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Discussion Starter #1
How much lost motion is acceptable, or should I say normal, in the stock Ford 4 speed toploader shifter? My transmission shifts fine but there is about an inch or so of free play in the shifter handle after the desired gear has been selected. I never really paid much attention to this until I acquired other vehicles that have the shifter mechanisms built into the transmissions. TKO-600, T5z etc. Can this be improved or is this something that just has to be lived with? Thank you in advance.-Brad
 

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So, you're in first and the shift knob wiggles side-to-side 1" total?
Is that what you're describing?
 

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The shift linkage is supposed to have little, nylon washers to tighten things up and make everything move nicely. Those nylon washers wear out. People lose them. They are often missing. Take a good look at your linkage. If they are worn or missing, replace them. This alone will help a lot.


Back in my high school days, I drove a 1970 Fastback with a Cleveland and a 4-speed. The shifter was loose and sloppy. I talked to a friend of mine at the local parts store. He drove a 1970 Boss 302. He told me about those nylon washers and sold me a new batch. After I installed the new washers, it was like I had a new transmission. (They were all missing, as I recall.)
 

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What year are we talking? In most early Ford shifters, up to at least 68 and maybe 69 the shifter stem which comes out of the floor was bolted to the lower shifter mechanism. Where it bolts together on either side there are two trunnions and two very small springs that keep things tight. These wear out over time and are replaceable. If you google or look up at one of the suppliers 68 Ford shifter trunnions or shifter repair kit you’ll find them. Without a console it takes about 15 minutes from inside the car. Not even enough time for your beer to get warm.
 

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Indy fiveO just beat me to it....lol
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks guys. The slop is front to back not side to side. There is some slop side to side but it looks like maybe replacing the springs in those cups will take care of that. I don't believe that there are rubber grommets at the bottom of this shifter handle. In fact, you can see one of the rods move slightly front to back when you move the handle. I need to get under it and have someone sit in the drivers seat and work the shifter back and forth so I can see what's going on. I am curious as to how much is normal. I realize it's not going to be as tight as a Hurst. I just want to know if I am chasing something that can't be improved. -Brad
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I believe that Klutch is probably very close with his assessment. I heard that someone makes a kit that replaces those nylon inserts with steel or brass. Is this true or did I dream this up? Is there anything in the shifter box itself that wears to the point that would cause this?-Brad
 

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Hurst has the plastic grommets. Ford went metal to metal on the shifter linkage.
The shift rod where it attaches to the shifter and the trans needs to have a flat washer, wave washer and hitch pin.
Lots of times people ditch the wave washer because it is a pain to reinstall. That leads to play and worse, rattling and buzzing noises.
Also look at the round end of the shift rod, it may have a groove worn in it, shift lever may be egg shaped too. All leading to slop and noise.
 

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Often overlooked, and not included the kit shown above, are the special very thick, hardened steel washers that go on the bolts to compress the rubber grommets. I have often seen plain hardware washers there, which allow far too much movement. The thick ones lock them down.

Often people replace the Ford shifter with an aftermarket one, then extol the benefits of the new shifter. I went the other way. For a couple hundred thousand miles, I had a Hurst Competition Plus™. Then I acquired a Ford shifter, and rebuilt it to like-new. It was much smoother and tighter than the Hurst.
 

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I rebuilt a toploader shifter once. I found the "U" shaped trunnion ( btm part in picture ) which bolts to the bottom of the handle had its hole for the shifter main shaft wallered out. Luckily, I had an extra three speed shifter & used its near perfect parts. Dean
 

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Thanks guys. The slop is front to back not side to side. There is some slop side to side but it looks like maybe replacing the springs in those cups will take care of that. I don't believe that there are rubber grommets at the bottom of this shifter handle. In fact, you can see one of the rods move slightly front to back when you move the handle. I need to get under it and have someone sit in the drivers seat and work the shifter back and forth so I can see what's going on. I am curious as to how much is normal. I realize it's not going to be as tight as a Hurst. I just want to know if I am chasing something that can't be improved. -Brad
The rubber grommets in that kit I linked could take up the front to back slop, especially if yours doesn't currently have them.

When I first got my car my toploader shifter was like a broomstick in a barrel - it was really bad. I used that kit and some fresh grease and it was like a new trans.
 
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