The shifter mounting plate must be removed so that the new mounting plate for the AW4 shifter can be installed. If you look around the edge of the plate, you will see that it is held on with some self tapping screws. Remove the screws and keep them to install the new plate.
When ScottK did his AW4 swap, he got a TJ shifter, shifter mounting plate, and shifter cable from a TJ. When I got my tranny from Nacho, he didn't have any TJ automatic parts in inventory. He was quite confident that the XJ shifter mounting plate would work as well as the XJ shifter. I left with all the parts in hand except for the shifter mounting plate.
I stopped by the local Jeep dealership and got some assistance from one of the guys working at the parts counter. He was kind enough to look up the part numbers for a '98 XJ automatic (which was the donor for my shifter parts) and compared them to a '98 TJ automatic. The shifter mounting plate for both vehicles shared the same part number. However, the actual shifter part number was different. The more I thought about it, the more I decided that the difference was probably cosmetic (maybe one was a little longer than the other) or that it may have something to do with the ignition lock. Nacho is usually pretty accurate on his Jeep parts so I stayed with my XJ shifter and ordered the shifter mounting plate, part # 53000704.
The screws holding down the t-case shifter will have to be loosened too as it overlaps the shifter mounting plate. My mounting plate had some rather dead looking weather stripping on it. I scraped it off the tub so I could get a clean sealing surface for the new plate. (hey, you can see the AW4 tranny through that big hole!)
Here is a picture of the new shifter mounting plate on the tranny tunnel and screwed into position. As I didn't have any weather stripping on hand, I used some RTV. I believe it worked well, although taking it off may be a bit more difficult than the old weather stripping.
As you can see, the 4 mounting holes on the XJ shifter line up perfectly. Nacho was correct! If memory serves me correctly, I used some short 3/8" bolts to secure the shifter to the mounting plate. In case you were wondering, the shifter handle can be removed by depressing its button and firmly pulling the knob from the shifter. To install the shifter handle, just push it onto the shifter.
You'll need someplace for the cable to leave the cab and get down to the AW4. The TJ has a round plug in the firewall that is made for this. Push it out from the inside of the vehicle.
NOTE: I did find that the rubber grommet that comes on the XJ shifter cable is just a bit undersized to properly fill the hole in the TJ's firewall. So....that is one thing on my "to do" list. I think I'll take some thin sheet metal and make a plate to properly cover/fill the firewall hole and RTV it into place. The last think I want is that hot engine compartment air blowing into the TJ.
The shifter cable slips into the shifter bracket. There are some locking tabs on the shifter cable that latch into position to secure it to the shifter. The inner cable has a plastic socket that snaps onto a ball on the shifter.
The tranny end of the shifter cable is held in place by the zinc plated bracket in the above photo. The end of the shifter cables snaps into the bracket and the plastic end of the cable is pressed over the ball on the shift linkage. Pretty simple install. Just route the shifter cable out of the fire wall and down to the tranny. It is not a long cable and so you really only have one path to follow, else it won't reach.
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