This Mafia hot-wire cord is a mandatory piece of equipment for a git-back situation.
Transmission: Probably the worst case of problem you can envision has to do with the tranny. They are totally black magic to most of us, and rightfully so. Yet you can crutch a tranny problem and do a git-back, though you may limp a little.
Column-shift tranny: This gem has its shift lever on the steering column and uses what is called a "side loading'' transmission. That is, the shift mechanism is located on the left side of the box and is operated by a long, shaky mechanism. On a bumpy road you may suddenly find you're locked in one gear, locked in Neutral, or really locked up in two gears at once. Ol' Superdawg 'n' I could now lay on you a ton of drawings, theory, and the whole shot about such systems, but we seriously doubt if it'd help you a smidge. So in real life, what you do in this case is simple and direct; you pick up a hammer.
Up the hood. Ram the wooden handle of the hammer in semi-gentle fashion against those levers coming from the steering column where they head back to the tranny. Don't get carried away; we're not trying to cold-weld this sucker! But with some intermittent messing with the shift handle and some more taps, you'll most often find that something drops in and you're back in business. Don't try to analyze or attempt to reason this all out! Just do and believe.
This is a poetically just git-back 'cause we get to beat up the guilty party with a hammer and make 'im work right, which is how we wish a lotta other automotive wrongs could be righted. But suppose our magic touch is insufficient, or the linkage is really awry? Then we gotta know what side-shift levers do and how they look. For a three-speed box, Second and Third are on the foremost lever; when it's straight down, neither gear is engaged. Reverse and First are on the rear lever, which is also in Neutral when it's straight down. Why do we wanta know this kinda stuff? Because for the ultimate git-back, we're gonna shift ratt here at the levers!
Who said life was easy? First, tap 'em both into Neutral, even if you must disconnect the buggered-up linkage. Now, when you tap the front lever forward you're in Second-not too bad a gear to start up in and run for the highway. When you get to a downhill place on the pavement that's not too muddy, slide under again and slip that thing into Third for a nonstop run to the barn. Do remember, if you mess with one lever, you must return it to Neutral before doing anything with the other lever! Otherwise you get two gears at once, and with a vigorous shot of gas and a sudden drop of the clutch, this could get you a handful of tranny gears shelled like corn. (More likely; since you're not moving you'd just kill the engine; but Dawg n' I must have our little drama as the saga unfolds.)
Honest, upright stick shift: The real fun is when your honest, upright stick shift-made for honest, upright gals and guys-does a bad thing, which leaves you sitting there aghast. In this case, you gotta top-loading tranny rather than those handy-dandy side levers, as on the column shift. With no levers to play with, you must do a thing you don't want to do; you gotta pull the floormat back, take up the inspection plate (depending on rig and model) and pull off the shifter tower. Put the ungainly stick and tower carefully to one side, and peer down inside.
Staring back is a messa gears loaded with guilt! No matter what happened-locked in one gear, stuck in two, or won't do diddly-we gotta neutralize this sucker so we can start at a known point. First, get all load off the driveline; that is, floor the clutch and let the wheels be held only by blocks or the hand brake. Get that mighty hammer and a big screwdriver 'cause we're gonna shift gears or know the reason why!
Note that sticking out of the tower are two forks (in most cases just two), which fit into the tranny at those shiny, rounded gidges called "sliding sleeves.'' Those're what do the gear shifting when you move the stick. With screwdriver and hammer, lightly tap the sleeves until they sit in the middle of the shiny synchronizers, those purty brassy things. How do we know when we're in Neutral? Pry lightly with screwdriver against the side and the body of gears. If they move (except for the very foremost gear) almost against the case, you're in Neutral. (Why doesn't that front one move too? It would if you floored the clutch, but it's the main front drive gear that's hooked into the clutch splines and countershaft. Leave it be! Got trouble enough already.)
Great! Now that we're in Neutral, we might also place the tower in Neutral and see if the gem works right. In most cases it will. But that is not the name of our git-back; we're gonna do it with or without that tower. And here's how without.
You must now reverse your thinking. When you moved the stick shift forward (four-speed box), you got First or Third gear. Moving it back, you got Second or Fourth, with Reverse dabbled over to one side and also back. This stick motion goes through a fulcrum at the tower. That means at this moment of truth, as you stare in with horror to find a gear, back is front and front is back. Is this all perfectly clear?