To update this problem: I was able to lower the steering wheel by pushing on the round fiber gear at the 6 o'clock position thus better engaging the worm gear with normal use of the tilt switch. Now that the worm gear holds the round gear in the proper position it is easier to extract. Instead of paper clips, I utililized a single small wall type picture hanger with the hook bent at 90 degrees. With the nail end of the hanger held with needle nose pliers, it was easy to slide the hook end behind the round gear and nudge around the circumference until it came free. Installing a thin washer behind the round gear (as previously described) seems to do the trick.