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MG MGB Technical - Steering wheel removal

I got a nice MotoLita steering wheel for Christmas, as the rubber grip on the original one was split and falling off.

Problem is, I can't get the old one off - I knew it wasn't going to just slide off after 40 odd years, but Iv'e had a two arm puller on it, doused it in Plus Gas and even put some heat on it while under tension, but no joy.

Am I being wimpy about it and should keep tightening the puller until something breaks? I was thinking about taking the column out and doing it on the bench, but the UJ on the end is probably just as tight!

Anyone else done this, and what worked for you? How much heat is usually required when someone says 'put some heat on it'?

'71 GT, so not the collapsible column type...

Dave Smith GT

A 2/3 claw puller should do it fine. Don't be afriad. The puller will break first if anything.

Don't take the column out. It's much more pain to re-align it properly than it is to hit a steering wheel off.

Otherwise do this:
I personally prefer a small ballpein hammer ball end to rest in the indent on the end of the column rather than a large copper mallet, but either is fine. You can manage this yourself, too, if you don't trust a helper not to break your fingers! This is really where the ballpein comes in handy to locate the hammer end onto the column while you brace the wheel with your knees and hit with the other hand.
It's a short sharp blast rather than a massive whack that you need.

You shouldn't need a puller. I had to use the double-hammer method (didn't need an assistant) to get both mine off for the first time, but since then they have come free by alternately pushing down on the rim on one side of the wheel and pulling up on the other side, and reversing. Keep reversing, use lots of force. It's important NOT to fully remove the nut until the wheel is loose, several threads must remain engaged so it doesn't suddenly come free.
Paul Hunt

Thanks for the link, that's interesting - I haven't tried that, although I did give the centre of the puller a whack when it was under tension.

I'll give it a go tonight, just as soon as I can find my shorts...
Dave Smith GT

I tried the technique in the video last night, but to no avail. I then tried it again with the two arm puller and whacked the centre screw (effectively the same thing, but without the knees) and it just won't budge. Splashed some more Plus Gas on it and left it again. I can't believe how well stuck on it is.

I'll keep trying, but assuming the worst for the moment, can the inner steering column be withdrawn from the outer tube without removing the whole thing and losing the alignment? I know there is an upper and lower bush, but what holds the inner inside the tube apart from the UJ on the end?

Dave Smith GT

As I understand it a collapsible inner was used in the UK from about 1970, the full energy absorbing from rubber bumpers on. The Parts catalogue shows separate inners and outers prior to 1970, but only a complete assembly for the later two.

Whilst the inner in the middle column does move up and down when the UJ is not fitted, it may well not come all the way out, at least until the upper bearing/bush is removed.

It may also not come out of a GT with the outer in-situ unless you have a Webasto.

Hit it harder, with a bigger hammer.
Paul Hunt

Yes you must just hit harder, be braver.
The inner will not just come out, as it needs to be removed from the bottom anyway on a column of your type. An earlier one you might have got away with...but still unlikely in a GT due to length.
Your column will likely be an early collapsable type as Paul says, but it should not break from hitting provided you are bracing the wheel with your knees. Just hitting the column is asking for trouble very loudly.
There is an extra column type, not shown in the parts lists for some reason. It's basically the earlier 69 column with a 70+ end on it for the steering wheel and switchgear etc. The outer is also slightly different for the locating tang on the later switchgear.
Going back to the problem at hand though...just go crazy with the 2 hammer method but do make sure to firmly brace the wheel. If you collapse the column you'll have even more 'fun' on your hands!

I removed mine 3 years ago, which I believe is the first time that the steering wheel has been removed since 1972, using a hub puller as in this photo.

I removed the bolts used to hold the wheel to the boss and inserted two longer bolts so that the load from the puller is spread over as many threads as possible. If you donít do this the puller will pull the shorter wheel retaining bolts out of the boss and strip the threads in the boss which is cast aluminium.

I had soaked the splines in WD40 the night before. This worked fine for me and I did not need to resort to major hammer action.

Hope this helps.
Richard Thompson

Freeze spray
It's the best stuff known to man.
Take the nut off, spray the hell out of the shaft
If you have the shroud off give the shaft behind the wheel a good spray as well, screw the nut back on a couple of threads to protect your nose, and get a grip of the wheel at 3--9 o'clock positions and pull like you've never pulled before, wiggling the load from one side to t'other while you pull-----------ah it's off
William Revit

Well it's off, but I'm sorry to say I had to cut it off in the end. I tried all the above methods to no avail, and all the pulling, pushing, banging and crashing was hastening the demise of the already ropey UJ.
So, given that it was no beauty anyway (the grip was split, the spokes had surface rust and a bit of the hub casting was already broken, possibly from a PO's attempt at removal) I threw in the towel and hacksawed down from the top to as close to the column as I could, tapped a wedge in the slot and it still took some effort to pull it off.

The new one went on easily and looks great. My first drive (to a classic car meet as it happens) did show that I'd missed something though. I'd bought a dished wheel as the original was dished and I liked the look of it. However, the boss on the MotaLita is deeper than the original, so the indicator stalk is a tad further away and I can no longer flick the overdrive switch with my hand on the wheel. Looking around at the other MGBs at the meeting I could see that the majority had gone for the non-dished version. I'm still very happy with mine though!

Anyway, thanks for all the help and suggestions, it just a shame it wouldn't come off as advertised!
Dave Smith GT

That's some seriously stuck wheel then. I've never had to cut a boss and I must have removed over 200 wheels.
The UJ should be getting almost no shock what so ever as your knees bracing the wheel absorb it.

What was the cause of the retention in the end, just corrosion?

200? Shame I'm not closer, I could have got you to do it!

I was expecting some real corrosion, but the Plus Gas looked to have penetrated much of the mating surfaces. Probably just my imagination, but there appeared to be a slight taper on the column just behind the splined part and I wondered if the wheel had ridden up over it and stuck on that...Anyway, there was nothing obvious, which was a bit annoying.

The UJ was worn anyway and needed replacement, but it 'klonked' a bit afterwards, although having driven it since, it doesn't seem to be doing now.

But you have me curious now - what is it you do that's caused you to remove over 200 steering wheels?
Dave Smith GT

"but it 'klonked' a bit afterwards"

Prepare yourself for an MOT failure. Mine failed, I replaced it, but felt that the cups were a little too easy to slide into the yokes. Next year it failed again, the cups were actually sloppy in the yokes. So I took it back and he said my yokes must be worn. So I get's out the previous spider and cups, and says try those then. He did, they were a tight fit, and he had to take it into the workshop to get them out again. Replacement UJ handed over.
Paul Hunt

I work at a place that deals with and rebuilds cars like these to order. I'll say no more because it puts me on a pedestal of sorts for others to potentially pot shot me if i'm wrong etc. Plus i'd hate to make the business look bad if i'm really wrong haha.
I've rebuilt 100-150 MGs (mostly B varients admittedly) plus a few other classics (and even semi moderns) but I certainly do not know it all or even claim to. Just hope I can help with my experience.

I'll admit to taking a few columns out to get the wheels off though ;)

This thread was discussed between 21/04/2015 and 28/04/2015

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