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HI, is it possible that the shift shoe is plugged onto the lower shift shaft on the wrong spline.
Here is a diagram,
The shift shoe is number 22 in the diagram, when you put the upper and lower housings together, the shoe must
face forward with the lower unit solidly in forward gear. It seems to me it would be difficult to install if that were the case.
The part number 25 in the diagram is a lever with a roller on the end of it, this roller may not be in the slot in the cable slider.
It's possible for this to fall out of place while installing the drive, especially if the shift cable is not connected inside the boat.
Here is another diagram,
The slider is number 31 in the diagram, the roller on the lever #25 in the last diagram must be in the slot of the slider.
To check it, you need to unbolt the drive and pull it back enough to see. The boat and the drive need to be in forward gear.
Have you dealt with this or do you still need help?