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Phase 3 Zetec Engine

One of the biggest upgrades to my car after its first year on the road must surely be the engine.

I started off with a 2.0 litre Phase 2 Zetec from a 1995 Mondeo. This engine was fine and powered the car very well, but I decided I wanted more power.

I looked into the prices for upgrading the power of the engine I had and before 'silly' money was required there were essentially three fairly easy upgrades that could be performed. Two to increase the power and one to improve the strength of the bottom end:

  • Replace cam shafts (15 - 25 bhp - £300.00)
  • Have cylinder head ported to improve air flow (10 - 15 bhp - £600.00)
  • Strengthen bottom end with ARP con rod bolts (0 bhp £80.00)

By performing all three of these, I would have ended up with a reasonably strong and reliable engine with around 200bhp costing just under £1,000.00.

I also looked into the possibility of getting a new 2.0 litre Phase 3 'Black Top' Zetec engine. This engine is considered to be slightly stronger than earlier Zetec engines and features several modifications, the main one of interest being the change from hydraulic to solid followers. This allows the use of more extreme profile cam shafts.

Other modifications to the engine have improved the air flow through the cylinder head. Typically a 2.0 litre Phase 1 or 2 Zetec with twin 45mm carbs or throttle bodies will give 165 bhp whereas a 2.0 litres Phase 3 Zetec with the same configuration will give around 175bhp.

With this improved air flow through the cylinder head, it is possible to get very close to 200 bhp with a simple change of cam shafts going up to 240 bhp with extra work on the air flow through cylinder head and more extreme profile cam shafts.

With a final target power of 200 bhp, upgrading my current Phase 2 engine would cost in the region of £1,000.00. A brand new Phase 3 engine would cost in the region of £1,700.00 minus whatever I could sell my Phase 2 engine for.

With this in mind, the unknown mileage factor of my Phase 2 engine and the possibility of wanting to upgrade to more than 200 bhp in the future, the sensible option was to sell my current engine for around £500.00 and replace it with a brand new Phase 3 engine. If I could get at or near the £500 mark for my engine, the effective difference in price between upgrading the current engine to 200 bhp or a brand new engine with 200 bhp with more possible was £200.00.

At the Donington kit car show in September 2002, I put my engine, complete with Tiger shortened sump, up for sale for £475.00. I had interest from a few people building various different cars, and ended up agreeing to sell the engine to a Westfield builder for the asking price. I also had a Tiger builder on the reserve list should the deal fall through. In November, the engine was removed from my Tiger and collected for its new home in a Westfield.

I then looked at finally ordering two new engines, as Dad and Neil had also decided to sell their Phase 2 engine and replace it with a new Phase 3 engine. This engine has a part number of "MVH420" and is specificed as a "2000MY Focus Base Engine Assembly"

We ended up ordering the engines from Dalton Power Products (Update 12 Jul 09: no longer trading) who were recommended by a friend of Dad who races in the Sports 2000 Series. Their service was very good and they were very helpful, ensuring we got everything we needed with the engines.

New engine as collected
New engine as collected

As you can see from the above picture, the engine came complete with the standard Ford inlet injection system and exhaust manifold. These were the first things to be removed from the engine. We also got a few other bits not attached to the engine such as the idle air control valve (IACV), lambda sensor and a collection of bolts.

The engine comes without a number stamped in the normal location on the flange near the crank position sensor. Instead, it had an aluminium plate stuck on top of the cam shaft cover with the engine number and a sticker on the front of the cam belt cover with a large serial number starting with "ELH". Ford now use this "ELH" number to identify everything about the particular engine. Before installing the engine in the car, we will stamp the number from the aluminium plate onto the block and remove the aluminium plate.

The noticeable differences between this and a Phase 2 Zetec are easy to see:

Item Phase 1 & 2 Phase 3
Water Pump Centrally above crank pulley Offset to exhaust side
Cam Shaft Cover Cast aluminium
("Silver Top")
Plastic
("Black Top")
Sump Single piece cast aluminium Split cast aluminium and steel

In order to fit the engine into the Tiger, the sump needs to be shortened. Anyone who has read my site will know that I'm not the greatest fan of Tigers shortened sumps due to having had three, all of which leaked to some extent. This is primarily down to the porosity of the alloy used when they were cast. As standard, they are fine, but when they are shortened and welded the heat causes minute holes within the casting to form. The oil manages to find a way through these holes, no matter how small the holes are.

Thankfully, the Phase 3 Zetec sump is different in design to the older Zetec engines and has a lower steel section. Only this section needs shortening, so there should be no problems with the sump leaking and even if it does, it should be fairly easy to sort out with a MIG welder.

The first step in modifying the sump is to remove it and degrease it. It was at this point, that I spotted the first potential problem. The oil pick-up pipe on the Focus Zetec engine is actually made of plastic, so won't be possible to shorten and re-weld. The obvious solution is to buy a pickup pipe designed for the Mondeo with the Phase 3 Zetec engine as this is metal.

Shortened Mondeo Pick-Up Pipe
Shortened Mondeo Pick-Up Pipe

I drained the unused oil into several clean coffee jars and removed the lower sump section. This was then wiped out and degreased using Hammerite degreaser. I scraped all the old sealant off then, with permission from Jo, washed the lower sump section in the kitchen sink using Fairy liquid.

Sump in the sink
Sump in the sink

Sump from various angles
Sump from various angles

Whilst doing other work to my car, Dad shortened my sump, made some baffles, got it welded and returned it to me. To solve the problem with where to locate the drain plug which was on the section cut away, we have had it welded on the exhaust side of the sump.

Shortened Sump Showing Baffle Plates
Shortened Sump Showing Baffle Plates

The aluminium section of the sump required slight modification with the angle grinder to accept the slightly different Mondeo Zetec pick-up pipe. It also required a large section of material cutting away for the starter motor and the flange at the flywheel end so it didn't hang down below the level of the bell housing. Before refitting this to the car, it was washed thoroughly to ensure no metal filings were going to end up inside the engine.

Intermediate Sump Showing Area Ground With Angle Grinder
Intermediate Sump Showing Area Ground With Angle Grinder

Modified Intermediate Sump (upside down on engine stand)
Modified Intermediate Sump (upside down on engine stand)

For more details on how we modified the sump, please click here


Whilst the sump was off the engine, I decided to upgrade the standard con rod bolts, a recognised weakness on the earlier Zetec variants, with and ARP heavy duty set which are much stronger. These should allow an increased rev limit to be set. Do not be worried if purchasing these when the packaging says they are for a 1.6 Zetec. They are identical on UK specification engines though, for some reason, different on US specification engines!

Standard (Left) and ARP (Right) Con Rod Bolts
Standard (Left) and ARP (Right) Con Rod Bolts

Crank with ARP Con Rod Bolts Installed
Crank with ARP Con Rod Bolts Installed


With the sump and pick-up pipe on the engine, it was time to attach the transmission components. The first thing to be done was to fit the new spigot bearing. This goes in the end of the crank and the nose of the gearbox input shaft sits inside this. It was easily installed by lightly greasing the outside, using a large socket as a drift and gently tapping the socket with a hammer.

When originally fitting the Tiger Zetec flywheel, I found a problem whereby the bolts couldn't sit flat against the flywheel due to a flange being machined too close to the bolt heads. These caused the flywheel to lock solidly. I solved it using washers with a chamfered head, but wasn't overly confident with it as a solution. After removing the flywheel from the old engine, I passed it to Dad and he machined round the bolt holes so the bolts would sit flush.

Machined Flywheel
Machined Flywheel

To install the flywheel, I still used washers behind the bolt heads as another problem with the Tiger flywheel is that the flange the bolts attach to is slightly too thin. Tiger are aware of the problem and recommend cutting two threads from the bolts before installing them, but I definately wasn't happy with that as a solution. Using washers is far safer as the integrity of the bolts is retained and the torque they are under isn't going to mean they come loose in a hurry.

I have since found that the bolts used to connect the drive plate on the automatic Zetec variants are actually 1-2mm shorter than the standard flywheel bolts and can be used with the Tiger lightened flywheel without having to resort to using washers.

I then fit the clutch using a home made spacer consisting of a turned piece of wood with various diameters to centrally locate into the spigot bearing, clutch plate and clutch cover.

Clutch Locating Tool
Clutch Locating Tool

Engine Ready For Gearbox Connection
Engine Ready For Gearbox Connection

Before connecting the gearbox to the engine, it is advisable to fit a plate between to stop dirt getting into the bell housing and causing all manner of potential problems. With the Zetec, the standard dust plate as found on the Sierra leaves many open spaces. The solution is to make a new spacer from a sheet of aluminium. This is actually a lot cheaper than buying a new Sierra spacer from Ford which is around £35. This was made by drawing round the bell housing to get the outer dimensions and then drawing round any internal obstructions such as the crank position sensor and flange holding the sump of for the inner dimensions. It has been split down the middle to allow for easier installation and removal.

Engine to Gearbox Dust Plate
Engine to Gearbox Dust Plate


Installing the engine into the car was a pretty straight forward job. I installed the original engine and gearbox from above, but found this relatively difficult. When removing it, I lifted the car up with the engine crane and removed the engine and gearbox on a trolley. Fitting the new engine was the reverse of this, hoisting the car up, supporting it with axle stands and rolling the engine and gearbox in.

New Engine Installation
New Engine Installation
New Engine Installation
New Engine Installation
New Engine Installation

New Engine Installed In Car
New Engine Installed In Car

As can be seen from the above picture, the standard Phase 3 Zetec oil filter is still attached to the engine and has plenty of clearance to the steering column.

With all the ancillaries attached, but no coolant system in place, I removed the spark plugs and cranked the engine for a few seconds until I got a healthy dose of oil pressure. I then attached the exhaust header pipes and pushed the car outside, put some petrol in the tank and tried to start the car. The engine started first time, but sounded quite rough. I stopped it after a few seconds due to a lack of cooling system.

With the collector and silencer attached, cooling system in place and filled, I started it again and it sounded perfect. It revved okay and I just couldn't help myself driving it off the drive and back on again, despite a lack of front bodywork.

New Alternator Bracket
New Alternator Bracket

Idler Pulley Arrangement
New Idler Pulley Arrangement

Breather Bottle With Fittings
Breather Bottle With Fittings


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