My 95 Contour SE with ATX is now 22 years old with only 110000 miles on it. It's an "old lady" in France since 1997. So, since I had the parts availabIe I decided to feshen up the cooling system. I drained the coolant and replaced the water pump (used one with metal impeller), the thermostat (motorade failsafe) and a couple of hoses (Top hose and thermostat to water pump). I refilled the system with new coolant and purged the system following Terry Haynes instructions. After 15 to 20 minutes of idling with the recovery tank cap off the temperature gauge stabilizes between R & M of normal. Put the cap back on the tank and stopped the car. During this process I did not see any bubble coming out of the tank and the fan never kicked in. The next day I decided to test drive the car. After 10 minutes on the road (5 to 6 miles) the temperature was almost to the L of normal and the fan had kicked in but did not do any good since the temperature never returned to normal (stayed between A and L) and the fan never stopped until I was back home and stopped the car. I opened the hood and immediately noticed that the top hose and the thermostat housing were real hot but on the other side of the car of the engine compartment the recovery tank was cold and the botton hose was cold too. It was really easy and safe for me to remove the cap (no pressure, no bubble).
According to what I read on the forum, a hot top radiator hose and a cold botton hose is an indication that the thermostat does not open. I am really skeptical since the thermostat is brand new. The water pump seems to be OK (I pinched the top hose and released it and I really felt a surge). Before I drain the coolant to open the thermostat housing and eventually replace the thermostat (I will reinstall the original ford one which was working fine - never had a problem of overheating) I would like to have your advice. Thanks to everybody