If you haven’t already got your new gaiter, then give Rhonsmr2 a PM on the Forum, or do a search for the [FS] post using “gaiter”. She can do new leather gaiters in different coloured leather (and stitching if you want) for both the standard and short shift gear lever.
I am pleased to say you cannot do much damage if you start to get this wrong. The only words of caution are make sure you don’t stress the wiring in the console when you are taking it off, and once you have unstitched the old gaiter from its frame you are committing yourself to putting the new one on.
To take off the old one:
1. Undo the 2 screws on each side of the centre console. The back one is easily accessed by pushing the seat forward. The front is a bit more difficult because the seat is in the way. I have a handy 90° Philips screwdriver, or alternatively you might have to remove the seats. 4 bolts I understand but I have never done it.
2. Unscrew gear knob
3. Unclip the piece of plastic immediately under the hand brake.
4. Pull the console up from the back, and tip it towards the front then once it is clear of the handbrake and gear lever, tip it slightly to one side, being careful not to damage or stress the wiring.
5. Clip the wiring. A connector to each of the window switches, and 2 clips holding the wires to the underside of the console. All 4 are held in by little clips which you might be able to press with your fingers, or if not a small flat screwdriver should do the trick.
6. With this done you can now take the whole console away from the car.
Turn the console upside down to take out the old gaiter:
1. Note the position of the felt that is glued to the inside bottom of the gaiter. This produces the vertical edge where the leather comes out of the console aperture, which you might want to reproduce with the new gaiter. This is glued on, just pull it off.
2. The gaiter has a wire frame at the bottom which is held in place by 4 little plastic triangular shaped clips, 2 on each side. Bend these clips back as far as you can, then ease the frame out. I used a chisel with the cover still on its head, placed it between the console and the frame, and twisted. It popped out.
3. Turn the old gaiter inside out, and you will see how the silver “ring” at the top is kept in position by a metal circular clip. The clip sits in a recessed groove on the ring body. Remember this for refitting, and undo it.
4. This is the point of no return! Unpick the stitching of the gaiter around the rectangular metal frame.
Fitting the new gaiter takes a bit of trial and error:
If you have a Rhonda gaiter she has given you a little extra material, so you can have it looking floppy (within the confines of the leather) or taut.
1. Turn the new gaiter inside out, and push the silver ring body narrow end first towards the narrow end of the gaiter. Replace the metal clip (or use a rubber band until you have the positioning just right), so that it resembles the original in the photo above.
2. Then turn it out the right way, by holding the silver ring body, and working it through the gaiter. The idea is to get the top of the ring exposed, with the leather folding back on itself, as below.
3. The frame has a little bump on each of its two long sides. These are placed downwards into the gaiter, so when refitting they provided the tension to hold the frame against the clips.
4. Then comes the fiddly bit of fitting the frame on. I found that the frame would actually clip into the console and hold the leather taught without actually gluing, stitching or clipping the leather to the frame. Certainly do it “loose” like this until you are certain you have it right.
5. Feed the gaiter through the aperture from the underside of the console. The gaiter has a bit more material in its body at one side. This is supposed to point to the rear of the car to compensate for a slight lean forward of the lever. Push the frame hard onto the console aperture sides with your thumbs and it will click into place. Try hard to ensure that the frame sits squarely in the gaiter so that there is the same amount of leather all the way round.
6. First time of doing this you will probably find the leather has moved so there is more on one side or the other. If so try again.
Refit the console;
At this stage don’t bother to re-clip the wiring. Feed the gear lever up through the gaiter and replace the gear knob.
Get the console sitting firm and square;
and view how the gaiter looks, both in neutral and in each of the gears. If it’s not quite to your liking, take the console off and try again. The ring body at the top can be moved down the gaiter, and the ring frame at the bottom can also be adjusted to give more or less leather. When you have finished make sure you replace the wire clamp on the ring body if you have used an elastic band as a temporary fix. You could leave it on, but it might perish!
Once it is to your liking and prior to permanent fixing, you might want to clean the console using your preferred cleaner.
Consider if you want to replace the felt?
I have. There maybe some sticky left on it, but a contact adhesive will ensure it stays in place. You may have to cut a small piece of it since the inside edge of the new gaiter is slightly shorter than the old because of the stitching and fold back on the 4 corners. The picture below shows the overlap before I cut it, and also shows the temporary fix elastic band.
You may want to fold the leather “hanging loose” back on itself, and again a contact adhesive will hold it. Don’t staple, they will only rust! If you feel sure of yourself you could do this with the frame off the console (and you may even try stitching), or you could do it with it on. To be honest I didn’t bother, and left it “dangling” as above..
Finally refit the console to the car:
Remember to put the wiring sockets and clips back in. Replace the fixing screws, screw on the gear lever knob, and there you go, a nice new gaiter.