Changing the back box of an exhaust on a Peugeot 306

Dump the clutch pulling away from right-hand merging junction, low thud followed by tractor roar.  The thud wasn’t a disagreeable noise, and thus was ignored.  Noticing a tasty sports car in the rear-view covered for the new roar, only further down the road realising the throat was linked to my foot.  Again not entirely disagreeable, the new exhaust note was scheduled for investigation when I got home, surely 5 minutes wouldn’t be a problem?

2 minutes later, coming off a roundabout, finally a noise to fit the problem.  The sound of steel dragged over asphalt encouraged the application of hazard flashers followed by pulling into a conveniently placed lay-by.  However the sharp turn into the lay-by started a race between the back box and the offside wheel, the wheel won launching itself up and over the defeated back box;  It had the last laugh cookie cutting the bumper with the tail-pipe.

The next day I got quotes from a Peugeot dealer and a local garage, £180 and £160 respectively.  Armed with the knowledge an OEM fitment made from aluminium could be bought for around £25, the quotes were turned down.  Whilst steel is better and likely to last a fair bit longer, aluminium is suitable for the age of the car and it’s anticipated life. When purchasing a replacement back box you want to make sure it’s designed to fit your vehicle, it’s doesn’t have to look exactly the same, as the mountings will take account of any difference to ensure you don’t need costly and time consuming bumper modifications.  After checking out a few online stores I settled on one that asked for a few details about the model to refine the parts list.  Selecting the back box, flange clamp, new rubbers for mounting and a tube of exhaust paste/putty.  The total order (inc. delivery) came to around £40.

Peugeot 306 1.6 XT Back Box

Peugeot 306 1.6 XT Back Box, new and old.

Quite a few tasks can be accomplished at home, with a friendly neighbours tools or a slightly bigger wallet.  Scissor jacks generally get bad press, but if you listen to everyone you’ll believe you can’t do anything without several thousand worth of shiny tools in a shiny garage equipped with inspection pit and hydraulic ramp!  The scissor jack supplied with the car, located in the boot, fits nicely under the jacking points.  The designated jacking points on the sill are marked with notches on the thin metal strip at the lowest point on the body, place the jack slightly behind the notch between the notch and the wheel.  With the scissor jack located securely and the base on a firm surface, the car can be raised about a foot in 30 seconds.  I’ve used a trolley jack in the past, but without a block of wood with a grove for the sill you’ll mash the sill on the flat plate (not good).  An axel stand can be placed under any secure point that will bear the weight of the vehicle, I’ve chosen the point the rear shocks attach to the rear wheel.

AxelStands suggested placement

Axel stands suggested placement

After doing the same on the other side, bouncing the car to ensure the stands were steady, I was set.  I should point out that this isn’t a guide to jacking your car nor do I include enough health and safety advice; The aim is only to provide a little more confidence for amateur mechanics on this model.  Please consult specific manuals such as Haynes, research relevant safety procedures, read equipment instructions and use your head. I would add that even with two axel stands in place, I kept the scissor jack deployed as backup but would never consider working under the car with just the scissor jack.

My 306 is particularly good for avoiding bodywork rust, however that doesn’t stretch to everything else attached to the underside.  Getting the old clamp off was a real challenge, grr was used to full effect, but the torque wrench started clicking to say it was going to give up before my wrists snapped.  More penetrating fluid, a few taps of a hammer (not on the torque wrench!) and a bit more grr the rusted part came off.  I have to admit the first time I looked at this, I cocked it up.  Light was failing and the pipe coming out of the back box had such a clean break I thought it was part of the mid-pipe and should slide into the flange of the back box.  No joy as of course the remaining pipe was the same diameter as the internal of the new box!

A new day dawned and so too the realisation that the remaining pipe section’s flange and the mid-pipe flange had rusted together imperceptibly.  It’s far easier to see in this photo than under the car, the camera was a great tool for getting a closer look.


Mid pipe with back box flange

Drenched with penetrating fluid and prised apart with aid of an awl and locking pliers.  The mid-pipe flange was slightly rusty but cleaned up to a sound finish with a wire brush.  Exhaust putty is one of those great unexplained things in life, where applying basic logic will get you into trouble.  Sure you want to fix your exhaust in one place, and even if you notice there are 6 joins in the entire system, using a sixth of the tube is a great way to make an epic mess, I’d guess the tube would be good for 10 cars.  The paste/putty provides an airtight seal, but you don’t want to cause an obstruction.  Apply two tooth brush loads to each flange at the mating point and also within the cup of the flange clamp.

With the new rubbers on the back box mounts, slide the rubbers over the mounts under the car.  Now position the flanges together and secure with the clamp.  In the absence of torque settings (which usually means it’s not an exact science) I went with really tight.

After some basic checks the car was down off the stands, total time around 1 hour.  £120 to £140 saved and a warm feeling inside.

Copying between flash memory and HDD via USB

This post applies to any storage medium connected via USB on Windows 7 x64 

I run an 8GB USB flash key, with TrueCrypt in traveller mode filling majority of stick.  Within this encrypted volume, Portable Apps provides me with all the applications I need.  This setup allows me to do everything from online banking to writing websites.  My problem occurred when I tried to backup the key.

The copying process started fine, but soon became slow and died with a message to the effect that the source drive was not present.  This happened repeatedly, each time I checked the drive and found the drive letter showing but not fully connected.  I’d gone through various attempts at copying single folders and files off, but always came undone with email 300MB, and above.

Looking back, this has happened twice before, I’d previously thought the fault lay with either the flash drive itself or the integrity of the volume in file produced by TrueCrypt.  I’d Googled the problem and found hardly anything relevant.  Some stuff from M$ suggesting issues between NForce chipsets, though no resolutions or anything directly related to my system.  Until…

I have gone to the properties of the USB HDD in Device Manager and then to the Policies tab and have set the device to “Better Performance” as opposed to the default of “Quick Removal”. BE AWARE: you must now make sure you do safe removal before unplugging the device or you risk data loss (no big deal to me as I always did safe removal anyway).

This strangely seems to remove all curruption issues but must be done on every USB HDD as it is a policy for that device and not all USB HDD’s. Once set on that PC it should remain set for future use. 

I’d ensured the policy item was set to quick removal deliberately (though this is the default for flash memory), the idea is that the OS won’t cache data for writing at a potentially more optimal time instead forcing immediate writes and allowing removal of the drive without first having to perform writes.  While this is true, it’s misleading as users generally believe this means they can yank the drive out.  The system might be writing at the moment of yanking or more likely a program you are running has a handle on the drive.  This includes programs with bugs using shared resources.

Screen capture of setting location

This is where the setting is changed

For this reason and seeming as I have to follow a sequence for dismounting the TrueCrupt volume it makes hardly any difference to me.  It worked a treat, immediately after the setting change, I was able to copy an 8GB file between the USB drive and the computer.

Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

Hmm, I’ve started with that immortal phrase ‘Hello World!’, capturing perfectly the aspirations and naivety at the onset of learning a new system.

This blog is the home of the more dynamic content at  My interests lie in the field of computing, though not so occasional forays match my character and will likely be of greater interest!

I’m not intending on gaining followers, but would like to put something back for all the times I’ve Googled and been helped.  Even these days when so many sites exist and search engines are powerful enough to truly find what we want, sometimes, nobody else has shouted loudly enough – hopefully I did, and that’s why you found this.