Updated and revised 2nd March 2002

5 speed Conversion
After repeatedly hitting the rev limiter in fourth gear I decided to fit a 5 speed Sierra gearbox.

Parts Needed
The main item is the 5 speed gearbox itself. This needs to be from a Pinto engined car. 1600 or 2000cc gearboxes are the same so don't let anybody tell you otherwise! The ratios in the 2.8i gearbox are betted suited to an Escort but the first motion shaft is about an inch too long. The first four gear ratios of the 2.8i box are actually identical to a Mk2 Escort RS1800. This makes first gear useable unlike the first gear in a 'standard' 5 speed which is far too low. The downside is a bigger gap between first and second but, like I said, it works for the RS1800!

You will need to change the bellhousing if you are using a 2.8i gearbox. This isn't necessary if the gearbox was from a pinto powered car but I recommend changing it to an RS2000 alloy bellhousing for two reasons. The first is that is is considerably lighter and the second is that it is more 'Escort friendly' shape. The standard cast bellhousing will require the tunnel to be 'modified' with a big hammer.

You will also need a propshaft from an RS2000. I chose to buy a new one from Burton Power Products. The Burton props are single piece and therefore don't require the centre bearing mount on the floor pan which my early shell hasn't got.
If you are fitting the 5 speed to a crossflow engined car you will need a different clutch plate because the number of splines is different. Just ask your local motor factors for an early 1600 Sierra clutch plate. I think they are 7½" diameter.

The Options
There are two ways to fit a 5 speed box into an Escort. The first is to remove the original brackets/mounts from the transmission tunnel and reposition them further back and the second is to use the gearbox mount that came with the gearbox and just bolt it through the floor. I've spoken to people who have used the first method and they say that the gearbox is very close to the repositioned mounts and makes removal tricky. It is, however, an ideal solution if the car is very original.

I decided to use the second method and so removed the original brackets with a cold chisel. These have to be removed because the 5 speed is slightly wider at this point and would catch on them otherwise.

To change the gearbox on a pinto engined Escort requires the engine crossmember to be lowered a few inches to give adequate clearance. This is simply a case of replacing the crossmember bolts one at a time with longer ones and disconnecting the steering rack. The crossmember can then be lowered until the weight of it and the engine 'hang' on the bolt heads. Believe me, this makes it a lot easier.
Once the gearbox was bolted to the engine I fitted the Capri 5 speed gearbox mount. With the gearbox tailshaft supported on a scissor jack I jacked the engine and gearbox up to see how far the gearlever hole would need to be cut back. I cut out a section from the top of the transmission tunnel which included the original gearlever hole. You can see from the picture above and to the right, how far back the pinto gearlever exits. You can also see the bracing in the tunnel that had to be cut out. It lines through with the seat crossmember.

A section of tunnel was cut out of a Mk2 Escort in a breakers yard, trimmed down and then welded in. I used a rosejointed short throw gearlever purely because I had one but as I understand it, the standard lever touches the handbrake when in fourth gear so a quickshift is preferable.

Rather than use bolts to secure the gearbox mount a friend welded studding to some steel strips. He also made a selection of spacers. I marked the floor from underneath the car and then drilled the four holes. I put the strips with the studding through from within the car and bolted up the gearbox mount using two of the spacers. The excess thread was then cut off.

The strips on the floor are smooth compared to bolt heads so the carpet doesn't have lumps.

A longer speedo cable is required because the speedo drive is further back on the 5 speed gearbox. I used a Capri cable.

4 speed gearbox - Click to enlarge5 speed gearbox - Click to enlarge
Click to enlargeOld and new positions for gearlever.  Click to enlarge
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