Winged Warriors/National B-Body Owners Association
Pilot Shaft Roller Bearing Installation

Text and Photos by Sue and Ed George

If you don't have the pleasure of driving a 4-speed, you'll never need to read this. But for those of you who do, this is the ultimate fix for that dry, noisy factory pilot shaft bushing. We manual transmission drivers are all familiar with that scenario...pull up to a stop sign, let the clutch out when you get ready to accelerate and cringe when you hear that dreaded "whir". It's the pilot shaft bushing self destructing because the little dab of factory lubricant went missing a long time ago.

A while back, Des Moines, IA member, Stan McGuire told us about a slick new roller bearing conversion that can be used to simplify the installation of a 4-speed transmission into an automatic car that does not have the crank drilled for a 4-speed. The new roller bearing, part #5300918AB, is available from Chrysler and fits almost anything from early 1960's B-bodies clear through the brand new Dakota trucks!

But the best part is, it can also take the place of that old pilot shaft bushing that was put inside the crankshaft of all 4-speed cars! Because it's a roller bearing rather than a brass bushing, you can expect it to last longer than the old bushing did and it will be silent operating.


This photo shows the new roller bearing and box at top and the old bushing at bottom.

You can remove the old bushing and install the new roller bearing in a weekend, even if you've never done such a job before. Begin by jacking and blocking up the car-high, as you'll be removing the tranny. Take the straps off the rear U-joints, then tie a clean rag around the U-joints so the caps don't come off or else remove them entirely so the rollers don't fall out and get lost. Remove the driveshaft. It's helpful if you have an extra front driveshaft yoke to put in the rear of the tranny so the grease doesn't run out. Otherwise, be prepared with a drip pan to catch it.

On cars without an exhaust H-pipe, remove the right side pipe-to-manifold bolts so the pipe can be lowered out of the way. On cars with an H-pipe, you'll probably have to take down both sides.

Remove the two bolts through the rear transmission mount that bolt the tranny to the mount. Support the tranny with a floor jack or transmission jack. Remove the four bolts that hold the crossmember to the frame. Remove the crossmember. Gently lower the jack that is holding the tranny. This will give you enough room to take the bolts out of the shifter. If you're doing this alone, you will need to tie the shifter handle up to the steering wheel now. If you have a partner, they can hold onto the shifter handle inside the car while you remove the linkage and then tie the shifter up as high as possible to gain clearance. Leave the shifter in any gear EXCEPT neutral. Then remove the linkage.

Remove the speedometer cable and unplug the back-up light wire from the transmission. Put a little pressure on the jack to make sure it is supporting the tranny, then remove the four transmission-to-bellhousing bolts. Gently rock the tranny side to side as you roll the floor jack backwards to remove the transmission.

Next remove the inspection (dust) cover and throw-out bearing. Remove six pressure plate-to-flywheel bolts. You can gain access to all of the bolts by turning the flywheel with a large screwdriver placed between the flywheel teeth and the bellhousing. Remove the clutch disc and pressure plate.

Remove the old pilot shaft bushing with a blind hole puller. If you don't have such a tool, you can easily make one. Using a 6" long carriage bolt with a new nut (new, so it will turn freely), grind the corners off of three sides of the nut so it just fits through the pilot shaft bushing as show here.

[Tool] [Tool]

Then with the nut threaded on the carriage bolt about a half inch as shown, slide the bolt/nut assembly through the pilot shaft bushing (there is a void space behind the bushing) so that the nut goes through to the space behind. Then push the bolt/nut assembly up or down so that the nut hooks onto the rear edge of the bushing. Wedge a screwdriver in the bushing beside the bolt, pushing it clear through the bushing so that it holds the nut from turning. Then put a 1/2" wrench on the carriage bolt shoulder and screw the bolt in towards the engine. As it tightens, it will pull the bushing out.

This is a good time to inspect your clutch face and throw-out bearing. Also clean up your crossmember and repaint it. Restoration Advisor David Patik reports that the proper finish for the crossmember is satin black. We used PlastiKote #215 low gloss black engine enamel.

While you have the crossmember out, you might as well replace that 30-year-old rubber transmission mount. We've seen them so worn and sloppy that it allows the driveshaft to rub on the car's floor pan. If you've noticed a vibration in your car and haven't been able to cure it with front end and suspension work, chances are good that it's this old soft mount causing the problem.

The new mount is available from O'Reilly Auto Parts (and probably most any other good parts store) for less than $10. We used part #622272 manufactured by Pioneer, Inc. for our SuperBird installation. This same transmission mounts fits 1968-70 B-bodies but it is NOT the same one for E-bodies. Simply remove the nut from the old mount, lift out the rubber and replace it with the new one. Shown here is the repainted crossmember and new mount, and the installation completed.

[Crossmember] [Crossmember & Mount]

Press some high quality HIGH TEMPERATURE grease-do NOT use white lithium because it won't last-into the rollers inside of the new roller bearing. It will already have some grease when you buy it, but you need to force more into it, but without getting so much that it ends up all over the clutch!

You now need to modify the blind hole tool you made so you can use it to install the new roller bearing. Screw the nut onto the carriage bolt threads so that 1 1/2" of the threads are showing below the nut. Place a large washer-one that is large enough to cover the face of the new bearing-against the nut. Then cut a short length of 3/8" fuel hose to cover the threads between the washer and the end of the bolt (to protect your bearing!). This is how your new installation tool should look.


Place the bearing with the tapered side towards the engine. The neoprene seal (it's hard to see) should be facing towards the clutch and be very careful that the bearing is straight. Then put your tool inside the bearing and lightly tap on the end of the tool to drive the bearing onto the crankshaft.

It is imperative that the bearing always remain straight to avoid damaging it. Tap until it is firmly seated. Then take a very small dab of the same high temperature grease and put it in the bearing and a light coating on the transmission splines and the sleeve where the throw-out bearing slides.

Install the clutch and pressure plate assembly on your flywheel using a pilot shaft alignment tool to align the new bearing. Install the pressure plate bolts and tighten. From here, the re-assembly is just the reverse of your removal process.


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