I have a billet shifter knob on my transmission stick and didn’t really like the way it felt in my hand. I spotted a guy selling billiard ball shifter knobs and thought that would be much better. There are two types when it comes to the billiard ball shifter knob. Option #1: The "screw-on type" where a threaded insert allows for the ball to be screwed onto your shift stick. The size has to be right and will only fit that size threads. Option #2: The type that comes with four different sized adapters and tightened with three set screws. I figured anyone could unscrew option #1 and take it and thought few people carry around a micro-sized Allen wrench. This option makes it easy to transfer the knob to another vehicle. Shop around, there are sports teams and other knob styles available.
Ultimately, I bought a ball from a guy on eBay and I thought the #5 ball would be perfect for me for two reasons. I have a 5-speed transmission and the orange is the closest to the color of my copper interior. I purchased the shift pattern inserts from Alex at PORC (Performance Off Road Center) - heck of a nice guy too.
First, I started with drawing a 1-1/4” circle on the ball with a Sharpie. Use a regular Sharpie in case you make a mistake – it’ll be easy to remove the ink with nail polish remover.
Next, I inserted a wooden dowel and tightened the tiny set screws that came with the ball. This will help stabilize the ball and prevent uneven sanding or the ball flying out of your hand.
I placed a piece of foam onto the sander’s table to prevent any scratching of the ball’s finish. Next, I sanded the flat spot. I made sure to do a small amount at a time - checking the spot every so often. It was fairly easy, but you have to make sure to keep the ball in one position to keep the flat spot “flat.” I suppose you could finely sand and polish the sanded flat spot area, but I didn't see the reason.
Then I placed the shift pattern insert on the ball and gripped it – to get an idea on how it’ll feel in my hand. Since the insert has a raised backing, I didn’t like the way it felt and wanted it less obtrusive. So using my thumb nail, I carefully ran my thumb nail around the perimeter of the insert to separate the two pieces. DO NOT just rip it up or there will be more damage to the insert’s finish.
Keep in mind that there is silver paint and adhesive on the backing that will cause the front part to lose some of the black tone on the underside. It will look bad, so I decided to use an “Industrial Sharpie” (it has more permanent ink) and dotted all of the missing black areas AND I ran it around the perimeter of the disc. I used a flashlight to back-light the disc to see where the ink was needed. The reason is that when the insert is placed onto the flat spot of the ball, the color of the ball will show through unless this step is done. This isn't as necessary when using a black 8 ball.
Since JB Weld dries gray and JB QUICK Weld dries black, I chose the JB Quick Weld and applied small amounts to the disc. You don’t want the epoxy to spread into the shift pattern because it will look terrible. I used a toothpick to apply the epoxy to the disc at 3, 6, 9 and 12 o'clock. Keep in mind, when the disc gets set onto the ball, the epoxy will spread, so it's best to keep the applied epoxy toward the outer edge of the disc. It's much easier to deal with excess epoxy coming out of the end than if it ruins the shift pattern. Then I carefully applied the disc to the ball trying to keep it centered on the flat spot. You don't want to have to move the disc too much once it's on the ball.
Gently press the disc onto the ball watching for any of the epoxy spreading into the shift pattern. Let it dry and you’ve got yourself a unique shift knob that’ll feel really good in your hands. In retrospect, I should have shaved the flat spot to 1-1/8” (instead of the 1-1/4”) because the inner part of the insert is that size. Since this was my first customization, I now have a small ring around the pattern and it doesn’t really bother me. It gives the ball and insert disc a bit of separation. I’ll know better for next time – so will you.