The day I did the install I also needed to do some other work to the underside of my rig. My transmission had developed a leak so I planned on doing the shifter install while I had the cross member off to fix the stripped bolt in my transmission pan. Kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.
The first thing we did was take a measurement of where the t-case set in the frame so we could estimate how things would look from above without reinstalling the center cross member. If you are concerned about the height of the shifter into the cab then this is an important step. Remember, the linkage is now connected directly to the t-case. The higher the t-case against your floorboard, the higher the lever sticks into the cab. Make your measurement before you make any changes. That way when you do bend your lever everything will be good to go. We used a ratchet strap under the rear of the t-case to support the weight while we removed the cross member and replaced the jack.
The next step was to remove the existing brackets and the shifter assembly from inside the cab. This is where I realized that I probably wasn’t going to turn back. The shifter assembly is glued to the floor so once you pull it up you may as well continue with no thought of going back.
This is where I had my first question about the Novak instructions and the parts in the kit. The stock factory shifter lever is part of a whole assembly that you can’t take apart. It’s not a boot like in the old days, it’s a piece of metal shaped and formed to the lever and the hole in the floor board. One of the things the Novak kit does not address is what to do about the 4” x 3” hole that surrounds your new shift lever in the floor board. If you're like me and live someplace where the weather isn’t always perfect and you don’t necessarily like the smell of hot grease in the cab you will want to seal up this hole (and don't forget the four holes lower in transmission tunnel where the stock underbody linkage was mounted).
After the existing linkage and shifter assembly were removed I began to follow the steps in the Novak installation instructions. I installed the anchor bracket, which I found was easier to get the top nut loosened and installed through the floor than from the bottom.
Once the anchor bracket was installed the instructions want you to install the lever bracket (also referred to as the vertical bracket) using the spring and nut. For a TJ they suggest using one of the top two holes in the lever bracket. I used the top hole in the lever bracket and the farthest forward hole in the anchor bracket to make my attachment. Doing this in the Jeep proved to be difficult.
On the left are the parts needed for the next couple of steps. Tightening the anchor bracket proved a little tricky, I found it easier to tighten this nut from the bottom and the other from the top through the hole in the floor board.
In fact, I ended up removing the anchor bracket and fitted the anchor bracket and the lever bracket together outside the Jeep and then re-installed them. This method proved to be much faster and easier to get the spring properly compressed.
Next, we removed the factory pivot plate (it’s the small flat plate connected to the shift button on the side of the t-case) and replaced with the one from the Novak kit. When I compared it to the one I had, the angle seemed to be incorrect. Once I tried to install it, I found it was, indeed, incorrect. Based on info I had from Novak I enlarged the round hole in the pivot plate to make room for the Novak bolts.
(1) It will give you the length you need for your threaded rod. (In this step I skipped cutting my rod as there is plenty of room to simply thread it thru the supplied hardware and leave it sticking out slightly on the ends.)
(2) This will set your stick to point as far back as possible so that when you do begin your bends you will have clearance both front and rear.
Snag: Here’s where I hit my first adjustment snag. With the lever bracket in the farthest hole from the t-case it was impossible for me to point the lever bracket at the back of the shifter hole because the bracket assembly would hit the oversized transmission pan installed on my rig. I had to take the bracket assembly out of the vehicle and move the lever bracket up to the closest hole to the t-case on the anchor bracket and then reinstall it. I was then able to point it at the back of the hole in the floor board.
Once you have the threaded rod installed and adjusted to the above specs it’s time to tighten everything up. Again, doing this to Novak specs should ensure a long useful life.
Before going any further, make sure you can shift the t-case into all gears and that nothing is binding.
Now it’s on to the fun stuff - bending metal.
FINISHING UP AND TESTING --->>>