NTPOG Shortened Shifter Mod

Author: Todd Marcucci
 


Why?
Depending on what generation you have, your stock shift lever may look like it should have been original equipment in a pickup truck. This has been "reduced in 4th and 5th generation models but may still be a little high for your taste. You can get a short-throw kit but this will usually only adjust throw- not the actual height of the lever or knob itself. It's relatively easy to shorten this yourself without even removing the lever assembly from the car. We recommend you look into a short-throw kit as the combined reduced height/reduced throw makes shifting much more comfortable.

What You Need
This should only take you about a half hour to do, provided you have everything you need:

- Gallon milk jug (see below)
- Large towel
- 3 dies, 12mm x 1.50, 11mm x 1.50, and 10mm x 1.50, and a T-handle
- Dremel or air grinder with "Heavy-Duty Cutoff Wheels"

Remove the Factory Knob
Taking off the factory knob is easy. First, pull down on the chrome trim ring, away from the knob itself. This detaches the knob from the boot. You should now see the shift lever where it meets the knob. Simply unscrew the knob from the shift lever:

   

Now comes the milk jug. There are several things that might work, but this one's best. Cut the upper 3/4 or more off of it so you have a "tray." Punch or cut a hole in this tray that's the size of the shift lever, and place it as far down the lever as you can get it:

The purpose of this is to catch any filings when you thread the shaft (there will be a lot of them). They're pretty uncomfortable if you grind any into your skin if you don't catch them all!

Chasing New Threads
The dies are needed to chase new threads further down the shift lever. You need 3 of them because the shaft is tapered. If you have access to a lathe you can take out the center console, disconnect the shift cables, remove the shifter mechanism, remove the shift lever, then grind down the lever and put it all back together. Since most people don't have a lathe (and we think this is easier), we recommend you buy or rent a tap and die set (or just find these 3 dies).

Before you start threading, give some thought to how much you want to lower. On a 4th or 5th gen Prelude you don't need to lower too much to get something comfortable. Try to visualize how much lower you want it and see how much further down that is. Keep in mind the shape of the shift lever (the 4th/5th gens have a bend in them) and how practical it will be- for the 4th and 5th gens, lowering much over an inch prevents you from using the factory trim ring and possibly even the shift knob itself. Your shifter may come with a boot and like the factory one, will need to attach to it. You will need to leave enough clearance to account for this.

Using the die and the t-handle, starting with the 12mm x 1.50 die, chase new threads where the original threads end. By stepping from the 12mm to 11mm to 10mm, you can remove all the excess material and get the thread size you need. It takes some muscle to thread, just chase them a turn at a time, back off (loosen the material), then start on it again. You'll eventually get there.

Once you do, you should have something like this:

This is about 1" lower than stock, or about double the number of threads the stock shift lever has (you can see the gap in the middle where the taper began).

Once you are done carefully remove the milk jug "tray" and discard the filings. Now you can need to cut the lever to length. If you chased down 1" more thread (you wanted to lower it an inch), you'll need to remove 1" of thread from the top. If you lower 2", you need to remove 2" of thread from the top (and so on). Before you start cutting you'll need to lay out the towel to protect the car from any flying debris:

Now you can cut it using the Dremel:

Once you cut it, you should have something that looked like stock:

Chasing New Threads
That's it! Once it cools down (so you don't melt the plastic in your knob) you can reassemble it just like you took it apart. In the event that you dropped the knob more than an inch, you may need to modify the trim ring or the knob itself. In this case, we needed to trim the trim ring so that it would snap on all the way (remember the 5th gen has a bend in the lever). This will require removal of the console (fairly simple).

Once you get that fixed, your finished product should look something like this:

Or maybe like this:

If you have any comments, additions, or corrections, as always, email the author.



This page last updated 4/15/01.