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Sorry I'm a little late joining the story here, but I can't imagine how you damaged your water pump housing while replacing your thermostat. I haven't been under the hood of any escort other than my lovely 91 LX, but you should be nowhere near your water pump (attached to the block and which requires timing belt removal) while changing your thermostat. Your thermostat housing should be bolted to your cylinder head at the tranny end of the engine and it allows coolant to flow out of your engine and to your rad, etc once the fluid gets hot enough. Your water pump will be at the front of your engine and down, driven off your crankshaft (it runs whenever your engine runs to circulate coolant though the engine, at a minimum).

Just because you saw no smoke or steam, doesn't mean you didn't overheat your engine. Rule #1 - believe your instruments. Check your coolant level - is there any in your reservoir? If not, I think you had a legit overheat; but you may be lucky and didn't do any damage. However, if you have no coolant in your reservoir, you've lost some at some point and I'd bet on a blown head gasket if you're not seeing any coolant leaking externally.

You have to get on top of this right away. It's possible that it's simply a faulty switch, bad guage or a fan problem, but I doubt it.
 
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