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MK2 XR2 Zetec Track Car Project Diary

Jamie Rigby

Author: Jamie Rigby | Photographer: Jamie Rigby

Saxo Radiator

Time to enjoy it and get 3-4trackdays in before Ford Fair, roll on the 5th March at Oulton Park! I drained the coolant and filled it back up with water for the final flush with just water as it seems 90% of the oils clearning out of the cooling system now. When I started the car to bleed the system and to get it upto temp, it started really easy straight away, the cold map seems miles better than it was before yesterday and has been all over winter.

February 16th 2011

I purchased a Brand new Saxo VTS radiator off ebay last night, they are 35mm wider than the mk3 zetec rad, same height and same core and have a built in header tank which is the main reason ive gone for a VTS rad, with the lower rad hose outlet on the side on of the rad on the VTS rad and not on the rear like the zetec rad, im gonna have to do some modifying for it to fit so ive thought out what I need and want, a combo of Escort GTI and clio 172 lower rad hoses, as the 172 hose has a 15mm take off which can feed my heater matirx, also ordered a 32mm pipe joiner to join both hoses. It all should be here tomorrow aswell as the Cams for the 1800.

Radiator fitting

Saxo VTS rad, 172 and Escort lower rad hoses and 32mm pipe joiner:

I will put it up along side the Zetec one when I do the swap tomorrow to compare it. I also gave the car its first wash since i can remember.

I just ordered some OMP clamps from Demon Tweeks ready to make new door bars, will get the tube ordered soon. I bled the brakes yesterday, did them in the correct order... was LOADS of air in the offside rear, no air at all in the nearside rear, loads in the offside front and loads in the nearside front. I'm yet to test them because I planned to test the brakes whilst getting the car upto temp to bleed the cooling system so that'll have to wait. Before I removed the header tank, rad and the hoses, I checked the header tank to see what we have, after 4-5times flushing it out with water it seems to be 99% clean now.

All removed:

The new rad is 30mm wider, 20mm taller and the core is 7mm deeper

Radiator resting in place, then noticed this

I attacked the bonnet with a hammer because the filler neck on the header tank is right where the inner skin lies, so I flattened that and it shuts now, then spent around an hour trying to get my lower 172 and escort rad hoses to line up, but the 172 one just wouldnt fit, so went to a scrapyard and got a lower rad hose tee off a silvertop mondeo, got it to line up with the joiner and a 90degree bend off the escort hose. It's all just resting in place at the moment because I ran out of time yesterday, will get pics tomorrow when I finish it all off. The Escort top rad hose with came with a built in fan switch so I'm using that too as theres no fan switch on the radiator. Also forgot to mention, when I did the headgasket I was able to remove the old coil pack and bracket off the head as i rounded the 7mm bolts that hold the coil pack to the bracket, so on went the new one

Cooling system

Mondeo and Escort lower rad hoses modified and joined together

I fitted and also piped the 15mm tee up to the heter matrix, I've blanked off the thermostat bypass hose.

Escort top rad hose with built in fan switch, chopped down to size and fitted:

All done, this was taken when I was bleeding the system, couldnt be bothered driving it so I just annoyed the neighbours for 20mins, inbetween revving it to get it upto temp I just tidied the garage.

All bled and spot on happy days , the thermostat housing breather blocked off and some fresh pics:

Cooling system before:

Now, much better:

More cooling issues

Having problems, the heater matrix is still only getting warm although both hoses leading to it are red hot, coolant temp seems to be running higher than it did with the old smaller zetec rad too, I've been told I may need to add in a bleed valve as saxo VTS' and 106 GTI's have a bleed valve on the highest point on the hoses, not just the bleed screw on the rad, still looking into what to do at the moment, we'll see.

February 24th 2011

pic of bypass re-fitted

I removed the hose leading from the heater matrix to the wather pump/lower rad hose, the waters gushing through there, maybe/hopefully thats bled it a little tho with taking that off then re-fitting it, so will see how the temp is now, later.

I now know the matrix is knackered anyways, hmmm what to do, either a. remove the front section of the cage, remove the dash and swap the matrix, or b. heated windscreen and get rid of the matrix all together, decisions decisions! On another note, fan switch hast arrived yet, should be here tomorrow. I just ordered 4m of black 6mm silicone vacuum tube off ebay for relocating my windscreen washer bottle to the boot, that should be here early next week, and picked the cams up for the 1800 last night:

Here are the cage brackets, 4 of each of these for either ends of the door bars, me and a friend are going to make the bars some time next week before Oulton Park next saturday.

Just waiting on the suppliers to have the 40mm CDS tube in!

Thermostat Problem

With the bypass in, the temp was the same and still the heater matrix is only blowing out luke warm air, unless in standstill traffic, then it got really hot, when on the move its basically cold/luke warm, so i've taken out the bypass hose for good now, and ive re-piped the hose from the rear of the thermostat housing straight round the engine into the lower rad hose (cancelling out the heater matrix). If the temp is fine now when I come to test it, once I fit this fan switch which arrived yesturday, then its the heater matrix thats causing the probs, if it's the same, the only other thing I can think of is the water pump, but im not changing that as then i'd have to take my car back to Mikeanics again. The only other option is to drill a couple of holes in the thermostat itself to let more water flow to the rad, im not going to remove the thermostat fully, as when I did that last time it just sat in the cold on the gauge unless in standstill traffic which is no good for the engine at all, only thing that was good for was the oil temp was at a nice cool 80degrees

Fan switch fitted:

It cuts in at the perfect time so win, but when driving the temp is still the same, must be a problem with thermostat or the block itself, so im going to test the thermostat later. If it's fine im just going to drill 4 5mm holes in it, then see how the temp is. I had the Eibach Adjustable camber bolts fitted earlier and the alignment re-done.

Bolts fitted/before:

Whilst being aligned:

How it stands now

Thermostat Modification

I tested the stat last night, works spot on, so then I did this:


3x 4mm holes, the coolant temp is mint now, sits at around 1/4ish on the gauge meaning the oil's cooler too, I've also plumbed the heater matrix back in too as warm air is better than freezing air, and relocated the windscreen washer bottle, this is how the bay looks now, where the old washer bottle and header tanks were:

Image Image Image

The hose I ordered is slightly too large, and about 1m meter short than i wanted to reach where the tank is, so I'm going to go for 5m of 4mm hose instead of the 4m of 6mm hose

Fueled up

The fuel tank is almost full, 2 jerry cans full, 70quids worth of fuel (only 53litres), probably wont last me all day tomorrow if all goes well. I've put the spare pots with the R888s on ready as the weathers looking promising and just gave the car a quick wash, just a tad excited!

Track time

The car lasted all day which left me with a big smile on my face, on the last trackday, the oil shot up to 140degrees after one hard lap and threw out 1/2 litre of oil out the breather after one lap too. Yesterday I managed 3-4 hard laps before my oil reached 120degrees, so then I just did 1/2 lap cooling down, then another 3 hard laps as didnt think it was worth the risk of letting it go much higer than 120degrees, although I probably could have as my oil pressure was still at 3.5-4bar at 120degrees, think i'll be taking my thermostst completely out at the next trackday, somethings defo not right somewhere either way The breather problem's sorted it seems, with now a baffled sump and oil running cooler than before, only blew out 1/8 of a litre all day.

The brakes were have to say awful, spoke Jason yesterday as he was doing the day too and he said i need a brace bar to hold my brake servo as it moves ALOT, so will try make something up in the near future for that. I also need a new steering rack, I've been thinking it's on the way out for ages but I know know its past its best after 23 years and 109k miles. A friend has a brand new one hes selling so I'll be going to collect that this week hopefully.

The last problem; my exhaust is stupidly close to the floor now after yesterdays abuse, it's dropped down where I had the 4-2 welded onto the 2-1 part of the manifold, the cause is that I have no hangers on the system at all apart from the 2 on the back box, the manifolds heatwrapped and also the crap quality of the the metal on the Ashley manifold, as they're known to crack. I think it's just dropped slightly with the heat of it and the strain from the system weighing it down. It got worse and worse throughout the day, its not blowing though so thats going to have to come off, I'll cut 1/2 of the heatwrap off and take another trip to Piperwerx to get that sorted, then I'll try make up a middle exhaust hanger

Overall the car handled awesome, had a few people coming over through the day who were suprised by how well it goes and the main thing, I did 150 miles out on track and managed to drive it home, I'll get these problems sorted and the next traxckday will be even better.

I'm quite an aggresive driver, the Fiesta was pushing civics and a sagaris out the way, and even a couple of porsches (obviously not the GT3 cups). It suprised a few other cars and drivers anyways, that's what its all about

A couple of teasers of whats to come:

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Page Last Updated: Saturday 18th of May 2024