LordTurbonia
LordTurbonia New Reader
1/31/11 3:03 p.m.

It just keeps getting better . . .

So a while ago I gave up my Saab dalliance (there's still a sweet 900 SPG hanging around Memphis, for the curious) and decided to soldier on with my neglected Merkur XR4TI.

I got all of my T5 parts together, and decided it was time to get the thing on the road. This weekend came the dreaded battery of tests: compression and emissions.

Got it to start and idle. Sounded almost tolerable, with a missing cylinder. Got it up to temp for comp check without too much trouble.

This is where it went downhill: 165, 165, 0, 155. Low across the board, with a dead cylinder. It smokes too much to even bother running smog on it.

Thus began the stripdown. I got the valve cover off and discovered that one of my cam followers split in half, eating my cam lobe and disbursing flecks of metal all about. I was able to pick out maybe 90% of the rocker arm out of the cam area, but some of it is missing.

At least I found out where my compression went . . .

I am dreading pulling the head, because I don't know what the sweet hell would snap a cam rocker in half, yet leave every other follower and lobe looking good. The low compression overall speaks to the engine being worn out, and since the cooling system was literally filled with rust and crud to the point where it was choking coolant flow I can't imagine there not being a tragedy when I get it all broken down.

In conclusion, I was hoping the engine in the Merkur would be an example of the 2.3 Ford's inscrutable durability. It is the exact opposite, and to just replace the broken stuff I've found so far is a complete top end rebuild. Too. Much. $$$$. To spend on a 2.3 Ford. It's be one thing to just Holset up a working example, but HP/$/lb seems to be way off on the 2.3 for what it is. No head options to speak of, and the only real affordable solution is "moar boost!", plus it's a freaking boat anchor compared to the Duratecs.

Since this is my third or forth post waffling about my five figure 800 dollar car, I'm on the warpath. I need leads on where to get the bits to perform a 5.0 swap. I'm in the South, and I can get 300HP worth of 5.0 all day every day for the same money it would cost to fix my 2.3 back to 200HP.

What I can't get is crossmembers, wiring harness adapters, and the like to build an honest to God XR8. I eyeballed the Duratec solution, but at the end of the day I want my torques, and by the time I turbo up a Duratec I could have just rebuilt my 2.3 with race parts, Esslinger head, header, etc. and by the time I do that I could have build two 5.0s making the same power.

Who's with me? (And am I retarded? The guy I rent my shop bay from seems to think so.) Any links in the wild, build threads, etc?

Javelin
Javelin SuperDork
1/31/11 3:05 p.m.

I realized the 2.3 wasn't worth it 4-5 years ago and haven't ever regretted it. V8 is where it's at!

pres589
pres589 HalfDork
1/31/11 3:29 p.m.

"five figure 800 dollar car" has me wondering just how interesting the budget is on this thing. And I could totally see doing the 5.0 swap just as long as there's aluminum heads out there in the wild for these things for cheap. At that point you'd probably have something the same weight or even lighter vs. the 2.3 turbo.

LordTurbonia
LordTurbonia New Reader
1/31/11 3:57 p.m.

On budget: The Merkur fills the space in my budget pie chart the former Lady Turbonia occupied, which means it's somewhere around the GDP of a small African dictatorship. (One of several reasons she is the former, not the current.)

Also, it's a Merkur, and a beat to crap one at that. The $800 it took to get title in hand was the first of many, many payments.

Here's how I rationalized it: The XR4TI is a classic that I have lusted after for many years, and for the cost of car payments on some soul-destroying crapbox, I could at the end of a year or two have one of my bucket list cars, done up to the nines. And not just ETs, either.

That said, I don't want to just be slinging dollars out the window, and I've also always wanted a proper V8 muscle car. The XR8 option seems to be a happy marriage of the two.

pres589
pres589 HalfDork
1/31/11 4:06 p.m.

Okay, so it's more like "this car cost me 800 to get into my driveway, and I can accept spending into low five figures to make it what I always wanted" situation.

Sounds like a solid plan! Too bad I have no technical information to share but I do believe you are on the right track. +1 for soul destroying E36 M3-box avoidance.

Conquest351
Conquest351 New Reader
1/31/11 4:07 p.m.

I used to work at Motion Dynamics in Texas. We specialized in the 2.3T and built tons of them ranging from stock rebuilds to full on 2.7L stroker monsters. They're friggin expensive! LOL If you have the means, a V8 swap would be the way to go. 302 or 351-W bolted to a T5 and off you go.

That being said, finding a Cosworth 16V turbo to swap in there would be pretty sweet... LOL

Nitroracer
Nitroracer SuperDork
1/31/11 4:42 p.m.

If they are still cheap a 97-01 explorer is about as good as it gets for stock fords parts. I wouldn't recommend the 351, I have one in my fairlane and everything is just slightly different than a 302, harder to find, and more expensive. If you want more cubes 331 or 347 stroker is the way to go.

LordTurbonia
LordTurbonia New Reader
1/31/11 4:50 p.m.

I've got emails going back and forth with Jim Deberry, the recognized expert in this sort of thing. Excitement!

As to engine choice, a warmed over Explorer motor is a few bills, but guys are moving built engines with aluminum heads, cams, etc for a bit more money. I'd like to go with aluminum heads if at all possible; the 5.0 V8 weighs about the same (published) as the 2.3T, but the V raises the CG of the 450 pounds of metal about 6-8 inches. Swapping in aluminum heads drops that back down, plus AFR185's and the like tend to go for a song around here.

tuna55
tuna55 Dork
1/31/11 10:00 p.m.
LordTurbonia wrote: I've got emails going back and forth with Jim Deberry, the recognized expert in this sort of thing. Excitement! As to engine choice, a warmed over Explorer motor is a few bills, but guys are moving built engines with aluminum heads, cams, etc for a bit more money. I'd like to go with aluminum heads if at all possible; the 5.0 V8 weighs about the same (published) as the 2.3T, but the V raises the CG of the 450 pounds of metal about 6-8 inches. Swapping in aluminum heads drops that back down, plus AFR185's and the like tend to go for a song around here.

How would a V8 raise the cg? Are you forgetting the cast iron snal mounted to the top of the 2.3? Plus, a straight four is, well, straight. A V8 is not. CG should be nearly a wash.

LordTurbonia
LordTurbonia New Reader
2/1/11 6:24 a.m.
tuna55 wrote: How would a V8 raise the cg? Are you forgetting the cast iron snail mounted to the top of the 2.3? Plus, a straight four is, well, straight. A V8 is not. CG should be nearly a wash.

Yeah, the actual difference is probably much less that my admittedly back of the envelope calculations came up with, and most of the drama in those was the fact that iron heads weight so much. 1 GT40P head with a cast iron manifold weighs about what the 2.3 head/manifold weighs, and there are 2 of them on top of the motor. On the bottom end the two engines have similar block weights. The V spreads the weight out laterally, but a V design is inherently more top heavy than an inline design.

Now, AL heads and tube headers make the balance better than stock, so we'll be going that way. Not because a high winding, cammed up, free breathing 5.0 is awesome or anything

minimac
minimac SuperDork
2/1/11 7:00 a.m.

Sounds like a cool project. Take lots of pics and keep us posted.

Raze
Raze Dork
2/1/11 7:51 a.m.

There are a few guys running this combo over on Merkur Sport / Merkur Club of America. The newer/more popular is the LS swap.

For 5 figures, if you DIY you could get your car just about any way you like it including rebodied, wheels/tires, suspension, upgraded brake options, paint, and still have plenty of money to do an engine swap, though that will be the majority of the cost since you need Motor(?$$), transmission (?$$), trans mount ($100), custom driveshaft ($200-300), (if you have 300+HP you're going to need a LSD so add $500-800 to do that), computer (?$), injectors (?$), upgraded fuel pump ($100), custom exhaust (?$$), custom motor mounts, might have to mod trans tunnel or front support bracket to get it all to fit (time).

I know you complained about the 2.3T, and you have a munched head, but XR4s, TurboCoupes show up in the JY, no reason you can't get a used head for under $100, slap it on and be driving in an afternoon. I know you said you had lower than optimal compression, run some thicker oil or swap pistons with a good used set, just sayin...

pres589
pres589 HalfDork
2/1/11 8:16 a.m.

How happy with life is the stock rear diff in these cars with 300 to 400 lb/ft of torque? Half-shafts? Figuring on a 235mm wide street tire and a suspension set up for handling, not drag racing, so there's some slip there even with an LSD.

alfadriver
alfadriver SuperDork
2/1/11 8:18 a.m.
pres589 wrote: How happy with life is the stock rear diff in these cars with 300 to 400 lb/ft of torque? Half-shafts? Figuring on a 235mm wide street tire and a suspension set up for handling, not drag racing, so there's some slip there even with an LSD.

MKVIII.

Raze
Raze Dork
2/1/11 8:48 a.m.
alfadriver wrote:
pres589 wrote: How happy with life is the stock rear diff in these cars with 300 to 400 lb/ft of torque? Half-shafts? Figuring on a 235mm wide street tire and a suspension set up for handling, not drag racing, so there's some slip there even with an LSD.

MKVIII.

The are ok, as in won't munch, just end up spinning tires since you have to roll/cut the fenders to get alot bigger rubber under there that'll give you trouble. Stock shafts seem just fine, at least I haven't heard of anyone running custom shafts even with big power...

Yup, or Supra Diffs can be swapped in, Cosworths can drop in ($$$), or else Eatons can be made to fit in the stock housing, MC2Racing sells kit, considering one of their guys AutoX's the crap out of it and they can be found all day long for cheap, I'd personally go this route, in fact I am

tuna55
tuna55 Dork
2/1/11 11:47 a.m.
LordTurbonia wrote: The V spreads the weight out laterally, but a V design is inherently more top heavy than an inline design.

no! Being a V it also lowers the heads a bunch. That and it doesn't have a turbo bolted way up there that weighs more than nothing with the plumbing, wastegate, actuator, etc. The intake and induction can also be lower than with an inline depending on deck height.

rogerbvonceg
rogerbvonceg Reader
2/1/11 12:03 p.m.

This thread is a perfect example of why the XR is so cool.

sachilles
sachilles Dork
2/1/11 12:30 p.m.

Out of curiosity how does an xr4ti compare in terms of weight with a similar year mustang. They had IRS right? Just curious, always sort of liked the cars, but no real exposure to them.

sachilles
sachilles Dork
2/1/11 12:35 p.m.

incidentally there is a rally prepared Merkur on ebay at the moment in Ontario.

Raze
Raze Dork
2/1/11 12:36 p.m.
sachilles wrote: Out of curiosity how does an xr4ti compare in terms of weight with a similar year mustang. They had IRS right? Just curious, always sort of liked the cars, but no real exposure to them.

just a hair under 3000lbs, 2970 is stock curb weight....

Oh, here's some LSx inspiration: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8fqFHNfEBM

Some 5.0: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHpsh-SznA8&feature=related

3.0L Duratec Turbo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqBRn5xQS_4&feature=related

and some compound turbocharging of the 2.3T: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0z7-O58t6so&feature=related

rogerbvonceg
rogerbvonceg Reader
2/1/11 3:53 p.m.
sachilles wrote: Out of curiosity how does an xr4ti compare in terms of weight with a similar year mustang. They had IRS right? Just curious, always sort of liked the cars, but no real exposure to them.

Similar in size but IIRC stiffer body than the Fox-Stang. Better interior space, etc. Semi-trailing arm rear.

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