Custom TJ T-Case shifter mod write-up
I always had a problem with the E-brake style t-case shifter; you have to reach down to engage/disengage, and the look wasn't coinciding with the overall theme of my Jeep. Since I'm completely changing the interior, it was the next logical step towards the old school feel. This modification should work with a TJ with a stock or aftermarket center console as well, which is why I decided to try a write-up...
eye and ear protection (safety first!)
A 3" cut-off wheel disc & grinder (or you could use a hacksaw)
A 5/16 (24 NF) tap & (I) drill bit (It's better to buy a whole set rather than individual pieces. My shifter knob has a 5/16 thread, your particular knob will probably be different)
Straight handle tap wrench
Cutting oil (keeps the bit and tap from getting too hot and possibly snapping inside your project!)
Power Drill (come-on, everyone should have one of these!)
Center punch & Hammer (Again, a doityerselfer neccesity)
Metal File (fine tooth is better for smoothing out)
Vise (preferably one that can hold something round without marring)
c-clamps (handy to keep things in place)
Shifter knob (I think I paid 10 bucks for mine)
2 5/16 24 pitch grade 8 bolts '1 inch thread' (Probably overkill, but at .27¢ each it won't break the bank)
7/16 steel rod (I bought a $4.60 zinc plated rod to help with rust issues. It came in a 3' length)
Ok, the first step is deciding what kind of shifter knob. In my case, I wanted something close to a military type knob. I choose a '32 Ford shifter knob. Retails for 8-10 bucks, it is a resin knob with a threaded brass insert. Keep in mind, the type of bolt/thread pitch you need to purchase depends on what your knob comes with.
If you have a center console, now is a good time to take it out to prevent scratches or burn marks, etc. I'm sure someone has a write-up on that. You might be able do this mod with the console in & the t-case handle in 4wd low, just cover the console with something to minimize the metal shavings from getting all over the place. The rubber handle I cut off just to show how much material you have to work with. Be sure to clamp the shaft to prevent it from moving when cutting/tapping. Here's a pic of the shaft exposed:
Mark with masking tape where you want to cut. You want it just below the bend in the shaft. The tape acts as a guide & helps in cutting straight across and as flat as you can with a cutting disc/hacksaw. Once you start the cut, there's no turning back! Notice the clamp to hold it in place:
After cutting off the stock handle, file smooth and mark the center with a punch. Drill down appoximately 3/4",keeping the bit inline with the shaft. Be sure to use plenty of cutting oil, it keeps the heat down & the drill bit sharp.You should have a hole similar to this:
Now you're ready to tap the threads into the shaft. If you've never done this before, the trick is to use slow, smooth turns. Start with applying slight pressure to cut the first few threads (clockwise). Be sure to be perpendicular to the shaft. Continue turning clockwise without any downward pressure, backing out slightly after each turn to keep burrs from forming in the threads. Be heavy on the cutting oil, adding more every turn or so. This keeps the heat down, lubricates & helps prevent tap breakage.
After tapping a little past 1/2" down (don't bottom out the tap, it could break or damage threads), back it out slowly and then clean the threads. The best way is to blow it out with compressed air, but if you don't have a compressor, try a magnet attached to a small screwdriver:
Now comes the shaft extension. The best way to find the height you want is to sit inside your jeep and hold your arm out to where you want the shifter height to be. In my case, a comfortable 4" length increase was needed to be easy to reach the t-case shifter, but not obstructive when shifting the transmission.
Clamp your steel rod in your vise, measure to size & cut; again using masking tape as a guide. (Add 1/8" to compensate for cutting and filing.) You might need to cut the first 2-3 inches off the rod because it could be bent or have dings in it.
After cutting, position rod straight up in vise, & smooth both ends flat with your file and mark the centers with your punch. To keep your rod from getting damaged from the vise, you can use special vise inserts or blocks of wood. Drill holes 3/4" down using lots of cutting oil & a steady hand. If the hole isn't perfectly centered, it's not a complete loss. As long as it's close to center, the shaft extension won't be too noticeable after the console is remounted.
For my case, I had to have at least one good (completely centered) hole to connect the two shafts together. This one is a little off centered and will work for the knob side:
After both sides of the rod are drilled, tapped and cleaned, the next step is to cut the bolt threads to a 1" length. After cutting off threads, file end to smooth out. It's a good idea to test freshly cut threads before assembling everything. Attach the knob to shaft.
Finally, attach shaft extension to stock shaft. Ofcourse, you will want to paint or powdercoat the shaft, plus add locktight to the threads, but here is the final result of just a couple of hours worth of work:
As you can see, it's a lot higher and is easily reachable from any setting.
If you don't want to do the extension, you could just add the knob to the stock shaft:
Well, I hope this was entertaining for some and educational for others.
Thanks for looking and remember...
You don't have to spend a lot of money to customize your jeep. For more customized pics of my jeep, checkout my buildup thread: Custom 2001 Jeep Wrangler Military Project