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Short Shifter Installations

Check Removing Shifter Rattles if you are having some..

Short Shift Installation by Don Dale [I think this is the Stillen Shifter]

  1. Remove the shift knob. Just spin it counterclockwise and it'll unscrew right off the lever. Some knobs are screwed on really tight or are glued on. If yours doesn't come off, don't worry, we have ways to deal with that.
  2. Remove the housing for the shift boot. Pull up on the rear of the housing, then slide it toward the rear of the car. Pull the shift boot collar off the shift lever and set the whole thing aside. If your shift knob is stuck, pull the whole assembly up until the shift boot is turned inside out. You'll see that the boot is held onto the lever by a plastic collar, and that a thick rubber band holds the boot on the collar. Slide this rubber band off the collar and the boot should come off. The collar will still be on the shift lever, as you can't remove it until you've removed the shift knob. There's a housing at the base of the shift lever, surrounded by a rubber dust boot. Pull upward on the dust boot, working it over the lip of the housing 'till it's free.
  3. Jack up the car by the front end and set jack stands under both sides, or use ramps. Never, never, never crawl under your car when it's supported only by the scissor jack, or when it's lifted by only 1 point. Crawl underneath from the side, right under the shifter. You'll want to wait till the car is cool to do this, as some of the parts you'll be working with or near are uncomfortably warm when the car is hot. The following instructions are written from the perspective of someone on his back underneath the car, with legs sticking out the driver's side.
  4. To your right is the catalytic converter. It's suspended from the undercarriage of the car by two rubber hangers, one on each side, each of which hangs from a bolt that screws into the undercarriage. Unscrew these bolts and the cat will fall vertically several inches. To your left, the exhaust pipe is suspended by another hanger which hangs from a peg. Work the peg off the hanger, and your exhaust pipe will also fall. You do this to give yourself more room to work with.
  5. Remove the heat shield. Directly in front of your face is a heat shield that's held onto the undercarriage by 4 nut/bolts into the frame and 1 bolt at the top rear (left, from your perspective) attaching it to the next heat shield. Remove all of these and allow the heat shield to fall onto the exhaust pipe. Slide the heat shield to your left, until it's clear of the cat and your head. Slide it as far to your left (down the exhaust system) as it'll comfortably go. You can now see the underside of the shifter assembly.
  6. You can see a spring. Remove it and set it aside (this is the shifter return spring).
  7. The shift lever is attached to the lower control arm (a thick metal rod which connects the shifter to the transmission, away to your right) by a simple linkage. Imagine the shift lever as a capital T with a very short crossbar. This crossbar is actually a hollow tube through which a bolt fits, capped by a nut at the end. The bolt head is 14mm, the nut is 13mm. With 2 wrenches, unscrew this nut and slide the bolt out of the linkage.
  8. The housing which holds the shift ball (the pivot point of the shift lever) is bolted to the upper control arm, which is the other thick metal rod you see. All you can see of this housing is two bolts which point down toward you, fastened by 2 nuts. The bolts are oriented diagonally, one to the upper right (from your perspective), one to the lower left. Unscrew these nuts (they're 12mm). A socket set with an extension bar and a universal joint is really handy to have for this step.
  9. Crawl out from under the car, brush off your back, and sit in the driver's seat. Don't have a friend get in the car while you're still underneath. Reach down through the hole in the rubber dust boot and grasp the housing. It's a wide, short metal tube with 2 tabs; integral to the tabs are 2 bolts (to which you just removed the nuts). Pull upward on the housing. Stretch the rubber dust boot to clear first 1 tab, then the other. Pull upward on the shift lever so that the shift ball clears the dust boot. The shift ball, wrapped in a thick plastic band, will now be visible. Peel off the plastic band to reveal 2 identical semicircular plastic bushings. Set aside the bushings, the band, and the housing.
  10. Now it's time to remove the shift lever. You can do this from inside the car. The only tricky part is that the T at the end is just a little bit bigger than the hole in the upper control arm that you put the shifter through. Look down through the hole in the dust boot, spinning it and changing its angle until the T is free of that hole. Pull up on the shift lever and it'll come off into your hand.
  11. If you couldn't remove the shift knob before: Wrap the knob in several layers of rags or shop towels. Lay your shift lever on the driveway. Back up your car (or any car) over the lever until one tire is resting squarely on the knob and the lever is sticking out to the side. Stick a piece of pipe or a long screwdriver through the crossbar at the end of the shift lever and use this as a lever to start unscrewing the knob from the shift lever. When the knob is loose, move the car and finish unscrewing by hand.
  12. Now just reverse the whole process to install the new shifter. Make sure you squirt some white all purpose grease inside those two semicircular bushings, as well as onto the linkage bolt that goes through the crossbar.

If you have an SMC shifter and you want a really short throw (ball more than halfway up the threaded part of the shift lever), the bottom of the shift lever will rub and rattle against the top of the heat shield. There's an easy fix for this. Remove the heat shield from under the car and set it on the driveway. It's sort of arched to form a tunnel underneath for the exhaust. Give the heat shield a few good wallops with a BFH tool at the top of this arch, flattening it out somewhat. Unless you get carried away, the heat shield will still clear the cat and the bend you put in it will give you at least another 2 inches of shifter clearance space. I found it necessary to have a friend stand on either side of the heat shield, compressing the arch somewhat with their feet, for this process to be effective.

Good luck!

Pacesetter Shifter Installation Notes by Ronald Chong

The install was straightforward (almost; see below) and the instructions provided by pacesetter were good.  The procedure is essentially the same as outlined on the Jim Wright's maint page with the addition of the few important points mentioned in my other post: "pacesetter shifter: thorough comparison to Stillen".

When I've done installs in the past they typically take about 1.5 - 2 hours.  But mine took way too long; like five hours!  This was because my '91 has seen too much wet, snowy, salty weather.  as a result, two nuts were rusted on. :(

All went well until the time to remove the last two nuts, the ones on the back part of the metal frame that squishes the rubber boot to the body.  Advice: if the bolts look rusty and you really think they might break, just intentionally break them.  Just yank hard so that they will break.  That's what we should have done, but we tried to baby them off.  What happened was that once we the nuts got down to about the last 1/4" inch of bolt thread (where the rust was the thickest) the nut refused to turn.

More multimedia.  This is a side pic of the shifter once the leather boot is pull out of the way to expose the rubber boot and frame below.

          D    <- knob  
          |    <- front of car
          |    <- shift lever
      /   |   \  <- rubber boot  
 +--------O---------+  <- frame holding down rubber boot
          |         =  <- stud with rusted nut
          o         |

So we kept turning - nothing else we could do.  The nut started turning again.  Then we realized that the _whole stud_ was turning!! we were completely screwed.

We first started gnawing away at the top using my dremel tool thinking that once the head was flattened, the stud would fall out. Once it was chewed up a bit, we tried to use a punch and hammer to knock the stud out the rest of the way.  Nothing.  So we decided to try drilling - nothing else to do.

The problem was that we didn't know that the stud was shaped like this:

               \    /      <- flattened top of stud 
              ========     <- thin 10mm nut 
----------------|  |------ <- frame holding down boot 
             ---+  +---     
            |          |   <- washer-like stupidness 
             ---+  +---  
----------------|  |------ <- car body under frame
                |  | 
                |  |     <- nut

The washer-like stupidness was part of the stud!  So I had to drill through another 3/16" of metal.  After doing the first stud, the second one went quickly, but I was still pouting from doing the first.

We then hit the hardware store and picked up new metric bolts, nuts, and washers.  We found rubber grommets to use where the washer-like stupidness used to be.  That worked well.

In retrospect, we would have intentionally broken the nuts, we could have lifted the frame and shifter out.  The studs would still be attached to the frame that holds down the rubber boot because of the washer-like stupidness, but at least you could easily hacksaw them off, away from the interior of the car.  A five-minute job instead of thirty minutes.