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Factory Short Shifter DIY install

Stew F

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Well here it is folks.  I know 3 of you have been anticipating my DIY Factory Short Shifter Install thread.  So without further delay, here we go.

I was planning on going out to watch the Classic Adelaide Tarmac Rally yesterday, but in the end I had a bit of work to complete in the morning.  After getting half way through, and my mouse carking it so I had to go out and buy a new one, I duly finished my drawing updates and decided to get started on the shifter install.  

I started off the same way I start all my projects.  Coffee. During the week I had done my research.  I read probably 5 different install articles, then decided on the one I liked best, and printed it off.  Hint: Increase the font size to about 14 before printing it.  Next, I clean up a decent size work area and work out what tools I need.  Gather rags, lubes, camera, etc. and then put on some tunes.  

For this job I chose Judas Priest's album Redeemer of Souls (Deluxe Edition).  2 minutes in and I found myself wanting to smash everything.  So I changed to a more sedate music selection. I loaded up the old Kriesler Stereophonic with Mozart, Schubert & Strauss, with the occasion inclusions of The Glen Miller Orchestra & Pavlov's Dog.  



Now into it.  I started out by removing the console, auto heat controller, and carpet.  I'm not re-installing the console, and as it didn't work, the auto heat control.  Before I went any further I also removed the additional plate on the heat control arm that works from the auto heat control. There was no actuator rod on there. Probably why it wasn't working.


This is what it looks like with all that fruit removed.


Next - Removing the shift tower

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So lets move on.

If you have a later style shift tower it will have a 22mm AF locknut on the pivot screw like the one in the photo below.  I believe these started at the introduction of the SC years, so 1977.  Earlier ones apparently just have the pivot screw.  If yours isn't the locknut type I'd suggest using some Loctite 243 on the screw on reassembly.  It's primerless and oil resistant.  For any of you who have used Loctite primers in the past, you'll know what a joy it is to use primerless thread lockers.

So, I digress.  Pull up the rubber boot, turn it inside out, and hook it up over the shift knob.  Crack the nut so it can be unscrewed by hand later.  You need a 22mm (or 7/8") open end spanner. The hex of the nut will clear the small shoulder.


Then undo the 2 smaller cap screws securing the actuator rod bush bracket.


Remove the 3 larger cap screws that secure the shifter tower to the floor.


Lift the shifter tower up and out. Piece of p*$$.


Note the amount of grease on the ball socket bush.  Hmmm, overgreasing reigns supreme with some people.  

Next, take the shifter tower assembly to your work area and place it down so it can't fall or get damaged. After a thorough inspection for cracks, etc., that zinc diecast housing looked pretty fragile.  Take care with it, and don't lever against it. Do so at your own peril.


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The next thing I did was to remove the gizmo that the ball socket bush sits in.  For the sake of this exercise, lets call it the ball socket bush holder. 

It was quite a tight fit down in that little opening.  You need a 4mm Allen key for this job. I could only find my long ball drivers, and it was too big, so I had to use a 1/4 hex drive 4mm Allen key and a 1/4 open end spanner. 



Time to now - about 30 minutes.  Difficulty - 3 spanners (out of 10).

Next, remove the actuator rod bush bracket (& bush) and remove the old bush from the bracket.  My bush had a crack in it (lol, I just realised what I wrote, and I'm not changing it), and it was quite brittle.  When I removed it it broke into a few pieces.



Fit a new actuator rod bush into the bracket. I had an actuator rod bush, ball socket bush, and shift coupler bushes already.  Don't be a tight wad - for the sake of $35, replace them.


Also check the back side of the bracket to make sure the bush is in properly.


My actuator rod bush was quite worn, to the point where it had almost worn through the bottom of the hole. The ball socket bush was less worn, but still pretty loose.  Replace them both. Did I mention that already?

Here's a picture of a genuine ball socket bush on the left, and a non-genuine $6.50 off the internet one.  Pay the extra and buy the genuine one. The non-gen one was 0.9mm smaller than the receptacle, tapered, and out of round, whereas the Porsche part was 0.05 smaller than the receptacle, parallel, round, and just much better quality.







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The next thing I did was to clean up the ball socket bush holder and it's associated screw so it's nice & shiny. I used a bit of Neversieze on the screw and Wurth HSP 1400 anti-galling spray in the bore where it fits onto the actuator rod, then reinstalled the actuator rod bush bracket and it.  I just put the bush in so I didn't misplace it.  You'll need to remove it again later. I also sprayed the actuator rod bush as well.  Don't overgrease.  If you do, don't come crying to me saying your shifter mechanism is worn out because the grease has picked up every bit of dirt and turned into grinding paste.  The grey stuff you can see on there is Wurth HSP 1400 anti-galling spray. It's great stuff.


Looks nice huh?


This is what you get for your $290. A gear lever, retainer, main pivot pin, latch plate, 2 springs, spring retainer, and top retainer plate.  Not bad value I reckon.

This is how the old one looked when I took it out.  Yuk.


Remove the 22mm AF nut that you loosened earlier.


Then remove the pivot screw. Give them a good clean then put them somewhere safe.


Next, you need to remove the main pivot pin. It's retained by 2 C clips. The bit of fluff to the right makes it easy to find. Put these C clips with the other bits because you need to reuse them.



It was about now that the inevitable happened.  My hands were quite dirty & I was busting for the loo.  How often does that happen???

So after that, you can push the pin out by hand.  The sequencing thus far may not fit in with your actual toilet break requirements, so you'll have to work it out.

Remove the ball socket bush from the bottom of the shifter.  Don't be too worried if you damage it, because you're putting in a new one, aren't you?


Drink break.

So, on with the show. This picture shows the difference between the standard shifter and the short shifter, the latter being at the bottom.


The latch plate is also different, so don't mix them up. Here's the old bits removed.


Note that the shifter retainer (bottom right) is slightly bowed inwards on the sides.  It's like that for a reason, so don't be tempted to try and straighten it to make the shifter fit easier.  I'm not sure if there is any differences in the top retainer plates.  I didn't check, & I really don't give a rat's tossbag (to quote. Malcolm Blight).

The next thing you need to do is drive the shifter retainer roll pin out a bit so you can remove the old retainer.  I used an aluminium drift and just knocked it back until it was flush with the inside of the retainer.  Then twist the retainer sideways at the pivot screw end and remove it from the pin.



Justa lika this.

Remove this spacer washer and give it a clean.  Then put it in the aforementioned safe place.


Now you are left with an empty, albeit dirty, shifter tower casting. The next thing I did was give it a really good clean with a wire brush & scraper, degreaser, then I washed it in warm soapy water. As I'm not putting the console back in I decided to paint the casting black, so I gave it a prepwash, then warm soapy water, then clean water. I let it dry in the sun, then I gave it 2 coats of my finest Rustoleum black enamel.  This is where I left it for the day.



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Up to now I spent about 1-1/2 hours, plus another hour dicking around with some other things.  I forgot to mention, don't lose that spacer washer.

Sunday morning - The reassembly & reinstall process.  Armed with coffee and toast with Vegemite, and another fine selection of music, I headed into the abyss that is my garage. 

Here's the new main pivot pin.  Don't use a hammer on it or you might damage the end. The clip groove is pretty close to the end of the pin.


I pre-assembled the shift lever into the retainer, inserted the pin, then realised I had the retainer upside down.  The old one is symmetrical and the pin is in the middle, whereas the new one has the radius for the offset pin position.  Note the protection around the shift lever.  I didn't want to scratch it. The original packaging was perfect for this.


So there's that shiny washer.  Wang a bit of lube on both sides because the faces rub on the housing and the retainer.


Refit the shift lever and retainer sub-assembly.  Note the radius on the retainer is up.


So far, about 2 hours. Degree of difficulty - about 3 spanners.

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Now this is the most difficult part.If you have someone to help you you're going to be as sweet as a nut.  Me, being the lone wolf that I am, had to make do on my own.

The next step it to reassemble the internals.  Put the new latch plate into it's track with the two prongs facing up. You can see the prongs just sticking out of the top retainer plate in the image below.  You should have already pre-assembled the retainer and shifter by partly installing the new main pivot pin and installing the outer C clip into it's groove. Then, push the main pivot pin home until the C clip sits against the shifter retainer. Now, fit the other C clip.  Make sure they are both seated properly in their grooves. You don't want that pin to come out.

Now you have to reinstall the pivot screw.  Lube the pin and thread and screw it in.  Use the Allen key and tighten it 1 finger tight.  That is, turn the Allen key with one finger until it stops.  Don't overtighten it for risk of binding, or worse, breaking the housing. Then screw the nut on and lightly nip it up. Check that the whole lot isn't binding, but also that there isn't any end float.

Now, place the two new springs onto the latch prongs.  Doesn't matter where you put each spring - thy're the same.  Same goes for the ends - they're the same as well.  Put the rubber spring retainer over the springs.  this can go either way up - it's the same on both sides.  Now the tricky bit. Put a couple of pieces of timber on the floor with a rag over them - leave a small gap between them.  Place the whole shooting match on the timber blocks so the ball end of the shifter is in fresh air, and place the top retainer plate onto the springs.  It only fits one way - you can't get it wrong.

Get your assistant to push down on the retainer plate with something suitable strong but non-marking, until you can start the nuts. Don't forget the spring washers under the nuts.  I used a hammer handle to push it down.  I also put a couple of nylon screws into the rectangular slots to keep the springs in their correct spots, within reason.  As I said, this is the most difficult part of the entire job.  I think I had 3 or 4 go's at it before I was successful.  Then just tighten the nuts up.  Once again, don't over tighten them.  Not sure if there is a torque setting.  I just went until my shoulder clicked. Notice that the top retainer plate is slightly bowed.  The original one was the same.  It's just from the pressure of the springs.

Final part of the assembly process is to put a small amount of lube on the reverse lockout pawl.

This bit here - difficulty - 6 spanners. Effort required - 10 spanners.


Refitting it in the car.

Remove the ball socket bush from the receptacle (where we stored it previously), give the ball end a spray of Wurth, and push the bush onto the ball.  It takes a little bit of effort, but it will just pop on there.  It should be a reasonably neat fit.  Then, pull the actuator rod bush bracket towards the rear, insert the ball socket bush into the receptacle, and lower the housing to the floor.  Line up the bracket screw holes with the holes in the housing. I used a small screwdriver. Then install the 2 smaller cap screws.


Once the 2 small screws are in, install the 3 larger screws.  When they are almost screwed in tighten the 2 small ones.  Then tighten the 3 larger ones.  I just did them all snug tight, plus a bit.

I couldn't get the original shift knob off the old shifter, so I went to Autobarns and bought a new one for the meantime.  I was a bit worried I was going to damage it.


I still need to fit the shifter boot.

This is a shift coupler cover.  It's behind the front seats in the middle of the floor.


If you don't know what this is you need to sell your Porsche.  It's the shift rod coupler.  It's under the shift rod coupler cover.  Check the coupler for play.  Sideways, back & forth, up & down, and any other direction you can think of.  If there is any play in there you will need to replace your coupler bushes.  


I have new bushes, but my coupler was good.  I subsequently checked my records from the previous owner and found that they were replaced less that 25000 km ago.


So, with job completed, apart from refitting the carpet piece and the shift coupler cover (the paint is drying), what's the verdict?  I think that just replacing the bushes alone would have made a massive difference.  Changing gears was like mixing a cake.  Now it's nice & precise, like caressing a beautiful lady.  I'm sure this was due to the old worn bushes, but I had an occasional slight feel of the gears when going from first to second.  That's now gone.  Add to that the shorter throw of the shifter and all I can say is it's worth the time & money.  Overall, I'm happy with the outcome.  Total time - about 3.5 hours.  Difficulty - 5 spanners.

For my next job I'm going to attempt to repair my RHS tail light housing.  The pot metal has corroded at the top left corner in the brake light area.  There's a 15mm diameter hole in there.  I'll post a thread on that when I've completed the job.


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Looks great Stew!  keep it industrial, doesn't need the boot

The real lesson here is that time I abused your gearbox it really wasn't my fault.  Yes, let's go with that.


I had thought of not putting the boot back on. Think I'll leave it off for the time being. Still need to get my knob off the old shifter, if anyone has any suggestions.

Nice work fella

Think I needed a coffee just reading that! Good job

Have fun with the tail light rubbers. Just ask me and Jeff! ;)  If ya don't have to remove them, DON'T! 

I'm going to start the light housing repair job tonight.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well I'm spewing. Went for a drive today. I had some problems selecting 5th, and when I did, the shifter got stuck in the gate. Finally out, back to 4th, and grrrrrrrrrrrrrind, that's reverse.  Seems the epoxy that glues the shifter arm into the ball pivot has let go and the shifter rotated a bit.  Now it's as loose as a whatsname in a shirt sleeve.  I'll be on the phone to Porsche Centre Adelaide on Monday morning. Now I have to take it apart again.

On the bright side, I managed to get my knob off the old shifter.

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That sucks big time Stew!! Any progress on it so far...?


As a matter of fact, I just had an email back from the PCAdelaide parts manager.  He's ordered another complete kit for me, which will be here tomorrow.  I just need to strip out the parts tonight and change over on the weekend.  Not a big job, now that I know exactly what to do.  But I think a modification in the way of a bit of TIG welding might be in order before I fit the new one.  

Interestingly, Porsche apparently only allow parts to sit on the shelf for a certain amount of time before they're pulled from stock.

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 Seems the epoxy that glues the shifter arm into the ball pivot has let go and the shifter rotated a bit.

I can't recall whether the original is glued in or welded?

When I installed my Seine gate shift kit they suggested JB weld and a hoseclip. No way was I trusting that! Blob of weld and I can sleep at night.

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Do you mean the dealer shelf Stew?

I'm sure he mean't at the local (Porsche Cars Australia, or whatever country) warehouse.

I can't recall whether the original is glued in or welded?

When I installed my Seine gate shift kit they suggested JB weld and a hoseclip. No way was I trusting that! Blob of weld and I can sleep at night.

The original one is glued.  There appears to be a lot more glue around the top of the old one than the new one.  The new one, as I found out when it came completely out of the lower part, is painted all the way to the end.  Not an ideal way to get a good metal to metal bond.  I've never used JB weld, so I think I'll put a couple of decent SF welds on it.

What was the hose clip for?

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I put the replacement shifter in on Saturday.  This time I put a couple of decent tack welds on it, so it shouldn't come apart.  I decided to remove the shift coupler and change the bushes, but found that the ones in there were as good as, if not better than, the new non-genuine ones I bought.  Here's a tip - use genuine parts for the shifter bushes.  They're cheap, and they're correct.  The aftermarket ones I bought were pretty ordinary quality.  Once I put the coupler back together and refitted it, it was time to set it up.  What a prick of a job.  Took me about an hour to get it right.

Anyway, all good now.

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