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Citroen hydraulics - Khamsin, Bora, early Merak, late Indy

Discussion in 'Maserati' started by thecarnut, Jan 11, 2009.

  1. thecarnut

    thecarnut Formula 3

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    #1 thecarnut, Jan 11, 2009
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    This thread serves as the place to post your questions and suggestions about the Citroen hydraulic system as fitted on the Bora, Khamsin, early Merak and the last few Indy .... plus the rare Quattroporte 2.

    This high pressure hydraulic system is quite different from what is use in "normal" cars and requires some undertanding of how things work before you attempt to service it. Luckily the system is quite reliable and does not require much maintenance.

    I will start with some advice:

    1. NEVER use anything but LHM (the green stuff). I have been told there are other fluids that are compatible with the system. While this may be true, why take the chance? LHM is available and is not that expensive.

    2. Rebuild both brake accumulators and replace the main sphere every 10 years. If you do not know when your accumulators were last rebuilt, do it now. Do not wait until they fail! Later, I will post the steps on removing the accumulators and provide contacts that will rebuid them for you.

    Ivan
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  2. Ferraripilot

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    It's man
    great advice!
     
  3. gcmerak

    gcmerak Formula 3

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    Hi Ivan,

    Nice thread, don't need the info., but it's a great and needed thread. I'm waiting for your Best/Worst Maserati posts.

    Ciao,
    George
     
  4. Nembo1777

    Nembo1777 F1 Rookie

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    #4 Nembo1777, Jan 13, 2009
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    Ivan: great idea and much needed!

    Since this is a technical thread I will shut up and leave it to the under the hood experts such as Ivan or Graeme however two things need to be stated very clearly to kill off rumors that are totally FALSE.

    Hydraulics by themselves are perfectly simple and reliable: millions of Citroen have used them for decades and I have never ever seen one break down because of that, even though I have lived a total of 10 years in France. My dad did most of his career as a Citroen director and never ever did I hear of any hydraulic problems in production, recalls or anything like that.
    In the fifties and before Citroen while developing the sytem had some issues and changed from red hydraulic liquid to green known as LHM "liquide Hydraulique Mineral" but by the time the Maserati acquistion took place it had been fully reliable and sorted for years.

    As Ivan pointed out NEVER ever put ANY other liquids in your hydraulic system: you would ruin it. LHM is cheap and plentiful. Putting anything else in there is like feeding moonshine to a baby. If you leave your car with a mechanic who does not know about these cars (a bad idea in the first place) tell him, EVEN if there is no plan to do any hydraulic work: imagine arrving back at his workshop and hearing him say oh I topped up your strange brake fluid installation! That would be a disaster in the thousands of Dollars to put right.

    In the 1960's another manufacturer was so impressed with the Citroen hydraulics they approached Citroen to buy it. Citroen was flattered and thought it would be good publicity to have this manufacturer use their hydraulics.

    It was Rolls Royce.

    For 30 plus years from the Silver Shadow to the Silver Spirit (as far as I know, correct me if I am wrong but for over 30 years) RR's used that system: quite an endorsement no?!
    By the way the easiest place to find LHM is at the Rolls Royce dealer's parts counter.

    Like any classic car Maseratis need to be driven regularly and that is even more true and important with hydraulicly equipped cars: because you see LHM is hygrometric: if it is left to sit for long periods of time (several months I would guess) water will gather at the bootm of the system and will cause problems.

    Also the gaskets and any other rubber part ensuring the watertighteness of the system (which is highly pressurized) will loose their integrity and start leaking.

    This is why barn find or even 2 or 3 year slumber Rollses, Masers and older Citroens with hydraulics will leak, which is when Johnny clueless (including a lot of very parochial Ferraristi) will say look at that piece of junk....they would obviously not have the mental capacity to understand what I explained above.

    So the point is drive your car often, I drove mine three times a week but even once or twice a week would be enough as long as the car gets to warm up completly and that you do at least 10 miles. Keep doing that and it will purr and keep you happy enjoying the experience.


    One final and very important point: as I have been able to establish beyond the shadow of a doubt for my book during interviews another myth needs to be debunked: the hydraulics were not imposed upon Maserati by Citroen: they were requested by Maserati chief engineer Giulio Alfieri who not only had always appreciated Citroens for their comfort, then well above average even amidst luxury cars, but felt that a sports/GT car could no longer be excused for having truck like steering, brakes and clutches which exhausted the driver in no time, particulalry in city traffic.

    To keep this thread 100% technical please let us keep it so and not start any debates etc.

    best regards,

    Marc
     
  5. staatsof

    staatsof Five Time F1 World Champ
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    #5 staatsof, Jan 13, 2009
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    Not sure what you're intending with that statement.

    Well not to be difficult but you don't have to put LHM branded fluid in these cars but it better be something that's equivalent or another manufacturer's "LHM" product.
    As Marc mentioned Rolls Royce use this type of fluid and so over here in the USA there are alternatives readily available but damn little LHM at any local decent auto-parts store. Jaguar used it on some of their cars as well. Castrol and Petrosin both make products you can use and that's what I've done for 20 years with no issues. I can find both locally (NYC area) but they aren't any cheaper.

    http://www.pentosin.de/shop.php?c=214,228

    I used their 7.1 product for years but it's no longer available now they have LHM+

    This brand I can find locally. There are plenty of others available in Europe but precious little here.

    As to the reliability Marc is correct. In fact corrosion is much less of an issue with this system. But as Ivan pointed out the accumulators have to be changed as they leak nitrogen just sitting on a shelf.

    What is not so great is Maserati's implementation of this system for headlamps, pedal adjustment and seat adjustment. It's an interesting and unique system but frequently it's the first place the system leaks and this usually pisses off the owner hence exit one Maserati at a reduced price. Especially true after they take it to an untrained garage or once they find out how expensive those cylinders are going to be. It's messy to repair in an interior as it soaks into the carpet and underlayment. The original cylinders weren't up to the task and they don't disassemble easily for what should be a $10 repair. There are new replacement versions which look fantastic and are easy to service but they're also $750. I'm sure Ivan has a list of places that will repair your originals for a lot less.

    If someone has corrupted the system with brake fluid you're in for a nightmare but I think that's pretty rare. Usually a complete lack of service due to ignorance means more work is needed.

    On the Bora the two brake accumulators are a pain to replace and get the fittings sealed. There are special adapters which Maserati used. The main accumulator is a snap to change as it simply screws on from below and seals with an O-ring.

    I always wondered why the same interface couldn't be used for the brake accumulators? That would make for a most welcomed modification.

    Bob S.
     
  6. Nembo1777

    Nembo1777 F1 Rookie

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    Hi Bob: I meant no history debates as I did not want to derail this thread. Of course tehcnical debates are another matter but not my thing!:) I will leave you to it and read with interest!
     
  7. staatsof

    staatsof Five Time F1 World Champ
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    Listen, I heard the same thing from Alfieri directly back in 1992? when he visted Concourso Italiano and I think drove a Citroen as a personal car but I'm not certain of that. As for people liking or not liking how the brakes or steering feel well ... they can decide that for themselves.

    Bob S.
     
  8. Nembo1777

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    #8 Nembo1777, Jan 13, 2009
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    "but I'm not certain of that"

    I am.

    Since you have provoked me in medieval duel I shall be very fair with you: my weapon shall be a sixteen cylinder crankshaft from the late twenties V4 monster and your weapon...will be a broken fried biturbo exhaust valve...
     
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  9. thecarnut

    thecarnut Formula 3

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    Just for the record, I did not intend for this thread to be 100% technical. It is hard to have a discussion about then Citroen system without getting into the politics as to how this French "thing" ended in an Italian exotic.

    Ivan
     
  10. thecarnut

    thecarnut Formula 3

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    Before you blame the French for that green fluid that drips on your shoes as you drive your fancy Maserati, it is important to realize that the accesories did not come from Citroen. The seat and pedal adjustment and headlight raising mechanism use German components made by Bosch. It is my understanding that no Citroen car ever used any of these components. The only non-Maserati car I know that uses them is a Mercedes Benz 600.

    Ivan
     
  11. thecarnut

    thecarnut Formula 3

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    Follow these simple steps to test the integrity of the hydraulic system.

    1. Before you start the car, press the brake pedal several times to release any remaining hydraulic pressure.

    2. Turn on the ignition key but do not start the car. There should be a red light (and usually a buzzer) warning you that the hydraulic pressure is low. I have run into several cars where the low pressure sensor has gone bad; if your warning light is not illuminated make sure to replace the sensor.

    3. Start the car. Within about 15 seconds the warning light should turn off.

    4. Press the brake hard, turn on the headlights and adjust the seat. As you exercise the hydraulic system the warning light should not come on while the car is idling.

    5. Shut off the engine and wait 5 minutes.

    6. Press the brake pedal with the engine off. You should feel hydraulic fluid being released to the calipers. Count the number of times you can do this before the pedal becomes very hard and the brake feeling changes. You should be able to get 10 to 15 stops. On some cars I’ve pumped the brakes 30 times and they still had pressure!

    7. Another test is to raise and lower the headlights after you shut of the engine. You should be able to do this at least 10 times.

    What you are trying to learn with this test is how much reserve pressure is available if the engine was to stop while the car is in motion. Although raising and lowering the headlights might be an interesting test, what you really want to know is if the darn thing is going to stop if the fuel pump decides to quit while going down a steep incline.

    You would be surprised the number of Bora I’ve seen where the previous owner never suspected any problems. Some cars had ZERO pressure as soon as the engine was turned off …. very dangerous!

    Ivan
     
  12. staatsof

    staatsof Five Time F1 World Champ
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    Which is what I was getting at. But why should this be at all political? It's totally technical to me. Maserati just implemented the accessories portion less impressively than the brakes and steering.

    But as soon as your footwell wells up with that green blood you tend to get angry at the whole system. It's only human. It's also a very infrequent occurance especially if you have a well maintained car. One that is run regulary too.
     
  13. staatsof

    staatsof Five Time F1 World Champ
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    Duel?
     
  14. gcmerak

    gcmerak Formula 3

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    Sounds Great
    Ciao,
    George
     
  15. italiancars

    italiancars Formula 3

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    There will always be opposing views on Maserati's use of Vulcan Blood in the their cars. I think we can all agree that its use is a negative in the eyes of collectors today. But it is also part of what makes the cars unique to drive.

    Joe
    Really need Swain in on this thread.
     
  16. staatsof

    staatsof Five Time F1 World Champ
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    #16 staatsof, Jan 14, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2009
    As much as I do appreciate Stephen I think might end up with a real duel if he were to join this discussion. He's far too Citroephobic. ;>)
    Besides this thread is about how to educate and help people with these systems.

    Bob S.
     
  17. italiancars

    italiancars Formula 3

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    Was watching an old X-Files late last night when one of the Aliens was shot his blood came out and looked like LHM. Guess they got the idea from the Coneheads. "We're from France!"

    Joe
     
  18. Nembo1777

    Nembo1777 F1 Rookie

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    Oui!:)

    Seriously....for thousands of years myths have been debunked by serious historical research. When the truth is brought to light some have a hard time changing their long held yet erroneous beliefs but most are able to do so.

    No one has interviewed the people I have interviewed for my book: I will not go into detail here but my research for it has included interviews of a number of key players at Maserati and Citroen (even though the book is about Maserati during the 68-75 era when it was owned by Citroen, there will be the view from Paris as well though that will be much shorter than the view from Modena). Well it is a fact: Alfieri asked for the hydraulics, they were NOT in ANY way shape or form imposed by Citroen: Pierre Bercot had too much respect for Maserati to do that and he was in awe of Alfieri.

    There is a lot more I could say but I am not going to spill the beans here: suffice to say I have Paul Frére, then the leading journalist worldwide, on tape, 6 months before he passed confirming all this and providing confirmation of little known facts on the subject and other topics...

    What I still need to do (the work on this book had been set aside since June 2007 since I did two other books in the meantime and am restarting on this one now) is to determine what input Alfieri had for the SM other than the engine.

    best regards,

    Marc
     
  19. Nembo1777

    Nembo1777 F1 Rookie

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  20. helmut1014

    helmut1014 Rookie

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    Hallo Ivan,
    I have rebuild the hydraulic system of my Khamsin#1268 by myself, except the light switch. Can you give me an information how to get the light switch out of the car.
    Regards, Helmut
     
  21. Nembo1777

    Nembo1777 F1 Rookie

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    "Marc,
    Perception is reality,

    Joe"

    Disagree: those carrying misperceptions can be educated as to what the truth actually is.

    Let us not get into politics here!
     
  22. thecarnut

    thecarnut Formula 3

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    Very carefully ..... as a replacement will be expensive if you break it.

    1. Make sure the system is depressurized.
    2. Pull out the switch's plastic knob. This is where you need to be careful as sometimes they do not want to cooperate.
    3. The switch itself is secured with two small nuts in the back. Reach inside and remove both nuts. This is one of the steps where the explanation is simple but the actual execution might take you an hour. Be patient, as it can be done.
    4. Slide the switch out with the three flex tubes still attached. Make sure to mark the location of the flex tubes.
    5. Use a small flat head screwdriver to lift up the U shape clips that secure the flex tubes.

    Ivan
     
  23. thecarnut

    thecarnut Formula 3

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    These are some of the people that provide parts and services for the hydraulic components. Feel free to add any that I have missed. MIE also has many of the parts, not sure if they are providing rebuild service. Theses are all USA based; perhaps someone can provide similar contacts for other parts of the world.

    This list does not represent an endorsement on my part of the quality of their work .... blah, blah, blah, (legal disclaimer).

    =======================================

    Will's Imports
    Will Jameson
    945 South
    300 West
    Salt Lake City, UT 84101
    (801) 531-0238
    wsimports@hotmail.com[/email]

    Rebuilds the Bosch pistons and switches

    ==========================================

    Barry Barisic
    337 M St
    Fresno, CA 93721
    (559) 999-6230
    barry@kimmerlebrothers.com[/email]

    Rebuilds the Bosch pistons and switches

    =========================================

    Brad Nauss
    30 A West Allen Street
    Mechanicsburg, PA 17055
    (717) 691-8550

    Sells LHM fluid and new main spheres (the ones that are screwed to the regulator). Also has some Citroen parts such as the pressure sensor switches. He does not have the Bosch related parts.

    =========================================

    Dave Burham
    559 Youngs Rd.
    Delanson, N.Y. 12053
    (518) 875-6956

    Rebuilds the brake accumulators with new diaphragms. Note: Maserati accumulators are pressurized with Nitrogen to 65 atm, which I believe is higher than the Citroen cars.
     
  24. Nembo1777

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    "Rebuilds the brake accumulators with new diaphragms. Note: Maserati accumulators are pressurized with Nitrogen to 65 atm, which I believe is higher than the Citroen cars."

    Yes I have heard this though am not 100 percent sure either and when I mentioned this to that Citroen accumulator rebuilder I met at a classic car show in Lyon France in November he looked at me quizzically....we need to ascertain this to avoid any problems.

    I guess one of us should ask the man at SM world in California as he will have rebuilt both SM and Maser spec (if they are in fact different) accus. He did rebuild those of my Khamsin in late 2005 earely 2006...
     
  25. thecarnut

    thecarnut Formula 3

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    I am sure the 65 atm figure is correct for Maserati as it is stamped on the bottom of the accumulator. I had a Bora once with one accumulator that was stamped 40 atm; perhaps a replacement from some Citroen car. I remind whoever is rebuilding the accumulators to pressurize them to 65 atm, just in case they are different.

    Ivan
     

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