Removing Splined Hubs
Q: The rear wheels slide off their splined hubs easily; those at the front don't.
Do you have any thoughts or ideas re: how I might temporarily modify a puller so that it will work without damaging the wires, or do you have other ideas? I'm certain that others have had to deal with this problem.
AMGBA member posting on our club message board
A: Soaking the hubs in WD40 and/or Liquid Wrench or equivalent should help, whether rust or grease. If you've ever dealt with a frozen clutch plate, you realize how little rust it takes to seize things. This could take a while.
If it's just a hard grease build-up, you may have to apply some heat to both expand the wheel center hub and help melt and soften the old grease.
Heat could be supplied by a heat gun - a sort of a super-charged hair dryer. Harbor Freight or Grainger have them reasonably cheap. These could get hot enough to fry the paint, but shouldn't damage the wheels or hubs. Using a torch requires you constantly move it to avoid making hot-spots and damage metal parts by weakening them. Highly recommend using a propane torch, like to solder plumbing. An acetylene torch can often be too focused, hot and do more harm than good.
On pullers or presses, I don't know of any that would work without major modification. You might try a slide hammer with a 3-jaw clamp. Be sure to get one that has a locking ring so the jaws stay tight to the slight lip where the wires are attached at the top of the center hub. Make sure to protect the threads on the front hubs in case the jaws slip.
Also, you can jack the car up, partially screw an old knock-off onto the spline tube, hold a 2X4 over the top and then hit the board with a heavy mallet. Could be just enough to loosen the wheel.
Lastly, if all fails and the wheel becomes sacrificial, cut the wires and remove the rim, take off the brake calipers and remove the front hubs. You then might be able to use a disc grinder with a cutting wheel to slot the wheel hub enough to split it and then remove it. The trick here is to not cut it so deep as to damage the splines on the hub.
Hope that helps. Good luck.
Editor's Note: This is what Mark VanEtten used to remove his wire wheel.
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