Swapping Transmission Tee and Transfercase Handles
Always looking for ways to make my XJ a bit different from the norm and went hunting for new handles at the wreaking yard. I have always disliked the standard one and was going to swap it for the later '97 one until I spotted the ZJ one. I have very large hands even for someone over 6'3" so was after a bigger sized one if I could. The ZJ one was so much more comfortable for me as it is twice as wide and as a bonus it is offset to the drivers side too. I pulled it off and then pulled one off the same model as mine in the yard and tried it on there to make sure it would work and it did. Also changed my transfercase handle for a later model XJ one as well.
To remove the old handle I found it easier to slide the seats all the way forward first. Put the shifter into the 1-2 position. Then from the back seat your reach through and grab the handle as shown. Start with slightly bent arms and then pull up with your body letting your arms snap straight and the jerk will pop it right off. Don't twist the handle at all as there are locating slots each side to keep the handle from turning.
Above shows what you end up with and the nylon rod is what gets pushed down by the button when depressing it. Inside the handle the button just levers down on a little pad which depresses the nylon rod inside the shifter.
Putting the new one on is even easier as you just make sure it is square to the shifter and then push down on it. You will have to give it a really hard thump with your fist as I found that it would not go into park at first and then out of it! Using a rubber mallet might be better as I bruised my hand hitting it that hard as we ready to leave to go to a 4x4 show so hurried it. If it is cold outside or to make it easier you should heat the handle only with a hair dryer before hitting down on it with the mallet. It seemed to catch a little bit in and out of park but heating it to get it further down with a mallet fixed that and now is nice and smooth. It should measure 76 mm or 3" of left over shifter shaft ( from the base where it disappears to the bottom of the shifter handle neck ). Less and it will stick in park and more the indent wont operate at all.
So there you have it. The right photo shows how much bigger it is than the old one as well as the offset.
Next was the transfercase handle swap. You can see above the difference between the later and the one I had. I think it may have been as early as '96 that they made this change but was definitely from '97 on. These are a bit harder to change over because try as I may I could not remove the handle from the shifter itself. So you must remove it with it. First take off the top of the console like covered here and then also remove the screws holding the lower section. There are two each side of the handbrake as well as one near the auto shifter and under the transfercase lever indicator panel next to the handle which just pops out as shown above.
With the console just out of the way you can get to the 'R' clip that holds the lever in place using long nose pliers and also pull the tension spring end out of the lever shaft. You then slide the handle forward starting with the lever in low range until it comes out. The later models ones have a different tension spring like shown in the photo above which might be easier to use than the old style but I did not look at how to remove it as it stays on the pivot shaft and not the lever like above. I had a lot of fun putting the lever back and holding the tension spring hard against side while pushing the lever back into place. The spring must be hooked into the lever the same as above on the old style as well as staying to the right of the lever on the pivoting shaft so that it give tension left to right on the lever!
Put it all together and you have something a bit different as well as much more comfortable than the hard thin plastic ones before.