Ever since performing my Zetec engine swap I had felt that
the gearbox was letting the new engine down. Having been
originally designed for the Sierra XR4x4 I guess it had
to be able to cope with those pesky people who tow caravans,
up hill, at 10mph. Therefore 1st and second gears are particularly
low, and the gap between the gears doesn't drop the engine
back to where it wants to be, but tends to cause it to bog
down. This had the effect that I tended to rev much higher
in 1st than I liked and it always felt like it was hard
work pulling away.
I weighted up a few options, such as a semi-helical box
from SPC, or perhaps a 6sp Caterham box, but in the end
it was nearly always going to be a re-build by BGH (Brian
Hill Geartech). After helping Jason with his engine change
in the winter of 2003, I knew he was very pleased with his
BGH box. I also knew that the price was especially good
- around half the cost of any of the other options. The
other benefit as far as I was concerned was that it remained
a fully helical gear set, and so would remain relatively
quiet in operation (I say relative - all things are relative
in a se7en!)
After speaking with Brian, it seemed my main option was
what they call the 'E7'. This would be a strip and re-build
of my gearbox, replacing any worn parts as required and
swapping 1st and 2nd for new ratios. I believe they also
change one or more of the others in order to match a new
main shaft - but I didn't ask too many questions in this
respect - but I know 5th is now very slightly shorter than
I was given the choice of 1st gear ratios, between 2.66
and 2.75, 2nd gear was to be 1.75 and then 3rd remained
at 1.26, 4th at straight through (1:1) and then I was given
a few choices of 5th, between 0.82 and 0.87. After a few
calculations using my gearbox spreadsheet I decided that
I would go for the longer of the two options for 1st, 2.66.
With the low weight of the se7en I felt that the slightly
longer 1st wouldn't be a problem on the road - Jason's experiences
with his gearbox also backed this up as he went for the
2.66 option as well.
For 5th gear I decided to keep my standard ratio of 0.82.
All of the other options were shorter which would have made
5th more accelerative but as I only tend to use 5th as a
relaxed cruising gear I didn't see the point in making it
shorter. The Zetec has bags of low down torque and easily
coped before - with more torque coming via the injection
and cam upgrade, it wouldn't be a problem.
The only other option I took up was to have a drain plug
fitted. This is drilled and tapped holt in the bottom of
the main case, towards the rear to allow you drain the oil
without having to remove the gearbox from the car
as you would normally have to do. This added around £20
to the bill which is well worth it as I can perform regular
oil changes as part of my services.
The first job was to pull the engine out of the car (yet
again - I seem to have been doing this every year). Once
again I enlisted the excellent service of Steve's hoist.
This job was undertaken at the end of November.
Once the engine was out, the gearbox and bell housing was
split and the gearbox was ready to be delivered for modification.
I arranged this for early December and after posting a wanted
advert on Blatchat managed to arrange collection of a F.I
tank and pump as part of the same trip, which was a
While the gearbox was away I made use of my polishing machine
(i.e. old washing machine motor with bench grinder polishing
kit) to clean up the bell housing. While this was set up
I gave the exhaust pipe a quick clean up also, so they were
nice and shiny again which lasts about 30 seconds
once you start the engine!
Whilst the gearbox was being modified I made a start on
my main project of
BGHs workload was typically high on the run up to
Christmas, with everyone wanting their gearboxes back in
time for the break. My due date came and went and I began
to wonder if I would get to get the engine back in the car
over the few days off over Christmas. In the end my gearbox
was rebuilt on the 22nd December which just left me with
the question of collection. My work finishes at lunchtime
on Christmas Eve, so I was hoping to make use of this
although the prospect of a drive around the M25 when everyone
is finishing work wasnt very appealing. Fortunately,
as the workshop is located at the bottom of Brians
garden, he suggested that I could travel down one evening.
I went for this and made my way there on the 23rd, and enjoyed
what I suspected were much quieter roads. It is this sort
of service which I think sets apart those businesses that
are willing to go that little bit further to offer excellent
service Id happily recommend them to anyone.
The other satisfying thing is that I didnt come away
feeling like I had been ripped off. Chris, who is working
alongside Brian, told me that my gearbox was one of the
cleanest they had recently worked on, and as a result, they
could make use of more of the parts elsewhere. As a result
my total bill was £470, plus the cost of my fuel of
course. Compared to the £1400ish cost of a semi-helical,
or £2k+ for a 6sp, it makes this gearbox far more
affordable, and one which I could justify whereas I could
My boxing day was happily spent in my garage, bolting the
gearbox back onto the shiny bell housing and then the engine.
The whole lot was lifted up and dropped into the engine
bay. I then bolted the various parts back on the engine
and started on the major project of the winter - Fuel