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Installing a Hybrid Shifter Story & Photos By Jim Clark (The Hot Rod MD)

There are a number of high quality shifter kits offered for the wide variety of transmissions used when building a modern hot rod. They mount on top of, to the side of or at the rear of the transmission. One of these locations usually will place the shifter in the desired location in the vehicle. However, sometimes there are special circumstances where none of these work for the application.

A case-in-point is my ’32 Ford highboy roadster. I chose to power it with a 401 Buick Nailhead and Buick switch-pitch Turbo 400 trans. The length of the engine/trans package necessitated the recessing of the firewall and cutting into the X-member at the rear of the transmission. The drivetrain package was mounted low enough in the frame to retain a flat floor. This left very little clearance between the floorboards and the top of the transmission.

 

To resolve these clearance problems I combined some items from a Lokar shifter kit and donor parts from a mid-sixties Ford Mustang. The flat floor made it necessary to raise the shifter up to position the lower shift arm in the correct location below the floor and at a comfortable height for the driver.

Fabricating a one-by-one angle iron rectangle and welding it to a trimmed-down shifter housing raised the shifter housing by one-inch. Three bolts attach the housing to the floorboard. The assembly will chrome-plated later.

The shift arm on the shifter is linked to the transmission via a Lokar Adjustable Column Shift Linkage kit. The kit includes a transmission shift arm, two spherical rod ends, stainless threaded rod and necessary hardware. I also used a Lokar Neutral Safety Switch Kit that mounts to the lower pan rail on the transmission.

Using either the actuating arm with one or two fingers makes it possible to use Lokar’s kit as a neutral safety switch or a backup light switch. I am using the Flaming River stainless roadster column and there is no neutral safety switch on it so I needed the neutral safety switch on the shifter. It is adjustable so that it will line up properly with the transmission shifter arm.

The combination of Mustang shifter, column shift linkage and neutral safety switch made it possible to synchronize the three in a compatible location in my roadster using the big engine and trans. The following photos and drawing show how this was accomplished.

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I chose this mid-sixties Mustang T-handle shifter to mount flat on the floor of my
’32 Ford highboy roadster. It is raised up 1-inch toprovide the correct clearance
below the floor for the swing of the shift arm and place the T-handle at the
correct height for the driver when shifting.

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Base of the shifter housing had to be trimmed to provide clearance for the one-inch by one-inch
angle-iron rectangle that serves as the riser for the shifter.
Housing was then welded to the riser.

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Three holes were drilled to serve as attachment points to the floorboard.
Spiked threaded inserts were installed through the bottom of the floorboard.
Mounting plate for the shift indicator cover was welded on top of the riser.

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With the shift lever installed you can see the detents in the housing that
are used to index the shifter in the proper gear. Pushbutton on the T-handle
releases the engagement tab so that the shift lever can be moved
to the desired position.

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The assembled shifter is inserted through the floor and the three mounting bolts installed.
Openings were cut in the indicator mounting plate to provide access for the mounting bolts.

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T-handle is removed and the shift indicator cover fed over the shifter shaft. Four stainless trim screws hold the cover in place

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T-handle is reinstalled and the setscrew tightened

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The floor-mounted shifter and shift selector arm on the transmission are connected by an adjustable link. The link has two spherical rod ends joined by a stainless rod in the center. Rotating the rod lengthens or shortens the overall assembly. The shifter has two fixed pivot points and transmission selector arm has one fixed pivot point at the transmission end of the selector shaft. The slot in the transmission selector arm allows the link connection to be moved up or down effectively changing the size of the arc that it rotates in. The combined effect of raising or lowering the moveable pivot point on the transmission selector arm and the lengthening or shortening of the adjustable link act to synchronize the arc traveled by the shift arm and transmission arm. It’s a trial and error process, readjusting both points until the shift points match on the shifter and transmission.

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GM Adjustable Column Shift Linkage

Simplify connecting your column shift to your transmission with a Lokar machined billet aluminum Adjustable Column Shift Linkage Kit. Designed to work with all GM style factory or aftermarket columns. We are using it to link a floor-shifter to the transmission.

Features:
• Billet aluminum offers rigidity • 3/4-48 spline designed for 360º rotation allowing proper ratio • Designed for column shift • Both 3/8-16NC and metric 10-1.50mm threaded nuts for mounting electrical accessories • Kit includes all hardware, including column bushing and rod ends • "U-Cut-to-Fit" Stainless Connecting Rod
• No threading necessary • Fits GM TH-350, TH-400, 700-R4, TH-200, 200-4R, 4L60, 4L60E and 4L80E transmissions.

Part Number: ACA-1800 Billet Adjustable Column Arm Kit TH-350, TH-400, 700-R4, TH-200, 200-4R, 4L60, 4L60E and 4L80E.

You can get this kit from www.PhoenixTrans.com

Our good friends at Phoenix Transmission... where you’ll get the best in parts and GREAT Customer Service.

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Back-Up Light or Neutral Safety Switch Kit This kit offers the choice of Back-Up Light Switch or Neutral Safety Switch Kit. Kit fits TH-350, TH-400, 700-R4, TH-200, 200-4R, 4L60, 4L60E and 4L80E transmissions. Single trigger for back-up light switch, or double trigger for neutral safety switch. KIT NOT INTENDED TO FUNCTION AS BOTH. BL-1400U Back-Up Light/Neutral Safety Switch Kit TH-350, TH-400, 700-R4, TH-200, 200-4R, 4L60, 4L60E and 4L80E.

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Mounting bracket for the Lokar neutral safety switch attaches to the lower pan rail on the transmission. Bolts supplied in the kit replace the stock lower pan hardware

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Spacers provided in the kit position the bracket at the proper distance below the transmission oil pan and align the neutral safety switch with the transmission shift arm pivot point.

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The externally splined transmission arm mount fits over the flats on the transmission
shift rod and is held in place by an internally threaded nut.

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The neutral safety switch is tightened in the bracket with the appropriate size open-end wrench.

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The internally splined transmission arm installs over the externally splined transmission arm
mount indexing it to place the arm in the center of the shift pattern travel

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An allen-head lock screw is then tightened to secure the transmission shift arm in place.

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The kit can be used as a neutral safety switch or as a backup light switch. Actuator with two fingers on it closes the switch when the car is shifted into neutral or park. An actuator with one finger is used when the switch is used to trigger the backup lights.

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The transmission is placed in neutral and the locknut tightened after the finger is aligned with the switch. Slotted mounting holes in the bracket allow the switch to be moved forward or backward as needed for alignment with the finger. The other finger closes the switch allowing current flow when in park. Wire from the start side of the ignition switch is attached to one side of the neutral safety switch. Running another wire from the other pole on the neutral safety switch to the starter solenoid completes the circuit

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For our application we shortened the rod to about 5-inches and secured it in the coupler with the two allen-head set screws. Shifter and trans arm travel were synchronized by moving the arm up and down in the trans arm slot and by lengthening or shortening the rod by turning the threaded shaft in or out.

 

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