Manual shifter bushing change | Ford Escort Owners Association (FEOA)
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Manual shifter bushing change

Discussion in '2nd Gen 1991-1996 1.9L SOHC' started by axa, May 24, 2019.

  1. axa

    axa FEOA Member

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    Alright I've done my due diligence and made a quick search but I'm on a low bandwidth connection...

    I had changed one pair/joint's manual shifter bushings about 3 years ago. but if I recall correctly only changed one set, I don't know why only one set, but now my shifter is sloppy as ever. And that one set were fabricated from oil impregnated bronze so I don't think they wore out...

    That was the easy to get at shift linkage bar under the middle of the car.
    My question is how do I get to the joint right on the shifter itself. I don't recall seeing it from the bottom, and now that I have the center console out for the floor pan im didn't notice accessibility from the top...

    Please advise
  2. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    There are two rods that run from the area of the shift lever, up to the transmission. The one that moves and does the gear changing Ford calls the "shift control rod'. Its the one that has the bushings in it - two pairs at the front end, and one pair at the back (bottom of shift lever) end. The other rod Ford calls the"extension bar", and it stabilizes the distance between the transmission and the shift lever. At its back end is a platform for the spherical socket the shift lever moves around in. That platform has to leave the car by going downward.
    I dont know if its possible to get these rods out of the car by themselves; since I removed them after dropping the exhaust and fighting off the heat shield. I also had the console sides taken apart of course.

    From inside the car, I took off the four nuts holding up that platform, and from under the car, the one bolt going sideways into the transmission at the front. I got the two rods out together; by lowering the shift lever downward: Since I also had the engine and transmission out of the car, I had disconnected the shift control rod from the shifting shaft going into the transmission.
    With my 94LX it not only needed new bushings in all locations, but there were small rubber webs that supported the socket for the shifter, which were ripped apart. I think this happened from the prior owner having to force the shifter into the different gears; due to the rust on the parts (back set of bushings was seized up) and the front bushings being badly worn. **
    Since I now had the entire assembly out of the car, I replaced all the bushings. There is one pair of bushing at the front part that didnt have a nut on the end of the rod. (I supposed Ford thought the entire assembly with all new bushings would be what got replaced. But no one was selling these parts new anymore; Certainly Ford was no help). I ground that one apart and made up a new 'bolt'. I ground the head of a bolt down so it was thin enough to not scrape against the things nearby it (between the transmission and the power steering assembly), and ground down a nut to be thin for the same reason.
    To replace the ripped up rubber webs to support the shifter socket, I made up a plate to run underneath it, and bolted that to the corners of the support plate on the back end of the'extension bar'. I put in a nice lump of permatex RTV gasket stuff.
    This made that car shift like new. But I still need to do the same fix to my other 94LX; its shifter is still really sloppy.

    All of this took a lot of time. I do all of my work outside, on gravel under a big shade tree beside the driveway.

    Good Luck with however you do this, and please give us feedback on how much of a miserable job it was.

    **One good reason this transmission got hard to shift, was not only due to rust on the pivot right below the shifter, but because the transmission only had about half a pint of fluid in it - from the VSS being corroded into place. The owner couldnt find anyone who she could afford to pay to fix the VSS (or the rusty shifter pivot) problems.
  3. axa

    axa FEOA Member

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    Oh boy more work than I planned...

    I need to ask, does the MT have any indicator of low transmission fluid??

    I know mine has a slow leak probably from ruining the seal hole from prying on it when my half shaft circlip got stuck and had to beat it out.
    Last edited: May 26, 2019
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  4. Swift

    Swift FEOA Donator

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    There is sort of an indicator, it's the vss. It should come to a certain point on the gear, but the vss can be heck to get out if it has never been out.
  5. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    Sadly; Other than getting the VSS extracted, you cant tell how much fluid is in the manual trans. You could take out the drain plug and keep track of how much comes out - but that wouldnt help you trying to get the right amount of fluid back into it. There is a vent on the top side of the manual, but even after partial dismantling, I never had any luck getting fluid to dribble down into it.

    It should hold about 2.8 quarts for the LX version.** (The manual trans in the GT is a different unit and takes 3.5 quarts). Being a quart low is probably no problem, based on how the fluid gets sprayed around the insides; but having less than 1 quart in it, is getting too close to having lockup problems and becoming unshiftable. The one I got to fix up had less than half a pint in it, and the 5th gear was seized-up; preventing the car from moving at all in that gear. I had to partially dismantle the trans to free up the jam.

    I would think the worst place for a leak would be the shifting shaft, which goes into the vary bottom of the transmission. One of mine seeps slowly from that seal, the other car's transmission is still dry on the bottom. I still check both of them annually, right around Christmas in fact.

    I really liked the manual transmission in my Saturn SL2. It had a dipstick that went into the trans. That car died when it got rear-ended in an accident.

    The 3rd gen Escorts manual transmissions do have a level-checking plug on the front side of the transmission. I dont know if its possible to swap a grd gen 5-speed into a 2nd gen Escort ---- but it would be at least as much work as getting the VSS freed from the 2nd gen manual transmission.
    One caution for any 2nd gen 5-speed owner; there are a couple of bolts going into the case on the lower front of the manual transmission. Dont try to remove these! They hold up internal brackets for things like the reverse idler gear, and they are a blind hole; no way to add fluid.

    **Over filling the manual transmission might result in trans fluid wicking its way up the speedo cable, till it drips on your shoes on long drives.

    I dont know if it has ever happened to an Escort; but a friend had the 5-speed on his Plymouth horizon lockup at 60 mph. The front wheels both stopped turning, bringing him to an uncontrollable halt in a ditch, and needing a few stitches on his forehead.
  6. axa

    axa FEOA Member

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    A benefit of having to drop my transmission to get that stuck half shaft out was 'easily' getting to spedo gear out at the same time, to which I put anti seize so I guess it would be easy to get out.

    So now I see I can pull it out and see an indicator
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  7. Swift

    Swift FEOA Donator

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    The gear is the indicator
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  8. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes, the illustration in the Ford service manual shows the fluid being "full" if it wets the spiral gear to its upper edge, and "low" if it only wets to the bottom edge of the gear.

    I normally take the VSS out, wipe the fluid off the gear, then reinsert it and remove it again to check; as the fluid gets spread thoroughly on the gear so the 'level' isnt very distinct.

    Being too full can result in having trans fluid get drawn up onto the inner cable for the speedo, and to leak out at the speedo end. There is a tiny rubber sealing "O" ring deep inside the VSS that should prevent this, but its not a replaceable. I only discovered it when my curiosity had me hacksaw a bad VSS apart.

    I think the important thing is that wetting the bottom of the gear means there is plenty of fluid in it. But of course if the bottom of the gear is Not wetter than the top end, then you wont know if the trans is half a quart low or could be nearly empty.

    And each year when I take the VSS out, I re-clean off any corrosion and re-apply antiseize slime.
  9. axa

    axa FEOA Member

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    Denisond3's escort is going to last forever
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  10. axa

    axa FEOA Member

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    so back to the OP, of my sloppy shifter.

    so i finally got under the car to change the filler tube, again, and put the finishing touches on my new driver side floor pan....
    before getting up i checked the shifter bushings, staring at the joint for a good few minutes when i figured out what i was looking at.... NOTHING.

    having machined a set of oil impregnated bronze bushings, trying to make them better than anything i could buy, they were gone!! they must have snapped off but how..

    I noticed that joint because of the rocker is sort of a moving joint, rounded if you will, and slamming on the broze must have cracked them in half and the fell away.

    Not impossible that i didnt make them right, but I dont think this is a proper application for broze bushings, its not a uniform static load on the bearing, its one that gets pinched each time you put it in 1st, 2nd, 5th and reverse.

    just my 2 cents.

    so who sells the plastic replacements cheap?
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  11. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    I just saw them on ebay, from a couple of sellers, after doing an ebay search for
    "ford escort manual shifter bushings". One of the sellers even has a picture showing the "T" bar behind the transmission. They say they are for the 1991-2003 gt zx2, but I think they are the same size as the LX escorts. I cant believe they would have a different set of shift control rods for the LX and ZX2. The parts compatibility index from that first seller lists the LX escorts.

    There is a thread about these in the 'part numbers" subforum, but I dont think anyone listed a current part number for them. I might buy an extra set or two, since I have two
    5-speed 94LX escorts. I would buy two sets, since I replaced all six bushings on one of mine; and would do it again if the shifter gets sloppy. There is the pair in the vertical "T bar" right next to the transmission, a pair at the back end of the shift control rod that is inconveniently located at the bottom of the shift lever (but above the exhaust pipe and the exhaust heat shield), plus another pair of bushings in the shifter pivot just behind that vertical "T" bar. This one was not designed to be easily replaceable. But I replaced it anyway, by grinding off the head of the 'bolt' to extract it and making up a replacement bolt. My replacement bolt started out as a standard metric bolt, but I ground the head down to be not more than a millimeter high, ground down a bolt to be also thin, and ground the bolt down so it wouldnt stick out past the nut. The problem is that a normal bolt head and nut might interfere with things nearby back there on the subframe and the rack assembly plumbing. I used silicone grease when I reassembled, since it is pretty inert to any plastic.

    These and the OEM bushings are not a tight fit over the shafts they run on, so while the shifting feels much better with my new ones, it wont feel a crisp as typical with the four on the floor shifters of rear wheel drive sports cars; like an MGA or Austin Healey.
  12. axa

    axa FEOA Member

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  13. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    I just found the p.n. for the last set of bushings, which a NAPA franchise ordered in for me a few years back; they didnt stock them anymore. It was 0771303. Maybe a NAPA place could still get them - if you tell them to look in their hard copy listings, not to simply stare at the computer monitor showing their electronic data base of more or less modern stuff. They seemed to come with an ATM prefix also, being an ATM 0771303. On the plastic baggy the four of them were in was a Mazda part number, B000-46-062, which was also listed in the first posting of the thread in the 'part numbers' sub forum, under the title 'shifter bushing part number'.

    I you do a google search using "0771303" you will see some info on them.
  14. madmatt2024

    madmatt2024 FEOA Member

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  15. Joey_Twowagons

    Joey_Twowagons FEOA Member

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    The NAPA site says pricing info is unavailable, probably a bad sign.
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  16. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    But if enough folks went in and said they wanted a set, a NAPA franchise might put a few sets onto the shelf - that they got from ebay sellers.

    Before my local Carquest got bought up by AdvancedAuto, if they didnt find a listing in their corporate listings, they would do an internet search. I dont know if that was normal Carquest procedure, but they often found sources for stuff I needed.
  17. madmatt2024

    madmatt2024 FEOA Member

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    Really? For me its says $1.69/each. Ready to ship.
  18. axa

    axa FEOA Member

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    ugh i get $1.79 , HCOL area. to which i believe is why i haveint seen another escort in now 5 years. another 10 to ship. and i dont have a napa near.
  19. Joey_Twowagons

    Joey_Twowagons FEOA Member

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    Must be because I put in a random ZIP code, as I am in Canada.

    I have gone in to the local store with a NAPA part number, and was told that they can't get the part because it's not available in the Canadian distribution system. Frustrating.
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  20. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    I only clicked 'like' because I sympathize with the situation, not because its likeable. I hope NAPA and the entire aftermarket auto parts world realizes their competition is ebay; And forums like ours.

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