CJ5 starter engagment issue

CJ5 starter engagment issue


'77 CJ5 258 3 speed
I bought a 77 CJ5 3 speed minus motor, dropped in a AMC 258 i6 / 4.2l out of a J10 that had an auto - had to swap the flex plate for a flywheel but everything else including the starter came from the j10. The starter worked fine for awhile, but all of the sudden bagan grinding, I've checked everything and as far as i can tell the starter drive gear is not kicking out far enough to fully engage the flywheel. Ring gear has some damage but it is minimal and no teeth are gone. I have replaced the starter with no change.
I have done a lot of reading on several threads here but still can't determine what is up.
My question - does a manual transmission take a different starter than an auto?? I am beginning to wonder if I need a starter with a longer nose for the manual.
I have never seen a change in starters for either.............normally the ring gear , number of teeth is usually the same for either a flex plate ( auto) or a flywheel ( manual) and therefore so is the starter............if it was not grinding before and now it is normally that is an alignment issue (loose bolts or some times a gear mesh problem which requires shims) may be just a worn out starter drive or ring gear............process of elimination.

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