Wait wait...the splined end that fits through the locking hub is not the long shaft....this would not allow the wheels to steer....it is only the stub shaft that extends past the cv joint. See item 13 on this drawing...
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I'd suspect you can easily pull the cv/stub unit with the half shaft from the splined long shaft , allowing to keep away from the differential,
ANyway...this stub shaft has been ruined probably at the time of your bearing replacement,( cause I suspect in the years before you had proven the 4wd to work...did'nt you)......why?...you will have to ask.
A photo of your "problem" would be an interesting complement to your story...