HomeSite IndexSearch Logo


Pacesetter vs. Stillen Short Shifters

Written by Ronald Chong

red_diamond.gif (96 bytes) The obvious: the pacesetter is adjustable.  This comes about because there is a threaded area in the length of the control lever where the ball belongs.  The ball itself is threaded - rather, the hole in  the hole in the center of the ball is threaded.  So you just put the ball on the lever, and thread it on to the point you want, then tighten the buried set screw to lock it in place.

BTW, once the shifter is all installed, you cannot adjust it, which isn't what I'd thought when I bought it.  No bigge though; I can't  see a need to want to adjust it while it's installed.  so, they're  like the konis: adjustable if you're willing to take it apart. ;)

Data: the stock distance from the center of the hole at the bottom of the control lever (the end that connects to the control arm) to center of the ball is about 2.25 inches.  Also, the stock throw  from 1st to 2nd is about 5.5 inches.  I wanted a throw similar to the Stillen, which I guesstimated to be about 3 inches (??).  With a  little basic algebra (which is was to fried to do at the time;  thanks Bob and Rog), I adjusted the ball so that the center was 3  to 3.25 inches up from center of the hole at the bottom of the control lever.  The ball was threaded up high enough so that there  were no threads above the ball.  ymmv.

red_diamond.gif (96 bytes) It has a delrin (plastic-like) ball, so I'm hoping there won't be any buzzing as is prevalent with the Stillens, which have a metal ball.  We'll see.

red_diamond.gif (96 bytes) Now the following description could get confusing, but I believe it's important.  It concerns putting grease the ball, which is necessary to prevent buzzing and to keep the shifter moving smoothly.

 First a description of the stock shifter.  It's a ball and socket design, like your hip or shoulder.  You have a control lever with a  ball.  Around the ball is a bushing and sleeve (or as the manual calls it, "insulator" and "seat") which allows it to move smoothly within the socket.  Below is lousy ASCII art of a side shot of the  assembly.  Better yet, see page mt-9 (in my '91) of the service manual.  ymmv.


            D  <- shift knob
         /   <- control lever
  ____ /___
 _| [(O)] |_   <- ball inside bushing inside sleeve
     /             inside socket
   0   <- connects to control arm

When you remove the stock shifter, this whole assembly comes out as one piece.  With the Stillen, you get an assembly that looks just  like stock so you can just drop it in.  But first, you gotta grease the ball.  Since it is all one assembly, you gotta dab grease on the  small portion of the ball that is exposed through the top of the  socket then work the shifter all around to try to get the grease distributed around the ball.  You could spend a lot of time doing  this and never be sure how distributed it is.

 With the pacesetter, all you get is a lever and ball.  You read  right.  You have to reuse the socket and the bushing and sleeve from the stock assembly.  Interesting: though the pacesetter is based on  the SMC design, apparently the SMC came as an full assembly like the Stillen.  As least, I'm inferring this from Searl's comment in the  FAQ about the "urethane bushings" in his SMC stiffer than stock.  This maybe be why the pacesetter is inexpensive compared to the Stillen. (??)

 So this was a great revelation to me.  In all my previous installations, I didn't realize that the stock assembly could come  apart - there was no reason to think about it since the Stillen  assembly dropped right in.  But in fact, the stock socket can be  easily pressed off, releasing the bushing and sleeve.  The bushing splits into two halves!!  How cool!  Now you can just directly  grease up the interior of the bushing, slap it around the ball and  know that it's thoroughly greased.

red_diamond.gif (96 bytes) A minor point: the stock control lever has a slight "crimp" about a  third of the way down (from the top) the control lever.  The purpose of this is to prevent the top of the shifter boot from sliding all  the way down the control lever and making it look like a chicken leg  with the knob at the top, the expose control lever, then the boot  smashed down at the bottom. :)

 The pacesetter has has a brief 1/4" region threads tooled into the shaft at about the same distance down the lever which achieves the same purpose as the stock "crimp".

 The Stillen however has nothing.  Your shifter boot will drop down  unless you put some tape or a rubberband or something there to support the boot top.  No big deal, once you know it.

red_diamond.gif (96 bytes) Finally, another minor point.  Removing the stock shifter and  installing the Stillen can get a little sticky because of the ears on the control arm connection at the end of the control lever.  see  point #10 of the shifter install instructions on Jim Wright's maint  page:  [Actually, we've got the procedure locally on at]

The pacesetter doesn't have these ears so it drops right in "with the greatest of ease."