Hi all who offered help and ideas,
I finally had a chance to really seriously study the problem with my wheel and have come across a completely new recognition. This is my new theory, and I'm standing by it! Follow along, it's interesting and should make sense. The original owner made a custom change to the wheel hub system.
I took a very close look at where the wheel hub meets the shaft, and was surprised to see that the shaft is threaded there. Wow, I thought, that's weird, as that would mean it is not intended to be a friction fit alone. That is more like the Edson wheels that use the nut, which my sister ship Gulf's have on them. OK, little detective, what is going on.
Then I realized that that would explain why the wheel hub was not flush up against the snap Oring back on the shaft that is meant to stop the hub being pushed back too far. Hmmm, the distance from where the wheel is now to that stop ring is the same as what the distance of the shaft sticking out for the lock nut would be if it were installed normally. Meaning, if the wheel were pushed back to the stop ring, you would have the room to install the Edson nut per normal.
Now I'm not too quick, but I catch on. Then I see that my Autohelm system is set up such that the wheel would have to be that distance away from the pedestal in order to work. The little arm that holds the Autohelm ring requires the wheel to be that distance away from the pedestal, and thus the wheel would have to be slid aft of its normal position, which would require the removal of the nut, which would require some other fastening system.
OK, with me? Then, after cleaning the little hollow screw type thing fully, I realized it is completely circular. There are no edges inside except the hint of those cause by my trying to pound in an allen wrench. When I stick a smaller allen wrench into the hollow shaft of this set "screw" I see it goes well into the diameter of the wheel shaft. That is, the hole on the wheel hub is drilled into the shaft itself at least a 3-5mm and this little "pipe" is stuck into the shaft itself.
So this is my determination. The wheel was moved aft for all the reasons above. The solution to removing the wheel nut was to drill a hole and pound in a locking pin. Permanently, more or less. The wheel is kept from turning by the tight fit and key, and kept from pulling off by this hollow pin that enters the shaft itself.
There has never been even the hint of any wheel movement on the shaft, so this system has clearly worked well and locked it on tight. For now, since I don't need the wheel off but was simply doing so to study the system, I'm going to leave it. However, if I ever need to remove this puppy, I know I'll have to drill out this pin and use a puller to remove the wheel, and then tap for a beefy set screw.
Thanks for helping me figure this out
and sorry to disappoint that a Quijibo tool #Xr639sk* wasn't the solution. I love getting new tools.
Side note, met a sister ship this week that is starting their voyage up to Alaska. Seems all the boats coming through Friday Harbor are going to Alaska right now and it absolutely kills me and my sailing buddies that we aren't going along. Anyway, the wheel on this guys boat going to Alaska was so loose you could shimmy the wheel back and forth more than an inch of movement. YIKES. He said he was going to fix it before he got too far north, and I sure hope he does. A reminder that one mans comfort zone is another mans panic zone.