2nd gen manual swap - parts sources? | Ford Escort Owners Association (FEOA)
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2nd gen manual swap - parts sources?

Discussion in 'Drivetrains' started by Sleeper94LX, Jul 27, 2020.

  1. Sleeper94LX

    Sleeper94LX FEOA Member

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    Hey, everyone,
    I have an opportunity to pick up a cheap 1991 Escort GT. Only downside to me other than cosmetic damage is that it has an auto trans instead of a 5-speed. I know the swap is not easy but my main issue is sourcing all the parts needed. I'd like to cast a wider net than waiting to finding a manual GT. Are there other cars that would have the parts I'm looking for? Like a Mazda or an Escort LX with a manual trans?
  2. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    I dont know what Mazda parts might work. I can tell you for sure that the 5-speed manual transmission in an LX escort will bolt up okay and have the same shift pattern, but the internal parts and a couple of the gear ratios are different.
    I would like to think the shifting control rod and the shift stabilizer rod would be the same on a GT versus an LX, but I dont know.
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  3. Sleeper94LX

    Sleeper94LX FEOA Member

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    That's great news because there's a 5-speed LX for $500 near me too.
    It seems like the pedal assembly and all those miscellaneous hard-to-find parts would be the easiest to make transfer over, right?
    What about in terms of wiring/computer control for the swap? Will that stuff work or even need to be swapped?
  4. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    Not ever having done the swap, nor wanted to - I can only surmise. The car with an automatic transmission expects to get info for controlling the trans - and if that info is missing, I think the check engine line would come on. By the same token, a car with the 5-speed transmission does not get info from the trans, other than whether your foot is holding the clutch pedal down or not.
    The pedals just bolt to a bracket at the lower end of the steering column, and if putting in a manual trans, adding the clutch pedal and the clutch hydraulics would be required. This also involves the brake master cylinder reservoir, since that is the source of fluid to the clutch master cylinder. On a car with an auto trans, there is a metal plate covering the hole for the clutch rod going through it. It simply unbolts.
    As to how much hassle it would be to change the PCM from one kind to the other, I cant imagine. It might have to do with whether they have emissions where you live. I had a 92LX with no EGR, but due to a crunch, I had gotten a hood from a 91. The inspector was going by the hood, which showed the plumbing for an GER, since the 91LX did have EGR, but the 92/93 dont - outside of CA. So I had to call up the VA dept of environmental quality and get them to tell the inspector that my car (92LX) really did not come with EGR. The car was old enough to be exempt from emissions testing, but the emissions equipment still needs to be there. I doubt the inspectors look for this stuff in the rural parts of VA where they dont have emissions testing.
    The other hard to find parts needed for swapping in a 5-speed would include the two rods that run from the bottom of a 5-speed trans, back to the shift lever. And you would need to change the 'socket' that the shifter rides in.
    There is a difference between the ignition switch for an automatic trans, as it has the interlock for having the lever in park or neutral when you start the car. The ignition switch for a car with the 5-speeed does not have this interlock. It just requires that you push in on the key slightly, in order to get it turned to where you can pull the key out. This interlock can probably be bypassed without much trouble.
    And the part of the console where the shifter sticks up is different on an automatic trans, versus what it looks like on a car with the manual transmission.

    The automatic trans has a switch on top of it, called the "neutral safety switch", which does 3 things: It keeps the starter from working if the shift lever is not in park or neutral; it turns on the backup lights in reverse; and it lets the trans control module know if you want to use all 4 gears, or to use the bottom 3; which is how I drive mine in the suburbs. I only use the OverDrive when on open roads, as this eliminates a lot of 'hunting' between 3rd and 4th, which wears out the 3-4 clutch pack faster.

    Having goteen my first escort, with its automatic transmission (which I had to rebuild), I wanted to have a 5-speed as well. But I bought a 5-speed (needing work of course) rather than fiddle with doing a swap. We still have both the original 92LX with its auto trans, and the 94LX with its 5-speed trans. We use them both - but use the 5-speed more when trabelling on roads with less traffic.
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  5. Sleeper94LX

    Sleeper94LX FEOA Member

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    Wow, thanks for such a thorough response.
    More differences than I thought, honestly, but not so much that it would keep me from buying a GT with an automatic transmission.
    Would it be easier to swap the 1.8L engine from the GT into a 5-speed LX car with a blown engine? They’re both ‘91 California cars, BTW.
  6. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    Cant comment on how easy it would be to swap a 2nd gen gt into a 2nd gen LX. Some of our members have done it - but not me. Since the 'blown' engine in the LX would have to come out anyway for any swap/repair, I would just repair that engine. And, being 'blown' doesnt give me enough info to guess repair difficulty; i.e. just a bad headgaslet (where the only issue is what caused the head to warp), versus a hole punched in the side of the block.
    And the California C.A.R.B. might have some guidance on doing an engine swap.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2020
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  7. Sleeper94LX

    Sleeper94LX FEOA Member

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    Looks like I have some more thinking and research to do. Thanks for all the info!
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  8. Blueescortproject

    Blueescortproject FEOA Member

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    I've done an auto to manual swap but on an LX to an LX.

    Denisond is very knowledgeable but I could have sworn that the GT and LX bellhousings were different.

    If you want to find a GT donor car, the Mazda Protege LX is identical mechanically. The 1995-1997 Kia Sephia are also identical engine and transmissions but I'm not sure if shifter and pedal assembly would be the same. I'd bet they are though. Some more rare donor cars would be a Ford Escort LX-E or a Mercury Tracer LTS.

    To swap a GT engine into the LX would require you swap a ton of the wiring harness, power steering pump and lines, AC compressor and lines, alternator, etc... it's an endeavor. IMO, if you're going to go that route, gut the LX completely and strip everything from the GT. It will be a big project.

    **I've always been told that when removing the CV axles, do it one at a time and stick a large socket or something in the output shaft hole before removing the other side. Something about the output gear falling out of place otherwise. Could be a urban legend, I just never took the chance.

    Here's what you'll need for auto to manual swap:
    - Manual transmission
    - Pedal assembly
    - Clutch master and slave cylinders
    - Clutch hydraulic line
    - Flywheel (be sure to get the bolts that hold the flywheel to the crank!!!!)
    - Clutch (you'll need an alignment tool as well)
    - Pilot bearing
    - CV axles (both sides)
    - Shift lever and boot
    - Shift linkage (both rods and the mount thing. You'll see them when you get under the car)
    - Transmission mounts (The LX required a different right-hand side transmission mount. I don't know if the GT uses the same for both transmissions. The GT right-side mount is different from LX regardless.)
    - Manual transmission ECU (you can use an auto ECU after the swap but the idle will be higher. Also LX and GT are different ECUs. Even the plugs.)
    - A separate brake fluid reservoir. From the factory the clutch shares the brake reservoir but automatic cars don't have the clutch hose fitting. Instead of swapping brake reservoirs and having to re-bleed the brake system, use a separate cup. Ford Rangers (and others) use a separate cup.

    Interior work:
    Remove center console and remove the automatic shifter. There will be a cable going to the transmission (throw away) and another going to the ignition lock. Disconnect the cable from the ignition lock (this prevents you from starting the car unless it is in park).

    The ECU is underneath the heater box in front of the center console.

    Remove the pedal mechanism and install the manual one.

    Now install the linkage from the shifter to the transmission. Might want to use new bushings now too or your shifter will wobble all over the place.

    Engine bay work:
    Remove axles and toss. Remove transmission from the bottom or through the driver side wheel well. Remove transmission cooler lines from radiator, you can throw them away. Cut the large plug off the transmission with some wire to spare, you'll need this to get your reverse lights working later.

    Remove torque converter and flywheel. I made a clock out of my ATX flywheel. You can use yours as you please. (Use as a frisbee is not recommended)

    Remove right-side engine mount. You can also get rid of the cable that goes from the transmission to the throttle body. That's for the kickdown, don't need it anymore.

    Install the clutch master. There will be a small cover-plate in the firewall to block the hole where it goes. Run your feed hose to your reservoir.

    Install the right-side engine mount to frame.

    Install pilot bearing.

    Install flywheel and clutch.

    Install transmission.

    Install axles, clutch slave, clutch lines, etc. Bleed clutch system.

    Wiring work:
    Wiring is detailed in another post here: https://www.feoa.net/threads/automatic-to-manual-need-wiring-help.88665/#post-793209

    **Be sure to look at my reply farther down in that thread because I made a correction to my original post to it regarding the reverse switch.

    If you're mechanically inclined and can find a manual donor car (I don't think that LX transmission is going to work but the pedals, shifter, and linkage should) then you can probably have this done in a weekend. One day to pull stuff from the donor and the other to install on the recipient.

    Hopefully this helps and I hopefully have covered everything!
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2020
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  9. Sleeper94LX

    Sleeper94LX FEOA Member

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    Wow, thanks for all the details!
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  10. Blueescortproject

    Blueescortproject FEOA Member

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    It just occurred to me that the reverse light wiring I wrote about in the other post may not work for the GT. It's real simple though and if you've got a basic Haynes manual or something you'll see what wires you need to join together.
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