How to Diagnose and Repair Sloppy Shifting in Your Classic Car | 1965-69 Chevy Corvair | Hagerty DIY

How to Diagnose and Repair Sloppy Shifting in Your Classic Car | 1965-69 Chevy Corvair | Hagerty DIY

– Hi, I’m Kyle Smith with Hagerty, today we’re working on my
1965 Chevrolet Corvair Corsa, we’re gonna be diagnosing and
repairing the sloppy shifting. One of the things to always remember as you’re going to jack
up your classic car is to check your factory service manual to make sure that you are, in fact, lifting it in the appropriate place. I know for a fact that right
in front of the rear wheels there’s where the pinch
weld meets the frame, and that is going to be
the lift point on this car, and will get us up nice
and high and secure. And of course, similar
to jacking up a vehicle, make sure when you’re
positioning your jack stand you put it in a safe
location, so this here, we’re actually positioning
it on the lower control arm for the rear suspension, so it was set up to
support the vehicle weight, you can see you do have
to be careful because the emergency brake cable comes through on the backside of this, so you wanna make sure not to pinch that, potentially run into
problems down the road, but this will be a nice
secure spot for us this time. Here in the front I’ll be
picking up the entire front end of the car by the center cross
member for the suspension, it makes it a little bit quick
than doing it side by side, but you do have to be careful
to actually get it centered and in the right spots so the
car picks up nice and square. So, I just picked this car up,
been driving it for a while, been having some trouble
with the shifting, it’s been really hard to find first gear, especially at a stop or if
I’m downshifting from third. Reverse has been easy to find, it hasn’t been popping out of gear, it really leads me to think
that the shifter and the linkage going back to the transmission
has a lot of slop in it. So, what we’re gonna do, we’re gonna start off by
looking at the shifter itself to see if there might be the problem there before we work our way back
towards the transmission. It’s always easiest to
start at the shifter and work your way back rather than diving straight into the transmission, as this is the cheapest area, as well as the easiest to get to. All right, so our first
step in the process is to remove these kinda under pan trays. They protect our shift
linkage and our throttle cable and a couple of the wiring bits. They’re all held with these quarter inch kinda coarse thread screws, and they take a little
bit of effort to get off, and you gotta make sure they
don’t fall on your face, which is why you’ll see that
I’m wearing safety glasses, is there’s a lot of nasty
undercoating under here, and about 50 years worth of junk that will fall in your eyes. Drop that down and then
slide it out the back. So, you can see now that
we’ve got the underneath cover removed, what we’re looking at here, we’ve got the heater box
for all the heater assembly, and next we’ve got the
emergency brake cable, this is the clutch cable which is actually a solid linkage for most of
the large transition there. Then this rusty housing here
is actually our shifter tube which we’re going to be reworking and rebuilding a little bit there, and then this is actually
the accelerator linkage. Fortunately, with that cover
over it for most of it’s life, most of this remains pretty
well clean and neatly kept, so it’s a lot easier to work
under than one would assume for the underside of a 50 year old car. So, here underneath the more
front portion of the car, and we’ve got four bolts that
hold on the shifter base, and that is also holding
on the shifter tube that we’re working on,
so in removing these, I’m removing all four,
just because I wanna take the shifter out at the top as well. Here for our last one, just
to make sure it’s supported, take the ratchet off when I do
the last couple thread turns just by hands, using my fingers, and then I can keep one
hand up here to support it, and here it should just pop right off. There, we’ve got it, you can see here, this is the base of our shifter where it comes through
the carpet, somebody, it looks like they used some
cheap grease sometime ago and they greased it while
it was still together so it didn’t even get to
where it needed to go, so we’re gonna pull all
this apart, regrease it, and make sure we don’t have a squeak and that everything
functions well as it should. Here on the interior of the
car we’re gonna go ahead and remove the two screws
that hold the shifter base in place, there’s one on the
rear and one on the front. As well as that, we will
unscrew the shift knob and then go ahead and
pull this base right off. Then we can go ahead flip the
carpet up and pull the shifter out from underneath the carpet. Part of the diagnosis was
taking the shifter out and looking at it for excessive play, and you can look up in here and see where the ball rotates through, and that’s the actual shifter movement, you can see I’ll try and
work it with my hand here. Looks like it’s a little dry, could use some lubricant in there that’s actually gonna do something, I’d give it an eight out of 10, which is workable for this car. I’m not gonna be driving it all the time, and I’m not going to be
shifting incredibly quickly. It doesn’t look like there’s
anything wrong with it, our problem looks to be a little
bit further down the road. So, it looks like we just found the part that was causing that sloppy shifting. So, you can see here, this is part of what we’re
looking to fix with this. You can see this pin goes through, this is the selector shaft
going into the transmission, and this is the shifter fork on the back. So, when you’re moving the shifter inside, you’re actually rotating
that a little bit, and this pin here has worn this coupling almost all the way around, so it’s more of an oval
than anything else, so it’s allowing a lot of play for us. So, we’re gonna change that out, that’s gonna be part of
what we’re doing today. So, what we’re after here
is this little cotter pin, and if we’re lucky, we can rotate the pin just enough that we can
get a set of pliers on it and try and straighten it
out a little bit, a good bit. Try and pull down on it hard enough. There it is. We won the battle, and it
looks like, and the war. I’ll leave that there, and you can see, and we’ve disconnected
that coupling there now. And so what comes next is this bar here has a bushing on one end and it’s solid mounted on the other, this is actually the
stabilizer for the shifter, and it is just two half
inch nuts right here. And so, we’ll just pop
this off and take it off as an assembly so we don’t lose any of the adjustment that it has. We got that freed up now too. There’s one final thing
holding the back part of this shifter up, and
it’s actually right here, and it’s supposed to hold
some time of grummet in there. There, we got it. So, now that we’ve got it out of the car, you can see this is what’s
right below the shifter base in the car, shifter comes
down, sits right in here, and that’s what controls
forward, back, and left to right, which is actually shifting
the gears in the transmission. You can see here, as I move
this around it’s got a lot of excess play in just about
every single direction, and that would be because
there’s supposed to be a bushing that’s tucked right back
in here on the shaft. What we’re gonna do since
that plastic bushing is completely shot, we’re gonna be replacing it
with this bronze bushing. This bronze bushing is going
to take away all of this slop and make this nice and
tight so we don’t have any excess play while we’re in
neutral or in any of the gears. It’s gonna require drilling
a couple holes in here, getting this set in place,
couple taps with a hammer, should be just fine, gonna have nice, tight shifting here in no time. So, next step as we’re working on this, we’re going to install
our nice billet clamp. Before we can do that, we
have to get everything apart, including this tension clamp. Always works best to spray just a little bit of penetrating oil, this one seems to be
breaking those quite nicely now that I’ve done that,
and we’ll take it all off, slip it apart, get that
bronze bushing installed. There, we finally got out clamp apart. Something I always like to do is make sure to just put everything back together in kinda the order that
you’re pulling it apart, but fortunately I’m only doing
this shifter part right now, so it’s the only thing on my workbench. So, I’ll kinda lay everything out, sometimes I’ll write on the workbench exactly which parts go where, or the order of things kinda
numbered out on the bench. If it’s staying apart for anything longer than probably a couple hours, I like to bag everything in Ziploc bags and write on a paper tag inside the bag, and then also write on the bag. Oftentimes, people will write
just on the plastic bag, that’s not necessarily the best idea, because the first time you
touch that with an oily or a greasy hand, it’s
gonna take that right off, and then you just have a bunch
of bags with bolts in ’em that aren’t gonna really
tell you anything. And I was warned that
it’s gonna be difficult to get this coupling out of this tube, they’ve been together for 50 years now, we’re gonna have to soak it
with something penetrating, let it sit for a little bit, we’re probably gonna
end up using a hammer, which I’m not that excited about, I don’t really like hammering
on much on my car, but really, it’s our only option in this situation to bring out a little bit of brute force. Looks like we got lucky
here, I went ahead, soaked it with some penetrating oil, and I broke out my chisel, and just a couple taps with
a small hammer, surprisingly, actually loosened it right up, and you can see it’s
marching its way right back, giving us a nice, good look right here, which is nice because we do have to slide a bronze bushing over this end as well, and if we would’ve mushroomed this up or made it real difficult on ourselves, it shouldn’t be any tougher than it is. So, nice little victory here for us. So, you can see here we’re taking off what amounted to a bandaid fix here. They had replaced the plastic bushing, because this is the easier one to get to, and then you can see they put a hose clamp around it here on the outside. What that’s done is it eliminated the play on this end of the shifter shaft, however, that helps the seal going
into the transmission, does not help the other
end for the shifter. So it was a good thought,
it was a good try, but really, we could do better than this, we’re going to do better
than this right now. So, you can see here we got
the bandaid fix taken out, the split plastic coupling, it’s got a threaded hole
on it to hold it in. You can see all the grease that they kinda tried to smear around it, or it looks like some
kind of spray lubricant that they went at it with. None of it actually got inside,
was actually doing anything, it was just wearing away at the plastic. We can do better than this, we’re gonna put the bronze
bushing in there instead of this, so then we don’t have
to lubricate it as much, it’s gonna be borderline self lubricating, so this will be a thing of the past. This was great 50 years ago,
we can do better than this now, we’ll see, hopefully it will go together just as easily as well. So, now that we’ve got everything off the opposite end at the transmission, we can actually slide this shaft out here, and you kinda have to
rotate it a little bit, and it pulls nice and cleanly. And we can kinda give it a look, it’s actually fairly lightweight, so it’s not effecting the shift too much, it’s got a decent amount
of stiffness to it. But we’re gonna have to clean up kinda everything on both ends, so from this end removing
all this old grease, and then greasing it properly
all the way to the other end where we’re gonna have to
clean off all of this rust, make sure we’ve got a good seal that we can put our new
billet shift piece into. So, we do need to clean up
most of the rust off of this, fortunately it’s basically surface rust. You could use just a small
die grinder or anything with a real light sandpaper on it, personally, I don’t like
pulling out the power tools just to do a small job like this, I just use red scotch bright, or even the green if I’m
feeling less aggressive. And this will clean it up, it’ll get it smooth enough for us to work, we really don’t have to take off that much in order for it to work. As much as I’m aware, scotch
bright pads, all of these, they just kinda go by the color, is the grid that you’re working with. So, it doesn’t necessarily
equate to a fine sandpaper. Red is the one I prefer,
it does leave marks on the finished surface when
you’re done working with it, green is a little bit finer, that’s going to leave less marks on it. Usually, if you’re working with green, it’s typically paintable right after. I’m just gonna be greasing something and shoving it right
back underneath the car, this will make quicker work of it than working with a green scotch bright. And that’s actually gonna
be smooth enough for us, since we’re going to be
greasing it and putting in the bronze bushing, which
should go in about this far. So, we’ve got the end of the support tube all cleaned up and ready to
accept our bronze bushing. We’re gonna set it on there
and then we’re just gonna lightly tap it in with a hammer, ’cause it’s just a little
too tight to hand fit. Lightly snug it in so it’s right even. So, as we’re getting
ready to drill the holes to secure this bronze bushing, what I always recommend
is to use a center punch like this one, and it will
allow you to set the hole that your drill bit is
going to be starting into. So, something like that, you
can see it started right there, we’ll give it another
tap just to make sure. And we can set our
drill bit right into it. So what I’m doing here is I
am using a self tapping screw to establish threads
in this outer housing, and what that’s gonna do is
allow us to put in a bolt that will allow to hold that
bronze bushing in place. We don’t have to go very far with it, and back it right back out, and it will establish some
threads in that outer housing. So, now that we’ve got
our threads established, we’ve got this much shorter screw, and then also a tooth washer
to help keep it in place, and we’re gonna start that
one in its home with those new threads that we just made
with the self tapping screw. Hopefully it’ll start
nice and easy for us, there it is, and tighten
that down just a little bit. With any luck it’ll be
just the right length, which it looks like it’s
just a little bit long, so we’re gonna have to file
off the end of each screw just a little bit once
we get them in there. Now I’m filing off the ends of each thread just to make sure that
there’s no interference there. I’m having to be fairly careful, because the bronze of that bushing is actually a lot softer than the screws, so I’m having to make sure I’m pretty well only touching the screws
while I’m doing this. It’s okay to take off a
little bit of the bronze, but I wanna make sure and
leave as much of it as I can so that the shifter still has a
nice, round piece to ride in. So, we’ve got the bronze bushing installed in the transmission end of
this shifter support housing. We’re gonna test fit and make sure that we did take enough
off of those screws that everything will rotate cleanly, then we’re gonna move
over to the other end, make sure we can get
everything set up there so we can get this back in the car. And it looks like that
will work perfectly, allows nice, so that is
the gate, side to side, and then it also allows the front to back, let’s see, there it is. Front to back and side to side. So, we’re here on the
shifter end rather than the transmission end that
we had just finished up. We’ve got our bronze bushing
here, and when we look at it, slipping it in, you can see
it falls right into place, so we need to recess it
five sixteenths of an inch inside just to make sure we
have plenty of clearance, and so we’ll drill the holes, the three holes that we
need around the exterior, and then hold this in with
those self tapping screws. What I’m doing on this end
is I’m trying to evenly space the three bolts that are
going to hold that bushing in. With that, if I evenly space ’em out, hopefully it’ll support
it a little bit more in a cradle rather than
whereas on the backside we can only get to a few of them, so they kinda all on one
side putting a little bit of a weird side load on it, this one’ll space ’em out nice and evenly so they’ll be kinda triangulated on it. So, since the screws
that we’re working with were just a little bit too long, I set the bushing in there
and then I got the bushing clamped in place with just that one screw, and then I’m gonna drill
holes in the other two so those bolts will pass
all the way through, and make sure to hold that
in place for a long time. There you go. You can see we’ve got
a nice back and forth, you can see we don’t have any of that play that we had before, that was
coming through this joint here, and so this is gonna be fantastic and give us a lot better
shifter feel in the car. So, now that we’ve got the
bronze boring parts in place, we’re gonna add the
nice, fancy, shiny bits that are actually, I guess
you would say, prettier. With this, this is the new shift coupling, you can see compared
to our other one here, not only is it prettier, this one, the pin is starting to fall out of, and there’s rubber all in
here that’s slightly melted and all greasy and these
holes are out around. So, we’re replacing all of this slop with this nice billet piece, this, I found from a Corvair vendor,
it’s all nice and machine, nice and tight, there’s no slop in it. You’re gonna get a little more vibration from the transmission up all
the way to the shift knob, but it’s something I’m
gonna live with because that two to three shift
is gonna feel fantastic. So, we’re sliding our
shift coupling into place. As I’m working on this one, we’re kinda just putting
everything where I think it should be just based
on my previous experience, because since we rebuilt so much of it, none of the dimensions
are gonna carry over from that previous, worn out piece. Once we get it all together
we’ll put it in the car, we’ll make a final adjustment, make sure we have all the gears and can actually access reverse. So, I’m just adding a
little bit of grease here to all of the shift points so we make sure that we tighten everything up, we also wanna make sure that
it’s still nice and slippery. Nothing more enjoyable
than getting a bunch of red waterproof grease
all over your hands, this is a great time to do just that. So, I got the shifter roughly in place, and what I’m gonna do is actually
tighten everything up from the bottom before I finish
tightening the carpet around it, that’ll make sure that it’s actually set in place before I set all the carpet in. All right, so at this point we are undoing what we did previously, which means we’re in the
process of reassembling, so we’re going to put
the shifter in first, supporting the other end with my foot, and that’s gonna allow me to
kinda get everything lined up here before we go back to the transmission and I have to get
everything lined up there. What we’re gonna do back
here is we’re gonna tighten the shifting support rod
over here on the side, or the stabilizer rod, and
what that’s gonna allow me to do is it will be supported
on both ends at this point, and then I can go up to the
front and get the shifter fully seated inside the car, and then we can work our way back to attach everything to the transmission. So, we’ll go ahead, slip that guy over. All right, one more double check and then we’re down on the other end. Looks like we’re still a little bit short, so we’re gonna loosen
this clamp up just a bit, and then it should slide out, and we will be able to
get our adjustment set. There, we got it. So, what I did there is
I was spinning the wheel to make sure that the transmission
was indeed in neutral, and that will allow me to
adjust our shifter up front to make sure that we’ve got
this set at the correct depth, but first we’ll tighten up our supports and our stabilizer rod. We’ll adjust our shifter
to where we want it to be in neutral, tighten down our clamp here, and then we’re actually gonna be done, except for attaching that belly pan. Thank you for watching, hope you found this video informative. If you like what you
saw, please subscribe, if you’d like a detailed
list of the parts used in this episode, please look
in the description below.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. Who the hell works inside a bronze bush with a file? Are you daft? Its a bearing surface! And why would you allow those screws (why three?) to contact the shift tube … does not that set up a future situation for galling and wear? Better to have roughed the o.d. of the bearing for epoxy or locktite it in. Even grub screws would have been better. Cobby job sir.

  2. A bronze bushing to guide a shift rod that really doesn't see much heat. I'd epoxy the bushings in with JB Weld. I doubt they will go anywhere especially if you file a few notches or turn a grove into the outside surface of the bushing to give the epoxy something to bite into . If it ever fails, then maybe consider set screws.

  3. Hey Kyle, this is Kyle we met at the Woodward Dream Cruise. Great video! I like how you are finding the right parts to make everything working the way it was ment too. It will work much better in the long run.

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