Pelican Technical Article: Installing a Short Shift Kit and Replacing Shift Bushings Wayne R. Dempsey
Time: 3 hours
986 Boxster (1997-04) 987 Boxster (2005-08)
Short Shifter Kit (SSK)
If you wish to renew your shifter without installing the short shift, just use the improved bushings
Shorter Shift throws
Replace your shifter cables
This article is one in a series that have been released in conjunction with Wayne's new book, 101 Performance Projects for Your Porsche Boxster. The book contains 312 pages of full color projects detailing everything from performance mods to changing your brake pads. With more than 950+ full-color glossy photos accompanying extensive step-by-step procedures, this book is required reading in any Boxster owner's collection. The book is currently available and in stock now. See The Official Book Website for more details.
Check out some other sample projects from the book:
One of the most popular additions to the Boxster is the installation of a short shift kit. The kit shortens the length of throw on the stock shifter, theoretically giving you the ability to shift faster. Installation is a moderate task, and should only take the better part of an afternoon.
For the purpose of this project, I chose the Porsche factory short shift kit, which is nearly identical to others on the market (B&M supposedly manufactures the kit for Porsche). Both are available from PelicanParts.com.
The factory kit is shown in Figure 2. It comes complete with everything that you need to replace your shift lever, and replace many of the shift bushings that have a tendency to wear out. Specifically, this kit contains Delrin bushings for the shifter arm and shift lever. The kit is very well constructed and all of the parts fit together with very tight tolerances.
The process of installing the short shift kit involves basically swapping out the shift lever with the old one and installing the new bushings. Follow the steps shown in Photos 1 through 10 to remove the shifter and install the kit. When you have reinstalled the kit into the car and reattached the cables, be sure to test the shifter through all gears. Only when you have confirmed the shifter is working properly should you reinstall the center console.
It took a short while (no pun intended) for me to get used to the new short shift kit. At first, I didn't really care for it, but after driving the car with it installed, I didn't want to go back to the standard shifter. If you're not sure about whether you'll like the short feel, I suggest that you drive someone else's car that has a short shifter installed. The procedure to remove the kit takes as long as the one to install it, so if you're not sure, then try it out beforehand.
On a side note, many people install short shift kits in their cars thinking that it will fix problems that they are having with their transmission. This will not solve any problems, and will in most cases make a poorly shifting car shift even worse. The reason for this is that with the short shift kit, the torque arm on the shift lever is much shorter, giving you much less 'resolution' on your shifter. It's similar to having a gas pedal that only travels 1 inch over its range instead of 2-3 inches (see Pelican Technical Article: Sprint Booster Installation). You have less precision in how much throttle you want to give the car. In a similar manner, with the short shift kit you will have less precision on where the shift rod is placed. It's a wise idea to tackle the core problems with your transmission (synchros, shift bushings), prior to the installation of the short shift kit (see the other transmission projects in this book).
Shifting Improvements: There may come a time in the ownership of your Boxster when you feel that the shifting performance of the car is not quite what it's supposed to be. Renewing the shifter bushings and the cable ends as detailed in this project are a good first step in ensuring crisp shifting. The other end of the shifter cable can wear too (see Photo 3 of Pelican Technical Article: Transmission Removal). Unfortunately, at this time the only way to renew the transmission-end bushings is to replace the entire cable. Replacement is pretty straightforward - it involves disconnecting the cable from the shifter, and then feeding it through the engine compartment to the transmission. On some cars, excessive deterioration of the engine or transmission mounts can cause erratic shifting. This is less of an issue with a cable-driven shifter like the Boxster, but crisp, firm mounts do help overall performance. See Project 10 and Project 36 for complete instructions on replacing the engine and transmission mounts.
Begin by unclipping the shifter boot from the rear and lift it up (inset). To remove the shifter knob some cars use a set screw, and some require you to twist the lower collar 90° and then lift to remove. Remove your old knob by simply pulling upwards on it: be careful not to accidentally smack yourself in the face!
Shown here are the various steps required to remove the center console. Remove front retaining screw, located under the shifter boot Pull off side cover (it snaps off) and remove lower screw (green arrow) Pull off the front lower console cover (red arrow) Remove the coin tray insert, remove the two screws (yellow arrows), unplug and remove window switch assembly, and remove the additional screw found underneath. Pull back e-brake side cover and remove (pull in the direction of the purple arrow). Also remove the rear storage compartment: there is a screw hidden underneath the small rubber mat inside the compartment, and another screw hidden under the small coin holder (three total in the rear). Unplug any remaining harnesses still attached to the console
With the center console removed, you can now work on disconnecting the cables from the shifter. A- Remove the plastic shifter cover, and you will see the cables underneath. B- mark the existing position of the cables with a permanent marker so that you can assemble them back together in the same position as when they came apart. C- Slide the spring-loaded retainers towards the front of the car and release the cable from its holder. D- Unclip the shift cables from the rear of the shifter housing and place them off to the side. Finally, unscrew the shifter housing from the floor and remove from the car.
The stock shifter uses a square bushing that rides in the side cam piece (red arrow). The new short shifter uses a metal ball instead: lubricate this ball prior to assembling it into the shifter. To remove the old stock bushings, use a razor blade and chip away at the edges of the bushings. When the edges have been removed, slide the bushing out of the bore and remove the stock shifter. If you are reusing the cable-end, pop it off of the old shifter and install it onto the new one (see Figure 9).
The new bushings are installed onto the aluminum cylinders located on either side of the shifter. Place the washer in-between the bushing and the bottom of the cylinder. Place the bushing on the shifter shaft, push it in towards the shifter (the direction of the purple arrow) and then fasten it in place using the circlip (yellow arrow, lower left). The circlip goes on the inside of the shifter housing to hold the metal housing from falling out in the direction opposite of the purple arrow (see Figure 9). Be sure to pre-lubricate the bushing prior to assembly (upper left).
Reduce the end play in the shifter by turning the set screw with a hex driver. Turn the set screw until it's tight, and then back it off about Ό to ½ turn. Lock it in place with the jam nut to secure the assembly. The set screw and jam nut can be installed on either side of the shifter.
I recommend using new cable ends (yellow arrow) when refurbishing your shifter: they will aid in keeping a crisp, reliable feel in your shifter. Lubricate the ball end of the shifter with some white lithium grease prior to installing the cable end. You may have to use some significant force to get the cable end attached: use a hammer to tap it on if necessary.
Here is the shifter assembly, completely upgraded with the new factory short shift kit and the improved bushings. The two purple arrows point to the location of the two installed circlips. Reinstall the kit back into the car, reversing what you had done previously. Use plenty of grease on all the bushings and pivot points.
Replacement bushings for the stock shifter are not available separately: you have to purchase a whole new shifter, at a cost of about $200! Fortunately, the short shift kit contains a set of improved bushings that can also be used with the stock shifter. If you wish to keep your stock shifter and renew the feel in your shifter, then I recommend picking up a set of these improved bushings. One bushing kit is shown in the inset (two required).
Comments: I ordered an EVO SSK from Pelican the B&M was out of stock. The project was not that difficult about 2 hours. The EVO instructions were a little hard to understand, as I DID NOT RECEIVE any! Oh well, armed with Waynes book and the internet all turned out fine. I am really happy with result. The shifts do take a little more effort, but I like the feel of the shifts. I would recommend installing one just ensure you get the instructions. Here is a before and after video: http://youtu.be/QhMbPWpoXm0 -Enjoy!
January 23, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback and for adding the link to the video! - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: B ruzer,
The shifter should be not really be "stiff" after install. The gear changes will require a little bit more effort as you have less leverage with a short shift because the load which is the cable end of the lever has been moved further away from the fulcrum the pivot point of the shifter. Adjusting the cable will not affect the "stiffness" of the shifter, it will only affect where it engages the gears in terms of travel. It will also affect the neutral position of the shifter. Make sure that nothing is interfering with the movement of the shifter and that nothing is binding.
January 14, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Correct. The shifter should not be the best after the installation but then again, the word "stiff" is a subjective term. For someone who has not used as short shift kit in the past, the installation of one might seem to make the shifter very stiff. I would agree with the advice here, check to make sure the cables are not binding anywhere. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: As per Homeboy981 comments I have installed the short shifter but the shift is very stiff what or how do I adjust the cables to get the sweet spot and smooth out the shifts which were perfect before my mod.
January 6, 2013
Followup from the Pelican Staff: As I stated above with the new short shifter in place, shifting will be a bit stiffer but it shouldn't be terribly stiff to the point of where it's uncomfortable to shift. There is a small alignment tool that you can use to align the shift cables it it can be seen in one of the photos of this project. Putting in place and then adjust the cables together and it should adjust them to the proper length. If your car is missing this too that you can buy one too, although I do not have the part number handy off the top of my head. - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: It took me about 2 hours to install a B&M short shifter using these and B&M's instructions. Very helpful! I marked my cables well and didn't have any issues with that. My only advice is to make sure you don't try to tighten the jam nut too tight. You'll spin the bushing and at least partially strip the notch in the shifter housing lucky for me, the ABS is *a little* flexible.
October 14, 2012
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.- Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: What are the part numbers for the improved brushing kit? I took apart my center console and see that there is a tremendous amount of play in my shifter but I don't want to replace it with the short shifter.
August 27, 2012
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right part. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: Good instructions Wayne. However, I did NOT MARK my cables properly and cannot tell how far they are supposed to go back in. Is there a way to "re-adjust" to get back to that "sweet spot"? Right now the shifter works but it is NOT engaging the gear. Means I need to "choke up" on the cable some more, right? How do I know how far to go? What is downside to getting it wrong? Thanks Wayne - keep the good info coming - and we will all keep ordering parts to give you time to get back into the garage and make more instructions!
June 7, 2012
Followup from the Pelican Staff: If I remember correctly, there is an adjustment tool used to adjust the cables. You may have to visit a shop with the tools needed to adjust the cables. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Comments: I notice that in the picture showing the completed assembly ready to be re-installed the green plate which clips onto the bottom of the console is missing. I'm not sure what the purpose of that plate is but I had to remove that plate on my assembly for the cables to move freely after installing my short throw shifter.
Thanks for all the great information you guys provide.
May 21, 2012
Followup from the Pelican Staff: I've heard this called a "coin deflector", but I'm not 100% sure exactly what that means. Maybe it has something to do with blocking coins from falling down into the shift area? Either way, I've heard indeed that some short shift kits interfere with it and it can be removed safely, although I did not have that particular issue on my Boxster (2000). - Wayne at Pelican Parts
Comments: Thanks alot! Ordered the same kit, took about 40 minutes to get it all put in. The pictures help very much! Good write up
February 3, 2012
Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Check out some other sample projects from the book: