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dotmaster206

2014+ TC Manual Conversion

65 posts in this topic

Hi All,

I'm new here. Currently I drive a 2006 Saab 9-2x Aero, which is a badge-engineered WRX. It has served me very well for years, but is getting on in miles and I'm starting to look around.

I've got a crazy idea that I need some help with since I'm new to the Ford scene. 

I want to buy a 2014+ TC, short wheel base, with the 1.6L Ecoboost motor and swap the transmission to a manual. Ideally it'd be a 6 speed installed, but if 5 speed is much easier, I'd take it. 

I have done a lot of Googling and seen a couple of manual conversions on the first generation TCs, but nothing for 2014+. Have you guys ever seen it? Any idea on the viability?

What I think I know (please correct me if I'm wrong):

  • The 1.6L ecoboost is the same motor (detuned a bit) that is in the Fiesta ST
  • A B6 manual transmission from a Focus would bolt up to the 1.6L ecoboost
  • Since the TC is sold all over the world (except here...) with a manual, the frame work is mostly there (mounting points, firewall pass-throughs, etc.) so it shouldn't take a ton of fabrication

I think the biggest risk/unknown is what I would have to do electronically. I'm hoping a Fiesta ST ECU would work since that has a manual and it's the same motor, but I don't know for sure. Traction control might also be an issue - maybe I would just not have it.

My current biggest problem is finding someone who would be willing to do the work. I'm a relatively mechanically inclined guy and do all of my own maintenance/repair work excepting for body work type stuff. But a project like this without documented precedent seems like something I should have a professional working on. Also, I've never done anything as major as pulling/installing a transmission or motor, so I don't have things like an engine hoist or a lift or anything. I'm in the Denver, CO area and would love a recommendation for any mechanics/shops who might be willing to consider working on a project like this. I haven't bought a TC connect yet, and won't until I know it can be done for a reasonable-ish price ($5k?).

T0ASTERvan likes this

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I don't think the 1.6 Ecoboost has been sold with a manual anywhere. It was only available with the 6-speed auto over here. and we get every manual transmission there is, always. There's manual for the 1.0 Ecoboost and all diesels.

 

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Not in the TC it isn't, agreed, but the same 1.6L turbo motor is in the Fiesta ST as welll, no? 

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Yes, of course. So if the TC manual shifter mech fits the Fiesta box you're probably all good. Both 5- and 6-speeds are available for the TC.

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Yeah, that's the hope. I started this whole thing thinking maybe I could import one with the 1.6L turbo and a manual, but like you said, they aren't sold in that configuration anywhere. Hence the swap plan. 

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Every engine , transmission combination  now needs an emissions certification. .  The way that the engine transmission is integrated into the computer net work in the TC will make the swap a big task .  You will need to get the Fiesta ST  engine harness to marry to the TC and re-flash the  PCM to accept the change.  Good luck keep us posted sounds like a cool project.

dotmaster206 likes this

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Thanks for the support, @G B L

@T0ASTERvan, I did see the Carlex Design/M-Sport TC stuff which is partly what inspired me to look into this. That's actually where I started; looking at whether I could just import one of those. The problem there is that they are building with the 1.0L ecoboost version, which is just to small an engine for me. I know those can get tuned up into the 170hp range, but that's really high strung for such a small displacement engine. Also, its right hand drive so I'd want to swap that over.

Thanks for the heads up to Aaron Vaccar - seems like a good lead to me. I might be too small-fry for him, but maybe not. I just sent an inquiry via his website - finger's crossed I get a response. 

 

 

 

T0ASTERvan likes this

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Do you have a contact email you could share for Keith at Mountune USA? Or should I just use their catch-all usa@mountune.com?

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I got in touch with the Orlando, Florida location for Vaccar and they got right back to me. Their response was quite positive. They thought it was an awesome project. This just moved out of the 'hairbrained idea' category and into the 'I'm probably gonna do this' category. 

T0ASTERvan likes this

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Are there any substantive differences between 2014 and 2015 TCs that anyone knows about? I ask simply to be a little more informed in my hunt for the right starter vehicle. 

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Well, things have progressed quite a bit. Vaccar is on board, I've paid them to do some research into what it would take to do the swap, and they've come back to me with some price ranges for different options.

Here's the planned route: I'm going to buy a 2014 TC, short wheel base, XLT, with the 180deg split rear doors. It will be in good shape and have 50k miles or less. I will also buy a salvage 2013+ Focus ST. If either/both are close to Vaccar in the Orlando area, they'll go pick them up. If they're far away, I'll get them shipped. Vaccar will do a full drivetrain swap (engine and transmission) from the FoST to the TC. Based on their research, this was a much lower risk/higher reward option. It is less risky because it is guaranteed that the engine and transmission will work together, and we'll have the right ECU to run them as well. We'll even be swapping wiring harnesses. Additionally, this gets me a 2.0L turbo with quite a bit more grunt than the 1.6L turbo that I was originally planning on. Win-win. 

Further, since I'll own a full FoST, we're going to try to swap a bunch of goodies from that as well. The possible list is: steering wheel, shift knob, front seats (leather Recaros), gauge cluster, auxiliary gauges, wheels, and badges. The idea is basically to build a TCST in such a way that it looks and feels like it could have been a factory build. We'll be using virtually all factory parts here. 

I'm way pumped on this plan. Vaccar is really on the same page with me here. I'm looking to build this thing reliably. I plan to drive it to work every day. It's got to be practical and reliable - nothing cobbled together. But it will also be a heck of a lot of fun. 

The timeline for this is now largely dependent on sourcing the van and the donor car. I've got a couple of leads on donor cars at auctions that will come up in the next month or so, so that's good. I missed out on an awesome deal on a TC that was in Florida a couple of weeks ago.

I think finding the right TC to start with is going to be the toughest part, really. If anyone has recommendations, do let me know. Here again is the must-have list:

  • 2014
  • Short wheelbase
  • Under 50k miles
  • 'Good' condition (no body rust/dents, no significant rust on underbody, interior is clean, paint is in decent shape with no major scratches/chips, no mechanical issues outstanding)
  • XLT trim
  • Split 180deg rear doors

Those are all things that are not negotiable for me. I know it's tough to find one with all of those boxes ticked, but they do exist and I feel like if I'm going through all of this work to get this van, it had better be exactly what I want. So, I'm being very picky and also patient. 

Anyway, this is moving forward and it is going to be awesome. 

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Nice! What is your projected Budget  for this project.  Can't wait, will need lots of pictures.

 

Edited by G B L

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Best case scenario I'll be at about $25k, worst case I'll be more like 30k. Unfortunately, there's just a lot of built-in variability here. The price of the TC that I find, the price of the donor ST, where they are in the country (shipping cost, if any), and since this job has never been done (so far as I've found) there's going to be some unknowns on the labor cost until we really get into it. 

As far as I've gotten with this, it's very clear to me why people don't generally do this. It's a huge pain in the butt with legal issues and logistics, it's expensive, and it comes with a lot of risks. But I'm very committed to this idea. I think it will be worth it in the end.

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I have done a lot of engine transplants on Boat's .  The project is a good one. The unknown's can drive up the cost dramatically, make sure you have extra funds so you can finish it. .   I think you will end up with a cool rig.

Press on

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Sounds like you should pitch the swap out to guys with TV shows.  Chip Foose or maybe Gas Monkey Garage.  

 

Seriously.

 

You might be able to get a lot more help with a build like this, and they'll be able to film it all for their shows.  You might even be able to get the cable channel to help defer some of the cost into their production budget.  You never know.  At the very least, it might get Foose interested in building a "Foose Edition" van.  They have done a lot of crazy things on those TV shows.  Like taking the EcoBoost out of a pickup truck and swapping it into a Pantera.  

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Y'know, my dad actually said the same thing a while back. I have no idea how to go about pitching an idea to a TV show, though...I'm sure they get tons of hairbrained ideas all the time and so want to make sure they insulate themselves with many layers from the nutters. 

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"Hey, wanna show Transit Connect manual conversion on TV?"

Wat8.jpg?1315930535

 

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Hello dotmaster206, As I have written before, a lot of talk about turbo's and manual transmissions on this forum the past 6 years, but only one member, sunnysmith, actually added a turbo to his existing engine. Your project is far past what he accomplished. There will be many forum members that will be waiting for each of your updates!!!! Good Luck!

dotmaster206 likes this

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When all else fails, call.  

 

Call the shop directly, and ask them.  People work there.  There will be someone, whose job it is to answer calls, listen to whatever you've got to say, and screen your call to make sure that you're not a nut......if your idea is viable, you will get feedback.  Especially since you already have about 50% of your build thought out, and a working budget.  You're not just someone with an impossible delusion, without a plan,  without a budget, and without a clue.

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On 10/9/2016 at 6:15 PM, dotmaster206 said:

Based on their research, this was a much lower risk/higher reward option. It is less risky because it is guaranteed that the engine and transmission will work together, and we'll have the right ECU to run them as well. We'll even be swapping wiring harnesses.

Cool. Seems like a lower risk plan to me too.

Just curious, what did they say about it integrating with the the rest of the van? Gauges, SYNC, etc? Hopefully Ford UK keeps the communication between all the ECUs the same so it's transparent?

I'm leasing a 1.5 TDCi 6-speed in Germany, and it's great. 105 mph on the autobahn at 23 mpg... If I keep the speed down to 75 mph it's more like 40 mpg.

Good luck with your swap! 

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We did a good bit of research on the newer TC's before we bought one  -  We didn't even consider a 2010 to 2013 as they only came with four speed transmissions and I wanted the benefits of the six speed.  I originally wanted the 1.6 turbo too, but Ford has had it's share of problems with that engine here in the USA.  Most every problem in the first 50K has been covered under the 5/50 powertrain warranty, but sometimes it takes a few weeks to get your van back  -  It took our dealer six days just to fix our passenger side power window.  If I was going to buy the 1.6, I would definitely have to purchase some sort of extended powertrain warranty and I *hate* extended warranty plans which I consider to be a major rip-off  -  Very few who buy them ever get their money's worth

Before this purchase of our '14 TC, every vehicle I have ever owned has had a manual transmission.  I've always preferred manuals to automatics, but the new series of six speed, manually shiftable automatics has me rethinking things.  I'm not as young as I used to be and getting stuck in a half hour traffic jam, moving one car length at a time in our manual trans car has gotten to be a real pain lately  -  I'm about wore out by the time we get where we're going.  We've only had our TC for 5 or 6 weeks now and my very first automatic is really growing on me.  I love downshifting it when slowing as I've always been used to doing and I like the dash display that shows me which gear I'm in.  We've taken three trips in it already and I'm not missing my manual transmissions at all

The 2.5L four has nearly the same fuel mileage ratings as the turbo 1.6 (we're getting right at 30 mpg at 70 mph) and though it is missing a bit of torque compared to the 1.6, the 6 speed auto makes up for much of that  -  We're not drag racing the van and we do occasionally pull a trailer with it and it amazes me what the little four can do  -  The transmission's ratios are really tuned to the engines output.  It's a very easy combination to live with, even if you prefer manuals.  When it comes to long term reliability, I think the 2.5 engine has it all over the 1.6  -  Just my personal opinion, mind you

Since the original poster is looking for a higher mileage van to convert to a manual trans, the lack of a factory warranty won't be a big concern and maybe he can repair his own engine should he ever have problems, but I couldn't and I would really worry about that engine as it gets up there in miles  -  It's not a cheap engine to repair.  A major failure could cost more than the van would be worth

As always, to each his own  -  If we all liked the same exact things, it would be a very boring world!

Don

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13 hours ago, J_Westy said:

Cool. Seems like a lower risk plan to me too.

Just curious, what did they say about it integrating with the the rest of the van? Gauges, SYNC, etc? Hopefully Ford UK keeps the communication between all the ECUs the same so it's transparent?

I'm leasing a 1.5 TDCi 6-speed in Germany, and it's great. 105 mph on the autobahn at 23 mpg... If I keep the speed down to 75 mph it's more like 40 mpg.

Good luck with your swap! 

The plan with gauges right now is to swap in the cluster from the ST. We're going to look at adding the auxiliary gauges with oil temp, boost pressure, and oil pressure as well but it's not a certainty yet. The van I'm planning on buying doesn't have SYNC, so nothing to do there. 

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@Beta Don: Yeah, reliability will be a significant matter for me. Note that I'm not looking at the 1.6L turbo anymore though; I'm swapping the full drivetrain from a Focus ST so it will be a 2.0L turbo and a 6 speed manual transmission. Maintenance and repairs I plan to do just about everything myself. With a vehicle customized to the extent that this will be, trying to find and work with a shop that will really understand what is going on will probably be a bigger headache than just doing it in my own garage. I'm not a mechanic, but over the last 3-4 years or so I've been building a tool collection and getting comfortable with doing significant work to my car. 

Thanks for all the support, guys. Some folks 'get' what I'm doing right off the bat, others think it's pretty dumb. That's fine, but it's always nice to talk to people that are excited about what I'm diving into. 

I've got a deposit down on a TC now that I'll be seeing/picking up in just under two weeks. The ball is rolling!

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I wouldn't say it's dumb by any means . . . . probably because I've done many similar things myself over the years.  Most recently, I put a new turbo-diesel in a 30 year old boat I had bought for $15K.  By the time the engine and all the other mods were done, I had close to $45K in it.  Took one long trip in it, preformed even better than expected, but you don't even want to know how much I lost when I sold it

Others might say 'dumb' but you and I would call it exciting and really rewarding when all that $$$ and hard work comes out better than we had any reason to hope for

It's not easy to repower newer vehicles with the computer running everything  -  We're all going to learn a bunch from your conversion and everyone of us wishes you well  -  You're going to have a real hot rod when you're finished!!

Don

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