How To: Stronger Shifter Cables

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How To: Stronger Shifter Cables

Post by Kyle » Wed Apr 03, 2002 3:50 pm

Discliamer first. I am not affiliated in any way with any of the companies or individuals listed in this how to; I simply recomend what has worked for me. I am convinced that the rod end setup is the strongest possible shifter cable setup but I won't promise it will never break, and I am now slightly worried about the strength of the transmission ends of the cables. (What can I say, I do failure analysis for a living. Anything can break, and the minute you say it never will is the minute it will break.)

A little background to begin with. I had a B&M short shifter and CNNP bushings. I loved the feel of them together, however I broke two sets of shifter cables in six months, and a new set of calbes cost about $140-$180 from a dealer. It is always the selector cable that breaks. (The cable on the right of the stick if you are sitting in the front seats.) I went ahead and "bulletproofed" both the selector and transverse cables, but you only really need to do the selector cable. I have never heard of a transverse cable breaking. I have also recently replaced the bushings in the tranny end of my cables with Booger Bushings. They are still stiff, but not quite as stiff as CNNP bushings. Click Here for info on the Boogers. Jeff is a great guy to work with and is more than willing to just sell the two bushings that go in the tranny end of the cables. I haven't tried using the rod end setup with stock bushings, but I think it would wear out the stock bushings in no time flat. So I would recomend either of the two aftermarket bushings in the tranny end.

Materials list:
two 5/16" male spherical rod ends
1/4" die and handle
two threaded adaptors both 5/8" outside diameter:
one one inch long threaded half way thru with 1/4" threads the other half 5/16" threads.
one one and one half inches long threaded one half inch deep 1/4" threads and the remaining inch 5/16" threads.
two 1/4" E-clips

Everything above should be in fine threads (1/4-28, and 5/16-24). I have never seen rod ends with coarse threads, and fine threads are stronger.

The materials list is what makes this operation so much more expensive. 5/16" spherical rod ends cost about $5-$10 each at a local industrial supply sort of store, as opposed to the buck seventy-nine that the eye bolts cost at any hardware store. You can also get rod ends here Do a search for rod ends, they have them for really cheap, but then you eat the shipping costs. I use part number 60645K1 with right hand threads.

The threaded adaptors, well... If anyone can find a set of adaptors like that available commercially I just might pee my pants. You will have to find a machine shop to make them, and machine shops cost $$$. I was quoted a price of $40 for less than a dollars worth of steel and a half hour of labor, so I "borrowed" some time on a metal cutting lathe and made them myself.

1. Cut the shank off of one of the rod ends so there is only half an inch of threads left.
2. Thread this rod end into the short adaptor. Essentially you now have a female rod end with a 5/16" hole, to fit the stock, or B&M shift lever, and 1/4" inside threads to fit the threads you will cut on the cable.
3. Line up the hole in the rod end with the hole in the stock plastic eyelet.
4. Mark the cable where the end of the adaptor is.
5. Pull out your trusty ruler, from the mark you made on the cables measure backwards (towards the end of the cable) half an inch and make another mark.
6. Cut the stock cable off at the second mark.
7. Using the die, which should be fine threaded (1/4-28 ) thread a little over a half inch of the cable, make sure the die threads on straight, use plenty of oil to avoid breaking the cable or die. One note on this operation, Chrysler has used different suppliers for the cables, so if it isn't your lucky day the cable will be just a touch bigger than 1/4" this will make cutting the threads a bit more difficult, but it is not too big of a deal if you use a sharp die, and some oil.
8. Thread the rod end/adaptor onto the cable, reassemble the shifter mechanism, (put one of the E-clips in the groove to hold the rod end on) check to make sure it all works, clean it up, reassemble with threadlock.
Again on this Chrysler has used different suppliers for the shifter, so the pin that the rod end goes over could be just a touch too big for a 5/16" rod end. Your options for fixing this snag are to either force the rod end on the pin with a vise or c-clamp, or sand down the pins a bit until the rod end fits.

If you did everything correctly it should look like this:

The transverse cable is the same, only the longer adaptor allows you to leave one inch of threads on the rod end so you can adjust it more by threading it in or out. Here is a picture of the transverse cable when completed:

The fine threads help alleviate the problem with the groove, fine threads don't cut into the cable as deep as coarse threads. Now you will notice that the sherical rod end twists when making the side to side shifts taking the load off the cable. Much of the effort from shifting comes from moving the lever side to side, and since the rod ends let the lever move from side to side easier you will notice it is much easier to shift.
In my case it was so much easier to shift I cut an inch off of my B&M, and I have a extra short, precise shifter that will make any Miata owner jealous. The nice snickity snick sound that makes it like a Ferrari is a byproduct of getting rid of the plastic and rubber between the lever and cable. That was 12 months and 10,000 miles ago, with no problems.

I have sold a few "kits" including the threaded adaptors and rod ends, all that is required with the kits is to cut and thread the cables. I sell them for $35 shipped. I really don't make much money selling them, just something I do to help those that want to get the best possible setup without having to pay a machine shop for the threaded adaptors. If anyone is interested send me a PM or some e-mail. If anyone has any questions feel free to drop an e-mail or PM and ask, I know it sounds more confusing that it is, and I don't want to be blamed for any cable cut in the wrong place. It took me longer to write this than to perform the operation.

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