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Mo_Gearhead's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 3,339
Early shifter re-build

The last two times I had driven my car, the shifter felt like I was stirring a bucket of soft mud with a stick. This A.M. I go to back the car out of the garage to wash it and the shifter wobbles around like a drunk college kid on rush night at the frat house.

OK, time to investigate.

I pull up the floor mats, pop off the shifter knob, pull the tunnel carpet up and off the shift rod and discover …a large dose of metal fatigue :

I had examined/cleaned /painted my shifter during my restoration (two years and 5,000 miles ago) but I noticed no problems and had installed new plastic shifter bushings at that time. But this shifter (circa 1969) has changed gears many times over 40 years and 178K miles.

Time to fix it.

I took the unit all apart and put the shift plate in my vice and found a socket that was very close (O.D.) to the shifter collar (I.D.) opening. Using my acetylene torch, I began to carefully heat and tap the collar back to its original location.

Note: When welding, always remember to remove all paint/oil/grease from your items to be welded. New metal from steel suppliers has a coating of oil to prevent rust. I use a wire brush, sandpaper if rusty and then wipe it down with lacquer thinner …and let it dry.

Once I had the collar back in place, I used a ’00‘ welding tip, with very low gas pressure and RG 45 1/16“ welding rod to begin the repair. Keeping the socket in place (to maintain the correct size shifter opening), I slowly worked my way around the piece.

I then took some measurements and cut a piece of sheet metal 6” in length and 1” in width. My plan was to reinforce the original shift collar by adding another ‘sleeve’ around the original, thus doubling its strength.

Using another larger socket, I rolled (by hand and small hammer) the sheet metal in a circle and placed it around the outside of the shifter ‘collar‘.

Placing the shifter base and new metal piece in a vice, I began to tack-weld the repair piece around the shift collar.

After placing tack welds around the bottom of the new metal to fix its position, I let it cool and then trimmed the top with a Dremmel cutoff tool. Using the acetylene torch again I slowly heated the metal and tapped it in to match the top of the original shift collar top. I then welded the two seams together.

(I failed to get a photo before painting, but as you can see the new collar matches the original height of the collar)

I used a file and the Dremmel tool to clean up the top, circular weld. Because the welding/patching of the original torn (fatigued) metal caused some roughness internally (in the shifter-ball socket) I used the Dremmel bits to polish that area. It was still rough, so I took two-part J B Weld (plastic steel) and pressed it into the socket-ball area. As it was starting to set up, I took the shift rod and put it in place and moved it through its shifter movements to help ’form’ the socket surface area. I removed the shift rod and let the plastic-steel set up (about an hour) then used 250g - 600g and finally 1500 grit emery (sand) paper to polish and smooth the ball-socket area.

I now had a re-manufactured shifter base, with a double strength socket wall.
I cleaned and painted it and coated the shift-ball socket with Lubriplate.

The shifter has a spring-loaded plate that assists the shift from first to second and as a minor safeguard to keep you from accidentally going into Reverse gear. Every time someone, over those 178,000K miles, pulled the shift lever over to First or Reverse the shift rod would put pressure on the spring plate, causing wear. Mine had a sharp metal edge worn onto it, so I took the Dremmel tool and a file and removed that sharp edge and smoothed the mating surfaces.

In the photo you can see how 40 years of wear has slightly ‘cupped’ the surface. I used MINIMAL pressure and removed almost no metal, I just wanted it polished. (If this plate was HEAVILY worn, one could build up this surface with welding rod and true the surface flat once again.)

End Part 1
Don't fear the reaper.

Last edited by Mo_Gearhead; 07-26-2009 at 10:45 PM..
Old 07-26-2009, 10:28 PM
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Mo_Gearhead's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 3,339

Here is a trick I used when replacing the two, spring-plate tension springs. I took a piece of strong (but thin) cord and ran it through the spring and the holes in the base. I took a nail, the diameter of which, would allow it to be inserted beside the cord and through the spring. The nail length must also be long enough to span the base plate holes.

Press one spring end in against the base and start the nail through the outside of the base plate and into the spring, but ONLY into the spring about inches. This ‘locates’ and helps position one spring end. Then, with one hand, arch the spring (U shape) as you PULL on the cord to force the other end (opposite the nail) toward the inside of the base on the
other side. This can be done alone, but another pair of hands can make it much easier.

Once you get the other spring end inside the plate hold that position and force the nail all the way through, to lock the spring in place. Then cut the cord and remove it, being careful NOT to pull the nail out with the cord (or you will have to begin again).

Because the temporary nail is a smaller diameter than the spring pin you may need to tap/move the spring to align the spring and base plate holes. Once aligned, start to tap/drive the locating pin through the plate and spring ...thus forcing the nail out the other side as the pin advances. Attach the circle-clip locks and repeat for spring number two.

Time involved: From pulling up the carpet, removal of the shifter assembly, dis-assembly, welding, grinding, painting, re-assembly and re-installing, it took me a leisurely 5 hours. That included a 1-hour lunch break, as I allowed the J B Weld to cure.

The result was amazing! The shifter is SOLID and very firm. A much more secure feeling and positive movement than before.
Don't fear the reaper.

Last edited by Mo_Gearhead; 07-26-2009 at 10:34 PM..
Old 07-26-2009, 10:30 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: So. Calif.
Posts: 18,251
Good repair. However, the 901 shifter is pretty weak and relatively vague. I would suggest installing a 915 shift housing in its place.

Old 07-26-2009, 10:42 PM
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Mo_Gearhead's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 3,339
Quote: "I would suggest installing a 915 shift housing.."


Probably good advice Sherwood, for those unable to do such work themselves.

I assure you that mine is no longer weak or vague.
Don't fear the reaper.
Old 07-26-2009, 10:50 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2018
Posts: 2
Install shifter springs into early 911 shifter the easy way.

I liked the idea of using a nail but had the problem using the cord. Instead I used two nails inserted about a half inch into the springs and then used a leather gloves to push the spring on the nails. Once the spring was lined up with both holes I tapped one nail to move out the nail on the other side. Next I tapped the pin in one side and the nail out the other side. I previously tried side cutters, vise grips and a weed digger to install the springs with no positive results. The two nail method worked in 10-15 minutes of time and was not hard at all. Retired former ASC Auto Mechanic only working on my own cars now.
Old 03-08-2018, 03:41 PM
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