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What Is a Gear Puller?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated Feb 26, 2024
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A gear puller is a tool that is specially designed to pull gears from shafts. There are many different styles of gear puller designs, all intended to fulfill a particular purpose. Some designs use jaws to grip the gear while others use bolts to attach the it directly to the gear. One thing the styles have in common is that all types of pullers use a threaded rod to press against the gear's shaft and apply pressure until it comes loose. No matter which design is utilized, the proper puller makes the removal of a gear an easier task.

Often used on small gears in very tight quarters, the two-jaw puller is the puller of choice. Having two arms or jaws that grasp the gear as the threaded rod comes in contact with the gear's mounting shaft, the rod is tightened, which applies pressure to the two arms or jaws as they pull the gear from the shaft. Often, in the case of a stubborn gear, the pressure must be applied to the gear by tightening the puller and then leaving it to sit under the pressure for a few minutes. Gradually tightening the gear puller will result in the release and removal of the gear.

Perhaps the easiest of all of the jaw type pullers is the three-jaw gear puller. By using three jaws, the puller is better equipped to apply even pulling pressure around the gear as the threaded rod is tightened against the gear's shaft. While best used on larger gears in open areas with easy access, this type of gear puller can also need the occasional aid in removing a very tight gear. In the instance that the puller is unable to pull the gear from its shaft, the threaded rod can be tightened and then hit on the head with a hammer. This will usually loosen the tightest gears with one attempt.

The bolt on a gear puller is used on gears such as an automobile engine harmonic balancer and even steering wheels where the gear has threaded bolt holes around the perimeter. The puller is attached to the gear with bolts and the threaded center rod is tightened against the gear's shaft. As pressure is applied the gear will pop loose from its shaft and can be easily removed. When using any gear puller, it is important to keep the puller as close to level with the gear as possible to assure a straight pull.

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Discussion Comments

By parkthekarma — On Oct 16, 2011

For some things, using one is not an option. For example, propellers. If you are working on an aircraft or a large boat, damaging either the prop or a drive shaft can cost several months' pay, so you have to do it right the first time. The props on a large turboprop aircraft can cost tens of thousands of dollars. I don't even want to hazard a guess what the props on a full-sized ship would cost. For that matter, I don't even want to guess what the gear puller for that kind of a ship would cost.

You can make really good money working on large equipment, but the cost of your tools can just kill you. The shops will have the big things you need, but even the hand tools are oversized, and extremely expensive. I know auto mechanics that have over $20,000 worth of tools. Heavy equipment mechanics probably have all of the same things the car guys have, and then all of the big tools too. Gets quite expensive.

By MaPa — On Oct 16, 2011

@horsebite - I feel your pain. There is nothing worse than not having the tool you need when you're in the middle of a job. You are all dirty, everything's spread out, all of your tools are there, and you can't just get up and leave because someone might steal your stuff.

Any time I need to remove a gear or other part from a shaft, I always make sure I have the right gear puller, and also an impact wrench. Sometimes those things are on there so well you just can't get them loose. The impact wrench makes all the difference in the world. Just hook it up to the compressor and it's over.

By horsebite — On Oct 15, 2011

This is one of those things where having an inexpensive tool can save you hours of headache. I don't know why, but every time I have needed one of these, it seems I haven't had one and didn't want to take the time to go find or borrow one. Thus ensued hours of frustration trying to yank the gear off the shaft in any number of unusual and ineffective ways.

Anyone who works with engines or machinery really needs to get themselves a gear puller set. It's not even expensive. And it takes about a minute to use. You just hook it up and start turning. Sooner or later, off it comes.

It really beats the alternative, which includes yanking on the gear like a caveman, jumping around, yelling, and profanity.

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