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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Shift Linkage Modification and the Other reaction rod bushings (spherical "cup")

For a quicker read, the background section can probably be skipped, but it does give some possibly useful...background...
Background

Over the last couple of days, I've been putting together a mental list of items/projects to tackle on my '91 L in order to make it more pleasant/fun to drive. I decided the first thing I would look at is the shift linkage. For background, my shifter has some play (it can be moved about 0.75" from center in any direction), and also feels a bit more rubbery than I'd like, once that play has been taken up.

My intent is to eventually replace all the bushings in the linkage (6, by my count, including the rubber block at the aft end of the reaction rod), but after reading a few threads regarding replacement of the forward reaction rod bushing, I'm going to wait to change that one (and the two flexible coupling bushings) until the engine and transmission come out for the clutch replacement and engine rebuild. Instead, I've decided to start with the aft end of the linkage, since it is easily accessible.

Findings/Questions/Proposal

1) After inspecting the interface between the reaction rod and the gear lever, it seems to me that the play in the lever is being caused by excessive wear in the spherical bushing there (known in the Alfa service manual as the "cup"--highlighted in red). I've done a bit of looking, and I can't figure out if anybody sells these bushings. Anybody have experience with replacing these?

2) It looks like it might be possible to firm up the shifter quite a bit by making a simple sheet metal bracket to drastically decrease the amount of play the reaction rod is allowed to have. In particular, I'm envisioning something tying the two reaction rod bolts (in magenta) together with either the support bar immediately forward of them (in green), or the center console mount bolts (in blue--there's one on the other side that's hidden, as well). I think the main trade off would be between shifter precision and transmitted vibration. Alfa states in the service manual that "the peculiar attachment system of two rods prevents the speed selector lever from noticeable angular oscillations when the engine is subject to working stress". Looking at the arrangement of the linkages, it seems like the worst that could happen is that you'd create a bit more of a tendency for the shifter to pop out of 1, 3, and 5 under hard acceleration. I'll have to see just how much the assembly moves under acceleration, now that I have the shift boot off. I think that problem could be mitigated by utilizing poly bushings in the anti-torque rod on the engine, though.

I'll be the first to admit that the idea is a bit out there, but it looks exceedingly easy to create a bracket for that application, and it would be interesting to see if the shifter could be firmed up a bit from stock.

 

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IMO, Some cars have shifter problems that occur in the console from wear or miss-handling the shifter, etc. I have never heard of such a thing with the 164, all the problems originate from the bushings getting toasted at the engine/tranny end. They sit right above the exhaust manifold. If those are bad, nothing you can do inside the car is going to make a bit of difference. The parts inside the console are properly engineered and sufficiently stout. You can do some make-shift repairs to the rubber bushings under the hood, to firm them up till you can work on them properly when the engine is out at a later date. RTV and/or shove some rubber hose (that has been cut in half) into the voids, etc.
Charles
 
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