by Jason McDaniel
For '56-'72 Type 2s, you unfortunately cannot just pull off the old steering wheel. The wheel is wedgemated to the steering column, that is, there is a slow taper at the end of the column that matches the taper inside the steering wheel. Torquing the nut down forces the wheel down on the taper and *locks* it into place (just like a wedgemated flywheel on a performance engine). The key and keyways also prevent it from slipping. I'd imagine that this was done because of the forces that the bus wheel experienced as folks leaned on it and used it to pull themselves into the cab. Early Barndoor buses did use splined shafts like beetles. When you pull wedgemated parts apart you will experience a *pop* when the parts are forced to release their grip on each other.
The best way I know of to remove an early bus steering wheel it to: Make a two piece collar that fits around the steering column and can be bolted together and obtain a two arm puller deep enough to go around the base of the steering wheel and the collar.
Remove the turn signal, and the self cancelling ring (take out the three screws and lower the ring.
Reinstall the three screws (or three others) from the self cancelling ring, but do not screw them in till the heads touch the soft part of the wheel.
This prevents the puller collar from pulling against the bakelite portion of the bottom of the steering wheel (and chipping it), and instead pulls against the screw heads that are threaded into the metal portion of the wheel. Install the collar on the steering wheel column. (I use a marine item that allows a propshaft to pass through a bulkhead or a hull).
Fit the puller to pull the collar off the column, taking the steering wheel with it. The puller can build up a lot of force here, so be careful. I highly recommend that if you have safari windows, open them to reduce the chance of breaking the glass (I came close to hitting my OPEN safaris).
When you reinstall the wheel, use anti-sieze or grease on the wedgemated
part of the column.