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How do I remove that darn Woodruff key?

I’m in the process of taking the cam towers / heads off my ‘79 SC to get them rebuilt and the two Woodruff keys have me stumped. From what I’ve read the Woodruff keys need to come out for the cam seal to be taken out so I can get the chain housing off to pull the camshaft.
How on earth are those keys supposed to come out? I tried prying, tapping, channel lock pliers, those darn keys did not move one bit. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thx Bernd
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Old 11-07-2017, 04:32 PM
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I had some trouble with them at first too. Once you figure it out they are easier to take out. I found a post from John walker somewhere which helped me. I believe a hammer and small flat blade screwdriver. They are rounded in the back. So if you tap the bottom of the key it will start to rotate out and you will be able to get it out easier from there.
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Old 11-07-2017, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by arbita1 View Post
I had some trouble with them at first too. Once you figure it out they are easier to take out. I found a post from John walker somewhere which helped me. I believe a hammer and small flat blade screwdriver. They are rounded in the back. So if you tap the bottom of the key it will start to rotate out and you will be able to get it out easier from there.
Exactly.
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Old 11-07-2017, 07:27 PM
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The key is surprisingly soft, and the screw driver blade may actually mar the key some. Easy to fix when you get it out with a file or a whetstone.

Biggest worry extracting or reinserting these is having it fall out. Rags where the chains enter the case, and more generally to avoid hunting around on bench or floor.

Channel locks do the job squeezing them back in when you are finishing up your work - you can get them flush and level, though just a hair lower on the front works to help get the adjustment collar started over the key.
The cam is hard enough that the channel locks won't mar the surface, which doesn't have anything rotating on it anyway.
Old 11-07-2017, 10:06 PM
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darn key

Agree with Catorce and if you lay the key on a flat file and remove a little material installation is easier as well.Fred
Old 11-08-2017, 07:35 AM
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Tapping and prying with a small flat blade screwdriver usually works.
If that doesn't work after trying repeatedly then a large pair of wire cutters also called "Dikes" will do it.
Grab on to it with the dikes and pry it out by carefully prying against the end of the camshaft. You can put a folded up rag between the dikes and cam to keep from leaving any marks while prying.

They can get a little chewed up after removing them many times and new ones are really cheap.
Old 11-08-2017, 08:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by some_german_guy View Post
I’m in the process of taking the cam towers / heads off my ‘79 SC to get them rebuilt and the two Woodruff keys have me stumped. From what I’ve read the Woodruff keys need to come out for the cam seal to be taken out so I can get the chain housing off to pull the camshaft.
How on earth are those keys supposed to come out? I tried prying, tapping, channel lock pliers, those darn keys did not move one bit. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thx Bernd
honestly... I just rocked it back and forth until it moved more freely and then just rocked it all the way back till it stuck out in the front and then just rolled it out.
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Old 11-08-2017, 04:32 PM
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Alright, they finally came out after some not so gentle tapping...I’m glad Pelican sells replacements, the old ones are way beyond re-using...

On a more nasty note, here’s what happens when you screw up up the ‘lefty loosey’ while taking the cam nut off...guess I don’t know my own strength...
Old 11-08-2017, 06:25 PM
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Is that the driver's side cam? If so, I have one from my '79 SC when I replaced them with 964 cams...
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Old 11-09-2017, 03:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by '76 911S 3.0 View Post
Is that the driver's side cam? If so, I have one from my '79 SC when I replaced them with 964 cams...
Yep, drivers side. Too bad I already ordered a replacement from dcauto. You wouldn’t happen to have a good passenger side one for a 79 sc? My passenger side cam has a bit more pitting than I like it to have..
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Old 11-09-2017, 08:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by some_german_guy View Post
Yep, drivers side. Too bad I already ordered a replacement from dcauto. You wouldn’t happen to have a good passenger side one for a 79 sc? My passenger side cam has a bit more pitting than I like it to have..
Unfortunately my cyl 6 intake lobe is pretty banged up, wish l could be more help!
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Old 11-09-2017, 09:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by some_german_guy View Post
alright, they finally came out after some not so gentle tapping...i’m glad pelican sells replacements, the old ones are way beyond re-using...

On a more nasty note, here’s what happens when you screw up up the ‘lefty loosey’ while taking the cam nut off...guess i don’t know my own strength...
wow
Old 11-24-2017, 09:47 PM
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If that cams good otherwise it can be drilled and tapped for the later style bolt fastening.
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Old 12-02-2017, 12:47 PM
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Bernd - I guess you don't know your own strength! It is hard enough to hold things while applying the high torque needed as it is.

My suspicion is that there was a casting flaw or other stress riser there. Cams are rather more brittle than most, if not all, of the other engine parts.

My wife once broke off a wheel stud torqueing the lug nuts while I was ready to go out and qualify. We joke a lot about not knowing her own strength, but of course she was using a click stop torque wrench, and it hadn't clicked.

You are getting a replacement, but I wonder how Mark's approach would work. The whole part with the keyway, which is what keeps the chain wheel in register with the cam lobes, is broken off. A fix would require welding the stub back on, grinding the weld area smooth, drilling and tapping for a much longer bolt so the bolt tension bore on the intact part of the cam and not on the weld, which would be in compression. Sounds like more than it is worth for a common cam?
Old 12-10-2017, 11:13 AM
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I thought it looked that the shoulder with the key groove was intact. And the reference to removing the "nut" made me think is it's an old style cam.
I've had it happen to me. The threads are serious stress risers so the weak spot is there
as a rule.
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Old 12-10-2017, 07:06 PM
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Mark - now I see what you were getting at. I can interpret the photo to show a hint of thread on the intact stub, and maybe also on the broken piece, so the two chain wheel parts could still mount, and as long as the break was deep enough in, the washer shouldn't bottom on the cam and you could get enough torque going. The perspective in the photo is a bit tricky - kind of like those puzzle drawings where first something looks concave, and then convex, so to speak.
Old 12-25-2017, 09:38 PM
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