Re: Steering shaft
No need to remove the box.
The splined steering shaft in the column retracts into the column. It's most likley stuck. It's been a while but some WD40, needle nose vise grips, a screwdriver and a hammer did the job. Start off by taking out the clamp bolt, move the shaft sleeve down as much as you can, then gently pound the splined shaft back up into the column. Keep playing with it, it'll go.
You had to do what to fit those little tires?
I'm sure glad I own a CJ!