I've been asked quite a few times if there was a simple way to make a shifter. I've hastily put this together. It's the fastest article I've ever done and will probably ever do.
This shifter is made from a piece of 2X4 or 2X3 lumber. Just stop by any residential construction site and I'm sure the contractor will gladly give you a foot long piece of scrap 2x4. There are no switches in this to wear out. You'll need a quick trip to your local hardware store for a piece of threaded rod (3/8" X 12" will be plenty), a pivot collar (mental block for the real name and I'm not even taking the time to look it up), a nut to fit the threaded rod, 2 springs, 4 screws and some wire.. Optionally, you might want a shifter knob and a piece of heat shrinkable tubing to give a finished look to the top of the shifter lever.
As you can see, I didn't spend much time on this drawing. This shifter is about a simple as it gets. I haven't spent any time on a mounting platform because each of us has his own desk type or special needs. You can finish the block of wood by sanding it and staining or just painting it black. If you want to get fancy, you could make a cover for it out of 1/4" Luan or plywood. You could even incorporate you mounting system into the cover. At any rate, this is a rugged shifter. Use these materials as a guide. The block of wood could be a 2 X 2, the elongated (primary) hole doesn't have to be shaped like an hour glass. If you want to spend a little more time on it, you could drill it straight down in 3 places and clean out the area between the holes. I'm sure you get the picture.
If you're using a 3/8" threaded rod, use a 7/16" or 1/2" drill bit to drill through the block. Rocking the bit front to back will produce an elongated (oval shaped) hole. About 2" long should be enough. Drill a hole through the side of the block for the pivot collar. I can't tell you what size drill bit because I don't know the size of the collar you'll be using. The collar does NOT have to be long enough to fit flush with the sides of the block. The collars I've seen generally have a set screw at one or both ends. They will hold the rod in place. Some may not use set screws but have a threaded hole instead. In that case, insert the collar into the block of wood then screw the threaded rod into it. There is a screw at each end of the elongated hole at the bottom. Use a wire eye of just wrap a piece of wire around the screws. When you shift, the screws will also act as stops and make a clicking sound when the rod hits them. It's probably a good idea to use pan head screws with a fairly large head. The wires on these screws will be your upshift and downshift wires. A third (ground) wire is attached to the shift lever itself. The easiest way is to use 2 nuts and sandwich the wire between them by either wrapping it around the rod or using a large eye. The springs are looped over the end of the rod and the nut stops them from moving up. The other ends of the springs are screwed to the ends of the block. I know, I don't show these screws in the picture. You can use a piece of heat shrinkable tubing to cover the top of the threaded rod to give it a finished look. If your shifter knob is threaded, it should screw right on the end of the rod. Otherwise, use the set screws that came with the knob.
That's it. This simple shifter will work as shown, but use this as a guide or starting point. Change the materials as you develop your own ideas. The 3 shifter wires will have to be connected to your wheel. You can use the articles on this site pertaining to shifters and the Logitech or Ferrari wheels as a guide.
GTX_SlotCar (Gary DeRoy)
January 18, 2001