I dropped the ‘Bird at a transmission shop that specializes in vintage cars last Monday, where the transmission was removed, torn down, rebuilt and reinstalled over the course of the week. Once we got the unit out, we could see why everything associated fit oddly or worked poorly.
The transmission itself is correct for the car, a medium case Cruise-O-Matic, but mine was originally intended for a 1961 full-sized Ford. The shift linkage and speedometer gear are both wrong for the Thunderbird. Someone had welded an extra length of metal to the shift lever, but it was not enough to make it work right. Fortunately, my mechanic had the parts in stock to bring it all back to spec, including a new rear mount, which was shot (and not even bolted in properly.)
While he had the car, I picked up the drive shaft to install new universal joints. I was able to get both removed using the two-sockets-and-a-vice process outlined in the manual. The new rear joint went in just fine. In front, though, the new u-joint bound up tight every time I got it clipped into place, as if the bracket on the yoke was slightly bent or misaligned. I took that one back to the shop to have it straightened and the installation completed.
The ‘Bird is back in my driveway–the tranny was reinstalled and working late Friday. There are still some minor tweaks to be made–it’s not shifting quite right and there’s a vibration at low speed. But, having it with me means I can do some more work on the map lights and perhaps get the horn working over the three-day weekend. Tuesday, we’ll get the transmission work wrapped up.