a rather advantageous price - free shipping and air delivery from England in six days!

    More photos attached.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 203 Wagon Restoration-p1010340.jpg   203 Wagon Restoration-copy-p1010312.jpg   203 Wagon Restoration-p1010337.jpg   203 Wagon Restoration-p1010338.jpg  

  22. #22
    Budding Architect ???? pugrambo's Avatar
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    from what i have been led to believe over the years the pimpling was pretty much there from day one as the material used was of a sub standard and hence didn't plate very well

    it's all peugeot had to play with after the war

    also, although it looks good, i thought commercial grilles were sans chrome strips ???

    the car is looking great BTW
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  23. #23
    Fellow Frogger! Commerciale's Avatar
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    The U8 camionette bachee and plateau (two varieties of the ute) were not fitted with the stainless steel grille strips. The other U series had them - one of the few luxury touches. Speaking of luxury, the Australian asembled wagons (limousine commerciale) had two sun visors, compared with the one provided in the French versions. This is not to mention the hubcaps deemed necessary with the Australian made 16 inch wheels. The French did without them.

    The rest of my wagon is pretty hair shirt. No trip meter, no trafficator warning, no ashtray, no stainless steel dash or side strips, no armrests, only one door pocket, manual courtesy light, cheap hard rubber steering wheel etc, etc. It should prove to be a breath of fresh air after years of air conditionong and power everything. At 45 horsepower pulling 21 cwt it is also down on power power! But it is rated to carry 450kg and from memory, first gear is remarkably useful with a load on.

  24. #24
    Fellow Frogger! lamoor's Avatar
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    Default 230 wagon restoration

    simply beautiful restoration. more pic please. can you advise on the hours so far.
    thanks

  25. #25
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    this looks a great project and authenticity is a major factor in restoration.
    really worth the effort you are putting in
    i subscribe to the do it once and do it properly task-approach.

    great to see you're going in boots and all and taking photos.

    a French 203 which we used at Romsey on the farm, had a metal sliding sunroof.
    I recall the French car having better fitting panels than the Australian assembled sedans and station wagons.

    a two door panel-van and utility body were popular as well that may have been French imports.

    this 203 wagon looks a treat with a new coat of paint and i hope the panels are all a good fit.
    Now the car will last for another fifty years.

    things can go wrong over-doing restoration procedures
    i tried a land-rover galvanised chassis which cracked all over the place due they say to hydrogen-embrittlement the galvanizing causes in the metal.

    lately i read a resto of a Ford t-bird where he uses powder coating for many parts of the engine and it looks great
    still that might be over-doing it
    he pre-heats the engine block at 400 degrees for half an hour which seems a worry would that alter the block metal temper?

    you do have to be meticulous and you have a clean workshop these days stripping metal in tanks is non-caustic
    and yet the fear is residues may weep from joins at a later date.
    well this car looks the goods and a compliment to Peugeot.

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