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The $25 Dana 300 Twin Stick Mod

What Jeeper doesn’t like a cast iron, gear driven, strong transfer case that can rest between the frame rails of most any 4×4 out there? Enter the Dana 300. We all know where to find one. Basically every 80-86 CJ built had one. There are many, many upgrades available for the Dana 300. From heavy duty output shafts, to low range gear sets to complete replacement cases, the aftermarket is alive and well supplying parts for the D300.

You will also see many companies offering twin stick shifters for the 300. Twin stick shifters allow the user to independently engage the front and rear outputs of the case. This allows the user to achieve front wheel drive while the rear is in neutral for those tight off road situations we all find ourselves in from time to time. This is in addition to normal 2wd and 4wd modes we’re all accustomed to.

I was looking for twin stick shifters for my MJ build. I looked at the standard Currie Enterprises shifter kit. The Currie-style kits out there are basically 2 knobs, 2 pieces of 3/8″ round stock and some bent and twisted linkages. These type of shifters have been used for sometime by many people. My experience with them has been riddled with sloppy shifts and noisy operation. Cost however is good at about $100-$150.

I also looked at going with a cable shifter setup from Northwest Fab as well as fabbing my own set of cable shifters. Cable shifters have the advantage of allowing you to mount the shifters wherever is convenient. The downside is their cost — anywhere from $275 up to $350 for the cable shift kits. You can assemble your own for (reportedly) less than $100. I have never been one of those guys who can locate the elusive, just-perfect part that makes piecing your own kit together worth it.

So, I made my own twin stick kit that would suit my needs, for the grand total of $25 and 2 hours of my time.

Parts list:

  • 2- 1 1/16″ wrenches from Northern tool ($12)
  • 1- 5/8″ x 5″ bolt, nylock nut and 2 flat washers from Lowe’s ($5)
  • 2- 5/16″ x 1.5″ bolts and nylock nuts from Lowe’s ($2)
  • 1- Pack of random nylon washers at Lowe’s ($2)
  • 1- 5/8″ x 2 steel spacer at Lowe’s ($3)

You may need to remove the transfer case from the vehicle to do this modification. I just hacked a hole in my floor since I am clocking my case up a lot. Be safe, use jack stands, and lay off the booze for the next couple of hours so you can read the service manual if needed.

Step One

Start by removing the stock shifter from the case as well as the plastic bushings inside the front output housing that the pivot bolt sits in. Now, drill the existing hole out to 5/8".

Step Two

Next, remove the factory hardware from each shift rail. You want nothing there, just 2 shift rails with an empty hole in each. Now, drill perpendicular to the stock hole a 5/16" hole all the way through the rail. This is where the 5/16" bolts will be going into each rail soon.

Step Three

Now comes a little fun with cutting tools. Take both wrenches and cut the end off of each one. You will be left with either 1 open end and one boxed end wrench or two of the same. It doesn't matter, do what ever you want. I chose to have one of each for ease of telling my co-driver which to engage.

Step Four

Next steps are gonna be easy. Measure up about 1" from the cut end of the wrenches. Drill a 5/16" hole in each wrench. Now, measure up approx 2.5" and drill another 5/16" hole. This will become a pilot hole. Next you will need to open up that pilot hole to 5/8". See where we're going with this? The hole at the bottom will connect to the rails and the big hole with be the pivot...easy stuff.

Step Five

Now we get to burn a little steel. Insert the 5/16"x 1.5" bolts into the rails where you drilled the holes earlier. The bolts will point towards the case. Once the bolts are placed square weld them to the rails. You can even weld into the factory hole for a little rosette action.

Step Six

Now you will get to see it all come together. Slide a wrench onto each of the recently welded bolts and secure with a nylock nut. Rotate the wrench upward so the 5/8" hole lines up with the 5/8" hole in the pivot that you drilled in step 1. Slide the 5/8" x 5" bolt through the wrenches and the front output housing.

Step Seven

This where I tested each position for function. I did do a little grinding here and there, opened up a hole here and there, etc. Once I was satisfied with the results, I pulled the big bolt out and reinstalled it with an appropriately placed mixture of nylon washers and the 5/8" sleeve cut into random pieces.

That’s it. You now have the coolness of an additional shifter in your rig. You will be on your own for finding an appropriate boot for the shifters. You may need longer shifters (read: bigger wrenches) or need to bend them to suit. Either way, cheap, easy and useful mod in under 2 hours.

Front dig FTW!

Jody Treadway