So I've got the shift rod as far forward as it will go and I'm just 2-3" away from getting the coupling out. Is there any way to push it through the front of the vehicle? It seems like if I took off the bottom rocker panel, I'd be able to access the stock rod opening. TIA
Yeah, that's the service panel for the shift rod. Two bolts.. it is a tight squeeze, no doubt. You might be able to get it with a couple flex drives on a socket. Unbolting the lower tray under the nose might be the best option if yours isn't fiberglassed together.
mine is fiberglassed, unfortunately. May just have to cut it. I got the bolts off, but the door is fused shut. Getting it off isn't easy - was trying to use the shift rod to pop it off with pliers from the inside but no luck. Any advice? maybe I'll toss some PB blaster on it.
Other issue is, the coupling seems to be in good knick from what I can see and feel. Wondering if that's really the issue. Any way to tell if it needs changing?
The door has a seal on it. You'll need to put a stiff putty knife to it and try to lever it off. Over the years, those seals (really, just the sealing wax) gets like a rock. Once off, scrape it clean and re-seal with some silicone caulk.
As for access....well... you could cut a hole behind the "battery tray" in the nose. Just big enough to get your hands through (and will double to pull the shift rod out). Cover back over with something decorative.
As for the coupler, there shouldn't be any play at all at any of the connections. If you have an original rubber one, it might be time to change it anyway. Do not get the urethane couplers - they're junk. There is a guy on Samba who sells billet couplers. I put one on the red car. Gave a wonderful solid shift feel.
If you pull the shift rod, you can then change your shift rod bushing, which may be causing some of your issues. It's fiddly work, but well worth it. The bushings are the first thing to fail in the system.
There's a urethane one in there already, it seems to be in great shape, albeit pretty hard.
The bushing I am trying to change is the shift rod one - I was looking at that billet one, but I think he said for a bent rod it won't work (it seems as though mine is bent, but I may just be hallucinating that. Fiddly is definitely the right word for it, as it's been a bit of a pain thus far.
I'll try to get the door out and change the bushing, hopefully that helps.