Well....it finally came off this afternoon!
I put the puller on again for the hundredth time, and while cinching it up, I thought...Wow it's not getting tight..something must be giving out on the puller...it kept getting easier.....to my amazement the arm was actually coming off!!!!
Now to order parts. Will not be able to assess the key on the gear until I pull the bearing off the top. Still not certain where the slop was coming from.
Good thing is, by opening it up, I got all that water out. PO had put some grease into the filler cap. But I see now, that these things seal up pretty good.