Based on looking at it real close it looks like I would probably tear the spring up if it tried to remove it. Scuba - if you don't mind find out what it is there for. It looks like it is supposed to protect the spring where the ring comes together.
I got the crank in this afternoon and will start putting the pistons in tomorrow. Everything is looking good. I washed the engine four times today and went through 1 can of WD40 prior to starting the reassembly.