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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
For the last few years, my life has been... well, like life can be, and I find myself with very limited financial resources and a dead-end job that I keep mainly for the healthcare benefits.

So, when my brother-in-law gave me the 1996 Ford Escort LX Wagon that had been his first family car and then subsequently retired to pick-up truck status for him to use painting houses..... I took it and was grateful for reliable transportation to use when rain, cold, or some mechanical fluke made my old motorcycle a less than good choice for my 29 mile jaunt to work.

Neither my bro-in-law nor my sister are even remotely 'mechanically inclinded', or even all that good at driving w/o bumping into stuff. The car was never washed and parked outside under a tree for the 4 years they had it.... Needless to say, it was rough.

Shortly after taking possession of the wagon, I did end up replacing almost every bulb on the car, as they were all out, and doing a quick pop-rivets-and-tin front-end repair to reattach a headlight and the grill, but avoiding any sort of task that might change the car into anything other than what I needed -- a 'beater'.

The A/C blew cold air and $180 from Crutchfield's gave me tunes and I had a perfect 'beater' --> I could drive it w/o worrying about it AND without getting sucked into fixing it up!


A few months of Wide-Open-Throttle freeway commuting (compensating for a chronic tardiness problem I've struggled with for years) were followed by a slow but steady loss of power and mileage... eventually landing me unable to start the car. The guy at Advance told me about a week before that the Check Engine Light that had come on one morning after starting the car was something to do with the EGR system, 'probably just need a new O2 sensor'...

That's about when I discovered feoa.net. Two days later, I made my first trek to the local U-Pull-It yard, laid out my $14 and came home with a new exhaust header ('89 Escort GT w/ the 1.9 HO EFI).

Over the next month or so (I borrowed my Dad's car when the weather precluded the motorcycle) I completed 'Shade-Tree Tuner Stage I':
-- replaced all the vacuum lines in the engine compartment w/ new.
-- rewired a variety of aged connectors and wires.
-- replaced all the EGR soft-lines.
-- cleaned up the cylinder head / polished the valve cover.
-- installed new gaskets anywhere the old ones were leaking.
-- cleaned the entire engine/trans.
-- installed my 2nd O2 sensor in the new manifold and rewired it to full-time 'I'm good' status.
-- replaced the plugs and plug wires.
-- removed intake system from the snorkel to the head: cleaned (polished where applicable) them inside and out, reinstalled them all with new gaskets and a K&N filter... all but the snorkel/baffle setup which I replaced with another function-over-form DIY sculpture of pop-rivets and tin for a respectably-effecient true-'cold-air' intake.
-- fabricated exhaust behind header into 2' ID at header, through 24" 2-inch ID glass-pack, into 2-1/4" ID to a flange under the passenger seats... let the local muffler shop bend up the fancy parts from there -- 2-1/4" ID all the way out through a ThrushRush 'fully-welded, turbo muffler', ending in a straight-cut exhaust pipe (no paint or chrome) directly behind the muffler, under the rear bumper.
-- changed oil and filter (after a Seafoam internal cleanup) to Mobil One Full-Synthetic and one of their 'Performance' filters.
-- ran some Seafoam trans clean-up stuff, dropped and cleaned transmission pan, reistalled with new filter and gasket, and then let the local shop fully flush it and fill it back up with Mobil One (again) Full Synthetic.

The engine compartment was starting to too good for a beater. The car ran like a scalded-dog (relative to fully stock, anyway) and sounds awesome... ESPECIALLY when I put the hammer down! My mileage improved over running the clogged catalytic converter, but was off the previous best, no doubt due in part to my re-energized driving style, but also to the fact that the 'tune' isn't really right for those mods.

Having lost my 'beater' and gained a 'project-car', I put it on some larger rubber, wrapped around some used mini-cooper rims I found on craigslist, placed a big 'correct my suspension' order with ZXTuner.com, and started reading up on EEC tuning...

The car is now lowered on S/R struts, but hasn't gotten any of the other suspension stuff installed, yet, as those parts have been trickling in piece-meal since ordered in May and only yesterday recieved the 'master-bushing-kit'... my front-sway bar and used rear stiffning brace are still outstanding (due this week?).

I did a variety of little body mods (relocated antennae, debadged, cut grill, removed side molding, had windows tinted, replaced cracked windshield, repainted my wiper arms, cut off the cargo rack cross-bars and capped the holes, installed clear front side-markers, repaired front grill attachment and headlight housing 'for-real', etc.) and then spent the better part of two weeks of free time cleaning, rubbing, polishing the paint.... STILL NEEDS WAX, THOUGH!

That brings me up to now... almost. I ordered a Moates.net QuarterHorse about 3 weeks ago. I came promptly, but I couldn't do anything with it, because I didn't have the files necessary to program it!

OH! I've got to quit here! I'm about to be late for work! I plan to talk you all through my Moates.net / EECEditor project in detail here over the next few days and into the future, but it looks like just bringing you up to speed on the background is all i've got time for today.

I'll leave you with this tidbit, though. Just last night I did recover a good copy of my binary file, and am running the QuarterHorse successfully, BUT haven't even started 'tuning'.... need another file -- this time custom created for me and my application, by Mr. Paul Booth -- to enable me to datalog (right now, I've only 'emulated'). From there, the REAL tuning begins! (and will likely be ongoing...)

8 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·

... and tuning, GPAQ0, J3 port, 2nd gen, wagon, automatic, Booth, QuarterHorse, Burn2, F2A, F2E, Flash-n-Burn, newbie, how-to, diy, beater, obssesive-compulsive etc.
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