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1989 Chevy Truck - manual transmission issue

My “little beast” is an '89 Chevy 1500 pickup with manual transmission. I bought it about 5 months ago. It has survived 67K+ of very rough miles in Barrow Alaska - salty arctic ocean coast, gravel roads, lots of dust, and winters at 40+ below zero.

Over the last couple weeks I’ve noticed that the transmission/shifting has been a little soft at times… meaning that there hasn’t always been a distinct sense that I was in gear and occassionally it will pop out of gear.

Last night at -24F it drove just fine for a bit over a mile, then I left it running in neutral for a couple minutes while I dropped a friend off. It reversed to turn around without problem, but when I put it in 1st to head up a slight hill out of the parking lot it popped out of gear and stalled. Two or three trys produced the same results. I could find and feel the paths for shifting through all of the gears, but it wouldn’t fully engage in any and when I place it into 1st gear I can freely move the stickshift just as if I was in neutral. I was able to pull into a parking space and plug the car in for the night (tank heater, cab heater, oil pan heaters, etc), then I took a taxi home. There were no distinct noises, no clunks or sense of anything falling off the vehicle, but there was a lovely burnt smell.

Any thoughts on what may be wrong??

I beleive that the linkage from the shifter to the gearbox has failed. Especially if you place in gear and it moves around as if it were in neutral. If you can, get under the truck and look at, it is most porbably the rubber bushings that have failed.