After quite some time now, and a wrong size key purchase, I went to work yesterday to fit the new gib-key. First was the requirement to shorten the key by 3/8″ as I did not want it sticking out too far from the pinion, when in position. The other thing that is worth while noting is that the pinion gear is held only by the force of the gib-key as it is hammered into place. So the taper of the key needs to be very slight.
Next came filing the bottom side down so that the leading height was just under 5/16″ so that the key would fit into the opening. Once I had the right entry height, I discovered the key needed to be filed a little thinner too, so that it would fit into the keyway. During that exercise I discovered that the keyway in the shaft was marked up quite a bit from someone bashing on the previously installed key. So there was some filing and cleaning up of the keyway grove on the shaft in order.
I reduced the taper in the key thickness to less than 1/32″ of an inch so that there would be good holding power and more of a spread of the torsional forces along the width of the pinion/shaft keying.
Before removing the old key I tied up the press with my 5 lbs sledge between platen and bed, and marked the gear engagement so that I would not loose mechanical timing when the key was out.
Here you can see how the pinion keyway was distorted by forces on the old key, which was only partially inserted (about 3/4″ into the keyway only).
And here it is driven in quite solid, in all it’s properly aligned glory:
I’m sure glad I went through this trouble, as the pinion would have come loose, likely at some inopportune time. As well, the gear teeth were just starting to mark up, with the pinion pushed too far over, and with the smaller meshing there was obviously higher load (and wear on the teeth) taking place.