First, a very big "Thanks" to The HACK for his invaluable help in getting this installed! :thumb:
I bought the kit through the last E46Fanatics group buy late last year (thanks, guys), but didn't install it until today, after deciding the first time back at the end of the year that I'm gonna need some help with it.
I'll start with my impressions, then go onto some of the install details. It definitely works as advertised. I can grab every gear without lifting my arm off the armrest if I wanted to. However, I can't say that I absolutely recommend it for everybody. Shift effort and notchiness go up a lot (the ERK doesn't apply for my version of the kit) , and if that's not something you want, I would say to not get this particular kit. If you want a rock-solid, crisp shifting experience this is for you.
Its hard for me to come up with a good analogy, but I would say its a bit like comparing a generic, crappy computer keyboard's keyfeel to an old-school IBM Model M clickety one (like the one I'm using to type this, in fact). I do expect it to smooth out a bit, and HACK and others suggestion of putting a heavier shiftknob on it would probably also help. I really like the fact that the nice, distinct feel of the stock gate position isn't lost. I misshift on occasion when I drive Hondas 'cause I feel their gates are a bit too close together. No worry of that here.
Onto the installation...
It seems simple enough, and UUC includes a fairly well-written set of instructions, as well as some extra bits and pieces you might lose or break in the process. But here are some things to watch out for:
The Clip From Hell: This is the one that holds the carrier assembly to the top of the tranny. You need to remove this to get the delrin bushings in to reduce the lateral slop in the mechanism. The combination of its location way up at the top of the tranny, and its unwillingness to come off make this the singlemost biggest pain of the whole process. Tips? Well, I don't have any. We broke mine in the process. Thankfully UUC realizes this and includes an extra, which is actually redesigned to make future removal a lot easier. You could actually gain most of the benefits of the SSK without even touching this, and leaving the stock rubber bushing in, IMO.
The pivot cup. The UUC instructions aren't actually clear about how much you need to turn this to get it out, but the Bentley does. Turn it 90degrees counterclockwise (looking from under the car), then tug on the lever, and it will come right out. The 'tabs' that UUC mentions during its reinstallation (they include a new one of these, too) need to be rotated from being perpendicular across the width of the car to parallel along the length, hence the 90 degrees.
Lower cartridge bearings: I don't think these optional bits are really necessary, but with the Group Buy, it seemed silly not to get them, so I did. The tolerance between the bearing and the pin that goes through its center is very tight. We had to sand down the diameter of the pin to make this a smooth fit. Makes reinstallation much easier.
Rubber shifter boot: It doesn't seem so tough at first. Then you realize that its designed to fit over the top lip of the carrier arm to keep crud out of the ball/cup. We almost left it disconnected from the carrier, as its nearly impossible to get the boot over it with the carrier up in the car. UUC says to stuff it all in, then hook it up. Well, that didn't work for us either, we found a way by having one person look from under the car and the other person feel and push the rubber lip over from the top, that it seems to work much easier then pulling it over from the bottom.
That's about it. Took just around 3hrs of actual work time, a lot of it being spent on the stupid Clip from Hell. We did it with the rear of the car on ramps and the front end on jackstands, but a lift would have made the job somewhat easier.