Can't Drive Key out of Steering Worm Gear Shaft

Thu May 20, 2004 9:34 pm


I'd appreciate recommendations on driving the Woodruff Key out of the worm wheel shaft. I'm replacing the oil seal, which appears to have been leaking for a long time considering the thick grease accumulated below it in the steering gear housing. I removed the castle nut, the steering gear arm, and even though I couldn't get the key out, I was able to drive the shaft and gear out through the old seal with the key in place. But I'm afraid if I put it back together that way the key will damage the new seal. I tried knocking it out with a punch, and also tried using a prick punch and a hammer to start a corner of it outward, but only succeeded in gouging the end of the key a little bit. So I decided to stop and seek help from you guys.

What should I do?


Thu May 20, 2004 10:13 pm

Paul, I usually use a small cold chisel, angled downward toward the shaft at about a 45 degree angle. This doesn't always work for the really tough ones, and if that is the case, you could try some heat, or soaking it with some penetrating oil for a few days. Good luck. :)

Thu May 20, 2004 10:18 pm

Paul, I recently had one I couldn't get the key out of. After trying a punch, chisel. diagonal pliers, I took it to a machine shop. He tried for about 20 minutes, then welded a nut to it and it came right out. I assume it was a combination of the heat applied to the key by the welding, plus having a better way to grip it.

Fri May 21, 2004 6:17 am

Thanks guys. . . I'll try those suggestions. Hope it doesn't come to the machine shop stage though.


Fri May 21, 2004 6:21 am

There was a thread on this in the not too distant past. Someone and I don't remember who it was, suggested taking a Dremel with a cutting wheel and cutting the key lengthways so it could pull away from the sides of the keyway thus making it easy to remove.

Fri May 21, 2004 5:10 pm

Bigdog and Paul,

I started that thread and Jim Becker was the one who suggested the Dremel tool with the cutoff wheel. It worked where other methods failed.

Paul, make sure you didn't damage the bushing when you took the shaft out. I had to grind the key to clear the bushing.