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AW-4 Manual Shifter
 

The modifications I wanted to make to the shifter had been completed.  For a quick checkout, I attached the two power leads (+12V and ground) to the battery.  I was able to illuminate the four LEDs as I pushed each of the pushbuttons.  It looked good at this point and I called it quits for the day.  Time to get some dinner and catch up some e-mail at the computer.

The following day, after helping my buddy install his new 30 spline outer shafts and unit bearings in his Rubicon, I got back to the job of installing the shifter.  It was time to splice the wiring harness for the manual shifter into the TCU's wiring harness.

BrettM included a wiring diagram in an e-mail along with written instructions.  Realizing that this is a prototype, I wasn't too  concerned with the written instructions.  One look at the wiring diagram showed me everything I needed to know.  It was going to be a straight forward wiring job.  After doing the entire AW-4 TCU wiring myself, this was but a small part of it. 

BrettM provided quality wire taps in the kit.  Since I prefer a good solder job and/or crimped connections with heat shrink over the connection, I put the wire taps aside for one of those "to be used on the trail in case of an emergency" situations.  I won't say that I don't have one or two wire taps under the dash (because I do), its just that they are not powering a vital component....and for me, the solenoid connections to my tranny are considered vital. 

 

If you are reading this write-up, I am hoping it is because you either have an AW-4 in your Jeep or you are getting ready to do an AW-4 swap.  If it is because of an upcoming swap, then you might want to consider integrating the AWShifter into your work plan.  Doing so will save yourself some time and effort as you won't have to take apart your high quality custom TCU wiring harness that goes along with the AW-4 swap (assuming you are installing the TCU). 

 

Since I so hate working under the dash on a wiring project, I disconnected the TCU's harness from the TCU and pushed it back through the firewall.  I then fished the AWShifter wires through the same hole.  This allowed me to work on the wiring outside of the vehicle....or maybe I should say standing next to it. 

I carefully cut the heat shrink from the TCU wires that were called out in BrettM's wiring diagram.  I unsoldered the previously spliced connections so I can splice them again to include the AWShifter.  Before I am done with this entire AW-4 project, I think I am going to invest in a heat shrink company so I can get it at a discount. 

I finished the last of the connections (there are 8 of them) and replaced the wire loom and electrical tape that I had removed to gain access to the wires.  The wiring harness, now a little fatter than before, was gently pushed back through the firewall.  Under the dash, I reconnected the wiring harness to the TCU.  With junk still littering the floor of the TJ, I had to see if it was working.  I hopped into the driver's seat and backed it out of the driveway. 

I slipped the TJ's shifter into "D" and flipped the power switch on the AWShifter.  I was met with all 4 LEDs lit up (which is just as it should be).  Leaving it in Overdrive, I nudged the gas pedal a little bit.  Engine RPM went up but I just barely moved....PERFECT!  I would have been very disappointed if I accelerated away.  The torque converter obviously had to slip a whole lot, which was expected.  I pushed the 1st gear button and was promptly greeted with the same response I would have gotten prior to the AWShifter being installed.  I took it a couple of blocks down the street to make sure everything shifted properly and the torque converter locked up.  All was good! 

Back in the driveway, I was faced with where to put my switch and LED box.  Did I mention I never really did come up with a good idea?  I still hadn't. 

 

I opted for the top of the dash, for now anyway.  It will probably stay there until I get back from our week in Moab and then I'll take another stab at it.  I used some extra wide Velcro to hold the box in place (along with a couple of cable ties on the dash bar).

 

As I write this tonight, I just got back from taking my daughter to her night job.  She thought the manual shifter was pretty cool.  It was my first chance to drive with this at night.  The LEDs were bright but not blinding, so that made me happy.  Where I have them located, it is perfect for day time driving (bright sun) but possibly a little distracting at night.  Granted, I've no need for it except when I am off-road, and that won't be all that often as I don't do night runs that much any more. 

My next attempt at mounting the switches and LEDs will to separate them.  The LEDs will probably find some spot where I can see them in my normal field of view for driving and the switches will hopefully find a spot in the vicinity of the center console.

I'm happy to say that the AWShifter appears to be everything I heard it was.  I've not tried it off-road yet, but I see no reason why it won't perform just as I expect.  I put an update here after I've had a chance to try it on a couple of trails.  It will certainly get a workout in Moab, that I am very sure of.  Many thanks to BrettM for getting me his push button AWShifter in the promised time frame.  It lets me scratch one more thing off of my to-do list before I leave for Moab.  Thanks Brett! 


Good trails to you and remember to TREADLightly!
 

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