Project Commuter

hydo14

A2OC Donor
Happy to collect Project Commuter up from WOM having had a whole bunch of goodies fitted.

Work completed:
- PTW gearbox fitted
- New LUK clutch
- New (used) steering rack and tie rods and end links

Only done 50 miles so far but the car feels very different to drive. The gear shift throw is much shorter but also much lighter, the clutch pedal also moves so much more easily. I have realised how bad the steering rack was before the replacement the car is so much easier to place on the road precisely (and hopefully isn’t leaking on my drive).

As always top notch service from Rob and Marcus and appreciate having an A2 as a courtesy car too as well as them just repairing an issue with the fuel lines they spotted while it was there (and finding my long lost 8mm deep section socket).

I will drive for at least a couple of tanks of diesel bit before commenting on the gearbox (fuel economy, ratios etc) as there's some hefty differences to what I am used to as some of the shift points have moved significantly.
 
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dj_efk

A2OC Donor
Great update - welcome to PTW heaven! It's the ideal six speed gearbox for the A2 I think: Each of the ratios suit it so well and together are absolutely perfect - even more so than the others - for every condition you're likely to ever find yourself in.

Interested to hear the gearchange is much lighter - I never drove Audrey with a 5 speed but I think the gearchange with the PTW is pretty agricultural and took some getting used to so I don't think about it now. I wonder what the original was like!
 
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hydo14

A2OC Donor
Interested to hear the gearchange is much lighter - I never drove Audrey with a 5 speed but I think the gearchange with the PTW is pretty agricultural and took some getting used to so I don't think about it now. I wonder what the original was like!

The gearchange and clutch on the 5 speed were very hard work and required a lot of force to move the gear lever (and depress the clutch) the PTW in contrast is much easier to move the lever around (it feels very similar to the MY2021 Passat that the A2 shares a drive with, I have always found the VW diesel gearboxes to be quite notchy but relatively easy to move the lever and thought the A2 to be a bit of an outlier with how hard it was). The gear change on the car I was borrowing from WOM (same engine and gearbox as mine) were also hard work and would say that that car felt pretty much the same way as mine prior to the swap.

When I was leaving WOM I thought something was broken with how much lighter the clutch actuation was but was informed that’s how it should be on the newer gearboxes.
 
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hydo14

A2OC Donor
Still a little early to comment on the gearbox situation (I’m about 500 miles in) but when setting out to replace my brake rotors I found play in the left ball joint (not happy as this has only lasted 1 year and ~10,000 miles, I would have expected better considering they were QH parts) so was a priority to deal with what was quite a lot of play as well as the brakes. I had pretty much wished to never do this job again on an A2/Polo/Any other 9N platform car as it is an unrewarding pain of a job to press the wishbone bushings out etc

Taking the console out and using a puller is definitely the best way to get everything apart, although when I did this the centre of the bushing came out still stuck to the wishbone and tore a hole straight through, good job I was planning on replacing that and already had the tool! I really struggled to press the wishbone into the bushing last time doing this job, so used the cold weather to my advantage and warmed the console bracket and bushing up with warm water and left the wishbone outside and everything slipped together nicely using the old bolt to wind the wishbone in.

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The downside of all of this is that the perfectly straight steering wheel that WOM had lined up is now very much not straight any more after I have butchered the alignment.
 

hydo14

A2OC Donor
I had previously said that I was happy with the shift feel of the PTW gearbox, however the more I am driving I am not so happy that it is much of an improvement over the 5 speed that came out (other than not crunching in 3rd and 4th). I had seen a few posts here and also a video from HumbleMechanic about replacing the shifter bushings in the car to improve the shifter feel.

No new parts ordered yet but I had an explore in the car to see how worn the bushings are and how much play there was in the shifter, but it looks like a big part of the stiff shift feel was actually the rubber noise insulation that sits over the shifter disintegrating and dropping bits into the ball assembly.

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Some dissasembly required, note all the screws for this were incredibly tight and a mixture of T15, T20 and T27, make sure you have good quality bits as stripping one of these would be a real bad time.
- Remove the passenger seat for access
- Remove all centre console plastics
- Unscrew the small torx bolt from the side of the bell crank (the part that rotates when the lever is moved left and right, move this out of the way
- Remove the top plate over the ball part
- With the lever in neutral, pull the lever upwards, the cup will come out with the ball
- Remove the cup from the lever by prying it off upwards
- Clean everything
- Regrease everything with polyurea grease (important to use polyurea grease as this is what is used from the factory and unless you clean all grease off it is not compatible with most other grease systems (eg lithium)).
- Re-assemble everything in reverse, note that the bell crank fits onto a splined shaft so make sure that it is lined up properly
- Realign the gearbox cables as things could have moved a bit and you may not be able to get all your gears
- Check everything works

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While, I do not expect that this will have fixed everything for me as the lever has a lot of slop in it still, I plan to replace a as many of the bushings as I can get hold of as I found that the bell crank bearing had a lot of movement in it as did the cup. These are common parts for VAG cars of this era and therefore seem to be readily available
 

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dj_efk

A2OC Donor
I'd be interested in what parts you find you need to replace and where you got them from - as well as how you did it.

Audrey's gearchange is on the poor side of acceptable in my opinion.
 

hydo14

A2OC Donor
I'd be interested in what parts you find you need to replace and where you got them from - as well as how you did it.

Audrey's gearchange is on the poor side of acceptable in my opinion.
I think that I will source the parts from Audi. From looking at the lever today, the parts with play in are these highlighted parts. (Note 15 and 16 is one assembly). I Have actually found that with the new box it is still 3rd and 4th that are hardest to locate (however 4th is fine if running straight down from third) and I suspect that part 30 which sets the neutral position for the lever by restricting the return spring (clearer in the picture on my previous post) is causing me most of my grief as it has a huge groove worn in it which is causing the rest position of the lever to be too far to the left. I know that aligning the cables should eliminate this but it doesn't resolve the issue as it means that the lever can move left or right before you start pressing against this spring and thus are not lining the lever up properly with the gates on the gearbox.

Looking at the diagrams, part 11 would be worth replacing however it seems that it comes as one unit with most of the parts listed in 13 attached to it

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Taken from https://audi.7zap.com/en/rdw/audi+a2/a2/2003-248/7/711-711030/
 

hydo14

A2OC Donor
Now that everything is lubricated up I think I am noticing some other issues with the shift and therefore am going ahead with replacing everything that I had highlighted in the previous post. I have all of these on order from Audi except part 47 (it is NLA) which sadly is the most visually worn part on the car (picture below showing the wear on it and the gap that is caused by the wear). This part is critical the movement of the lever left and right pulling the shifter tower up and down. I plan to buy the dieselgeek super slider to replace this part as it is the same cost as the OEM replacement bell crank but in theory should be a lot better fitting.

While investigating this I went ahead and replaced the shift cable ends (part 46) and found that these were very very worn and had a lot of play in them. I used two Topran 116 350 as these were available cheaply.

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dj_efk

A2OC Donor
Now that everything is lubricated up I think I am noticing some other issues with the shift and therefore am going ahead with replacing everything that I had highlighted in the previous post. I have all of these on order from Audi except part 47 (it is NLA) which sadly is the most visually worn part on the car (picture below showing the wear on it and the gap that is caused by the wear). This part is critical the movement of the lever left and right pulling the shifter tower up and down. I plan to buy the dieselgeek super slider to replace this part as it is the same cost as the OEM replacement bell crank but in theory should be a lot better fitting.

While investigating this I went ahead and replaced the shift cable ends (part 46) and found that these were very very worn and had a lot of play in them. I used two Topran 116 350 as these were available cheaply.

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I would love to know if a combination of diesel geek parts could be used to upgrade Audrey with her later six speed gearbox. The gearchange is on the poor side of acceptable, although better than many seem to describe their standard / five speed gear change.
 

hydo14

A2OC Donor
I would love to know if a combination of diesel geek parts could be used to upgrade Audrey with her later six speed gearbox. The gearchange is on the poor side of acceptable, although better than many seem to describe their standard / five speed gear change.
Sad news. Dieselgeek do not ship to the UK because of the UKs unusual customs requirements since we regained our independence by isolating ourselves from the world.

I have instead ordered a Topran 111 332 which includes the pictured slider. It’s a shame that the shifter slider does not seem to be available separately (it has the part number 1j0 711 380 stamped on it).
 
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hydo14

A2OC Donor
So I have now done approxomately 5000 miles since the PTW gearbox was installed and honestly it was so worth it for the reduction in noise in the cabin and actually being able to get third gear without having a little prayer each time coming out of second.

The slightly taller ratios in the box suit my commute very nicely, I have not had a single tank that has returned less than 70 mpg (and typically is 75+mpg) since the box was fitted (admittedly, the car has also gone on a diet and has done only a handful of those miles with the rear seats fitted.

When doing motorway driving now I reliably get much better milage now too, wheras before it used to be a very noticeable hit compared with my commute through rural roads.

The final refinement to the car though is replacing all the shifter bushings, it doesn’t feel like the same gearbox at all, barely any slop in the lever, it’s not quite as easy as the shift action on the petrols though, but this could be worn cables from years of being abused with the tired old 5 speed - but I don’t feel a burning desire do change them out when the do work.

There is a small downside to the taller ratios, I do occasionally find that I have to stay in first gear a bit longer (i.e. basically to redline) if going up steep hills before I have anywhere near the revs in second to not lug the engine. This is minor really as it only happens on very steep roads (single tracks in Snowdonia) and you can’t exactly go fast on them anyway, but this was very expected behaviour based on this very comprehensive thread).

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