Make-a-Tool: Steering Wheel Woodruff Key Insertion - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-21-2014, 12:55 PM Thread Starter
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Make-a-Tool: Steering Wheel Woodruff Key Insertion

Although I had no problem removing the old steering wheel, didn't even need the puller I had borrowed, I could not push the spring-loaded sleeve around the steering shaft while simultaneously inserting the Woodruff Key.

Mental calculus went: What could be used to press the sleeve down with one hand? Didn't want to use wrench or vice-grip due to fear of damage to sleeve, and doubted that it would work for me. So, how about a tube of some sort?

Took measurements:
  • D1: steering shaft diameter 25/32" = 0.78125"
  • D2: spring-loaded sleeve diameter 28/32" = 0.875"
Needed to find a tube whose interior diameter was greater than D1 and less than D2. To my joy and amazement 3/4" Schedule 40 PVC pipe has an interior diameter of 0.824".

All I had to do was a drill out a notch in the pipe to allow me to insert the key while pushing the sleeve back.

For less than $1 you can build your own. And, yes, it worked!

Notes:
  1. Cap is there to protect hand when pushing.
  2. Original 18" long pipe forced me too far back from the end of the steering shaft. Choose a length appropriate for you.
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1974 Spider
Work gets in the way of my hobbies. Nothing takes just 5 minutes.

Last edited by BobG; 06-22-2014 at 09:25 AM. Reason: Corrected sentence about cost so that it made sense.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-21-2014, 05:51 PM
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Brilliant ! I'll definitely make and use this. Ken.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-21-2014, 09:28 PM
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I have to give you 5stars!
I've used a vice grip, two people, and curses technique for years.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-22-2014, 07:04 AM
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Necessity is the mother of invention. Very simple and clever solution, Bob!

Bob Williams
Current: '76 Spider. Former: '86 GTV6, '58 Giulietta Spider "normale"
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-02-2014, 10:55 AM
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Great post. Currently trying to get my steering wheel reinstalled, so I have a question: Once you place the pin back in place, how do you keep it there while you try to put the steering wheel back on? If you let go of the tool (or in my case a small vise-grip on the column keeping the collar recessed), won't the collar just violently pop the pin out? Sorry if this is a stupid question… This is my first time contending with this steering wheel. Thanks!

Adam in Nashville: '72 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000 - '86 Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce - '74 BMW 2002tii - '90 BMW E30/S52 - '05 BMW X5 - '06 BMW 325i
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-03-2014, 06:15 AM
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I just went through this. I found if I pushed the bushing back with a big screwdriver, I could squeeze the bushing with a vice grip with just enough tension to lock the bushing in place. With both hands now available, and the keyway completely exposed, was able to tap the key all the way home. When I carefully released the vg, the key held firm. The clearance is very tight, so the pressure did not deform the bushing.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-03-2014, 06:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mgsteve View Post
I just went through this. I found if I pushed the bushing back with a big screwdriver, I could squeeze the bushing with a vice grip with just enough tension to lock the bushing in place. With both hands now available, and the keyway completely exposed, was able to tap the key all the way home. When I carefully released the vg, the key held firm. The clearance is very tight, so the pressure did not deform the bushing.
I ended up doing the same thing, but instead clamped on the steering shaft with the collar retracted instead of the collar, itself. The key for me was to tap the key in firmly with a hammer, which seated it enough to keep the spring loaded collar from shooting the key into the air.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-05-2014, 02:52 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RenaissanceMan View Post
I ended up doing the same thing, but instead clamped on the steering shaft with the collar retracted instead of the collar, itself. The key for me was to tap the key in firmly with a hammer, which seated it enough to keep the spring loaded collar from shooting the key into the air.
Yep, inserting the key into the slot is the challenge.

Even when holding the spring-loaded collar back with my tool it still required fiddling to seat the key. However, once the key is seated I could hold it in place with one hand, while replacing the tool in the other hand with the steering wheel for mounting.

1974 Spider
Work gets in the way of my hobbies. Nothing takes just 5 minutes.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-23-2015, 05:33 AM
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Hi Bob,
Thanks for posting this great idea. I used a 3/4" piece of PVC and made your described slot in it. No matter what I did, I could not get the Woodruff Key to sit in the shaft slot after retracting the PVC tool.

I ended up doing the following:

-use the 3/4" PVC piece to push back the spring collar.
-use a pair of vice grips to gently squeeze the spring loaded collar to the shaft.
-remove the PVC and insert the Woodruff Key in the slot.
-slide the steering wheel on partially and remove the vice grips.
-slide the steering wheel on the rest of the way.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-23-2015, 03:59 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ihart View Post
Hi Bob,
Thanks for posting this great idea. I used a 3/4" piece of PVC and made your described slot in it. No matter what I did, I could not get the Woodruff Key to sit in the shaft slot after retracting the PVC tool.

I ended up doing the following:

-use the 3/4" PVC piece to push back the spring collar.
-use a pair of vice grips to gently squeeze the spring loaded collar to the shaft.
-remove the PVC and insert the Woodruff Key in the slot.
-slide the steering wheel on partially and remove the vice grips.
-slide the steering wheel on the rest of the way.
Yes, I made multiple attempts before getting the Woodruff key to stay put. Thankfully not that many.

Your suggestion of using vise grips to squeeze the collar is a good one. Thanks.

1974 Spider
Work gets in the way of my hobbies. Nothing takes just 5 minutes.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-16-2016, 02:32 PM
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thanks for the great tip. I am in the process of struggling with this myself. I have a 69 Duetto and a 74 Kammtail. I am trying to swap the "personal" wheel from the "74 with the plastic rimmed wheel from the '69 ( I like the 69 better ) I was told this was a direct swap. Pulling the wheel off the 69 was a bear and it came off with a bang! Now I have the "personal" wood rimmed wheel installed but there is more clearance between the back of the wheel and the trim around the steering column. Also, the wheel wobbles a bit on the shaft. Before I crank it on so tight that it never comes off, does anyone know if the keys are maybe slightly different sizes?

thanks
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