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Pelican Technical Article:

Installing a Short-Shift Kit

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$150 to $350

Talent:

***

Tools:

Screwdrivers, socket sets, needle-nose pliers

Applicable Models:

R53 MINI Cooper S Hatchback (2002-06)

Parts Required:

Short-Shifter Kit (SSK)

Hot Tip:

Use the solid shift bushings included in the kit for a more solid shifter feel

Performance Gain:

Shorter Shift throws

Complementary Modification:

new shift cables
How to Maintain and Modify your new MINI

This article is one in a series that have been released in conjunction with Pelican Parts' new book, How to Maintain and Modify your new MINI The book contains 240 pages of full color projects detailing everything from performance mods to changing your brake pads. With more than 500+ full-color glossy photos accompanying extensive step-by-step procedures, this book is required reading in any MINI owner's collection. The book is due to be released in late 2012. See The Official Book Website for more details.

Check out some other projects from the book:

One of the most popular additions to the MINI is the installation of a short-shift kit. The kit shortens the length of throw on the shifter, theoretically giving you the ability to shift faster. Installation is a moderate task, and should take the better part of an afternoon. There are currently many popular types of short shift kits on the market. They are basically all the same - they replace the shift lever with one that has a shorter throw.

For the purpose of this project, I chose the B&M Short-Shifter, also available from PelicanParts.com. This kit allows you to reduce the shifter throw by 27% without having to cut the lower cover on the shift housing like some other kits on the market. Keep in mind that the installation process is generally the same for any short shift kit. Also keep in mind that in our case, the kit only works on MINI Cooper and Cooper S models from 2002 through 10/2004.

Begin by removing the shift knob. Pull up on the shift knob to remove it from the gear lever. It's on there pretty tight, so you may need to place a large wrench under the base of the knob and give it a whack with a hammer to release it. Use caution to prevent it from flying straight up. Next, take a small screwdriver and pry the shift boot cover up and off the center console. As you do, it will pull the shift boot inside out and you will be able to cut the zip-tie holding it in place. Cut the zip tie and pull the boot off the shift lever.

Now jack the car up and place it on jack stands. Under the car, you will see the exhaust running down the center of the car. Above the exhaust are a set of heat shields that line the inside of the tunnel. The shifter housing sits right above the center tunnel heat shield. You will need to remove the 10mm body nuts that secure the heat shield to the tunnel. There is a total of 8 nuts as well as a small 8mm bolt that secures the center tunnel heat shield at the front of the car. Now remove the oxygen sensor wiring from the two clips holding it to the heat shield. You don't need to actually remove the oxygen sensor, just the loom going to it.

The center exhaust pipe is supported near the rear of the center tunnel by two rubber mounts bolted to a bracket. You will need to remove this bracket. There are 6 10mm bolts that secure the bracket to the car and 2 10mm bolts that secure the mounts to the bracket. Remove all of these bolts and rotate the bracket downward to free the exhaust mounts.

Next, remove the two 15mm nuts securing the rear exhaust to the catalytic converter. Exhaust bolts tend to rust and/or corrode, so you may need to soak them in penetrant oil prior to removing. Now separate the exhaust joint. There is a flexible exhaust section just in front of the catalytic converter that allows enough movement to work the joint free. It's also a good idea to support the rear section of the exhaust with a jack or jack stands.

Now, remove the heat shield above the exhaust and slide it out over the exhaust as shown by the green arrow. It will take a bit of work to free the shield up. Don't be afraid to bend the shield as needed to remove it.

Directly above the shield is the shifter housing. Pry the plastic cover off the bottom exposing the cables inside. Pop the cable ends off the ball joints. For the cable on the side, you can use a 14mm open end wrench in between the cable end and the ball joint to pry it off to the side. The other cable end is a bit harder to remove because of the rotation of the shift lever and also as it's difficult to find a fulcrum point to pry it off. You can grab the cable end with some channel locks and give it a good tug downward to yank it off. Once both cable ends are free, use the channel locks to pull the two cable retaining clips down and off.

Now remove the 4 T40 Torx bolts holding the shifter housing to the body and lower it down and out of the car. As it lowers, slide the shift cables out of the box. Take the shifter housing and place it either in a vise or on your workbench. It's a good idea to clean the housing of any dirt or grease (See Figure 19). Remove the black rubber gasket on the top of the housing as well as the four bushings around the mounting bolts (See Figure 20).

Look at the top of the shifter housing. There is a black plastic bushing that clips into the housing and secures the shift rod in place. The bushing is secured to the housing with three clips. Press these three clips in and push the bushing up to release it. This part is tricky and you may want to have a helper press the third clip while prying the bushing up (See Figure 21).

Once out, you will see that the bushing surrounds the ball on the shift lever. Very carefully pry the bushing up and over the ball to free it. It may seem like the bushing can't bend that far, but the bushing is segmented to allow the arms of it to move. Take your time and be careful not to break the clip (See Figure 22).

Next, you will need to withdraw the smaller ball pivot from the metal carrier on the side. Mount the shift housing in a vise and use a large screwdriver to VERY carefully pry the metal carrier in the direction of the green arrow. As you do this, work the shift lever back and forth to remove the ball pivot. This is something that sounds easier than it really is. Take your time and make sure that you don't crack the housing (See Figure 23).

Take the new shift lever and slide the supplied o-ring over the bottom of the lever until it seats in the groove at the bottom (See Figure 24). Remove the two foam rings from the end of the old shift lever, clean them if needed and place them on the new shift lever (See Figure 25).

Now fit the new shift lever to the shifter housing. Like before, mount the housing in a vice or secure it in some other manner and carefully pry the metal carrier enough to the side to slide the smaller blue pivot ball inside. Don't be afraid if you scrape some of the blue anodizing off the smaller pivot ball. The small plastic carrier bushing will hold it in place (See Figure 26).

Clean the large plastic bushing you removed earlier. Now take the tube of Lubriplate that came with the kit and liberally apply it to the inside of the bushing. This surface with continually be riding on the ball pivot for many years (and gearshift changes) to come, so it's a good idea to apply on the heavy side (See Figure 27).

Slide the bushing down the new shift lever and pop it onto the pivot ball. Make sure you line the groove in the bushing up with the arm of the smaller pivot point, and then push it all the way down until the three small clips pop into place (See Figure 28). Now take the small plastic bushing that came with the kit and apply a good coat of lubricant to the inside (See Figure 29).

Place the bushing inside the metal carrier and over the small blue pivot point (See Figure 30). Lay the shifter housing on it's side and secure it so that it lays flat and not putting pressure on the shift lever. Now take a 7mm socket or a similarly sized piece of metal and hammer the bushing down onto the blue pivot. It should pop into place and be firmly seated. Take care that if it is not seated, the bushing will pop out of the housing when you try to shift gears (See Figure 31).

The following steps are optional. B&M allows you to either use the stock rubber isolators to bolt the shift housing back in, or use the 4 solid bushings supplied. Using the solid bushings will give a more solid feel when shifting gears and also increase the effectiveness of the short shift kit. However it may also allow the shift lever to vibrate. If you choose to use the solid bushing, cut the rubber grommets out of the rubber gasket that fits on the top of the housing (See Figure 32). Keep the rubber grommets; you can re-use them if you aren't happy with the way the solid bushings perform. Place the rubber gasket back on top of the housing and place the solid bushings in the holes as shown (See Figure 33).

Now re-mount the shifter housing back in the car. Start by feeding the shift cables through the holes on the side, (taking care that the small o-rings around the cable retainers seat properly) and push the shifter housing up, guiding the shift lever up and through the hole in the center console (See Figure 34). Refit the cable retainer clips, pop the cable ends onto the new shift lever ball joints and re-fit the shift housing cover. At this point, refit the heat shield and bolt the exhaust back together using a new gasket

Slide the shift boot over the new gear lever as shown. Use the supplied zip-tie to secure the boot at the desired location and pull the zip tie tight and trim the excess off. Now fold the boot over and line up the shift boot cover with the console. There are four pins that fit into the console. One of them will be bigger than the other three (See Figure 35).

The last step is to pop the shift knob back onto the new shift lever. The knob will now sit lower than it did before (See Figure 36). Drive the car and check the now shorter gearshift throw.

Shown here is everything included with the B&M short shifter kit for the MINI Cooper S.
Figure 1

Shown here is everything included with the B&M short shifter kit for the MINI Cooper S. This includes the new shift lever, 4 solid mounting bushings with screws, and O-ring, a new pivot bushing and a zip tie for the shifter boot.

Pull up on the shift knob to remove it from the gear lever.
Figure 2

Pull up on the shift knob to remove it from the gear lever. It's on there pretty tight, so you may need to place a large wrench under the base of the knob and give it a whack with a hammer to release it.

Next, take a small screwdriver and pry the shift boot cover up and off the center console.
Figure 3

Next, take a small screwdriver and pry the shift boot cover up and off the center console. Pull it straight up. as You do, it will pull the shift boot inside out and you will be able to cut the zip-tie holding it in place. Once cut, remove the shift boot.

Jack the car up, place it on jack stands and remove the 10mm body nuts that secure the heat shield to the center tunnel.
Figure 4

Jack the car up, place it on jack stands and remove the 10mm body nuts that secure the heat shield to the center tunnel. Remove the nuts shown here on the driver's front side (green arrows).

Shown here are the body nuts to be removed on the passenger front side.
Figure 5

Shown here are the body nuts to be removed on the passenger front side. (green arrows). .

Moving down the center of the car, remove the body nuts in the middle (green arrows).
Figure 6

Moving down the center of the car, remove the body nuts in the middle (green arrows).

Keep moving towards the rear of the car and remove the body nuts towards the rear of the shield.
Figure 7

Keep moving towards the rear of the car and remove the body nuts towards the rear of the shield.

Don't forget to remove the small 8mm screw securing the front of the heat shield right above the catalytic converter (green arrow).
Figure 8

Don't forget to remove the small 8mm screw securing the front of the heat shield right above the catalytic converter (green arrow).

Remove the oxygen sensor wiring from the two clips holding it to the heat shield (green arrow).
Figure 9

Remove the oxygen sensor wiring from the two clips holding it to the heat shield (green arrow).

Remove the six 10mm bolts holding the exhaust mount bracket to the body (green arrows) as well as the two 10mm bolts securing the exhaust mounts to the bracket (yellow arrows).
Figure 10

Remove the six 10mm bolts holding the exhaust mount bracket to the body (green arrows) as well as the two 10mm bolts securing the exhaust mounts to the bracket (yellow arrows).

Once you rotate the bracket down, you can see how the exhaust mounts hook inside at one end.
Figure 11

Once you rotate the bracket down, you can see how the exhaust mounts hook inside at one end. (green arrows).

Rotate the bracket down further and move the exhaust mounts to release them from them.
Figure 12

Rotate the bracket down further and move the exhaust mounts to release them from them.

Next, remove the two 15mm nuts securing the rear exhaust to the catalytic converter.
Figure 13

Next, remove the two 15mm nuts securing the rear exhaust to the catalytic converter. Exhaust bolts tend to rust and/or corrode, so you may need to soak them in penetrant oil prior to removing..

Now separate the exhaust joint.
Figure 14

Now separate the exhaust joint. There is a flexible exhaust section just in front of the catalytic converter that allows enough movement to work the joint free. It's also a good idea to support the rear section of the exhaust with a jack or jackstands.

Now, remove the heat shield above the exhaust and slide it out over the exhaust as shown by the green arrow.
Figure 15

Now, remove the heat shield above the exhaust and slide it out over the exhaust as shown by the green arrow. It will take a bit of work to free the shield up. Don't be afraid to bend the shield as needed to remove it.

Directly above the shield is the shifter housing.
Figure 16

Directly above the shield is the shifter housing. Pry the plastic cover off the bottom exposing the cables inside. The green arrows show the T40 Torx bolts that secure the housing to the underside of the car.

Now, pop the cable ends off the ball joints.
Figure 17

Now, pop the cable ends off the ball joints. For the cable on the side, you can use a 14mm open end wrench in between the cable end and the ball joint to pry it off to the side (yellow arrow) The other cable end is a bit harder to remove because of the rotation of the shift lever and also as it's difficult to find a fulcrum point to pry it off. I grabbed the cable end with some channel locks and gave it a good tug downward (green arrow). Once both cable ends are free, use the channel locks to pull the two cable retaining clips down and off (purple arrows).

Remove the Torx bolts holding the shifter housing to the body and lower it down and out of the car.
Figure 18

Remove the Torx bolts holding the shifter housing to the body and lower it down and out of the car. As it lowers, slide the shift cables out of the box.

Shown here is the shifter housing with the large rubber gasket around the top edge that seals it to the body.
Figure 19

Shown here is the shifter housing with the large rubber gasket around the top edge that seals it to the body. It's a good idea to clean the housing at this time if it's covered with dirt or grease.

The Torx bolts that secure the housing to the body are surrounded by rubber bushings that help to absorb any vibration.
Figure 20

The Torx bolts that secure the housing to the body are surrounded by rubber bushings that help to absorb any vibration. Pop all four of the bushings out of the housing and remove the rubber gasket on top.

Now, look at the top of the shifter housing.
Figure 21

Now, look at the top of the shifter housing. There is a black plastic bushing that clips into the housing and secures the shift rod in place. The bushing is secured to the housing with three clips. Press these three clips in and push the bushing up to release it. This part is tricky and you may want to have a helper press the third clip (green arrow) and pry the bushing up..

Once out, you will see that the bushing surrounds the ball on the shift lever.
Figure 22

Once out, you will see that the bushing surrounds the ball on the shift lever. Mount the shift housing in a vise and VERY carefully pry the bushing up and over the ball to free it. It may seem like the bushing can't bend that far, but the bushing is segmented to allow the arms of it to move. Use caution here, because if you break the bushing, you'll have to buy a whole new shifter housing. The bushing itself is not available.

Next, you will need to withdraw the smaller ball pivot from the metal carrier on the side.
Figure 23

Next, you will need to withdraw the smaller ball pivot from the metal carrier on the side. Mount the shift housing in a vise and use a large screwdriver to VERY carefully pry the metal carrier in the direction of the green arrow. As you do this, work the shift lever back and forth to remove the ball pivot.

24
Figure 24

Now take the new shift lever and slide the supplied o-ring (green arrow) over the bottom of the lever until it seats in the groove at the bottom (yellow arrow)

Remove the two foam rings from the end of the old shift lever, clean them if needed and place them on the new shift lever.
Figure 25

Remove the two foam rings from the end of the old shift lever, clean them if needed and place them on the new shift lever.

Now fit the new shift lever to the shifter housing.
Figure 26

Now fit the new shift lever to the shifter housing. Like before, mount the housing in a vice or secure it in some other manner and carefully pry the metal carrier enough to the side to slide the smaller blue pivot ball inside. Don't be afraid if you scrape off some of the blue anodizing.

Clean the large plastic bushing you removed earlier.
Figure 27

Clean the large plastic bushing you removed earlier. Now take the tube of Lubriplate that came with the kit and liberally apply it to the inside of the bushing. This surface with continually be riding on the ball pivot for many years (and gearshift changes) to come, so it's a good idea to apply on the heavy side.

Slide the bushing down the new shift lever and pop it onto the pivot ball.
Figure 28

Slide the bushing down the new shift lever and pop it onto the pivot ball. Make sure you line the groove in the bushing up with the arm of the smaller pivot point, and then push it all the way down until the three small clips pop into place.

Now take the small plastic bushing that came with the kit and apply a good coat of lubricant to the inside.
Figure 29

Now take the small plastic bushing that came with the kit and apply a good coat of lubricant to the inside. .

Place the bushing inside the metal carrier and over the small blue pivot point.
Figure 30

Place the bushing inside the metal carrier and over the small blue pivot point.

Lay the shifter housing on it's side and secure it so that it lays flat and not putting pressure on the shift lever.
Figure 31

Lay the shifter housing on it's side and secure it so that it lays flat and not putting pressure on the shift lever. Now take a 7mm socket or an similarly sized piece of metal and hammer the bushing down onto the blue pivot. It should pop into place and be firmly seated. Take care that if it is not seated, the bushing will pop out of the housing when you try to shift gears.

The following steps are optional.
Figure 32

The following steps are optional. B&M allows you to either use the stock rubber isolators to bolt the shift housing back in, or use the 4 solid bushings supplied. Using the solid bushings will give a more solid feel when shifting gears and also increase the effectiveness of the short shift kit. However it may also allow the shift lever to vibrate. If you choose to use the solid bushing, cut the rubber grommets out of the rubber gasket that fits on the top of the housing. Keep the rubber grommets, you can re-use them if you aren't happy with the way the solid bushings perform.

Place the rubber gasket back on top of the housing and place the solid bushings in the holes as shown.
Figure 33

Place the rubber gasket back on top of the housing and place the solid bushings in the holes as shown.

Now re-mount the shifter housing back in the car.
Figure 34

Now re-mount the shifter housing back in the car. Start by feeding the shift cables through the holes on the side, (taking care that the small o-rings around the cable retainers seat properly) and push the shifter housing up, guiding the shift lever up and through the hole in the center console. Refit the cable retainer clips, pop the cable ends onto the new shift lever ball joints and re-fit the shift housing cover. At this point, refit the heat shield and bolt the exhaust back together using a new gasket

Now slide the shift boot over the new gear lever as shown.
Figure 35

Now slide the shift boot over the new gear lever as shown. Use the supplied zip-tie to secure the boot at the desired location and pull the zip tie tight and trim the excess off. Now fold the boot over and line up the shift boot cover with the console. There are four pins that fit into the console. One of them will be bigger than the other three. Pop the boot ring into the console.

The last step is to pop the shift knob back onto the new shift lever.
Figure 36

The last step is to pop the shift knob back onto the new shift lever. The knob will now sit lower than it did before. Drive the car and check the now shorter gearshift throw.

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Comments and Suggestions:
Angel Comments: I know this is an old article. I found a similar kit on ebay but it didn't come with the o-ring that was included with the B&M kit. Can you tell me what's the size o-ring or if I can reinstall the one from the original shifter? Thanks in advance!
March 30, 2014
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