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With the gear case removed, use a multimeter and check for power between the solenoid wires and the driveshaft housing. if you find that you do have power there, you have a bare wire someplace in the housing that is providing it. This could also be the switch in the control box, that may be moving, but is actually stuck internally. to test the switch, the control box would need to be opened and the switch tested with a multimeter with all the wires off it. Use a resistance scale for this test.
How does your gear oil look. If you changed it recently, how did it look when it came out?
Can you remove the water pump and try to turn the shaft then. Sometimes the impeller will stick inside the housing causing you to not be able to turn it by hand.
This is the parts breakdown on he engine.
This is what it looks like.
It locks onto the shift rod. It will move up and down with the rod.
As it moves up and down it moved the levers 21 and 22. This will select N or R. When you had the shift assy out, id you bench test the solenoids with 12V to see it they would move the rod correctly?
The spring is located inside the prop shaft. This is what will push the plunger back out to the default position. A detent will hold it in place from there. part 71 is the spring.
Where could they have gone? Have you had the lower unit opened at some other time?