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Short Shift Kit

Discussion in 'E30 (1984-1993)' started by az3579, May 1, 2008.

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    Looking to do a short-shift kit for my E30. I hate the sloshiness of the gearbox (too much play) and the throws are too long. Is this a hard project to undertake? Any recommendations on a specific kit?
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    Brian A

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    Regarding the sloppiness and the difficulty of the job

    I'll leave it to others regarding which short shift kit is best, but I will comment on the sloppiness and difficulty.

    The sloppiness is from worn shift mechanism bushings. If you replace the bushings, crispness will restored. After so many years of shifting, the bushings are definitely worn. I rebuilt my stock shift mechanism in March 2008 (using stock replacement parts). The "slots" for all of the gears are very distinct again. Side-to-side and fore-aft sloppiness of the lever when the car is in gear is substantially reduced. I used the rebuild package that Pelican Parts sells which puts all the needed bushings, washers and doodads in one plastic bag. They have a technical article with lots of pictures at http://www.pelicanparts.com/bmw/tech...t_Bushings.htm.

    The short-shift kit is a matter of personal taste. To restore only crispness, a short-shift kit is not necessary. Pelican Parts also has a technical article on short-shift kits at: (http://www.pelicanparts.com/bmw/tech...hort_Shift.htm). To me a 33% reduction in shift travel means that there is a 33% increase in the required precision when shifting which means a 33% increase in the chance that I will someday downshift from 4th to 1st at 70 mph.

    As for difficulty of the repair or replacement, the mechanism is fairly simple and rebuilding or replacing it is not difficult, … except for one clip: This clip is at the top of the transmission and must be pried upward to remove the shift mechanism from the transmission. It can be extremely difficult to remove. In my case, the transmission was so near the transmission tunnel, that the clip could not be open all the way. It took me an eternity to figure out why I couldn't get the clip off. I had to put a bottle jack under the transmission, remove the support bracket and lower the transmission about ½ inch before I could open the clip (I had my driveshaft off at the time too, which made it easier). Likewise, the clip had a tab which bites into the transmission housing to ensure it does not come loose. The tab on my clip did not politely slide upward and instead folded under itself, really locking itself onto the transmission. Other than that one rotten clip, it was an easy job.

    Hope this helps.
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    Being "harder" to shift isn't really an issue for me. I'm generally very precise with my shifts so I'm not so worried about that. The crisp shifts are what bother me most, but I do want to have a shorter throw because it just feels too... old. Having a shorter throw will add to the "crisp" factor after the bushings are replaced.

    Reading the pelican article, I realized that I do occasionally grind the gears but many times I think it happens without merit. It probably is because of worn shift bushings, because there's no way that I grind second gear with the clutch almost to the floor (almost always second gear). I'm glad that you brought this to my attention, because soon I will have no second gear if this keeps up and the shifter will eventually feel like the day I bought the car (broken shift linkage [[got an awesome deal as owner thought it was a tranny problem]]).
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    I like autosolutions (http://www.autosolutions.net/) - have them on both my cars. Go for the complete kit.

    I suggest Redline MTL for manual transmissions in earlier BMW's. It's not uncommon for 2nd gear shifts to grind when cold when E30 tranny's get some wear on them, Redline MTL can help that a lot. Of course you want the clutch components working properly, including the clutch slave fully actuating (I know, more to worry about).

    I don't have it sitting in front of me, but I think the Bentley manual suggests removing the motor mounts and the rear support (as Brian mentioned) to lower the transmission enough to gain the needed clearance. You have to get a screwdriver or something in there to push the tab on clip so the clip can detach from the tranny. Another handy tool - one of those inspection mirrors w/ the extendible handle- can help you get a look at things when you don't have a straightline view.

    here's one from Harbor Freight - http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=97217
    Sears - http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_00941603000P?keyword=inspection mirror

    I haven't had any problem with shifting technique or missing shifts.

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    Howdy az, I am fairly well satisvied with the short shift kit I got from Bavarian Auto (we used to call him Barbarian Otto when the founder drove at our drivers schools) which I had my dealer (Sewickley Car Store) install on my E30 325ix, while rebuilding my engine back in '95. As far as I understand, you do gotta drop the transmission. I still get comments about how nice the shifts feel. However, I drove an E36 3'er with a UUC (Roundel advertiser) short shifter that felt a-way nicer even than mine. This is definitely an upgrade which is a driver's delight.
    Love, Rudi

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