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1963 Ford Thunderbird Transmission lever adjustment

Discussion in '1955 - 1966 Classic Ford Thunderbird' started by MikeNation, Jun 1, 2018.

  1. I just traded to a 1963 Thunderbird and have a problem with the transmission gear selector lever. I have to jiggle the lever to get the ignition key to turn so as to start the engine. This vehicle has the slide steering wheel. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
    DEVIL DOG 62 likes this.
  2. Mike, I have a 64 T-Bird and I'm pretty sure Ford did the same thing in 63 as in 64. So You have a few things going on. First is the bushing in the engine compartment. This bushing holds the selector tight with the steering column. I would talked to Doug from Pat Wilson Thunderbird. He can explain it better with direction to replace it witout tearing out your entire steering column. Now second will be your steering selector. Years of driving has worn out your selector and shift detent plate. You really should replace all for safety issues. Because the next issue will be the car will not start. The looser it gets the neutral switch will not stay connected. Any questions you are more then welcome to call me. Ford Carlisle Nationals is this weekend. There will be lots of people who can answer your questions if you live close to Pennsylvania. Thanks and good luck, Dan (forest hill, Md) 443-421-4682
    Johnman and Hadderz like this.
  3. Thank you for the advice I will take to mechanic this weekand show him this. Again Thank You!
    760468 6691
    Dj-Dan likes this.
  4. Hi Dan just finished the replacement of the shift lever and the detent plate. Much better!!! I could not believe the key portion of the old lever. Crazy that it even worked. Thank you for your help... Mike
    Dj-Dan and biddle like this.
  5. would the neutral safety switch effect the ignition key from turning, it seems to still not turn until i wiggle the shifter lever and fiddle with the key.
  6. There is a upper bushing that disintegrates also
    Dj-Dan likes this.
  7. my '63 is like this. lately i've been shifting to neutral where the starting is an easy, left-hand affair. much easier than Park, where i have to lift the shift lever, but not too far... alas, i'm a very new owner, so i don't know if my solution is sustainable. but it works for now. cheers!
  8. Your solution works at present but obviously some pieces are worn and or missing. With all of them we’ve had here once they require different tricks to start its time to look into the permanent solution. Since your a new owner you may not know but don’t leave the car running and get out of it, I’ve seen the results when they come out of park on their own and it more often than not doesn’t end well.
    Dj-Dan likes this.
  9. aye. i've got the shop manuals coming, hopefully i can catch a glimpse into the design. it does feel like both bushings may be shot - if i lift the lever in Park, it will start, but if i lift too high it will cut off the switch as well. the detents feel quite positive, though, and the shifter does not wander. it seems as if many years of 'tilting away' has created some play in the column overall.

    and i appreciate the warning. instinctively, i've set the parking brake and curbed a front wheel (when possible) when i step out with the engine running. i did not know the potential for dropping out of Park, though!
  10. I have the same problem with my 64, did you have to remove the steering wheel and housing to get to the detent plate?
  11. Hey ya Mike, I had a mechanic in my local town do the work. Besides the detent plate, there is a gasket that is in the engine compartment that NEEDS to be replaced on these T-Birds with the swing away. This gasket holds both the shifter mechanism and steering wheel column together. If you call Doug at "Pat Wilson Thunderbird", he has the entire kit and can explain it to you Mike. I can do alot of Mechanical and troubleshoot electrical but that stuff with steering and shifter items are past my knowledge. Yes, You really need to change out that detent plate. Mine was worn to the bone. Good Luck, DJ-Dan (Forest Hill, Md)
  12. Yes, I had that same local mechanic put in a new Neutral switch. Even after some bushing and dentent replacement, the neutral switch still going quarky after a few months. I had to by pass it. Tell you the truth, there is a small screw in the steering column that holds the neutral switch in place. I think that mechanic stripped it, and it never could keep everything aligned. I can send you a picture how to by-pass the neutral switch. The only set-back, no backup lights. (Oh Darn)..but no more panicking or embarrassment when someone is admiring your T-Bird, and you have get on your hands and knees to maneuver that stupid Neutral switch.

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