Focus STedan – Putting It All Back Together

Published On December 12, 2017 | By Bill MacKenzie | Focus STedan, Official Three Twenty, The Cars

Today we are back with another installment on Project STedan! In the last article we took a look at the teardown of the sedan, as all of its SE guts were removed to make room for the new ST parts and upgrades. As mentioned in that post we were working through a long weekend, using the time off to our advantage to get as much of the conversion done as possible – with one day of that weekend remaining we set our sights on getting the new engine and transmission dropped into place, and that is where this post begins!

We were unfortunately hit with our first delay at this point as the new Rebel Devil Customs (RDC) wiring harness was supposed to arrive but had gotten held up in the mail and been rescheduled for the following morning. Ideally I had wanted the harness in first before any other components were put in place so that we’d have easy access for running it, but considering we wouldn’t have as many hands or as much time the following day we realized we had to go ahead and get the powertrain dropped in without it.

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Things went pretty smoothly that day though and before long the sedan had an ST heart sitting in its engine bay! We still had many, many hours of work ahead of us but we considered this a major milestone in the process and I for one could not stop staring at what was in front of us. It was starting to feel a bit more real, seeing Ketchup’s old heart in Mustard’s bay; and as for the harness being delayed in the mail, once it arrived we found that – fortunately – it wasn’t too tricky to route it with the other components in the way.

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With the crash bar reinstalled as well we could begin resting a few other pieces in place such as the radiator, AC condenser, and intercooler. In the collision the aftermarket intercooler and charge pipes that Mario had on Ketchup were all destroyed, but fortunately we still had the stock components. In fact, they were still in my garage following our install of the new pieces on his car a couple of years prior! When we had fitted the new intercooler and charge pipes to his car Mario gave me the stock pieces as the official start of the parts collection for my eventual ST engine swap – we never thought they’d wind up going back on their original engine though!

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Fortunately all of the other aftermarket parts had survived so not only was my car getting an upgrade with the ST engine, it would also be receiving a good selection of modifications right from the start. Mario’s stock airbox had been another casualty but we were able to reuse my existing aftermarket intake in conjunction with his COBB intake arm. Among other pieces we also transferred over his COBB downpipe which was held in place with an RDC downpipe bracket, and it was ultimately rejoined with his 3” Agency Power exhaust later on in the process. All together this mechanical makeover resulted in a serious volume increase for the car as well, which my neighbours quickly noticed; fortunately all I’ve heard from them is that “it sounds really good!”, though admittedly cold starts in the garage can be a bit crazy…but I’m getting ahead of myself.

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From this point on we just kept working. Following our notes, reference photos, and labels, the massive puzzle started going back together as more components made their way back onto the sedan, one by one. My living room started to regain space as the various body panels that had been stored in it began leaving, and my kitchen no longer had the driver’s seat or dashboard in it. A car takes up a lot of room when it’s disassembled!

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With the pile of parts starting to resemble a car again, we then discovered a few pieces that had gotten overlooked despite our best efforts to have everything we needed for the swap before we began. As it turns out STs have unique mounting brackets to locate the radiator to the upper radiator support – these two very small pieces of plastic were fortunately easy to locate and we had them before long, but we weren’t so lucky when we discovered that the shifter cables had been damaged in the collision. They had passed the visual inspection but apparently we never actually checked to make sure they still moved properly – whoops! Checking with the dealership, we discovered that there was not a single set anywhere in Canada meaning that they wouldn’t arrive in time to meet our deadline for the debut of the car, so we had to look elsewhere. Rebel Devil Customs came to the rescue as they were able to overnight a brand new set to us from the United States!

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Because we had discovered the damage to the cables fairly late in the reassembly though – after the dashboard had been reinstalled – removing the old cables and installing the new ones became a very tedious job. Luckily they could be swapped with everything in place but it was a ridiculously tight fit; after some finessing (and a testing of patience) the new set was in place and connected, and we were good to go.

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While we’re on the topic of the interior it’s worth mentioning the few ‘upgrades’ that it too received as part of this conversion. To go along with the new heart, the main gauge cluster, shifter assembly, and pedal set from the ST were all transferred over as well. Of those three the only required piece for my car was the shifter assembly (since my original 5-speed unit wouldn’t work with the ST’s 6-speed transmission) but the gauge cluster and pedals served to help with the interior’s ST conversion; currently the only significant differences between Project STedan’s interior and that of an ST1 are the lack of the auxiliary gauges and push button ignition, the ST logos in the seats, and the fact that the headliner and a few trim pieces aren’t black – it even has the ST sill plates and some other parts which were all swapped over from Mario’s ST.

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At this point it was just under a week until the show that the car was supposed to be driven to, and while it was mechanically complete it still wasn’t capable of being started, and especially not capable of driving down to the venue. As part of the conversion the car now had the PCM for an ST (which was another brand new piece as Mario’s had been destroyed – and it was the single most expensive purchase next to the buyback of the ST in the first place!) and it wouldn’t talk to the car without some tweaks. A tow truck was called to bring the car over to a local Ford dealership so that it could be hooked up to a computer and hopefully before too long, fired up for the first time.

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However, before that call could be placed we found ourselves with another unexpected challenge; the dealership that had been expected to handle the computer programming – one which I had been dealing with for years – refused to touch the car. Calls to various other dealers were frantically placed but there were more than a few confused responses. When you call up a dealership out of the blue and explain that you and your friends put the wrong engine into your car in your garage and now need computer settings changed to get it to actually work, service advisors can be a bit unsure of how to answer! Fortunately I was ultimately put in touch with Kevin, the shop foreman at one of the local dealers who was all for taking on the job. We had the instructions of what had to be done and there were already a few swapped sedans as proof, so he excitedly said to bring it over and that he’d get it all sorted!

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We had managed to kill the battery during the swap (oops) so Kevin first hooked up a booster pack before getting to work on his computer. I know that at this point there will be people waiting for me to get to the step-by-step of what was done to get the car to start, but unfortunately there won’t be one; there are a few secrets to making these hybrids work, and I’m afraid that I’m not allowed to shed light on any of them, as per a contract with RDC. Sorry!

Anyway, in no time at all Kevin had the car up and running and we could celebrate making it to this stage. It still couldn’t be driven yet as the clutch and brake systems had not been filled or bled, but we let it idle to check for any leaks and so that we could give it a few revs once it had all warmed up. The turbo noises were music to our ears after all of the long days and late nights we’d had by this point!

By now the show was just around the corner, so we kept up the pace to get the sedan completely back together. We still had to reinstall the front bumper, side skirts, console, glove box, exhaust, fender liners, and various trim pieces, bleed the aforementioned systems, give it a proper check-over and test prior to taking it out on public roads, plus fully detail it in time for the early morning roll-in; on top of ensuring the other cars in our group were ready too!

All of that however, will be looked at in the next update on project STedan!

-Bill @ officialTHREETWENTY

Check out the video accompaniment to this article!

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