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Sounds like you have multiple issues with the clutch, shifter and trans, and have to diagnose and fix each separately to get this right. Similar to my situation. Old cars, old parts, things wear out, sometimes independently and sometimes compounding each other.
For example, as I wrote above I can get my trans into 1st but it usually pops right out, even with the clutch pedal all the way down. My guess is that the clutch pedal developed the infamous slop issue years ago, so the clutch never fully disengaged (which I didn't realize at the time), which wore down the 1st gear synchro to the point where it was nearly gone (and probably wore down the others just not quite as bad), and perhaps the hub, slider and even gears. Now I have to fix both, as well as restore the shifter bushings as you have.
Btw, what do you mean by "left shift cable"? There's a select cable and a shift cable, corresponding to moving the shifter left-right in neutral to SELECT between 1-2, 3-4 & 5-R, and up-down to SHIFT into one of these gears. Which are you referring to here?
You powder coat it all. (sorry)
I have a buddy that did all of his and it looks great!!!
Mine is surface rust from 1990. My sandblaster isnt up yet but this shifter is nice and solid so she will go into the red 90.
Eh, I've had good results with wire brush and abrasive wheel drill bits followed by primer and paint. Doesn't reach show car levels but that's not what I'm going for. I like things to look "clean", not spit polish perfect. As soon as the car's driven all that's gone anyway.