Focus STedan: The Teardown
One of Calgary’s largest annual car shows – ill.motion’s Sunday School – took place on August 14th. Each year the event brings in enthusiasts from neighbouring cities and provinces (and sometimes further) with their projects new and old for what never fails to be a great day (to say the least the show is a big deal in our city). Each year the bar is raised higher and higher as everyone continually pushes and inspires each other to improve their builds and it’s incredible to see the results this competition amongst enthusiasts brings.
My friends and I take part in the show each year and in the last few weeks leading up to it my garage, driveway, and even the street are usually full of modified vehicles as we all help each other out with fitting new parts, applying new decals or liveries, and detailing – fortunately my neighbours are understanding of our hobby and even enjoy checking out what we’re up to! We plan months in advance for the show as do many others, and by the time the big day arrives there’s usually more than a few sleep-deprived individuals.
For my friends and I this year’s show prep was a bit more involved than usual as we had set ourselves the goal of having Sunday School be the time and place to unveil my Focus (Project STedan) following its full ST drive train conversion. With 16 days to the show, I began the teardown.
Ketchup (Mario’s Focus ST) had been hit a few months prior to the show, but the swap wasn’t started earlier due to all of the preparations needed. Following buying the car back the first order of business was tearing Ketchup down and sorting all of the salvageable components. Anything needed for the conversion was set aside with the extra pieces being listed for sale to recover costs. We then determined which components needed replacing and began sourcing them; due to the extent of the damage a new axle, control arm, radiator, AC condenser, and more were all required in order to complete the conversion.
Along with making a list of what was needed, my friends and I also had to determine the schedule for all of the work. The priority was of course to get the car completed in time for the show, but also high on my list of concerns was keeping the downtime to an absolute minimum. The Focus is my daily driver and the last thing I wanted was to have it off the road for longer than necessary. As such, I wanted all of the needed components in my hands or on their way before the car came apart, the necessary shop appointments set within a tight time frame, and I had to ensure that there would be enough time outside of everyone’s work hours so that all of the required man-power would be available to get everything completed.
I started pulling the Focus apart on a Friday; I had the day free so I decided to get a lot of the tedious work out of the way, removing body panels and interior trim and safely storing them so that nothing would get scratched or otherwise damaged. I could have removed more but had to keep the car mobile so that it could be moved out of the way to allow its garage-mate back in for the night. The next day that car went into storage and the Focus was moved over and set on jackstands so that the serious teardown could begin.
One benefit of starting at this point was that we had a 3-day weekend and were able to make incredible amounts of progress in what seemed like no time at all. As the second day went on the car was missing more and more components – the front coilovers came out, the crash bar and rad support were removed following the radiator and AC condenser, the front doors were taken off in preparation for removing the dashboard, and the engine’s various connections to the car were undone as well. While it was out, Mario also painted the crash bar black as I intend to sand down the backside of the grille to open it up in the future. The last thing I’d want then is for a bright yellow crash bar to be visible through it!
It was on the third day – Sunday – that the original engine was removed from its home and set aside. The dashboard was also wrestled out of the car (the dash’s removal and installation were probably the least fun parts of the entire process) and any final SE components that had to make way for the ST replacements were pulled as well.
Throughout the entire process we also made sure to be meticulous with labeling and sorting pieces and hardware as they came off the car to make our lives easier during reassembly. All nuts, bolts, clips, and other fasteners were put into Ziplocs which were then labeled to tell us where they came from. If it was felt to be necessary, instructions were even written on parts as reminders of their orientation or location. We were familiar with the car having spent quite a bit of time working on it before, but since we expected some late nights and stressful days ahead as the deadline came ever closer, we erred on the side of caution and decided it’d be better to over-label rather than under-label.
Thanks to lots of manpower and some long hours in the garage, in just over two days the car had gone from a running and driving vehicle to being half-stripped and ready to accept all of its new components and we were extremely happy with the progress. A few of my neighbours were also extremely curious by this point as it became evident this was a bit more serious than the work usually seen taking place in my garage. Some walked over just to ask what on earth we had done to my car this time and were all intrigued when we explained what was going on – during the rest of the swap they’d even stop by periodically to check in on our progress and see it come together, and one even kindly lent a hand on a couple of occasions when we needed his expertise!
Speaking of the rest of the swap though, the reassembly of the sedan and its ultimate completion will be the subjects of its next updates here on Project ST, so you’ll have to check back for those! It’s no secret that the car was of course completed on time (just), but as expected with a project of this magnitude we did encounter a few minor setbacks along the way. Par for the course!
-Bill @ officialTHREETWENTY