Off Topic 3L Swappin' Contour

31N007

31N007
:
Mazda Protege5
Not to suggest that this thread will contain the same amount of technical details that my KL Swappin' thread contained. This will probably become a photo thread, general upkeep thread, and there will of course be some wiring info thrown in here for those who enjoy that stuff.

The vehicle as it sat the day I bought it:
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It's an apparently very early build 1998 SVT Contour, in Toreador red. I found the original FS thread on Contour.org and it suggests that I'm the third owner, after picking it up off of a fella who was local to me that'd had it for a few months as the FS ad suggests. He didn't have the time or space to really give this thing the love it needed, and I was itching to get into another project, as my Pro5 is in need of a transmission and having something that's not my GTI to tinker with throughout the rest of the summer was a desire. This was almost a parts car, but the bloke who almost bought it to part out was kind enough to let me have first dibs at it. He's a mate of mine, and ended up coming into another parts car that had a 3L and LSD-equipped MTX-75 transmission, among other goodies, so I am happy he made out well there!

I got it back to a mate's place relatively trouble-free. The cooling fans were on all the time, and there was a switch panel in the radio spot with two switches, neither of which seemed to do much... That said, my Contour-owning friend who came with me was tailing me for a bit of the journey but overtook me after the smell of coolant was too overwhelming for him. Needless to say, I knew that I wanted to swap out the 2.5L for a 3.0L, and the second owner/seller also threw in a 3L engine and spare transmission as a part of the sale!
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-Above left is an "E1" harness - the "E0" harnesses were poop and insulation tended to fail, leading to shorts, sensor issues, and all sorts of malarkey. No stranger to wiring danger, I wanted to tackle the conversion myself from E1 -> E0.
-Middle is some of the wiring mess that existed on the E0 harness that was in the motor. There's a glaringly obvious photo below that shows the worst of what can happen to these poor harnesses over time...
-Right is the PCV system - milky due probably to age, tuckered out headgaskets, and copious amounts of coolant that infringed on areas it had no business being in!

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This is a good representation of old and shwonky versus new and less prone to electrical fires... Positive battery lead to engine fuse box... Great!

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We called this fella (curious) George as he waltzed right in to see what we were up to and kindly distracted all of us for an hour or so the day I believe we pulled the engine out of the car!

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1) BAT struts, a common aftermarket solution that was available for the Contour guys back in the day
b) old and tired lump, ready to be retired
3) rear bank, with signs of an unhappy headgasket between rear/leftmost cylinder and the outside of the gasket
iv) closeup of that cylinder and it's amount of "nope"
E) this was my mistake - I was overzealous taking off the main power feeds into the fusebox, so this was a rash pinout after consulting a mate's spares harness

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More to digest, from right to left this time (making sure you're paying attention):
Wiring spaghetti, wrapped and accounted for. Sans knock sensor, because I'm ignorant and the engine doesn't neeeeeeeed it (it'll always see 93 octane)
E1 PCM connector, notice the extra pins on the bottom left row, those get rearranged, sort of
E0 PCM connector
Wiring spaghetti, this was tearing apart the E1 harness to inspect the pins and ensure that nothing was totally botched. I noticed a few pins that appeared to have had a bad time, so I tidied those up and found out what's actually required to convert a harness...

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Perks, and downside of having friends owning the same cars you buy... Nice MSDS headers!
3L innards, pre- cam swap. Clean, suggested low mileage!

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Maybe I shouldn't promote tools but this Milwaukee die grinder really cleaned up shop! I bought an aluminium burr from McMaster Carr and cleaned up both heads over 4 evenings, working maybe 4 hours each evening? Finished the ports off with a sandpaper drum on a Dremel. Much more involved than the port matching I did on the KL when I went from oval-port heads to "square port" to match the Millennia intake manifold that's on there. The swarf could have been dealt with better. Note the edge of what used to be a box which probably would have helped keep things contained... Nothing a shopvac couldn't sort out though! The keen-eyed among you may notice the doubled up/relocated injector holes. Ford kindly never made a split port 3L cylinder head, so a simple mix-and-match wasn't possible. There are threads explaining the difference, but the TL;DR is that the "easiest" way to complete the swap is to go this route, which allows use of stock fuel rails, lower intake, upper intake, throttle body, and PCV system. The only other option is to hybridise things, but that is its own can of worms, and this birdy wasn't keen to go for those this time around.

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This was the biggest "err mmm hmm" moment of the entire build. I didn't catch this tearing the 3L down, and kinda kicked myself for it. I think that this was due to poor quality coolant being in the system previously. I took a leaf out of the Sloppy Mechanics book and liberally applied some copper gasket maker to the headgasket and am proceeding to send it. I cleaned up the face of the block as best as I could, and I'm anticipating this will withstand the test of time.

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Double check things when they seem "prepped" This was double o-ringed - not a great setup for an engine that self destructs at the mention of low oil pressure!!!

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This was various stages of reassembly. I'll be honest, I mostly cleaned things, as I preferred to let the two guys go ham who knew what the hell they were doing. 3L engine was prepped to go back in just two weeks after the 2.5 was torn out. Not bad I wouldn't say! My body hated me for a few days, I was genuinely sore all over for two days after the engine went in, and I couldn't fathom the thought of the wiring not working. Thankfully though, I keyed on and the engine fired right up! We fought a loosey goosey serpentine belt as we'd swapped to an Escape alternator. This swap greatly simplifies things with regards to servicing the alternator should it need removing. Think FSDE alternator location, on the KLDE engine... It's not a simple job to access, and so I say thank you Mazda for your alternator placement on the KLDE! LOL

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Last photo for this post is a shot of the car cleaned up. I neglected to reinstall the jack point cover like a numpty. Forgive this hideous monstrosity :D In fact, here's a video of how the exhaust sounds currently. It's loud, I know. I actually intend on quiteting it up some because it's genuinely that loud. It encourages short shifting, it's that bloody loud. But my god is it a fun experience!



Wiring conversion to be explained in the next post, as well as examining the cooling fan woes I'm fighting now.
 

31N007

31N007
:
Mazda Protege5
Hopefully this shows up right. This is what I did to prepare the E1 harness to be used in place of the E0 harness. Now, one point I'd like to make is that Bnn is actually referred to as C3000 or something like that in the Ford diagrams. I made it easy on myself this go around and picked a nice simple letter... I also did that with the connectors, they're in the 100-number range in the Ford manual, but I went with how Mazda did is and called them X-01, X-02, etc. Way easier, and much nicer to work with!

Despite spending copious amounts of time confirming that the pins were all in the right spots, it really is around five (5) steps... I'm genuinely baffled at its simplicity, but nonetheless, some folks aren't messed up like I am and don't enjoy wiring spaghetti!
Contour Harness Pinout.jpg
 

Antoine

Administrator
Very cool, thanks for sharing this with us (and for using the OT prefix). Always liked the SVT Contour and swapping in a 3L makes it even cooler...I also like how you're including bits about Mazda as well...Looking forward to updates! 😁(y)
 

31N007

31N007
:
Mazda Protege5
Thanks Antoine - I actually followed 323's lead with regards to their OT Fozzy XT thread/worklog.

I don't know that I would have bought the car without the knowledge from my mates - yes I could have learned, but they dropped tons of knowledge on me that I kind of just hung along for the ride for.

Here's some handy comparos between the two engines, since you said that and I had a desire to post up some A-B pics :D

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Here's some comparisons of the blocks (KL left, Duratec right)

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And heads/intake ports...

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And timing...

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And heads!

The sheer size of the Duratec versus the KL illustrates what I assume is the difference in design mentality between FoMoCo and Mazda at a similar time. The 3L is dimensionally no different to the 2.5L variant on the outside. The transmission is where the next bit of fun is, but I don't have many photos of the two in similar positions. The Mazda 'box is very petite compared to the G-series box.
 

31N007

31N007
:
Mazda Protege5
This weekend afforded me some time to install speakers, something the car conveniently lacked when I bought it. The speaker (more on that later) was donated from another SVT parts car and also came with the added fun of having to reconnect the speakers inside the car that ran to the door harness...

I found remnants of wiring in the passenger door, and depinned the OEM plug to connect the terminals to the speaker sans issues. Used the stock headunit (throwback to the era, with just AM/FM/CD) and a new to me harness, as the PO cut the old one up to install switches to run the gauges... No biggie.

The unfortunate finding was that the second Polk speaker had a bad voice coil, so I subbed in a Rockford Fosgate speaker on the driver's side. Of course, the second speaker of that pair had a split cone, so I really had to take what I had access to. Sound is better than silence in this case. A bonus of getting the stereo working is that I also get to see/hear the power rear antenna working :D

Wire nuts are the devil's work on cars, and I've got no clue why the PO didn't use butt connectors as I've seen elsewhere in the vehicle!!

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I also found loose wheel weights in the trunk, something I'm not sure I want to dig into further! This was while replacing the trunk struts, as they were dead.
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Here's the daily and the Contour at my mate's place. I've got on the list of things to do still on Thing 3 before I return attention to Thing 2:
diagnose cooling fans constantly on, I have a lead, or closer to having a solution
coolant flush - running water currently; have replacement t-stat to go in when I decide the time is right
confirm IMRC (think VTCS or VICS in Mazda terms) operates correctly; confirm no CEL related
new tierods, alignment
new (stickier?) tires and a second set of wheels...
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31N007

31N007
:
Mazda Protege5
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Autocrossed it this weekend, and it was an absolute riot!

Bought the Team Dynamic wheels off of a mate and threw some RT660s on. The car as it sits isn't as nimble as the Pro5, but that's likely due to weight, suspension, wheelbase, and the overall goal for the car during engineering. The midrange torque was very much enjoyable, and I really can't wait to see how the Probe GT transmission might liven up the Pro5 as a result.


Here's a video from the weekend. Took last in class, but was 0.7## off from my friend in his rather well prepped Contour :)
 

31N007

31N007
:
Mazda Protege5
Oh yeah, confirmed it's build number 0086 for 1998! Mate called the production-number number because I am terribly lazy. I've been driving this to work this week in an effort to figure out what sort of MPGs it gets when it's not driven in haste. Last tank was 20.8 and that included the autocross, which I know doesn't help on the MPG-front!

I hope to take a weekend to pull the transmission from the Pro5 so I can get it back together. I ought to take the Probe box apart to have the ring gear removed from the differential. That'll be a machine-shop job as I don't have a cutoff wheel that's nearly large enough, and I don't want to bother acquiring one tbh.
 

31N007

31N007
:
Mazda Protege5
Ran the car again today, this time with the pillar gauges hooked up. HOT oil pressure dropped between 0 and 25 on Autometer gauge, taken from the spot where the dummy light normally goes, and the oil temps got up to between 120 and 250F. No issues at these values. Let the car run for a minute or so after the runs and the car seemed happy.

I need to acquire a water sprayer, as the tires did NOT take too kindly to the temps that I was running them at. I also want to diagnose a pull under accel to one side, and a pull under braking to the opposite side. Might "retire" the car from racing for the rest of the season, dependent on what I choose to get into regarding fixing things is concerned.

The list of things to buy/replace, required:

rear endlinks
front 4-bolt LCAs

And to buy/replace, desired:

front non-sunroof dome light map lights (I have no bloody idea what bulbs they are (i searched and found the lighting FAQ on the Contour forums, but it seems the bulbs that are called out are not correct.

No different angle this time; I think that the window view worked well this event.

 
Curious if anyone’s done this to their MKI/II/III? Since I’m ripping the engine and trans out, swapping the engine, doing the clutch and CV axles anyway, and I want to have better cornering/straight acceleration with the added power, I figured now would be the time to do an LSD.

What I want to know is this: if you have done one, what type: helical or metal plate? What brand? I’m looking at MFactory personally. Did you DIY or have a shop do it, if DIY, how long did it take and is there anything to watch out for? Did you do new bearings too? Tutuapp 9Apps Showbox
 
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31N007

31N007
:
Mazda Protege5
Are you referring to putting this engine into a Protege? Would like to know more details before I offer up more direct info. I'm not sure this engine will fit *well* into the Protege chassis. It's big. Much bigger than the KL V6 that I put into my Protege5. And I would hard pressed to say it doesn't weigh more too.

For the KL swap into a Protege, there's not really a ton to replace. I have a build thread that covers what needs doing, and it's really not tremendously complex, all things considered.

The MFactory diff in my Pro5 is nice - I can't really comment to "better" or "worse" than the Torsen that's in the Contour. Both afford more grip than an open diff. But because the cars are different, I can't totally and fairly compare them apples to apples.

I have a friend who's at a transmission shop install the diff. You could DIY the LSD install, but you'll have to cut the rivets holding the ring gear to the stock open diff. I did not replace the taper bearings, but did replace the halfshafts seals. The shift shaft seal can be got to while the box is open too, that tends to weep as the transmissions get older.

Hope that helps. If you're referring to a different car, I can't offer much more advice tbh.
 

31N007

31N007
:
Mazda Protege5
Had a bit of an oops this past weekend with the wheel bearing on the Contour. The TL;DR is: I changed out LCAs, noticed worn wheel bearings, got a set of assembled knuckles from a friend, one of those wheel bearings was bad on arrival, assembled my removed set of knuckles, same side bearing shat itself.

I have a loathing towards the LCAs on the Contour due to the way the suspension droops, which leads to tight access to get the balljoint out of the knuckle. Whereas the Protege knuckle is bolted to the strut, the Contour is similar to the Mazda3 in that the strut slides into the knuckle - a PITA if you have rusted knuckles (not me) or new struts (not me) or are trying to do it alone (me). I ended up ripping the inner boot of the "new" halfshaft, the outer boot of the "old" halfshaft, and the boot of the "new" balljoint. Not off to a great start with that job at all. Ended up realising that I couldn't finish the job alone, so I had my Contour-owning friend come help me put the thing back together, and of course it took all of 15 minutes to do both sides, all said and done.

I think what happened with the bearing failure is that, since I reused the axle bolt, it didn't have the stakes on it, so it backed off once I started loading the car up in an aggressive (AutoX) manner. It's that, or somehow the bushes in the subframe being worn loaded the driver's side bearing up in both cases, leading to premature wear on the bearing in both cases...

In any rate, here's a few photos of the car in recent weeks. I hope to sort it out prior to the winter settling in, and I am thinking of moving the Protege5 back to be able to work on it inside the garage this winter.

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Here it sat like this for a few days, as I thought "I can do this in an evening..."

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Knackered rear endlink next to nice new one. I should have left it here for the season, and addressed the LCAs and knuckles over the winter. That might have saved me the hassle of broken bearings and halfshafts, but hindsight is what it is...

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Torn "new" CV. I will be re-booting this, as I didn't drive it with the tear.

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Confangled setup. This was the "old" halfshaft - I tore the outer boot on this one :(

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Worn out "old" hubs. I bought new, as I didn't trust these to fare very well.

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Washed and waiting to go under the knife. She cleans up well!

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Subframe out. This suffers the same potential fate as the Protege - the rear through bolts that go into the body tend not to want to let the captive nuts go. As I used a breaker bar slowly, the nuts caught as intended, and I was able to remove all four bolts sans issues. A good start. Also, as with the Protege, having the subframe dropped lends itself to replacing the front swaybar bushings, something that needed doing on this old gal. I'm waiting for
 

31N007

31N007
:
Mazda Protege5
Performing a bit of a thread necro over here. The winter saw little to no work on the car since it was tucked away nicely at a heated storage place. I picked up a 4Runner in November last year and spent some time making sure it can cross the 200k mile mark and more without issues.

As for the Contour so far this year, it's been:
- autocrossed only twice so far
- almost ran a track day last weekend, but I was (and hopefully am no longer) fighting a torque steer issue.

One thing the Contour shares with the Mazdaspeed Protege is the water-water oil cooler, which some would argue is both a failure point and not totally useful as coolant temps are (185-195 for the Protege) 195-205 for the Contour typically... Ford did increase the cooling system capacity, but I dumped the water-water oil cooler by suggestion of my friend and as such wasn't running any external cooling... Autocross saw oil temps get up to 250F, but this was brief and didn't seem to let the engine down after having an oil analysis done after 3000 miles.

Service:
- new inner tierods, more on those shortly
- red loctite on axle nuts (non-staked retention meant they relied on sheer torque and clamping load - not a great setup; McMaster-Carr sells a great staked nut I have on hand in case the loctite isn't up to snuff)
- flushed brake fluid - ATE Super Blue container finished off, rear lines were a bit watery looking, so I'm glad I did!
The car has had a bit of a vibration at 65-75 MPH, regardless of which wheel/tire setup I'm running, ever since I had the swap completed (and probably before too, but that was two drives' worth of experience). Since I have new outer tierods, bearings, and LCAs, and the tires have both been double checked for balance, I figured I should be sensible for once and do the inners. Ford was kind enough not to bestow any flats on the stock inners (that's how old I think these are!) so a small enough pipe wrench was, luckily, all that was required to get this task done. Replacements thankfully have the flats so an inner tierod tool can be used :)

Mods:
- JBL BassPro Nano powered rear sub, mounted on the rear deck
- oil cooler
- 01-02 Ford Cougar gas pedal and pedal covers, Focus shift tower
- poly filled rear motor mount

The Contour sound system is lackluster compared to the Protege5. There's not much in the way of bass, and to be fair, the exhaust sort of drowns what bass there would be, out, anyways. Taking the rear parcel shelf off, there's provisions for a 6" speaker back there, but there aren't any sensible offerings out there that would be able to be mounted in a "free air" type enclosure. I went to the ATOM car show (Toyotas of all eras and builds, in Michigan) a month back and had seen a few cars with the powered subs installed, so it renewed my interest in them as a feasible option for the Contour. I mocked the sub up with the included brackets underneath the rear deck in the trunk area and they were too big, so I thought instead, I'd drill holes through the rear deck to mount the sub from above. Plan worked out spectacularly, and I'm very pleased with the sound this tiny guy packs...

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I had to add a 1'x1' section of Dynamat on top of the rear deck in the center because it was vibrating/tinning, but aside from that, and some toolbox drawer underlay (the white you can see between the unit and the rear deck) I didn't have to do too much to install it.

The oil cooler was a fun project, despite having a small leak in one line upon initial warm-up. I am not going to make claims that I like to frivolously spend money on things that could otherwise be had for a reasonable cost, so I was really apprehensive about what I bought for this project. Setrab, while being spectacular according to a friend, was spendy, and I didn't want to spend all that money on something that wouldn't have fit. The adapter plate was another area I didn't have much knowledge on, but knew I wanted a thermostatic unit to help let the oil temps come up still within a normal time period.

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I did what I always enjoy doing and used cardboard to mock up what I was hoping would be a representative size of the cooler I was looking at, and got it near enough correct to have bought the right one, the first time around. Nice!

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Next up was brackets to mount the cooler. I knew where I wanted it, and got exceedingly lucky that the center-center bole spacing for the factory power steering cooler and the oil cooler matched up so well! I have since sprayed the brackets black, but you really can't see them with the bumper cover on, and I won't be exposing this thing to corrosive conditions very often.

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I would have extended the bracket more into the crash bar if I'd thought about it, and I have not road tested the thing yet, so that may change. But as it sits, it's pretty well installed into the crash bar, and I have rubber isolators between the cooler and brackets.

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Fittings are a pain for me to sort out and I really don't like piecing things together sometimes. The Vibrant cooler came with -10ORB to -10AN male fittings originally, and as you can see, space on the Duratec V6 is at a premium. I want to retain (and recharge) the AC system because it's nice to have, so I have the constraint of the compressor on one side, proximity to the header on the other, and I'm not able to use a long radius 90 degree coupler because that puts the hoses close to the radiator which isn't great. Pegasus sells a full-flow 90 degree fitting that's -10ORB to -10AN male, so I picked those up, and added in the -10AN male to -10AN hose fitting to complete what was required in the engine bay. This also ensured that I had enough clearance when I have to access the chunky oil filter.

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How the cooler looks, mounted upside down, through the grill. I have it installed so the fittings drop in from the top, but this was easier at the time. You can see the adapter plate and its proximity to the O2 sensor. Thermal sheathing was added to further protect the lines from the immense heat put off in this area as a whole.

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The sad discovery, and reason I likely don't have AC right now, is that the condenser appears to have been repaired at one point in time... I have to buy new wheel bearings for my spare set of knuckles, so I'll probably get a new condenser while I'm placing that order. Bummer, but it's good to know this now prior to having a shop pull vacuum on this system.

I initially went to the junkyard to pull a Ford Focus shift tower, and ended up with a set of pedal covers too (sans driver's pedal -_-) I saw a Cougar pop up on a local junkyard's Facespace feed and sent a link to my friends. One of them told me to grab the shift tower, because that is a direct replacement for the stock one. An issue I'm glad Protege folks don't have to contend with, there is a bolt in the Contour factory shift tower that's always in shear. Which means that if you're slamming through the gears constantly, you might break the head off the bolt, and it'll either lunch your transmission, OR you should play the lottery. So I grabbed the Focus tower because it's got a roll pin instead, which is still in shear, but there's no head to break off if it does fail. No pictures of that unfortunately, but I do have a photo of the pedals. Very early-2000s styling, and I like the bit of pop it adds to an otherwise simple interior area. The pedal covers over the clutch and brake slid off easily enough, but I struggled in the limited amount of time I had at the yard to remove what I thought was the cover on the driver's pedal. Turns out the entire pedal needed removing, as I went back the following weekend and the cover was removed and it appears it was riveted on from the factory! So an eBay purchase later and things were matchy-matchy.

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Ensuring the torque steer isn't a result of a bad rear roll restrictor, I gutted it for a 100% poly fill. The OEM mount, as many are, is full of many little holes which make it easy enough to pour in polyurethane for a partial fill, but I was splitting mine and pushing it back out of the holes, so I decided to fully fill the mount with 80A duro poly. I get to wait 7 days before install because I don't want to risk damaging the mount, but now I'm able to say the pull won't be due to the rear roll restrictor causing issues. Luckily this mount is VERY easy to access, compared to our Proteges which is probably one of the least favorite jobs out there. But conversely, there are many things on the Protege, and further the KL, which I appreciate. Like the stock alternator positioning. But I digress.

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20 cubic inches is how large the area is that needs filled, and 25 cubic inches is what comes in a kit - pretty convenient if I'm being honest, since the kit is pre-portioned for ease of use.

I don't have too many photos from the AutoX events I have been to, but I do still take videos.
 

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31N007

31N007
:
Mazda Protege5
Suspension upgraded:
I was sitting on these for a little while now, and after the poly-filled rear motor mount insert didn't fix the pull under load that I was experiencing, I decided to bite the bullet and install my KW Variant V3 coilovers. They're tight as the dickens to the front wheels, but they don't rub after having been thrashed for the past week or so now. The ride height is as low as the car was on the old lowering springs, but with the adjustability of bound and rebound, I can really change the turn-in characteristics of the vehicle. Still not as nimble as the Pro5, but it's getting there. The next step for me is to tackle the remaining two motor mounts. The driver's (transmission) mount I took and replaced with, of all things, a hockey puck. This has helped a bit with transitional power delivery, but there's still a bit of play when going from on-off throttle. The front mount is assisted on the SVT Contours with a mini strut to help slow the transitional movements. Someone created a "street link" replacement, that essentially solidified this mount without needing to fill the front roll restrictor. I'm going to tackle this mount next, and lastly move to the passenger mount, in order to see which solves the issue most thoroughly. If these mounts are changed and the issue still persists, I'm inclined to believe it might be the differential. Hopefully not.

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Tackling another area that needed addressing was the rear toe arms (I will call them what I know them as, rear lateral links. The stock lateral links are stamped metal and rather flimsy. Ford also had compliant bushes in them to allow for passive steering. It's great at low speeds, but discomforting at speed, so I replaced them with these Massive toe arms.

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Another, another area that needed help was the rear endlinks. The stock units are, for lack of a better term, rubbish. My first Mazda part in a while, the first gen Mazda3 (non-Mazdaspeed) rear endlinks fit well on this application and add something solid that the stock rear endlinks didn't... For reference, check out post #13 in this thread for what was apparently supposed to pass for a stock rear endlink... A big hulking washer inside the front lateral link (referred to by Ford as a front control arm (???)) was the only additional hardware required. So far both sides have held up with no complaints. I really appreciate something that can be had off the shelf, rather than something that's bespoke.

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Brakes, but they're not "broken"
One thing on the back of my mind since purchasing this Contour was making sure the brakes were in good shape. My first introduction to the world of big brakes has shown me that they're a bit pricey to maintain. TCE Performance sold/sells a kit for this car, and others, and I went back to them to source a few parts to redo the brake system up front.

New rotors (old one you can see has worn through the groove entirely), shims, and brackets and the front brakes are in much better shape in preparation for my first HPDE on October 9th.

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On the topic of addressing things that were previously installed:
I was given brake ducting and already-installed brake duct inlets when buying the car. Previous owner started the mod, but didn't finish it, so I tried to and... the washer fluid bottle is in the way on the passenger side. For now I'm running the passenger side "open" in that there's no hose, but there is a hole for the hose, and the driver's side is open to the inside of the fender. I think that at least having air in this area is better than no air at all, but if that's not the case, I can easily enough reinstall the front foglamps to block airflow through this area.

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Future work/mods:
One of the things that I've noticed with the four-bolt front lower control arms is the vast amount of movement under loading (especially of the brakes). See this video here. Mike (another Contour owner) also has 4-bolt LCAs, so if I can figure out a solution that he and I can use, that would be fantastic. The 2-bolt cars had both a lighter front subframe and aftermarket options, but we're hoping to be able to replace what we have without swapping out front subframes. Enter "conceptual CAD drawings courtesy of boredom on a Friday night.

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The idea is to press out the OEM bushes and replace them with a metal version, but I have to figure out a way to restrict fore-aft movement, which is obviously not going to be easily doable with the way this setup works. One of the reasons I suspect that most modern cars have the rear bush oriented so that the centerline runs vertically, and the front bush oriented horizontally along the length of the vehicle. This will be something that likely takes some time to do, because I don't want to rush and bodge something up.

A reminder, clean those fender liners out.
I threw some FluidFilm in this area to repel moisture. I do occasionally drive the car when it might rain, but store it in the winter. I'm trying to prolong what I can for however long I can.

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I hope to have good news after October 9th, that the car did great at the HPDE I attend

I leave you with yet another freshly cleaned photo to round off this update.

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31N007

31N007
:
Mazda Protege5

Stellar news - the car survived its first HPDE.

Below is a modified post I'd made on a Contour FB page:

The Falken RT660s were, admittedly, a bit more aggressive than what others were on in my run group, but I felt the car was super planted all throughout. I know I'm giving up lateral grip running only a 225 section width, but I'm more than happy to do that and (somewhat begrudgingly) save the front fenders from me rolling them. Willwood front calipers/rotors were confidence-inspiring, and I know that I can certainly wait longer to brake, but for an open track day, it didn't make sense to try and tread that line. I was concerned about some brake pulsation early in the run, but that went away as the day progressed, and my pedal pressure/braking got higher/later. I did notice a bit of fade towards the end of the session, so I think I'm going to flush the entire system and throw new fluid in there. It's got ATE SuperBlue which is/was pretty old, despite the fluid in there being from the remainder of a can.

KW V3s were a super setup and separately adjustable bump/rebound were nice to toy with in the later sessions. 400f/230r are what came on the coilovers, and I'm really not thinking I'll change them for this line of duty. They just worked, and there was no "oh uhhhhhh" moments like I was initially worried about.

Coolant temps were acceptable but oil temps got a bit warm. With the front-mounted oil cooler, and the temp sender in the rear head, I did get up to 250F. This is with semi-synth Motorcraft oil, mind. I'm going to get and try some synthetic out next time and see how that goes comparitively.

I know there's a TON of time out there still, but for a first event on the track, I have come away more comfortable with the vehicle overall, and eager to get it out on the track more often next year.

To prove the car was indeed on course, some fella who used to work in automotive journalism was taking photos and I couldn't pass up buying this print (photocopied this) from him as a memento of the car's first event:
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Things to address during the winter:
- Front seat - either a foamectomy on the center, or a racing seat. The sad fact of the matter is, the seat lacks support where it matters most. I have a spare seat I can trim the foam on in the center, to see if I can hodge-podge a suitable OE+ solution together before spending more on a better seat.
- Brake fluid - change this out entirely for next season. Either new ATE Super200 or similar.
- Front roll restrictor - poly fill and street-link. The front mount has an insert, but it's still soft, and a "street-link" serves to essentially solidify that mount further. Under normal, light loading, there's no action on behalf of the link, but when the motor is torqued, that's where the link comes into play. Friends of mine had pieces to put a kit together, thankfully.
- Pass motor mount - poly fill? I want to address this mount too. It's hydraulic from the factory. A friend wants to see if the old fluid can be drained out and replaced with polyurethane. We'll see if I address that only after the front mount is changed out
- Fix exhaust leak - the headers to the cat are not 100% sealed. This can/will be rectified by welding the sections together. Currently, they're merely clamped together.

And with that, I'll sign off with the intention that there will be winter updates to come!