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Steven King

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By 'a perception that french cars were better' ( as discussed recently re those earliest 203s ) i probably meant 'French built cars had a low incidence of faults'.
Given 'Peugeots were assembled from high quality pre-assembled engines, transmissions and suspensions'...'Assembly faults with 203, 403 and 404 weren't a problem because they were less complex and weren't line assembled in Australia ' - so in this instance CKD simply assembled (reassembled, even) kits of pressings and sub-assemblies - just how inferior could the australian Peugeots possibly be, apart from rust opportunities?
Was this 'cultural cringe'? It doesn't seem rocket science - not like the ID ( yet as training providers say - don't blame them, train them) ...
I suppose the roof rack anecdote implies the turrets were drilled here though ...
How did the chassis numbers work? I recall mention of the lag in updates behind france and Lew has noted firewalls that don't tally with the Model Year; would parts have been picked or batched together, i wonder ...
 
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GRAHAM WALLIS

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Renault built cars were terrible, although partly due to later 404 body shells having bad water/rust traps. The early bodies seemed to hold up a lot better strength wise too for some reason, I never had to throw away an early 404 rally car body.
 

Russell Hall

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Renault built cars weren't really any worse than period industry standards. I've written before about the rust problems. The parts could arrive quite rusty. We now know it was because of the crates being loaded in high humidity conditions. They were buffed off and treated with phosphoric acid. You can see the rust staining on 504's under the undercoat and if you remove the sound deadening in a 403 door you can find inert rust. Continental & General cars could have rust appearing under strips and in seams after two years despite not being near the sea. A new 404 was returned to C&G by a dealer with seam rust. It varied, some cars were quite ok. C&G cars were worse than Canada Cycle cars, partly because the sound deadening didn't go to the edges of the doors and they had moisture holding foam rubber pads over the drain holes to keep down dust. As someone involved told me, rust proofing was a spray gun poked into a drain hole for luck.
Renault knew the problem so introduced dipping and the electrophoresis process. They were careful about it, a couple of "greasy joe" bodies were sent through the paint shop every morning to attract dust. Of course it didn't work in some cases and after a year Renaults and Peugeots were turning up with the box sections rusted out. My research turned up both the cause and the paint chemist who solved it. Cars being left in the drying booth during morning tea burning the paint off inside the box sections. Once solved, rust wasn't the problem it had been. A repeat of a previous post somewhere in the ether.
 
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Russell Hall

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By 'a perception that french cars were better' ( as discussed recently re those earliest 203s ) i probably meant 'French built cars had a low incidence of faults'.
Given 'Peugeots were assembled from high quality pre-assembled engines, transmissions and suspensions'...'Assembly faults with 203, 403 and 404 weren't a problem because they were less complex and weren't line assembled in Australia ' - so in this instance CKD simply assembled (reassembled, even) kits of pressings and sub-assemblies - just how inferior could the australian Peugeots possibly be, apart from rust opportunities?
Was this 'cultural cringe'? It doesn't seem rocket science - not like the ID ( yet as training providers say - don't blame them, train them) ...
I suppose the roof rack anecdote implies the turrets were drilled here though ...
How did the chassis numbers work? I recall mention of the lag in updates behind france and Lew has noted firewalls that don't tally with the Model Year; would parts have been picked or batched together, i wonder ...
Sometimes a French part could be misassembled. I've written before about the 203 delivered to Ballarat in 1954 that had the piston assemblies in backwards. Or the 504 injection engines replaced because of noisy camshafts. But not very often. The French 403's had a few pluses - the stainless steel bumpers, bolt on hubcaps and nicer upholstery. Plus a standard heater. There wasn't much difference in the 404's. But the KF2 was very nice.
When the 203 was assembled fully imported the cars landed here only a few months after manufacture. They came in big shipments, up to 500 cars most commonly up to 300. Carried on shelves in the hold.
When local assembly started a gap opened up between when kits were made and when they were assembled. I believe the 403's assembled in 1966 were from 1964 kits. So changes like the 203C and 403B come well after changes are made in France. The last 203 claimed to have been assembled in Melbourne in 1957 still has semaphores. When we say kits, all the parts for a car weren't in a single crate, engines, panels and so on were shipped together and when a crate went astray or was damaged there were problems. In the Renault period the Kanagarou was on permanent duty shipping crates to Australia.
For when models and changes were introduced in Australia Keith Winser's Motor Manual published regular used car values and car recognition guides that are invaluable.
Pictures - 403's bound for America showing the way they were transported in the hold and the well known picture of early 203's being loaded for Australia.
 

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Steven King

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just occurs to me now - the dock photo (noting wheels were local content) more questions arise re duco if the brightwork is attached ... the whole operation seems more and more labour-intensive.
 
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Russell Hall

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I do believe the cars have wheels but no tyres. The announcement of Australian made wheels was late 1951, the 1952 model with knock on hub caps had the Rubbery Owen & Kemsley wheels. Anything with 400 mm rims was poison. The Australian 203's had a different speedo drive gear to take account of the difference in 16 inch wheel and tyre size. Very thorough. A pity the body department wasn't as considerate but they made no concessions for the right hand drive cars. The one door lock remained firmly on the left and the boot release on the passenger side. The car was narrow and you could slide across but it was an inconvenience to older people.
The economies of shipping of cars in undercoat is hard to see. But the 45% tariff had a multiplier effect with margins, mark ups on the landed price and sales tax on the final amount. In the 1960's Ford explained why supplying unfinished cars wasn't economic in reply to a request from the Victorian ambulance board for unfinished vehicles. The production line is staffed, you've already paid for work to be done even if the car isn't finished. So Sochaux spray painters with loaded guns would have watched the undercoated 203's pass by even though they had already been paid to paint them, they would have gone past idle polishers and finishers, all that was saved was the cost of the paint which would have been cheaper in France anyway. There must have been some other factor, perhaps some amelioration of the tariff if there was a certain level of Australian content.
 

Commerciale

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My understanding is that vehicles were shipped in undercoat due to a post war shortage of paint in France. I have a vague recollection of reading that Citroens in France were sold in a flat finish for the same reason.

With respect to the wheels shown in the dock photo, could they have been 400s fitted for ease of transport and subsequently discarded when the Australian wheel and tyres were fitted?
 

Russell Hall

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Some colors of the early period up to C&G are remarkably similar to the French tones, particularly the blue which I never saw on any Australian cars. I always wondered if the paint was imported. In 1950 Australia was a priority hard currency market that ticked all the boxes for exporting half the production so my guess is our cars would be at the head of the line for scarce parts. But anything is possible and nobody left us an explanation as to why it happened.
Austral wheelworks used to cut down 400 mm Citroen wheels or so I'm told. Cut downs are possible but I never saw it mentioned The 202 ute in Melbourne apparently has French made 16 inch wheels although some 400's slipped through on the 202. I don't think there would be an impediment to making them in France although Australia was the only country to us them. Victorian cars landed in Sydney were driven south off the wharf by Regans staff but I never asked the right questions about who put the tyres on. Certainly someone changed the yellow headlight globes for Tungsrams and the old yellow ones were still in the tool box under my seat. Modern practice would be to hire contractors to tyre the vehicles. The ROK wheels were heavy and I think better than the 403 wheels. From my observation most 203C's still had 16 inch wheels probably because they had so many in stock. In 1968 Renault still had 203 wheels on hand and were offering the wagon wheels to dealers for $5.
The factory assembly system was based rolling mechanicals with wheels and tyres so they must have changed to wheels only at the end. Would not have been popular with the line organisers. At least they were still sling loaded into rail cars.
On surplus 203 parts I should add that in 1970 Renault Australia were selling ACL piston and sleeve sets for 203 for $30 along with 403 cylinder heads for $25 but they sent several 203 floor pans back to France rather than dump them here.
 
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GRAHAM WALLIS

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I remember a coup[le of 403 heads I had that were date stamped 1967, very good condition so would have been a replacement batch made after 403 production finished I guess.
 

Russell Hall

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My 203 made Oct 1949, therefore a 1950 model, has a head stamp of 50 and a block stamp 49. Basil Moran had a 203 head stamped 49 but had no idea where it came from.
 

Russell Hall

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JRA took some but there was an auction. Not that much 203 stuff left. Regans bought big and was selling parts like 403 tail light assemblies and axles cheap. JRA still had a good stock of 403 parts.
 

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My 203 made Oct 1949, therefore a 1950 model, has a head stamp of 50 and a block stamp 49. Basil Moran had a 203 head stamped 49 but had no idea where it came from.
I've just taken the cover off my November 1949 203 to check. It's head is marked 49.
 

Russell Hall

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The head stamps seem a bit random. A 403 sold in 1966 had a block stamp of 64 and ahead stamp of 63. The machine shop may not have been too particular in processing the heads in the order they came from the foundry.
 

Russell Hall

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The Peugeot alpax head casting techniques were at the front of automotive technology. In the 1970's the British MIRA noted they had tested thousands of engine compressions over the years and only the Peugeot had even pressures in each cylinder. I suspect they allowed them to air cool, like a pie cooling on a rack.
 

GRAHAM WALLIS

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Later Peugeot heads such as the XU engine found in 205/405 were much better but that's advancing technology for you.
 

pugrambo

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So what happened to the remaining 203 parts stock when Renault Australia pulled the pin?
There was one bloke that got to take just about everything for a nominal amount, he was at Emu plains
He had a big shed to store everything and sold the bits off but the deal was he had to take everything
I remember seeing a pile of something like 13 404 wagon roof panels, he would never sell them
I remember going there quite often with parents and uncles and friends to go through what he had and buy bits from him
When he started he didn't have a lot of an idea on what he had
This was over 30 years ago now
 

lo203404

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Snowy Kramer was the man, parts there at the time too numerous to mention, as an example, NOS Marchal Equalux and Ducellier Isoroute headlights to suit 2ohs at $10 a pair.
 

pugrambo

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Snowy Kramer was the man, parts there at the time too numerous to mention, as an example, NOS Marchal Equalux and Ducellier Isoroute headlights to suit 2ohs at $10 a pair.
Remember the shed very well
I think i learnt more about all the parts there than anywhere else after being taught by my uncles and the likes of cookie and niso
I could pick up just about any part as a young child and know exactly where it came from and what it was off
Great days
 

Russell Hall

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If you read Harden & Johnston publicity of the early years they were the ones who brought the 203 to Australia but the car had actually been on sale in Victoria for nearly three months before Johnston visited Sochaux in December 1949 to negotiate the agency for NSW (less the Riverina). The 203 had only gone into large scale production in June and Sochaux was turning out 200 cars a day with their sights set on 300 by 1951. The new equipment including the large American body presses had been installed. The 202 had been put back into production using the pre-war equipment the Germans had removed in 1943, recovered postwar from as far away as Czechoslovakia. Production in the first half of 1949 had been mostly 202's. Peugeot had been compliant with the Pons plan and was rewarded with good access to resources which makes me doubt stories of lack of paint.
Peugeot was obliged by the government to export half their output, a quarter was reserved for government and civil purchase so the French motorist had to wait two years for a 203. Australian buyers from a hard currency market were well regarded. Peugeot management was concerned the change in government in Australia would affect arrangements but Johnston reassured them. He observed he had never seen men work as hard as the Sochaux workers. Labour discipline had been a problem after the war which had left a legacy of laxity and low work rates. It's most likely Johnston who told Peugeot the market for the 203 was 5000 cars a year which led them to promise a third of their then output to the Australian market. Subsequently W.E. Swanberry negotiated with Peugeot on behalf of the company.
A footnote - who was Monsieur Hogard, an Australian studying at the Peugeot Technical School at Sochaux in December 1950. Possibly from Harden & Johnston.
 
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