Modifications to an Early 88 4dr GL Hatch | Ford Escort Owners Association (FEOA)
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Modifications to an Early 88 4dr GL Hatch

Discussion in '1st Gen 1981-1990 CVH' started by Blazing, Apr 28, 2011.

  1. Blazing

    Blazing FEOA Member

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    I am starting this thread as a journal to what I am doing to my car. It is about trial and error, where to find parts, what works, what doesn't. Any feedback or detailed questions are welcome. I am going to post what I put on it and where I got it, so if you would like details about it, just ask. I also posess a factory set of manuals for this car, so anyone with those types of questions, please ask.

    This car is my daily driver. I take it on family vacations, camping, and haul stuff to the dump. I also autocross and rallycross with it. I would like it to be a competent performer in all areas I use it for, therefore I am looking for some compromise in the mods I make so keep that in mind.

    So Far...

    Body Mods:
    GT grill, front bumper, rear bumper, tail lights, spoiler. (from self serve junkyard) Hood pins (Napa)

    Interior:
    Overhead console (from junked 89 wagon), removed power seatbelts replaced with normal ones from a 1985 4dr(junkyard). Tinted windows. Front and back seats and center console from a GT (also from jy), seat brackets from EXP (two inches shorter). Leather steering wheel from 89GT (junkyard). Black parts of dash printed in carbon fiber (www.liquidtransformations.com).

    A/V:
    Kenwood CD with USB that I mounted in the center console where the ashtray would go, KW bluetooth hands free, Sirius sat radio.

    Suspension:
    Replaced worn front struts with SensaTracs (Napa), New lower control arms, camber kit, strut tower to inner fender braces (wrecked GT), rear swaybar (wrecked GT). 15" alloy wheels (from CL off a Contour). Rear variable rate coils for wagon.

    Appearence:
    Painted between tail lights, window frames, and below belt line flat black.(bumpers were black and I am not ready to repaint the car yet) I also did some graphics that are somewhat like the rally cars and the RS1600.

    This weekend I am replacing the rear springs with variable rate springs for the wagon (higher rated) and new rear Sensatracs (both from www.rockauto.com) and new rear brake hoses (Napa). After the race on Sunday, I am replacing all the swaybar bushings with polyurethane (www.energysuspensionparts.com). After testing, I will the remove the power steering system and replace with a manual rack (wrecked Pony). The idea is to lose some weight from the front, and free up some power by removing a belt driven pump. I will post afterwards to tell how it went and performs.
  2. twobit

    twobit FEOA Member

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  3. Blazing

    Blazing FEOA Member

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    I am really unsure of how to get pics onto the forum, but I will try. You can also check out my youtube channel for some video. My link is at the bottom.

    Here goes:[​IMG]
  4. JOEG5982

    JOEG5982 FEOA Member

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    You may need some more parts for the rack conversion--the column coupler could be different.

    I would repalce the front control arms and tie rod ends first.
  5. Blazing

    Blazing FEOA Member

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    I have new tie rod ends on the car now, and I have new ones waiting for the conversion. For lower control arms, are you refering to the bushings or the entire control arm? If it's the arm, what should it be replaced with? Any info I can get is greatly appreciated.
  6. UnexplodedCow

    UnexplodedCow FEOA Member

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    I was never aware of the wagons coming with combo rate springs. Normally the cargo springs are listed. They're slightly stiffer than GT springs. Or did you go with a different brand than direct OEM replacement?
  7. Blazing

    Blazing FEOA Member

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    I went with a different brand. They are the Rockwell RV833.
  8. FederalSecurity

    FederalSecurity New Member

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    Nice! This post is definitely going to be used for motivation in the future.
  9. FederalSecurity

    FederalSecurity New Member

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    Nice! This post is definitely going to be used for motivation in the future.

    Sorry about the double post.
  10. UnexplodedCow

    UnexplodedCow FEOA Member

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    If you want more information on how to improve things, just search around the 1st gen section. I have a somewhat old "My Projects" thread in there, that chronicles some of the mods I did to my car.
  11. Blazing

    Blazing FEOA Member

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    I replaced the rear springs, struts, and brake hoses and got to test the car out on the track. On the street it is noticeably stiffer, yet it rides alot smoother than the worn springs. On the track there is less body roll and more oversteer. Understeer remains the same. I also had to run less pressure in the rear tires. All in all I think this was a worthwhile upgrade.

    Springs are variable rate for the wagon, struts are Sensatracs both from rockauto.com. Hoses were off the shelf from Napa. The manual says to replace the strut bolts, I got those from Fasteners, www.gotbolts.com

    Next I am changing out the front and rear sway bar bushings with polyurethane. Next month we are switching to a different track that is much bigger and much, much faster so it needs to be solid. :wink:

    At the track, the safety official found a large puddle of oil under the car where I was staged. After the event I got the car on a lift and found that the oil pressure sending unit and the rear main are leaking. So before the next event I am going to have to replace those as well, so I don't get ejected. I also found that the power steering is leaking also. I am not going to worry about it for now, because I am changing the power rack out for a manual unit and ditching the pump and braketing after the next race.
  12. UnexplodedCow

    UnexplodedCow FEOA Member

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    Where are you finding the swaybar to mount plate bushings in poly? I haven't seen any yet. However, I did catalog what fits for the swaybar to control arm, as well as control arm to body. I did that to my car, and it helped noticeably.

    Rear sway bar you might find the link bushings for, but the actual mount bushings...good luck. You may have to spend some time going over sizes and trying to see what would fit.

    If you want a little higher swaybar location, try using Tempo mounts. The plates are also lighter, so it'll remove a little weight off the nose of the car. For my uses, I went with H&R springs and KYB GR2 struts.

    What are the rules of this race, anyway? Maybe some other mods can be done.

    Also, if you're rolling on a 2door non GT setup, swap in the larger GT/Wagon/4door/Tempo brakes for the rear. It's not a huge gain (8" vs. 7") but it does help with stopping.
  13. Blazing

    Blazing FEOA Member

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    Thanks for the email Unexploded Cow, I ordered the PTFE rear main from Rockauto today. I actually got the one that is made for cars with alot of thrust. It goes in next week and I will post why the old one leaked, and how well this new one works.

    As for the suspension parts, I am finding them under universal parts from www.energysuspensionparts.com As far as the rules, they are the SCCA Solo II rules. They calss all of the Escorts (regardless of sub-level) the same. That is where I am trying to use the rules to my advantage by mixing the GT,GL, wagon, and Pony parts for what I need. As far as bushings, we'll see if anyone notices.

    The car is a 4dr GL, so I guess it has the bigger brakes now, that eliminates one of the things I was going to look for. I am currently looking for a donor car for a GT engine and all of the stuff that goes with it. Because of emission laws in WA, I have to wait for the last inpection before I can change an engine out. The lest one is Dec this year, so there is a project after getting the suspension sorted out.
  14. UnexplodedCow

    UnexplodedCow FEOA Member

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    Just beware some of the universal ones, as they may not quite fit the Ford U-bracket. I never did look into getting a more universal U-bracket, but I know the Tempo plates have a valley in them that doesn't play well with universal style bushings.
  15. Blazing

    Blazing FEOA Member

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    The ones on this site have the brackets with them. But, I will have a little better idea soon because I have to take them down to get the tranny out for the rear main.
  16. UnexplodedCow

    UnexplodedCow FEOA Member

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    The Escort plates have a little bump in the middle of the bushing top, and the bushings themselves are offset cut, so the cut isn't in the top center. Most replacement bushings I've seen, including OEM, are center top cut...ala Tempo style, which is why I switched.
  17. Blazing

    Blazing FEOA Member

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    I have gotten my car domain page updated finally. I am going to attempt to post a pic here on the forum:

    [​IMG]

    This is it.
    Here it is at the track (I have not got the spoiler fixed just yet)
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
  18. Blazing

    Blazing FEOA Member

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    At the last track day the safety guy found that I was leaking alot of oil. It always leaks (when it stops is when I worry), but this was more than usual. I had just done an oil change with a thinner oil than normal. I was able to finish the day, but I had to fix it. When we got it on the lift we found the rear main was puking the oil. It had only been replaced two years ago, only problem is it was put in crooked!

    So while the tranny is out, we decided to replace the power rack with the manual one. Although the manual was easy to get at the junk yard, the power rack has alot more to it, and, with the tranny out is a good time to do it. With the front end sort of apart, we are also going to change the sway bar end bushings and lower control arm bushings so we only will have to align it once. I have a track day at the end of the month to test out the changes.

    After that I will change the sway bar bushings. I also have a trip across the state to Seattle next month. I look forward to testing the road abilities of the car at that time. I will have the whole family and our luggage to test the new rear springs. I also get to see if removing the power steering pump nets any better fuel economy.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG][/img]
  19. Blazing

    Blazing FEOA Member

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    Here is the update: Rear main is replaced. I am still getting a major oil leak, but I think it is coming from the distributor seal above the bell housing. I also found that the boneyard manual rack had a bad bushing in it, so I could not change it out. I found out the sway bar end bushings that attach to the lower control arms were totaly shot, so those did get replaced. After all that was done, I drove it for a couple of weeks. Last Friday, before my next race, I had taken it to one of my sponsors to put it on the lift to check it out and adjust the air prssure. While on the lift I found that the ball joints and lower control arm bushings are now totally shot. I now have to replace the entire lower control arms. I have found them at Rockauto.com for under $20 each. That is the next item to fix. I have also found another Pony to grab the manual rack off of. I now know what to look for before I spend the time to grab the rack off of it.

    In spite of the bad ball joints I took it to the track anyway. The car did pretty well out there. I can attribute that to the new bushings. I look forward to trying it out with the new lower control arms.

    The challenge to running this car at the track is that it is 23 years old, has at least 150,000 miles on it, and has a questionable ownership history. Running the car so hard exposes the suspension problems that you would never find out about by just driving on the street. It has been a challenge, but has been rewarding too. To take a commuter car and make it competitive with serious sports cars has been fun. I always have rooted for the underdog.
  20. UnexplodedCow

    UnexplodedCow FEOA Member

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    If you get cheap control arms, they'll wear out quickly. I've really experienced this on the bumpy WV roads. Particularly the half-lane patching done here (that is rippled) has caused the passenger side to wear out in about 4 months on two different occasions. I'd suggest going with something a bit stronger.
    -Moog is good, and comes with urethane bushings (made a big difference for me).
    -I've used TRW, and they hold up alright (it's what I'm currently using, with Moog bushings).
    *The Raybestos pro grade seems to be ok, but given their price, and what appears to be non-urethane bushings, the Moog wins ($50 each arm). In the past, I've seen LCAs go for quite a bit. The local Napa wanted $112 per LCA a few years ago (their gold level, which is re-branded Moog).

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