The answer is – with the right tool. And how do you find the right tool? In our case, it was simple luck. Let’s start at the beginning.
The only experience we have had in removing steering wheels from old Jeeps was with the CJ3a. Since there is nothing in our posts about removing the steering wheel when we did the disassembly, we must not have encountered any issues. So when we started the disassembly of the CJ2a, we weren’t expecting problems. But boy did we have problems. That steering wheel shut down the body removal process for weeks.
Off to the hunt
Removing the steering wheel should be straight forward; remove the horn button retaining nut and pull the wheel off the splined shaft. The nut came off easily, but no amount of pulling would budge the wheel. We tired a small hub puller, but that didn’t work either. Our first stop for help landed us on the CJ2a Page, which lead us to the CJ3b Info Steering Wheel Removal Page. The page shows a number of beautifully designed pullers. After a search of eBay failed to produce a puller similar to those shown, Barry decided to design his own. He does own a couple of welders. What could possibly go wrong?
Some steel bar, a couple of screws and a tack weld should do the trick. But it didn’t. The forces of evil – or 70 years of rust-weld were more than a match for the collar and standard 3-arm puller. Heat and lots and lots of penetrating oil didn’t help. We ended up pretty much destroying the old wheel and still couldn’t get it off the shaft.
As luck would have it
As luck would have it, we were presenting the movie we had found at the Midwest Willys Reunion in mid-May. Lucky, because Joe DeYoung was doing a demonstration of a tear-down and rebuild of a T-90 transmission. What does a T-90 have to do with a steering wheel you ask.
Sitting on a table next to the demonstration tent were a number of Willys specialty tools that Joe makes and they included a beautiful steering wheel puller. We had found the “right tool” and none too soon.
We snatched up the puller and couldn’t wait to try it out. After days that turned into weeks of frustration, the wheel came off with only a little help from an impact wrench – in a matter of minutes.
So where can you find this magic tool?
We sent Joe a message and asked how others might purchase this wonder. Joe sent us the following information:
Mad City Manufacturing, Inc.
2301 Advance Road
Madison, WI 53718
Here is a list of specialty tools and parts for the Willys fan: