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]
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- You can see a spring. Remove it and set it aside (this is the shifter
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
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.
| <- front of
| <- shift lever
/ | \ <- rubber boot
+--------O---------+ <- frame holding down rubber boot
= <- stud with rusted nut
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
\ / <- 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.