Lock and Balls Story

Off this morning, on the oul’ bicycle, to that modern day labyrinth known as Trafford Park on a double shopping mission. After ringing first to check they had what i wanted in stock, I was headed for GSF Carparts for a new steering lock housing and VW Van Centre for some poly balls for Herman’s gear-linkage.

It was about 5,5km each way, so I’m counting that as my exercise for the day.

In a first for me where Trafford Park is concerned, I managed to find both places fairly easily. Although I did programme the pair of them into my Garmin first, just in case I got lost.

The steering lock housing was £16,39 from GSF and the gear-linkage balls were £6 for a pair from VW.

Ooh! -I do love having shiny new bits waiting to be fitted. So have a look at my lovely 'lock'n'balls'
Ooh! -I do love having shiny new bits waiting to be fitted. So have a look at my lovely 'lock'n'balls'

When I got back home, I decided to take advantage of the fact that it was a lovely, sunny spring day and crack on straight away with the gear-linkage. First task was to remove the old ball from the end of the transverse bar and fit the new one. To my surprise it actually pulled off quite easily, once I clamped it between my feet like a monkey and heaved on the bar.

Old ball jammed up onto the rod on the transverse bar
Old ball jammed up onto the rod on the transverse bar
New ball fitted. you can see now how misplaced the old one was
New ball fitted. you can see now how misplaced the old one was

With the new ball fitted, I packed all the bearings in the gear-linkage with grease, reassembled them all and refitted the rubber boots, using cable ties to secure them and then -with a bit of wiggling and jiggling- got the front part of the linkage manoeuvred up into position again.

Begining to secure the front half of the linkage in place - righthand end with the new ball shining proudly
Begining to secure the front half of the linkage in place - righthand end with the new ball shining proudly
Begining to secure the front half of the linkage in place - lefthand [gearstick] end
Begining to secure the front half of the linkage in place - lefthand [gearstick] end

While i was in there, I decided to change the ball on the inner shift lever at the gearbox end too, even tho’ it looked in OK nick. It took me a while to get the old one off, struggling till I realised that - unlike the one at the front end - the rear ball had a metal pin through it, holding it in position. The balls VW had supplied me weren’t pierced to take a pin, so I presume that the pin is no longer necessary with the new balls. I hope not anyway, coz my rear ball is ‘pinless’ now. I guess i’ll find out, if I suddenly lose my gearchange some day and see a polythene ball rolling down the road ahead of me.

Inner shift lever with new ball fitted
Inner shift lever with new ball fitted

Next, I fitted the shiftrod at the gearbox end and fed it through to the front of the van, where the task of reattaching it to the shiftrod lever, could begin. It actually turned out not to be as big a pain in the arse as I was expecting. Needless to say, the clamp on the bottom of the shiftrod lever didnae want to fit back onto the end of shiftrod at first, as its clamp end had been squeezed in too tight by the nut & bolt which hold it in place, but I managed to prise the jaws open a bit with a big screwdriver, so it could slide loosely over the end of the shiftrod and allow me to twist the hollow top end of the shiftrod lever into the right position to take the ball and pin on the transverse rod.

There then followed an irritating forty minutes or so, trying to position the shiftrod lever at the right rotation around the shiftrod so that the gearstick inside the van would be at the proper angle for cleanly selecting all the gears. This proved a real headache as it was almost impossible to tighten the shiftrod lever onto the shiftrod, without moving it [and hence the gearstick] out of position, as it was so inaccessible. In the end I went and summonsed Mazza to help me and then it was good ol’ trial and error:

I started Herman up, so we could find reverse gear, then switched him off again and loosened off the shiftrod lever. Mazza moved the gearstick into the position it should have been in for reverse gear - which obviously caused the loosened shiftrod lever to move around on the shiftrod a bit. I then re-tightened the shiftrod lever in this new position. The theory being that this would synchronise the position of the shiftrod lever on the shiftrod with the position of the gearstick in the cab.

It took a couple of goes ‘til we got it just right, but it feels OK to me now. still not a patch on GULG’s gearchange, which was more like a car’s, but definitely loads better than it was. At least I can find all the gears now fairly easily and the stick can no longer be moved about a foot from side to side, when it’s in gear. So far, I’ve only rolled him back and forward in the carpark in 1st, 2nd and reverse and I may be tempting fate here. The true test will be when I get him out on the road to run him up and down through all the gears and see if he’s any more driveable now. But, in the meantime, I’ll tentatively say the job looks like it might be a good ‘un.

A bit dark this one, as night was falling as I finished up, but here's Herman with his gearstick back where it belongs
A bit dark this one, as night was falling as I finished up, but here's Herman with his gearstick back where it belongs

As you can see from the above pic, darkness was falling as I tidied up after finishing the job, so ‘operation steering lock replacement’ will have to wait another day.