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70S Targa Guy's Avatar
 
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Shift Coupler & shift lever bushings replacement tutorial made easy-step-by- step

My 1986 915 transmission with 40,000 miles and filled with Swepco 201 was shifting poorly. I was not able to shift into 5th gear at all. I started a thread found here
5th Gear almost disappeared? outlining my symptoms and asking fellow Pelicans for guidance. General consensus of the forum was that the two bushings in my shift coupler were shot and needed to be replaced and/or the shifter cup ball socket bushing and the shift rod guide bushing AKA Friction Ring were also in need of replacement. Here is the parts diagram showing the shifter and linkage parts including the parts needed to be removed and/or replaced:


I am replacing bushings # 22, #23, and the two bushings in rear coupler #27

Please be advised some of the steps of this procedure are quite obvious to many reading this but my objective with this tutorial is to help and to encourage the person who is not mechanically inclined at all and therefore may hesitate performing this critical maintenance. All the parts described are denoted by the numbers on the diagram above for reference.

Tools and materials required:
915 Shifter Bushing Kit Pelican Part #: PEL-BUSHKIT1N $22.
13mm wrench
13mm socket
10mm socket
Socket extension
Long Flat Blade Screwdriver
M6 Hex wrench
M4 Hex Wrench
22mm socket or wrench (adjustable wrench will work also)
Lithium Grease
Brake Cleaner to clean tunnel and old dirt and grease on components

Total time to complete job for this first timer from start to finish (using a used shift coupler with new bushings previously installed)…2 hours

Firstly, I placed the transmission in first gear with emergency brake on. I also put a blanket and some towels in the car to protect my carpeting and seats during removal and installation outlined below.

1) Having said that, I was ready to go and proceeded to remove the four screws on the black vented tunnel cover between the two rear seats to gain access to the Shift Coupler (See #27 in Diagram). You can see why I had no 5th gear anymore. One bushing was gone and in pieces as can be seen in the picture below.

2) I paid special attention to and marked the original orientation on the couplers spline and shift rod(fore/aft and also left/right position) of the original coupler so I would have a baseline orientation upon reinstallation of reconditioned coupler. Proper orientation and perhaps eventual final adjustment of the rear Shift Coupler is critical for proper and smooth shifting.



3) Using a 13mm socket and 13mm wrench I loosened the Nut and Bolt #29 & #31 on the Clamp #28.

4) Using a 4mm allen socket wrench I loosened the Conical Screw #26 that holds the rear end of the Shift Coupler to the Selector Rod leading into the transmission.

5) The Coupler is now simply removed from the car.

Now it is time to remove the Gear Shifter from my car. I don’t have a center console in my car to remove so my car makes things a bit easier.

6) All I had to do to gain access to the 5 bolts holding the Gear Shifter to my car was to lift up the rubber shift boot and peel the carpet away to reveal the 3 bolts towards the rear of the shifter (two 10mm bolts & one 13mm bolt holding the shifter to the Shift Bearing Bracket #21) and the two 13mm bolts on the front part of the shifter.



After removing these 5 bolts the shifter simply is pulled out of the car. Notice the plastic Ball Socket #23 on the bottom of the Shifter Rod. This is one of the two bushings needing to be replaced on the shifter assembly.



7) Now it is time to remove the “L” shaped Shift Bearing Bracket #21. There is another Conical Screw # 26 on the driver side of the Head Shift Rod#24 which needs to be removed in order to remove the Shift Bearing Bracket so I can replace the Friction Ring #22 (round yellow plastic piece seen below) that is pressed into the Shift Bearing Bracket. With the shifter out of the car and the rear Shift Coupler removed I found it easiest to position myself kneeling outside the passenger door so I can grab with my left hand the rear most part of the Gear Shift Rod #25 in the rear tunnel and turn the Gear Shift Rod so the Conical Screw #26 attached to the Head Shift Rod #24 is pointed straight up enabling removal of the Head Shift Rod and ultimately the Shift Bearing Bracket. Unfortunately, I did not get a good picture of the screw but as I said it is on the driver side and you rotate the shift rod towards the passenger side to gain access to the conical screw.



8) Upon examination of my shifter I noticed the 22mm Hexagon Lock Nut #5B was loose and could easily be turned with my fingers. In addition, when by hand I tested the fore and aft play/movement of the Shift Lever Bearing #3 it was obvious there was 2-3 mm of fore/aft movement in the Shift Lever Bearing. To remove this 2-3 mm of play I simply turned the Threaded Pin 5A located inside the 22 mm Hexagon Lock Nut until the Shift Lever Bearing was snug but not binding, and then tightened the 22 mm lock.



9) Removing the Ball Socket from the bottom of the Gear Shift Lever took 10 seconds while just holding the ball socket in one hand, and holding the stick shift knob firmly in the other hand. A hard pull at a slight angle of the ball socket removed it quite easily. Removing the Friction Ring took about a minute using a long handled screwdriver to pry it out.

10) As far as installing the new Friction Ring and the Ball Socket, I just applied a bit of silicone grease to the inside surfaces of each new bushing. I pushed the ball socket back onto the bottom of the Gear Shift Lever and popped it in place. You will hear a distinct “pop” letting you know it is properly seated. When I installed the friction ring by hand pressing it in place, all except about ¼ inch of the Friction Ring was hand pressed inside the Shift Bearing Bracket. The last bit needed a bit of force using a long handled flat blade screw driver. Total install time of the Friction Ring in the Shift Bearing Bracket took me about a minute and there was no need to put the new bushing in hot water as others have suggested but YMMV.

Removing the pin to install the new bushings on the shift coupler must be done with care so the coupler is not damaged. DO NOT put pressure on the outer aluminum housing. Instead, put the steel shank into the vice while leaving the housing to float in the air. Tap the pin out with a punch/drift and hammer. Air hammer with blunt punch works great also. There are many threads here outlining the procedure.

Installation as they say, is reverse!

1) That is to say, first I cleaned all the debris, grease, etc. from the shifter tunnel and rear tunnel. Then I slid the Shift Bearing Bracket in place over the Gear Shift Rod and lined up the rear most bolt hole of the Shift Bearing Bracket to the rear most hole on the car’s tunnel.

2) Then I positioned the Shift Rod Head onto the Gear Shift Rod and secured it tightly with the Conical Screw.

3) I positioned the Shifter in place making sure the new Ball Socket was inside the Shift Rod Head and first hand tightened the three shifter bolts securing the shifter to the Shift Bearing Bracket and then the two bolts at the front of the shifter. I then tightened all 5 shifter assembly bolts.

Moving to the rear of the car it was now time to reinstall the shift coupler.

4) I simply slid the rear part of the Shift Coupler over the Selector Rod leading to the transmission at the very rear of the tunnel making sure the holes in both were lined up and then securely tightened the conical screw to secure their connection.

5) I slid the threaded front part of the coupler into the Gear Shift Rod. As you may recall, before removal of the shift coupler I marked the orientation of the original coupler (See first pic) to give me a baseline for final adjustment. I lined up my marks on the coupler fore/aft & Left and Right and tightened the clamp very tightly. Make sure this clamp is very tight.

6) I went to the driver’s seat and with the car turned off went through the gears paying special attention to 5th and Reverse gears and all seemed smooth. Took the car out for a test drive and shifting was good in all gears with no nicking of gears or grinding. Besides the obvious of a smooth shifting vehicle while running, a preliminary visual test to eliminate any possible damage to the gear box can be performed while the car is not running. Here is a picture of how the shifter in 5th gear, and the Pawl Carrier Gate #11 should look like if coupler is adjusted properly:



It should NOT look like this below. If it does, more fine adjustment of the shift coupler is required. Pay special attention to the position of the “Lock Out Dog” denoted by the arrow:



If you did not mark original position of shift coupler or need to make final adjustment of coupler here is a simple method found on Pelican:

Pelican Technical Article: 911 Shifting Improvements

Happy Motoring!

Old 06-12-2011, 01:51 PM
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Awesome! Thanks, just getting set to tackle this project myself.

TJ
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Old 06-12-2011, 01:56 PM
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Hey Targa Guy,

Your post couldn't have been more timely. I was all set to replace the coupler bushings in my 73 when eureka, you've been there done that. Your suggestion of making sure the gearbox is in 1st gear is spot on. I had considered trying to install the bushings with the transmission in neutral but soon realized that wasn't going to work. (Not enough clearance to mate the shaft and coupler). Putting it in first solved the problem.

Unfortunately, I removed the coupler before your post and I failed to mark the exact location for the spline depth. There was, however, a faint ring around the shaft where the clamp had been installed for the last 38 years, so that didn't turn out to be a huge problem.

So thank you very much. Great job, thanks, gary
Old 06-14-2011, 06:57 AM
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You're welcome Gary. Glad to help. Just curious...do you have a 73 T, E or S?
Old 06-14-2011, 07:23 AM
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Excellent post. I bought the bushings a while back and am getting ready to tackle this. Love the step-by-step with picks.
Please replace your clutch cable next and document it just like you did on this job !
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Old 06-14-2011, 07:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jnewman View Post
Excellent post. I bought the bushings a while back and am getting ready to tackle this. Love the step-by-step with picks.
Please replace your clutch cable next and document it just like you did on this job !
No problem Jnewman....however it will cost you a Pig in the Garden Salad from Jim "N Nick's Bar-B-Q or a night of adult beverages at "The Club" on top of the hill over there in Birmingham. Ah yes....spent many a good time in Birmingham!
Old 06-14-2011, 08:24 AM
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Clear, thorough, and very helpful. Very nicely done!

Dale
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Old 06-14-2011, 08:26 AM
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Shifter adjustment

I'm installing an engine and transmission in a car that I received without either.

Is there a way to put the tranny in 1st gear before I slide the end of it back in the tunnel?

Jack
Old 06-15-2011, 09:44 AM
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It can be done easily. I never did it but searching my notes one poster on Pelican wrote this:

"When I had my engine and trans out, I didn't know what gear it was in when I put everything back together.

When the trans shaft is pulled forward, it can only go into 1st or 3rd gear. From that point, you can slide it towards the rear until it disengages - this is the neuteral position. If you slide it furthe back, it goes into either 2nd or 4th.

If you rotate the trans shaft to the left when you start, you will go into 1st gear, if you rotate it to the right, you will go into 3rd gear.

You need to have a starting point when you start. If it's in 1st gear, set your shift lever to the left forward, etc. Once you get to this point, then you can work from there to get the shift lever in the right position. Not a real hard thing to do."
Old 06-15-2011, 09:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 70S Targa Guy View Post
No problem Jnewman....however it will cost you a Pig in the Garden Salad from Jim "N Nick's Bar-B-Q or a night of adult beverages at "The Club" on top of the hill over there in Birmingham. Ah yes....spent many a good time in Birmingham!
Your on, Targa guy! I''m in Jim 'n Nicks a couple of times a week for 'que & brew...then we can head up to your place for Yeungling!
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Last edited by jnewman; 06-15-2011 at 10:33 AM..
Old 06-15-2011, 10:30 AM
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The center console it more difficult to remove than the shifter bushings. Especially if you have a working AC system. The AC temp control switch is critical. At least on my car.

It is amazing how much better it shifts now ain't it!
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Old 06-15-2011, 12:10 PM
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Quote:

Quote de jnewman



Excellent post. I bought the bushings a while back and am getting ready to tackle this. Love the step-by-step with picks.

Please replace your clutch cable next and document it just like you did on this job !

No problem Jnewman....however it will cost you a Pig in the Garden Salad from Jim "N Nick's Bar-B-Q or a night of adult beverages at "The Club" on top of the hill over there in Birmingham. Ah yes....spent many a good time in Birmingham!
Jim and Nick's? I love that place! I used to work across the street. And Johnny Ray's. And Bright Star. I have to stop now. I'm getting hungry.
Old 06-15-2011, 03:36 PM
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Hi im getting ready to do this, is it hard to get the pin out to replace the 2 bushings on the coupler, in the pelican parts tech article it says this should be done by a shop?

thanks
jeff
Old 09-30-2016, 10:56 AM
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I did not find it very hard. I think I held the coupler in a Black & Decker Shopmate and hit it with a drift and hammer until it came out.
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Old 09-30-2016, 01:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Otter74 View Post
I did not find it very hard. I think I held the coupler in a Black & Decker Shopmate and hit it with a drift and hammer until it came out.
gotcha thanks
Old 09-30-2016, 02:04 PM
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Would it be helpful to mark the Head Shift Rod #24 before removing it so that it can be reinstalled in exactly the same position? Since I will hopefully not need to remove/adjust the coupler I assume it would be best to leave #24 is precisely the same orientation. The car shifts just fine now, I am just trying to remove the play in the shift lever.
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Old 02-16-2019, 07:10 PM
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Since you're not unhooking the coupler at the back you shouldn't have to worry about anything changing. I just pulled the shifter, changed the bushings and put it all back together.

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Old 02-17-2019, 04:29 AM
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