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MK2 XR2 Zetec Track Car Project Diary

Jamie Rigby

Author: Jamie Rigby | Photographer: Jamie Rigby

Headgasket failure

Bad news, the head gaskets gone, lots of thick brown sludge in the top of the header tank and all over the cap, no mayo on the dipstick or the oil filler cap though. The heaters not quite getting upto temp, water temp on gauge is on the dash is normal tho, and oil temp still seems silly high for a standard engine when kicking its head in considering, and i have mocal 13row oil cooler. Piece of sh!t, it's an £80 quid engine so to be expected really.

January 30th 2011

I went shoping yesterday morning, 10 litres of 5w40 fully sythentic and CVH oil filter:

Nylock nuts for the cage

I replaced them yesterday and painted over all the welds underneath the car, I protected the threads on the bolts sticking through underneath the car with a little bit of copper grease to stop muck sticking to them, whilst I had the paint out did the drums and the interior as well.

I will be giving the interior another coat later on today

Then onto the engine, sludge! (was a lot worse in the filler cap when I removed it last night then wiped the dirt off it):

I drained the coolant and oil and fitted the new oil filter, here's the nice coolant:

Then I removed the dipstick, radiator, coolant hoses and catch tank, I removed the rocker cover then realised I needed a female torx socket to undo the cams, so another trip to the motorfactors, I got some anti freeze whilst I was there too

Cams and tappets out, disconnted the fuel lines and throttle linkage too:

Alternator and manifold then removed:

then undone the head bolts in reverse order as to the haynes manual now we have the head off

Slight bit of oil on the head gasket:

ITBs off:

One bare head ready to be skimmed:

More mess!

That's about it, going to get the head skimmed this week and wait on the order for the Blacktop steel headgasket and ARP rod bolts from Shawspeed, also gave the interior its 2nd coat of hammershite too so thats done with, will fit the seats Tuesday once its had a good few days to dry!

Head skim

Just dropped the head off the head off at a engineering place nearby and ive asked them to just do a light skim of 5-6thou, picking that back up tomorrow. Also just removed the starter motor and loosened all the sump bolts ready for the sump to be removed when i get the ARP rod bolts.

Head collected

Just about made it in time to pick the head up before after work then got caught in mega traffic on way back from there, had 6 thou skimmed off it:

I'm going to swill it down with the hot tap hose and flush out the heater matrix and the coolant hoses. Theinterior floor had dried and came out pretty well after 2 coats of hammerite

Seats are back in:

Picking the Blacktop Gasket and new head bolts from Shawspeed on thursday now, will fit the head friday if i can borrow my friends torque wrench. Once its all back togther it'll have had new/replaced:

  1. Skimmed Cylinder head by 6 thou
  2. Blacktop Steel Multilayer head gasket (45thou thinner than a standard silvertop item)
  3. 5w40 fully sythetic oil and new CVH oil filter
  4. New genuine head bolts
  5. ARP heavy duty Rod bolts
  6. 2l of anti-freeze

Then I will be taking it to mikeanics HOPEFULLY next week!


Earlier I attached the garden hose to the hot tap and blasted it all for a good 5 mins, then flushed out the heater matix for another good 5 mins to make sure all the dirt was out. Then fitted the bodies and cam belt tensioner, and put all the tappets back in order, all ready to re-fit the head onFriday if the bolts and gasket do arrive with Shawspeed tomorrow. The ARPs arrived today, will pick them up from the post office tomorrow on way home from work.

New bolts

I picked up the ARPs up on way home from work yesterday, then nipped to Shawspeed to collect the Genuine Ford head bolts and head gasket, I asked Jon to get me a Blacktop gasket, he asked for a ST170 gasket, which is not quite as thin as a normal 2.0l Blacktop but still 28thou thinner than a standard silvertop gasket, so still going to have my Compression Ratio raised by a nice 34thou.

Cleaned the face of the block, then fitted the gasket, then head bolts, then throttle cable, then fuel lines, then header tank, then coil pack, then thermostat housing and finally the radiator.

Head bolts are torqued, then angle tightened, cams are in, cam arecarriers torqued up as to haynes manual too and advanced the cams slightly.

ARPs now fitted, ARP bolt is on the left:


Torqued up to 34nm as to ARP website, then sump, exhaust, starter and alternator back on, oil in and 5l of water, then connected the battery and started it all. It's sweet as a nut and sounds well, I got it all upto temp, then noticed a leak from here where I think ive overtightened the jubilee clip:

So out of this pile:

I rigged it all up:

When i had to drain the coolant, I noticed there's still oil in the coolant, nowhere near as bad as what it was but still in there, maybe just the muck thats been stuck in the bottom end as obviously i havnt flushed that out, so when I piped the coolant hoses up I just topped it up again with water. I'm going to drive the car later and kick its head in see if theres any signs of sludge on the filler cap again and see if the oil in the coolant gets worse. As for the map, if anything it seems to be smoother than it was, especially from cold when we first started it up. It will be going to Mikeanics to get it checked out anyway, to get the cold map 100% sorted and map the top end, and raise the limiter to 7500rpm.


I ordered some Eibach Adjustable Camber bolts last night off eBay, will fit them when they arrive, then take it back to get re-aligned again and set the camber to -2.5 degrees. I'm just going to flush the coolant out a few more times and change a few of the hoses around, then just run it, if the oil comes back it comes back, i'm not going to start taking it all apart again when its running smooth.

Dropped the car off at Mikeanics earlier, the coolant temp on the dash sat at the middle all the way there, it used to sit around 3/4 on the gauge on the dash, now it seems right, also the heater gets right upto temp, it's really warm where as before it was luke warm. Maybe all the oil is just washing out the water ways in the block now, I will drain it again when I get the car back on monday, then will give it a good run see how it is, can't wait to get it back.

New goodies

  1. 1800 s2 zetec engine, out of a escort GTI, 85k, recent clutch and cam belt, turned it over by hand and feels awesome/perfect/lots of compression, also came with loom ecu key
  2. 2.0TB
  3. air filter and pipercross breather filter
  4. escort top rad hose with fan switch

I got it all for about half the price of whats its all worth, and it was only an hour away in Morecambe to collect it yesterday so win win. The plan is to fit rs1800/130ps spec cams and HO/2.0 Inlet manifold and injectors, then either sell it for more than I paid for it or keep hold of it and plonk it in the XR2 when i come to sell it so it'll be running a nice fuel injection Zetec. I dont want to be breaking the car and i'd rather keep my 2.0, jenveys, omex etc etc for my next Ford, so we'll see. I spent an hour taking all this off it earlier:

Then I removed the cambelt cover and rocker cover ready to fit some RS1800/130ps Cams which I bought last night and shall be here mid next week:

Cam Timing Out

Got a call at 11am today 'down 15bhp than before' , turned out the cam timing was far to advanced so I left it with him to work his magic, went to collect it at 5pm, was just expecting 165-170bhp as i thought he was just going to time the cams up to standard and thats around the power they usually make, well I was wrong:

Mikeanics cam timing for the win, thats all I can say, happy is an understatement on how the car feels now, with advancing the cams to their best and the extra 600rpm to hold power, it doesnt half make a difference. Watching the tacho continue past 7000rpm is fun too!

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