the shift rod is assembled with the reverse lock out lever and has a cable that is welded on each end with a spring in the lower part. The bottom has a flange with 2 bolt holes that bolts to the shifter its about 2 in. across and you have the lock out levers on top. surely ford intended for the shifter handle to be taken apart even for changing the boot or some of the internal parts,but for the life of me i cant see how unless you melt the weld on top or bottom.
The lockout cable is BRAZED to the pawl at the bottom of the lever. If your new boot won't stretch over the top, unbraze the cable bottom, unscrew the knob and slide the cable up so the tee can be removed.
I have installed several of them. As the Old Bald Guy mentioned the boot is supposed to just stretch over the lever once the knob is removed. If the boot is of fresh rubber it will stretch on from the top. If it is old, it will break.
Don't even think of taking apart the internals to the shifter. Been there, done that. The heat from the torch will discolor the chrome plating and melt the rubber boot. I used Phos-bronze solder as it works cooler than brass or weldment.