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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 1994 Ford Escort LX 1.9L. Here is what I have done to it:

168K miles
oil change
fuel filter
OEM spark plugs and wires
cleaned AMSOIL air filter and re-installed
replaced water pump and timing belt making sure timing marks were lined up
cleaned throttle body using Amsoil Powerfoam
Lucus fuel system treatment in gas tank
93 octane fuel

the car will not run on 87 octane fuel, the spark knock is terrible. It also has detination on the 93 octane fuel as well. Also today when I started it up I saw a cloud of smoke from the tailpipe. The car is suddenly running rich. Now running rich tells me that I am getting to much fuel and not enough air. What is going on here? I do not have diagnostic tools and the car is too old to be OBD2....this car is EEC4. Any ideas and suggestions?
 

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So far I am at a loss to guess what is wrong. What color was the smoke from the tailpipe - blackish, blue, or white? What color are the spark plugs - a beige, or medium brown, or dark? Is it driveable so you can find if it will accelerate more less normally? Is it loosing coolant?
I always associate 'spark knock' or detonation as happening in an engine that is way too far advanced, or has too high a compression ratio (which wont happen unless the engine head has been off - and the engine got incorrect pistons, a head that was milled down too far, a custom head gasket that was too thin, etc.) or that the engine is running very lean or very much overheated.
And when did the spark knocking begin? Was it when you replaced the timing belt, etc.?
I presume you know the difference between detonation (high pitched tinkling sound) and the knocking noise of a mechanical nature.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The old Motorcraft spark plugs that came out of it had a light tan ash on all four of them. Now about 18 months ago for some strange reason the cam and one roller lifter got damaged when a the retainer that holds it in place broke. So while it was apart a new head gasket by Fellpro was added. A cam, roller lifters and rocker arms were put in the head.

As far as recently...a month or less...all that other work has been done. I do know that at one point in the engines life it suffered that dreaded dropped valve issue that you have on the 1.9L, you can see the small evidence of it on the block. I am wondering if the head has been replaced or milled when that happened before I got the car.

Now here is another angle I did not think about. I just saw on my local news where people are complaining about poor running cars due to the fual having even more ethanol in it than the normal 10% which seems common these days. I wonder if I am getting fuel that has 15-20% ethanol in it.....which this older car is not designed to run on? I wonder what would happen if I remove the SPOUT connector from under the hood to retard the timing a bit?

The smoke smells like fuel and is a color somewhere between greyish blue to black. It disapates quickly and is not heavy like blue oil smoke is. As a joke with my wife I wanted to hold a lighter behind the tailpipe and watch the flame show. LOL When she gets home with the car I want to check for simple things like a stopped up air box, a clog in the inlet tube, etc. The factory airbox does make the engine breathe through a straw.
 

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I would take a really close look at the crank pulley since it sends the signal for the ignition timing. They have been known to shift (the trigger ring is not directly attached to the pulley, there is rubber inbetween)

I'd also double check the cam/crank timing belt position. It can be a bitch to get right.
I dont think ethanol would be a problem, I run 50% in my 96, been doing that for about 2 years now.
 

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I'll second the crank pulley and timing belt check. Knock like you're describing is normally associated with excessive timing advance. Add in the inability to operate on lower octane fuel, and a timing issue is the most likely culprit.

The easiest way to check that the crank pulley hasn't slipped is to pull the plugs and use a SOFT probe (I use a drinking straw) to check the position of the piston while slowly hand turning the crank pulley. If the piston is TDC, and the marks between the pulley and the case do not line up, remove the pulley and check both pulley and crankshaft end for damage.

I mention this because I have seen almost identical symptoms caused by a broken woodruf key that resulted in a damaged pulley and chipped crankshaft. I hope this is not the case for you.
 
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