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· Premium Member
120 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just sharing in case anyone is contemplating doing the same.

I just replaced the shifter forks and associated parts on my 71 BB Chevelle Muncie M20 without removing or even clocking the transmission . I couldn’t find a definitive answer myself about whether it could be done, so I figured I’d give it a try. Worst case would be that I remove the transmission. Removing the cover is very tight and it takes some dexterity, but it’s doable. I just wanted to share that it is possible.

The steps are no surprise, but I'll list them here with some commentary.
  • Shift into 2nd gear
  • Disconnect the shifter levers
  • Remove the 7 side cover bolts. The top bolt center and top bolt forward are the toughest. I needed a stubby 1/2” box wrench, and a short offset box wrench was helpful as well. The other 5 bolts are much easier.
  • Pry back the cover a little at the bottom to break the seal. I expected a tidal wave of fluid, but that didn’t happen. The fill hole is evidently about the same height as the side cover opening. Put a catch pan underneath just in case.
  • As you pull the side cover away from the trans, you’ll have to tilt the cover down, and rotate the 1-2 (rear) fork horizontally to clear the tunnel.
That’s pretty much it.

On the bench, I swapped out the parts. In my case it was the 2 shift forks, the 2 detent levers, and a new detent lever spring, and seals. I attached the gasket to the side cover with some gasket sealant and let it setup so it didn’t slide around and give me grief while reinstalling.

Reverse the procedure to install.
  • Make sure your shift levers are set to 2nd gear when you reinstall.
  • Raise the cover up with the 1-2 fork horizontally. 3-4 can remain vertical. Then turn the 1-2 fork vertically after you clear the tunnel.
  • Then insert the forks properly onto the sliders. This is the trickiest part and difficult to do. It's a half-blind touchy-feely process. With a light shining up there, you can see just enough into the case to see where the fork meets the slider.
  • Then bolt up the cover and reconnect the shifter levers finger tight. Before tightening down all the cover bolts, I got in the car and shifted through the gears to make sure everything was working properly. Once you're comfortable with that, then tighten the cover bolts and shifter levers. Obviously you can't get a torque wrench on all the side cover bolts, so you'll have to "feel" the torque.

I honestly spent more time getting the car up on ramps and removing old threadlocker & gasket material than I did with the actual side cover removal & install. The removal and reinstall was tedious, but much less hassle and much quicker pulling the transmission for me.

Hope this helps someone

· Registered
6,573 Posts
I didn't think it could be done, but you have proved it can. This may not work on all cars because the transmission tunnel is different. It may even be easier on some cars. A big block first gen Camaro has the transmission offset more to the right, which would probably give more clearance.
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