Removing a stuck Edson steering wheel

Two truths and a lie:

1. “It’s important to be able to remove your wheel from your pedestal in the event you need to use your emergency tiller or serve drinks in the cockpit to more than 3-4 foreign dignitaries.”
2. “The wheel on a 30-year old Edson pedestal is easy to remove. Just spin the locknut off and slide the wheel back.”
3. “Dude, it works fine as it is, let’s just go sailing today.”

The first is certainly true. As the truth of the third statement is reinforced by successive owner/operators, the second statement becomes the lie.

I tried to pull my wheel off. It wouldn’t budge. I applied PB Blaster. I did the right thing, the careful thing, and hit it with my hammer a couple of times. Still wouldn’t budge.

I e-mailed Edson. They responded very quickly and said if PB Blaster wouldn’t work, I should try a wheel puller. Pullers are marvelous tools. I remember buying a Moen valve stem puller for a recalcitrant 70’s shower valve on a house flip a couple of years back. Saved tens of thousands of dollars and a month of remodel time.

When I need a special tool I expect to use once and am unlikely to use much in the future, there’s a magic source to which to turn. Harbor Freight Tools. $16 + tax gets you a 3 jaw puller from China. Wonderful.

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I assumed this would pop it off in 5 minutes. 45 minutes later, and a tremendous amount of twisting force applied, I finally freed it. The shaft, cleaned of rust and gunk with an abrasion + vinegar cocktail, looks like this:

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I re-greased and re-assembled. The wheel comes off now, very easily. Ready to serve drinks to Angie Merkel next time she comes through on a visit. Could be months, given the travel restrictions.

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