So, I've actually got another thread going for the shifter, but I thought it might be a good idea to consolidate.
The top-loader came equipped with a Hurst Competition Plus 4 speed shifter. Unlike more modern transmission, the shifter is not built into the transmission, but bolts on to the side and utilizes and "installation kit" to connect to levers on the side of the transmission.
Now the first thing I would like to say in my defense is that I did not remove the shifter from the transmission, it was removed 30 something years ago when it was pulled from the totaled mustang of my dad's.
The problem I experienced when I first put the shifter in was that after I had gone into reverse and came back out, I was stuck in neutral and the shifter would not go into any gear.
The first step in troubleshooting I took was to find an exploded diagram of the installation kit so that I could ensure that the linkage was hooked up in the proper order.
It was also pointed out that I should be using a 1/4" drill bit to hold the shifter in neutral while I align the linkage. I don't have a picture of this, but it is pretty obvious when you look at one how this works.
In the link below, you can see how the linkage is supposed to be hooked up, with all the rods (round pipes that actually connect to the shifter) above the arms (flat plates that connect to the transmission). I had installed the unit with the 1-2 rod below the arm, which resulted in second gear being up, and first gear being down.
However, realigning the arm did not fix my problem. So my next step was to order a "pit pack" for the linkage. A pit pack is a bushing that sits between the rod and arm, and a funny looking clip to hold it in.
After installing the pit pack, I was very unsatisfied with the fit, the rod and arm were still very sloppy, with lots of play, and if you wiggled just right, you could even get the arm off the rod, although it would get caught on the clip and not fall off.
So I went down to ACE with my rod and arm in hand, and found some washers to tighten things up. Due to the diameter of the washer I used, I could no longer use the funny little clip, so I grabbed some cotter pins while I was there. This really tightened things up, and I felt much better about putting it on.
I applied these washers to both ends of the rods, both where they attached to the arm/transmission and where they attached to the shift levers on the base of the shifter.
Unfortunately this did not solve my problem. Shifting 1 - 4 was much easier and I got much better feedback and "clicks" going into gears, but the shifter would still get lost coming out of reverse. The next thing I did was pull the shifter off the transmission. Holding it in a vice, it felt like it had an awful lot of play in it:
So i completely disassembled the shifter:
I took a couple of bottles of brake cleaner, brass wheel, and brass brush to all of the parts, and the shifter cleaned up real nice.
I ordred this shifter rebuild kit from Mustangs Unlimited:
However it is on back order and has not arrived yet. Although I'm not sure I need it. This video shows how stiff the springs are:
After cleaning it up and putting it back in, I have only mildly improved my issues. Now if I come out of reverse and get stuck, I can go back into reverse and try again. I seem to have the most luck coming out of reverse if I keep tension on the shifter as far left as I can as I come down, going straight into second, then going into first. If I do this, 75% of the time I don't get locked up. I really wish I knew what the problem here is. If I knew it was the shifter, or the linkage, I would be very tempted to order the afflicting parts replacement, but since I can't seem to pinpoint the problem, it would be very expensive to replace both. And at this point the WAF (wife approval factor) for more funds for the project is rapidly decreasing. Since I can get in and out of gear (with no problems if I avoid reverse) then I would rather use my WAF points on other issues.
If anyone has a good idea on this shifter, please feel free to chime in, because I'm out of ideas.