The Blue Mk2 gearbox was very stiff to change. Consultations with Ben Stafford the previous owner revealed that it had always been very stiff. He reminded me that he had actually broken a gear stick in my driveway some years ago and that I actually already owned the gear stick in the car when I bought it from him. I had lent him a replacement we had fitted on the spot so he could get home and had forgotten about it.
Ben suggested it might have bent selector shafts, which I had not heard of before, but he assured me it does happen. He had a few gearboxes in parts that he had acquired over the years. He donated a couple of gearbox top cover plates complete with selector shafts for me to try.
It took a short time one afternoon to remove the centre console, gearbox hump cover plate and remove the top of the gearbox. Note that BSF bolts hold down the top of the moss gearbox and not SAE/NF bolts as I expected. The already cleaned up and prepared replacement gearbox top cover plate was fitted and a trial run was made minus the tunnel cover and centre console.
The difference was immediately apparent and the gear gates could be felt and the gear stick easily manipulated. The “proof of the pudding” was when Ben dropped in one afternoon and I asked him to take the car on a trial drive. He agreed that it was a great improvement over the previous stiff system. I have not had time to dissect the previous selector system to find out what was the actual cause of the problem.