1965 shift lever bushing replacement issue

Timotbird

Timotbird

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Last seen
Joined
Nov 28, 2022
Thunderbird Year
1965
After viewing numerous warnings about a worn shift lever having the potential to cause my 65 to move from park to reverse at idle, I decided to remove it for inspection.
The lever had slight notching on it but the rubber bushing that holds it in place was heavily worn out.
Since no one seamed to have just the rubber bushing available as a separate part, I ordered a new lever with the bushing on it. The new shift lever is more squared off on the edges than the one I removed.
I’ve now got the new assembly back in the column , but the shift lever will no longer move into the far left park position.
Any suggestions?
Reading over the shop manual, the swing away mechanism is quite a contraption to figure out.
Thanks
 

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You might look at how the detent was placed.

Replacing the 1961 to 1963 Shift Detent and Shift Lever (from southsandia.com/forum/website/shiftdetent.html)
I noticed a few differences between the 58 to 60 and the 61 to 63. This procedure includes replacing the shift lever and detent. Save yourself a lot of trouble and replace them both at the same time. In my case, the shift lever was the cause of my problem. The Squarebird article also doesn't mention any snafus you might run into, of which I ran into several. Below you can see my shifter is ready to jump into reverse and the car won't start unless I press up on the shifter.​

shiftindicator.jpg

Remove the nut with a 15/16" socket and 6" extension. Notice shaft is already scribed.​
marks.jpgnut.jpg

The bolts to use for the puller are 5/16"-24. The steering wheel comes off with minimal effort.​
puller.jpg

Pull the horn contact out and the two drive indicator plate screws and set them aside with all your other parts. You'll have a lot of small stuff to keep track of. I used a magnetic tray.​
horncontact.jpg

I used a 3/16" ignition wrench to remove the turn signal lever to avoid damaging it. A small crescent wrench will probably also work if you don’t have an ignition wrench. It is not difficult to remove.​
turnsignallever.jpg

This was the first problem I ran into. There was no slack in the horn wire. After pondering for awhile, I looked for the blue/yellow stripe wire at the base of the steering column. While pushing on it a bit to give it slack, I gently pulled the wire until I had enough slack to work.​
hornwire.jpg

This design is slightly different than the Squarebird's. The canceller is retained by a horseshoe nut and spring on a small nylon shaft. Slide the nut off very carefully, keeping a finger on the post to prevent the spring from flying into oblivion. This will be the most confounding part of the whole procedure. Reassembly was next to impossible for me, however after loosing and re-finding the parts multiple times, I finally got it back together. Now the nut at 5 o'clock is visible. Don't remove it yet though, and actually leave the one at 10 o'clock in for now because there was another surprise.​
springwitharrow.jpglowerrightnut.jpg

The next difference I found was this snap ring on the steering shaft. I had a pair of snap-ring pliers, but is still proved challenging to remove. It goes back on with no problem.​
snapring.jpg

Remove the cover panel with a tape covered screwdriver. Remove the three screws holding the shift indicator light and black background piece in place. Pull the black background piece out from the front and set the light aside.​
indicatorlight.jpg

It's easy to smudge up, but I cleaned it with a little denatured alcohol before reinstalling it. Window cleaner would also safely clean it.​
indicatorshield.jpg

Finally, the detent plate and shift lever are in sight. Notice one of the black retaining bolts in the steering column. This was addressed in the Squarebird article, but I'll discuss it again as it proves tricky during installation​
detentandbolt.jpg

The spring and nut was frustrating enough, now this pin retaining the shift lever has to come out without destroying anything, I moved the shifter to low and drove it out with a large nailset. It took a lot of force to get it going, but once it started moving it slid out without too much force. Nevertheless, it was nerve racking.​
shifterpin.jpg

To remove the shifter, rotate it 90 degrees down to free it from the rear pressure pin. It then pulls out easily. Just reverse the process when installing the new shifter. Driving the pin back in is also a challenge, but goes in with some powerful but careful hammering with a centerpunch.​
removingshifter.jpg

Old and new. The repros both look improved in design.​
detentcomparison.jpgshiftlevercomparison.jpg

Here is the problem. The edge has chamfered on the shift lever. This thing was a time-bomb.​
chamferrededge.jpg

During reassembly, put the retaining bolts in the back, then in the front, thread the nuts on a couple turns. Then, using a thumb on each nut, push them outward until the whole assembly snaps back into place and the square bolt heads are engaged in the slots shown at right.​
retainingnuts.jpgnuthooks.jpg

Now, once you get that spring back on, you're home-free with a nice tight shifter. It's actually in park now and feels like it will stay there.​

indicatorinpark.jpg
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Thanks for the link!
Bummer if I have to go into the column and change out the detent.
The shift lever had very little wear and I would be surprised to find the detent being the issue. Unless the squared edges of the new shift lever won’t fit the elongated hole in the detent.
By the way, the column is locked as if in park. It’s just that the shift lever will not move up into park. Currently, the wheel can’t swing away.
 
Thanks for the link!
Bummer if I have to go into the column and change out the detent.
The shift lever had very little wear and I would be surprised to find the detent being the issue. Unless the squared edges of the new shift lever won’t fit the elongated hole in the detent.
By the way, the column is locked as if in park. It’s just that the shift lever will not move up into park. Currently, the wheel can’t swing away.
If your shift lever will not move up into park, It could be a linkage adjustment problem.
 
After viewing numerous warnings about a worn shift lever having the potential to cause my 65 to move from park to reverse at idle, I decided to remove it for inspection.
The lever had slight notching on it but the rubber bushing that holds it in place was heavily worn out.
Since no one seamed to have just the rubber bushing available as a separate part, I ordered a new lever with the bushing on it. The new shift lever is more squared off on the edges than the one I removed.
I’ve now got the new assembly back in the column , but the shift lever will no longer move into the far left park position.
Any suggestions?
Reading over the shop manual, the swing away mechanism is quite a contraption to figure out.
Thanks
where did you buy the shifter ? i bought mine from birds nest and it worked out just fine. i DID have alot of wear on the shifter , if that is of any value
 
I purchased it from Tbird Headquarters in Concord, Ca.
I saw a Utube video on shift lever /detent repair and the commentator noted the wear issue was almost always on the lever and rarely the detent because the metal makeup of the detent was noted as harder than the shift lever.
With little wear on my shift lever, I can’t imagine the detent is any more worn.
The shift lever just doesn’t seem like it can more far enough left to to park position to catch the park detent.
The steering column is currently locked as if already in park.
 
Shift lever update:
After having difficulty getting the new shift lever to move into the park position, I decided to take it back out and compare the new and old lever once more.
I’ve attached a picture of the two together to show that there was a noticeable difference in the thickness of the two ends.
I swapped the rubber bushing to the old lever and installed it back in the column.
Wha La…
I now shifts into park and all gears with no problem.
Apparently, the thickness of the new lever would not allow enough clearance to ride over the detent to allow it to move into the park position when moving the shift lever backwards .
Anyway FYI…
 

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One more comment:
The tapering at the end of the two levers was also slightly different. Additionally the more squared off end of the new lever may also have played a role in the difficulty getting the shifter lever to engage properly in the detent.
 
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