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Discussion Starter #1
Good morning,

Well, I received and installed my B&M short shifter in early January. It was on my mods list and someone gave it to me as a christmas present. In truth, I really didn't think it was necessary, but I thought I would give it a whirl. Initially, I did not provide a review of the item because I knew on the first drive that it would not be a cut and dry install. Well, I was right.

Installation
Overall, installation is a breeze. It is a little tough to access the bottom of the shifter because the drive shaft is in the way. Also, my dual Borla exhaust pipes down help either. However, it is still pretty easy.

One thing about the B&M instructions that troubles me is the need to file part of the shifter housing. You need to file down some of the aluminum for one reason or another. I think it is so you can get into first gear. However, the instructions for this step are not clear enough.

Also, the instructions state that you SHOULD NOT use this little metal spacer that is just under the shift know. The spacer is there to keep the shift know from grinding into the shift boot when you tighten it down. I disagree. That spacer should be used.

Driving First Impressions
Right off the bat, I was pleased with the new throw. It was shorter without being ridiculous. Also, the shifter had a nice positive feel. When you shifted into gear, you could feel a nice positive lock. Nothing was particularly smoother, but it worked well.

Unfortunately, I also noticed is buzz right away. The shifter buzzes in the upper RPM range. However, it can be tuned out with a loud stereo. But, it is definitely annoying. I asked around for a solution, but no one had one. However, I think I have identified the problem. The stock shift cup has a rubber "pad" on the top. The new shifter cup for the B&M shifter does not. I think the B&M shifter cup is vibrating against the metal plate causing the buzz. I have not tested this yet, but I will let everyone know if inserting some rubber there works.

Extended Driving Impressions - THE BAD
Over time, the shifter got down right bad. It was even dangerous in some circumstances. It quickly because apparent that the shifter alignment was poor and the "positive lock" feeling was actually a sign of a poor design. I started to have trouble getting into first gear when only slightly rolling. With my stock shifter I could easily slip into first gear if I was rolling very slowly. Forget that with the B&M shifter. Also, both shifters there is a small square metal "tab" sticking off the side of the shifter shaft. This metal tab rides against the side of a metal plate when in 5th and 6th. It prevents you from going into reverse by mistake. When you press down, this tab will slip under the metal plate and allow you to access reverse. On the B&M shifter, this tab cause serious problems with getting into 5th gear. It made it a struggle. With care, you could do it, but it was not easy enough. Also, the tab WORE AWAY to the point where I could hit REVERSE AT ANY TIME. This is bad. I could not go from 5th to 6th without risking an accidental reverse. Thankfully it never happened, but I still had to be very careful. This also meant that when I needed to downshift to 5th for power on the highway, I would frequently misshift and not be able to get back into gear.

The Fix
Cheston/Chebestos is sponsored by B&M and posted that B&M has come out with a version 2 of their shifter. Apparently, they redesigned the tab on the side of the shifter shaft and made some noise corrections. So, I wanted to take a look and mine and see if it had serious issues.

I opened up the shifter and sure enough, the metal tab was worn down severely and there was metal flakes all over the inside of the shifter cup. I contacted B&M and they gave me a return authorization. I am shipping it out today.

I fully expected to get a version 2 back in the mail in a couple weeks. When I installed my stock shifter, it was like butter. I glides into all the gears and I only need a finger tip to shift. Sure, it is not short, but it is accurate.

When I get my shifter back and test it, I will update this thread.

Cheers y'all!
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Update:

I received a voicemail from B&M over the weekend. They are shipping out my new shifter this week. I should be able to let you know what version they are sending out and how it performs sometime soon.
 

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Glad you got a replacement. Many of the 'early adopters' got -zip- :angry:
This was my review...

_____________________________________________________________________

Disclaimer: This short product review is stand-alone, rather than comparative, in nature. It is not intended to be all-inclusive and does not consider or compare similar products currently available. The personal experience and opinion contained herein may differ from others. The reviewer is in no way liable for any use of this document of the use of the product reviewed. © 2004


Product Review – 04/01/04
B&M Racing Precision Short Shifter
2003-Up 350Z and G35
Part # 45163 - MSRP $199.95




B&M Racing & Performance Products LLC
9142 Independence Ave
Chatsworth, CA 91311
http://www.bmracing.com



1.) Introduction:

B&M Automotive Products was founded in 1953. Soon after, B&M produced the only patented 4-speed automatic racing transmission in history, known as the famous B&M Hydro Stick. Through the 1960’s B&M became the dominant force in racing automatic transmissions and, in 1969, developed the only automatic transmission ever for Indy Car racing. B&M also helped develop the torque converter for the Hemi that dominated Super Stock racing in the late 1960’s, and was the first to create what is known now as a high stall speed racing torque converter, as well as the first to develop the forerunner of today’s racing automatic shifters. By 1970, B&M established itself as the market leader in R&D as well as product quality in the area of racing transmission technology. The company has introduced hundreds of new shifter and transmission related products in the last five years. Today B&M is the world’s largest supplier of performance shifters to OEMs and tuners in the United States and Europe.

2.) Product Description:

This CAD designed short throw precision shifting system, includes the following items:

· (1) CNC machined 2-pc Stainless Steel and Aluminum shifter with bonded rubber insert
· (1) Pre-attached nylon pivot ball housing
· (1) Aluminum retaining top plate
· (3) Hardened long top plate bolts with washers
· (1) Lower linkage bushing
· (1) Small tube of high performance grease
· (1) Illustrated installation instructions
· (2) Large B&M Racing decals

All items excepting the last two are packaged on heavy cardboard sealed in plastic blister pack to prevent the products from shifting about in the box during shipping.

3.) Features and Benefits:

Your shifter is a lever with the pivot ball as its fulcrum. The B&M precision short shifter is a direct, bolt-on, self-contained unit - designed to shorten shift throws by lengthening the distance from the pivot ball to the bottom end of the shifter, while slightly shortening the distance from the pivot ball to the top of the shifter. This moves the pivot in relation to the shifter linkage rod, creating less shifter throw and less effort to move the linkage as much.

Shift throw refers directly to the actual physical travel of the shifter stick - affecting the time it takes to shift from one gear to another. The design is also weighted for optimum performance and to improve the shift feel. A precision short shifter will help eliminate that sluggish, imprecise shift feel. Much of the claimed precision and durability improvement centers around B&M’s nylon pivot ball housing. The new pivot ball housing slips directly into the shifter control socket cup, replacing the plastic OEM pivot ball housing altogether. To minimize unpleasant metal-to-metal vibration from contact with the aluminum top plate, the B&M pivot ball housing has a thick rubber O-ring set into a recessed channel around the top edge.

4.) Installation:

Installation is straightforward, with a degree of difficulty rating of 4 on a 10 scale. One person can complete the shifter install in approximately 1-1/2 hours, with a jack, jack stand and simple hand tools. The illustrated instructions from B&M were adequate, however, the instructions lack any warning regarding the removal of the OEM shifter knob. The shifter knob is initially put on with thread-lock and is typically very tight and difficult to remove. You MUST be careful not to damage the shift linkage when removing it. Nissan Service Bulletin (NTB02-102) deals with the recommended way to remove the shifter knob. I also found additional relevant installation instructions at: http://www.zchickz.com/ and http://www.rogueengineering.com/.

After removal of the shift knob, console and protective rubber boot, it is a simple matter of removing the 3 retaining bolts on the top plate and disconnecting one shifter linkage bolt under the car.

[url="'http://www.6mt.net/forum/uploaded/dholly/200476173428_CIMG1891%20small.jpg'"]<a href='http://www.6mt.net/forum/uploaded/dholly/200476173428_CIMG1891%20small.jpg' target='_new'>[/url]</a>

Installation of the B&M shifter requires minor modification. The square opening at the bottom of the shifter control socket (which the linkage end of the shifter passes thru) must be enlarged 0.125” along portions of two adjoining edges. This can be done easily with a small hand file or Dremel tool. The following picture shows the modified control socket.

[url="'http://www.6mt.net/forum/uploaded/dholly/20047617459_CIMG1893%20small.jpg'"]<a href='http://www.6mt.net/forum/uploaded/dholly/20047617459_CIMG1893%20small.jpg' target='_new'>[/url]</a>

After thoroughly lubricating the shifter control socket and B&M shifter pivot housing with the supplied high-performance grease, slip the new shifter assembly into place in the transmission cup. Don't forget to replace the oem reverse lock-out spring under the new pivot housing. Then, position the blue aluminum plate under the OEM top retaining plate, and use the longer hex-head bolts supplied to secure. Do not completely tighten yet. First, you will need to re-connect the shifter linkage bolt under the car using the new bushing and adjust the OEM top plate to provide proper reverse lockout function according to the instructions. When the top plate adjustment is correct, permanently tighten the three bolts and reassemble console in reverse order.

[url="'http://www.6mt.net/forum/uploaded/dholly/20047617533_CIMG1895%20small.jpg'"]<a href='http://www.6mt.net/forum/uploaded/dholly/20047617533_CIMG1895%20small.jpg' target='_new'>[/url]</a>

The G35 knob height was reduced from approximately 4-3/8” to 4” after installation of the B&M short shifter.

[url="'http://www.6mt.net/forum/uploaded/dholly/200476175929_CIMG1898%20small.jpg'"]<a href='http://www.6mt.net/forum/uploaded/dholly/200476175929_CIMG1898%20small.jpg' target='_new'>[/url]</a>

5.) Evaluation:

The B&M 350Z/G35 Short Shifter was engineered with a 33% shorter throw for quicker, precision shifts. Whenever a short shift kit is installed, the throw reduction is directly proportional to the effort increase. In simple terms, if a short shift kit reduces throws by 33%, the effort required to shift into gear increases by a like amount (33%).

In addition, many short shifters are engineered with an eye towards improving strength/rigidity and precision vs. OEM. Together, this generally results in improvement of tactile feel. It is best described as a “tightening” of the gate, or a reduction of “slop” between gears. The tactile feel of entering and exiting each gate is accentuated.

Whereas most people find the increase in shifting effort acceptable (remember, this is Physics), some do not like the increased gearbox "notchiness" that is associated with the increased effort and precision. This feel is, of course, subjective. There are some who say that the newfound notchiness feels sporty; while others tend to categorize it as a decrease in gearbox smoothness.

Remember too, that notchiness is not only a result of the shifter; it can be inherent to the transmission and linkage design. For example, many 350z and G35 owners feel their stock transmission and shifter are already notchy. With the change in pivot fulcrum, the shorter throw of the B&M shifter DOES accentuate this notchiness, and you really do feel each gear "click" as you move in and out.

Regardless, the shorter throws are immediately apparent and the increased shifter effort does not feel excessive – i.e., more effort but no need to “strong-arm” the shifter. There is noticeably less play and the shift feel is much improved. In fact, it makes it feel like a more expensive car. Shifting is now a precise snick-snick, instead of the vague, somewhat rubbery OEM shifter feeling.

The shortened throw and improved precision clearly result in the ability to shift quicker. The straight-back 1 > 2 shift is improved, and the up and over 2 > 3 shift is much, much quicker. Interestingly, the “H” pattern of gears 1-4 seems tighter together, yet moving 4 > 5 necessitates a little longer upward and further right travel than the 2 > 3 move. This feels different initially and, because of the increased precision and effort, does take some getting used to.

Bottom line: The B&M is definitely notchier but, with a noticeably shorter throw, one can now shift in the blink of an eye, MUCH, MUCH faster than before! The amount of movement necessary to shift from one gear to another, as measured by knob travel, now seems minimal. And, rapid-fire shifts can be accomplished simply using only one’s fingertips rather than entire arm motion.

6.) Subjective Findings:

I found that the foregoing improvements came with a price. Solid shaft-type shifters, including some short shifter designs, will transmit relatively more noise and vibration. Even the 2-pc rubber inset dampened design of the B&M does not eliminate shifter vibration. Although I always had a fair amount of vibration and a bit of audible rattle in the oem shifter during W.O.T. romps, the vibration was noticably increased after the B&M shifter.

Initially, it was only a tactile annoyance, rather than an audible one. After a number of weeks though, a very audible rattle appeared to coincide with the vibration. This initially occured only at high rpm's near redline when rowing thru the gears (any), but soon began to exhibit itself at lower rpm's when accelerating as well. Originally, I thought metal-to-metal contact (i.e., the metal pivot ball housing vibrating in the metal transmission cup) was the culprit. Apparently not.

After calling B&M, I discovered that the pivot housing was actually constructed of Delrin plastic, not CNC machined aluminum as noted in several vendor's internet marketing print. Regardless, the end result was they have received only "isolated" rattling complaints which they a.) contend some rattle is normal for all short shifters; b.) have not seen enough complaints from either 350z or G35 apps to suggest a pattern problem and; c.) have no fix other than to remove it. Sympathetic perhaps, but of no help.

Now, had the rattle not grown to be so persistent thru out the entire rpm range, I might have been tempted to put up with it for the gloriously short shifts. Unfortunately, after several weeks, I also completely lost the 5th gear lock-out without warning. I went to shift into 5th and it just kept right on going all the way right until directly over Reverse.

Upon closer inspection, apparently my initial install positioning of the top plate for proper operation of the lock-out function was adequate, but metal wear of the tang and plate may have caused it to fail. The top plate did not move, and the bolts were tight. Over the succeeding weeks, I tried to readjust the top plate on a total of three separate occasions, but could never get it to a point where I was comfortable it was making proper contact.

During this time I was in regular contact with a higher level B&M representative on multiple occasions, and I purposefully waited until B&M did an in-house "hands on" G35 Coupe specific install to see if they would experience any of the same concerns before reporting my findings. They indicated no such issues surfaced with their install.

7.) Recommendation:

I know the vast majority of folks have not experienced these problems and there are plenty of fans. If it works on their car, more enjoyment to them. Unfortunately, based on the experience I had, I cannot recomend this shifter. It has been removed. A very disappointing test IMO, yes, but my vendor (not B&M, mind you) was extremely supportive and accomodative.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
DHolly,

I had similar problems, but not nearly as severe as yours. On mine, the reverse lock-out tab was the only part showing bad wear. The zinc-plated shifter plate did have a little wear, but not bad.

As a side note, why did you take that much metal off of the control socket?!?! I didn't take nearly that much metal off of mine and it shifted fine (at first). ****, I am not even sure the instructions called for an 1/8" (0.125") shave on both sides. IIRC, wasn't it less than a tenth of an inch and only on the driver's side of the square? Maybe that is what exaggerated your issues, but maybe not.

By the way, B&M left me the message regarding my shifter nearly 10 days ago. I have not received the new shifter yet. However, I am not waiting for it either. I am kind of enjoying my stock shifter again.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
UPDATE:

I received my new VERSION 2 shifter in the mail the other day. They sent me a completely new package with the updated shifter design. The reverse pin is much heavier and I will find out how well it works when I install it tomorrow.

As for noise reduction, the shift cup now has a large o-ring on top. This is similar to the stock cup that has a foam rubber gasket on top. Hopefully, this will keep the shifter cup from vibrating against the blue aluminum plate. When I install it and test it, I will let everyone know how it works out.
 

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Believe it or not, that is only .125" out of the control socket. It does look like more in the pics, however, I can assure you I took no more than the instructions stated. I would be very interested in seeing pics of your revised shifter before installed if you can.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Will do. I won't be doing the install for a couple weeks, but I will take images soon.

As for home much you took of the case, I can see that being 1/8". However, I took off far less than that and I had no trouble getting into reverse. I think they tell people to take off too much.
 
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