Hopefully your front axle play is just a toasted bearing, Nachi bearings (made in Japan) are excellent cheap replacements & readily available online: front wheel (2) 6302-2NSE , rear wheel (1) 6204-2NSE & (1) 6304-2NSE These are rubber sealed on both sides, unlike the open sided OE bearings.
You must extract that neutral switch if you haven't yet..there's a (discontinued) o-ring behind the switch holding it tight, get some visegrips on that dude & twist! The old one can be cleaned (soaked) in gas or solvent to get the crud out..it has a hole in it..work it manually..or replace with a new one, around $50 & OE usually comes with the elusive o-ring..that green light will come back to haunt you & it's nearly impossible to access once the motor's back in the frame..
Been following this thread, you are an inspiration to us all! I recently replaced my motor (threw a rod after 133K miles) got a used EBay engine with only 10.5K miles on it..overhauled it (but didn't crack the case)..she runs like new, 150PSI on all 4 cylinders!
Now I feel like a schmoe for not threading that procedure like you are doing!
One more thing, what magical polish are you using on your covers & such.? .
.they are cleaning up nicely!