... You should be able to buy a oil bath type cap at NAPA if you have standard hubs. ...
Tom, nothing about my hubs is standard, so I will not be able to find a replacement cap of any sort, let alone a changeover to the oil bath style. The hub assemblies are Mercedes parts that were never sold in North America; even the wheels are different, and I need to buy my wheels from Van Hool (same wheel, different bearings). And I think Clifford is right, I won't be able to get a grease needle past the outer seal with the nut in place.
.... Bearings are usually identified by size, not by the end user, ...
Sure, but see above. AFAIK, no North American hubs have the same spindle dimensions or hub bore as these Mercedes items, so while bearings must exist, there would be no reason for anyone in North America to stock them. I am expecting to have to order the bearings from Germany. Would love to find out otherwise, though.
... If it's the inside bearing, it's only a little harder (must remove wheel and hub/drum), ...
I know from experience that the inner seal is damaged when removing the inner bearing, and replacement seals must come from Germany (went through this before, when we had them repacked). So even if I could get bearings here, we can't do the inners without the seals, and that's a minimum of three days, assuming I already know where to have them sent.
As I wrote in the blog post, if I had hubs that used standard North American parts, this whole issue would be a non-event -- we'd already be in a shop somewhere in North Carolina having the bearings changed. So I really started this thread because I believe the parts are unavailable in this country.
I'd love to learn that I am just wrong about this, and that since January of last year the Uber-Fledermaus Deluxe brand of coach has been imported and uses these hubs, bearings, seals, etc. and all I need to do is call the Fledermaus dealer and buy them. I'd even be happy to learn they are available at Napa, but I'd need a cross-reference. My experience is that you can't walk into a Napa with an unmarked part in your hand and have them match it, especially something as precise as a bearing. The first question they ask is "what's it from" and "1985 Neoplan Spaceliner" is not in their cross-reference book.
I can hear a number of you thinking that if parts are so hard to come by, I should have spares for everything, and in the case of a wheel bearing set that is used on four of the six hubs, you are probably right. But these parts are double, triple, or up to ten times what equivalent US parts cost. Some examples:
- A set of front brake linings cost me $600, plus air freight from Europe. US linings would have been perhaps $80, and entire shoes (unavailable in my case) perhaps $120.
- The aforementioned inner seals for the wheel bearings cost me $20 apiece, plus air freight from Europe. US-spec items would have been maybe $5 each.
I am not looking forward to the price quote on the bearings. And, of course, I will buy both the inner and outer even though I don't know which one is bad, because I don't want to be sitting in the shop for another three days waiting for the parts, nor does it make sense to disassemble and reassemble the hub twice.
I'll probably buy two sets, so I have a spare. I might have the second set installed on the other front wheel, and keep the take-offs as my emergency set. And I'll also buy two more inner seals so we can repack the tag bearings while we're at it.
Thanks for all the help -- heavy-duty running gear is not my strong suit.