Gear Shift Woe's

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Well-known member
Oct 24, 2011
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I nave a 71 Doormobile RHD camper, owned since 2011. It has always had gear shift problems, I could not get the OG shifter to work properly and it kept popping out of the socket under the floor. I swapped that one for an EMPI shifter, which after an amount of fettling got it to work a lot better than the OG, but still not perfectly (my son has the same EMPI shifter in his bus and it works perfectly)
Fast forward to last year, when I replaced the engine I dropped the gearbox to replace leaking drive shaft seals, at the same time I pulled the long gear shift rod and replaced all the bushes.
Now when the engine is not running I can get all gears with or without the clutch pedal pressed, but when the engine is running I cannot get 1st or 2nd gear without a lot of effort, and as you can imagine that is more than embarrassing when in town traffic.
I have followed all the advice I can find, enlarging the bolt holes, moving it this way and that, nothing works.
I now plan on dropping the engine and gearbox again to replace the clutch housing and plate along with the thrust bearing, also the flywheel gland nut.
I'm going to pull the gear shift rod again and replace the bushes. I am going to take the nose cone of the gearbox and replace the 2 bushes and seal and inspect the internal workings of the nose cone.
If all this does not fix the issue I am stumped, therefore if anyone out there has any other diamonds of information and suggestions I would be most gratefull...
Is it as simple as the clutch cable is too slack? The gear shifter adjustment / bushes etc are just to ensure that the range of movement of the shifter align with the gearbox ‘gates.’ If you can select gears without the engine running, it would suggest that the shifter side of things is ok. Normally gearbox wear is synchros or bearings, so either crunching gears or whines.

The only other thing I’ve picked up on what you’ve said is the popping out of the socket issue. There should be no way that the gearstick can pop out. Is the pin that the front shift rod section slides on straight and hasn’t had the bracket it is welded to bent downwards?

We had an issue with our old bus that the little pin that runs through the ball at the bottom of the shifter had got a notch worn in it. Assuming this was as a result of a lack of grease, it had also worn and enlarged the locating groove in the front shift rod section. Together, it made gear shifting a nightmare - I often couldn’t find 1st or 2nd, presumably because the shift rod couldn’t rotate enough to the side with both these gears on it. Might be worth having a closer inspection of this area.
Gear box does whine a bit, but only in 4th. I will carry out all the remedial work I detailed in my 1st post, and check I have the correct setting for the clutch cable. If that does not fix the issue then I will have to look at getting the gearbox to an expert.

Engine and gearbox out. I think I have found the cause of my gear shift problems, in fact I am surprised that I could get any gears at all. Couldn't find any remains apart from the metal cup on the hockey stick.

New gearbox hockey stick pivot ball ordered from Heritage parts.
New bushes and ball finally fitted after Heritage sent me the wrong part, got a proper one from JK in the end. Nose cone fitted. Bushes changed in the long shift rod.
Hopefully gearbox and engine back in tomorrow.


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Gearbox and engine back in today after a delay due to the bloody freezing weather. Hockey stick ball joint and bushes replaced. All the gearchange bushes front to back replaced. I noticed on the VW diagram that from 77 there was a third bush in the middle of the rod, so I added one, after all can't do any harm.
Test drive today and now the old girl changes gear like a modern car, so happy, just miffed it took me so long to get to the solution...

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