Dear Bert: I had run into someone earlier in the list I have been answering who had what was what I suspected as a counter gear bearing failure. Your description is a classic description of one.
If I am correct, If in neutral and the clutch engaged, you will hear what sounds like a bunch of grumbling in the tunnel. When you depress the clutch, it goes away. RIGHT? The reason that the noise pretty well disappears in 4th is because 4th gear is where the synchro hub locks the input shaft with the output shaft, thus creating a no load situation for the counter gear. Just a straight shot from the flywheel to the driveshaft, Direct drive!
As far as repairs are concerned, it depends on how long you have been driving the truck this way. If you stopped driving it soon after discovering the noise, it's probably a fixer. Just a bearing and seal kit. Possibly sinchros if you have high mileage. Other than that, it's scrap! Get a used one or a remanufactured one.
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not a clutch problem unless you have just done a clutch kit change
more likely a hydraulic clutch problem ( air in the system) or master cylinder needing replacement .
if it is a cable operated clutch , replace the clutch
your luck as with mine is not good. thought I had a bad bearing, after droping the tranny and seperating the housing, I have a broken counter shaft. after looking for another with no luck, the tranny shop informed me that was common for these transmissions. parts are expensive, to rebuild would cost aprox.$800.00 or more. the main cause is the front bearing is supported in alum. causing shaft to move which first takes out the bearing, then the strain snaps the shaft. taking out all gears except 4th and only moves while in 4 wheel drive.
Injt: From your description, it sounds serious. If you are describing a Nissan 5 speed transmission, here would be my best guess as to what has occurred. Prior to near total self destruction, these symptoms will show up when counter gear bearings have failed.
At first the transmission will just seem a little noisy, but you probably might not notice that the noise is not present in 4th.
As the bearings deteriorates, the countergear will slowly start dropping and the gears will no longer be running properly aligned.
The noise at that point would be quite obvious. You would hear it in all gears but 4th. With the car at a standstill in neutral with it running and the clutch pedal released to where the transmission is turning, it would sound like a bucket of rocks loose, rattling in the tunnel area of the car. When you depress the clutch in, the noise would disappear. The reason you could run it in 4th is because it is the only gear in which the input shaft and output shaft are locked solid with no relationship to the counter gear. The truck/car can be driven in 4th for this reason. (It doesn't need the counter gear)
Reverse gear is a large gear located at the very center of the transmission next to the Steel center section which you would see sandwiched between the front casing and the tail housing. It is not much more than 1"" thick. Because Reverse is right at that location, even though it does need the counter gear to transfer power, it is the only gear in the transmission which is "SPUR" cut and not helical cut. This design gives it a distinct advantage to operate in a misaligned state with greater spacing. It will still make quite a racket in reverse, but it will move. I am 99% sure that this is your problem. Should this be the case, the transmission has been run far too long to consider repairing. It would probably be scrap metal inside. Find a used one or get a re manufactured one.
I have found that the synthetic gear oils have worked well in our Nissan 300Z race cars we use for road racing. They have basically the same transmission. I am partial to Amsoil and Redline. Both have performed beyond expectations on the track.
I hope I have answered you question.