shifting up a gear or two – Gene Berg style!

All mod cons

One of the initial attractions to my vintage VW split screen camper, was the fact that it had been kept in pretty much factory ‘stock’ condition. It has had a few subtle upgrades to help enhance the modern-day driving experience such as 12v electrics, halogen headlights, twin Webber carbs, and the really useful heated front windscreens – yes, real 21st century luxury!

Nice original clean and unmolested dash area
Nice original clean and unmolested dash area

Changing gear to a Gene Berg shifter

The dash and driving controls are all original, and the steering wheel has been restored back to original factory condition. The gear stick also is in great condition, but as I’ve been keeping my beautiful Gene Berg bus shifter safely tucked away, now seems like a perfect opportunity to add a little personalised upgrade of my own to the camper.

The original factory stock VW gear stick
The original factory stock VW gear stick

Luckily I have a great local ‘Gene Berg Shifter buddy’ Ollie who already has one fitted to his VW split screen van, and who very kindly, offered to help me fit the replacement shifter, as long as I would look after his beautiful little 2-year-old daughter during the process – clearly I got the best end of the deal!

Pass me the spanner

So armed with a 13mm ratchet spanner, the original shifter was removed and put away for safe keeping. Next up it was time to fit the replacement Gene Berg shifter. Just the sheer weight and build quality of the Gene Berg shifter made you realise how much of an ‘upgrade’ this truly is to a bus.

The iconic Gene Berg bus shifter
The iconic Gene Berg bus shifter

Ollie reliably informed me there was an easy or a hard way to fit the shifter depending how long it took to engage all of the gears. We were both hoping to go for the easy way, but unfortunately we somehow inadvertently opted to go for the hard way! To be fair this was probably due to the fact that I had lost the original fitting instructions, and poor old Ollie was trying o do it all from memory.

Gene Berg Shifter fitting instructions

After a while of trying to adjust and trial and error fitment attempts, he had to admit we were getting nowhere fast, so in the end I mailed Gene Berg to see if they had a pdf of the fitting instructions they could email me. Typical of the great company they are, I got an email quickly sent through with a pdf of the instructions attached!

Download Gene Berg bus shifter PDF fitting instructions

Gene Berg bus shifter position guide
Gene Berg bus shifter position guide

Going through the instructions, Ollie quickly realised that we had the base plate upside down – doh! So with the problem spotted, the plate was flipped over and the shifter now fitted like a hand in glove, quicker than I had time to make Ollie a fresh mug of tea!

The replacement Gene Berg Bus shifter upgrade
The replacement Gene Berg Bus shifter upgrade

Gene Berg smooth shifting

With the Gene Berg shifter all fitted, you really get to appreciate the 35% reduction in the original shift travel, as well as being so much more comfortable to use as it is about 100mm/4″ longer and about 100mm/4″ closer to you as the driver. The push button lock for reverse gear also was a dream to use, and so much easier than the faff of having to engage reverse gear originally by push the gearstick down and back.

So all in all, an excellent upgrade to the split screen camper, thanks Ollie, thanks Gene Berg – happy days ahead!

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