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Author Topic: Ack! Blew my wheel bearing en route to Choo-Choo  (Read 5941 times)
Sean
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« on: October 12, 2011, 06:10:15 PM »

Those interested can read the whole saga and its prelude in this post on our blog:
http://ourodyssey.blogspot.com/2011/10/houston-weve-had-problem.html

The short version is that the left front wheel bearing is making noise and has detectable flat spots, but no play, and I am 500 miles from the Choo Choo garage.

So here are the questions for the collected wisdom of the group:
  • What are my chances of nursing the bearing to Choo-Choo for Joel to work on it?
  • I am guessing the spindle is either already scored, or will be by the time I get there (if I make it).  I have heard that there are itinerant mechanics who have the equipment to weld some additional material on to the spindle and machine it back to spec right in place.  Can anyone point me to one of these in the Chattanooga area?
  • What else should I be looking and/or listening for, or what else do I need to know?

As always, thanks in advance, and I am still hoping to meet many of you at the BCM rally this weekend.

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com
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« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2011, 06:29:25 PM »

There is a company called Axle Surgeons that has locations all over the country that can replace/repair axle spindles at your location.  www.axlesurgeons.com  There are also other companies that do this type of repair in almost every large city.

I contacted them about 10 days ago to see if they could replace the spindle on our torsion trailer axle, but they couldn't do it.  (Not Surprised really.)  They could only replace it if was on the end of a tube.  If it was a tube I could have just replaced the spindle or the entire axle myself.  A new torsion axle has to be ordered and takes two to three weeks to get.  Nobody stocks them.
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« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2011, 06:36:41 PM »

Sean, I contacted the same company Brian just referenced when I was having problems with the drive axle seal on my Eagle. Didn't use them as I found the cure but sounded as if they could have cut and welded it on the spot.

They have companies all over they contract with to do the work.

 877-349-2953

Ed
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« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2011, 06:51:57 PM »

Sean,

If it is a wet bearing (oil lubed), I would try to nurse it along to Choo-Choo. I nursed a Diamond Reo tractor-trailer from Bangor to my home in Virginia once. Just try to keep it below 55MPH. Of course, I only had about 8K on the front axle. Not sure what your front axle weighs. It had no play but was making a grinding sound. When I took it apart the rollers fell out in my hand.

TOM
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Sean
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« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2011, 06:57:29 PM »

Tom,

They are grease-packed bearings, not the wet type.  I have about 13k on the front, half on each wheel.  No grinding or other sounds when I spin it by hand, just noticeable flat spots.  The sound comes in while driving -- sounds like a scalloped tire.

Our plan is to keep it below 50mph at all times, and lower when we can get away with it.  Makes for a long drive but we'll get great fuel mileage.

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com
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« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2011, 07:04:28 PM »

You've got bigger cojones than me if you can bring yourself to drive it but I honestly don't know what the "right" answer is.  I'm sure you know it will get real exciting if it locks up, even at 50 MPH.  If I was going to try to drive it I'd get a grease needle and jam as much new grease into the outside bearing as I could get in there.  And here's a piece of advice from the boating world - don't let an agenda get in the way of the right decision.
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Sean
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« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2011, 07:56:47 PM »

...  I'm sure you know it will get real exciting if it locks up, even at 50 MPH.  ...

True, and this makes me wonder if it might be possible to pull the whole hub off and switch it with the tag axle.  That would at least move the problem to someplace where it would cause fewer issues.

Quote
If I was going to try to drive it I'd get a grease needle and jam as much new grease into the outside bearing as I could get in there.

OK.  Is this a common tool that I might find at Wal-Mart or maybe Lowe's?  I have a grease gun, with a nipple on it for zerk fittings.  And does this basically puncture the seal?

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com
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« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2011, 08:35:45 PM »

A needle has a zerk with a long tube doubt if WM will have one most Napa's do,depends on how your bus is set up it may not work for you without removing the nut and washer on the spindle
 
If it is not generating heat I would easy on to the rally bearings will run a long time without seizing with ruff spots not the way I like to do it but not much of a choice for you, a bearing for a Neoplan may be hard to find and if you had hurt the spindle you would be setting on the side of the road    


drive safe and be careful  
« Last Edit: October 12, 2011, 08:46:23 PM by luvrbus » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2011, 08:39:11 PM »

Sean - we are currently parked at Choo Choo, and will be here tomorrow as well having, ironically, our bearings and other things checked over.  If there is *anything* at all that we can help facilitate on this end for you, please let us know.

As we only just learned about the full dangers of wheel bearing going out this morning in the safety workshop, I can offer no words of expertise.  Obviously there are definite advantages to making it to Choo Choo on many levels, however do what feels like the right decision for YOU.

When/if you do make it, there will be hugs and wine awaiting you.

 - CnC

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« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2011, 08:52:29 PM »

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/NAPA-Grease-Gun-Fitting-Needle-Type-Adapter-Lubemax-/160628547397?pt=Motors_Automotive_Tools

Sean, It looks like this.. Lots of auto parts stores have them. Hope this helps...Cable
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Sean
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« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2011, 09:04:16 PM »

...
If it is not generating heat I would easy on to the rally ...  

Sorry, I wrote this in the blog post, but neglected to mention it here.  They are generating a little heat, though it was not enough to be detected by the tire monitors.

When I checked the hubs after stopping at the I-95 rest area, the three good hubs read 96-98 and the bad hub read 151 on the IR gun.  After nursing the bus another 30 miles to tonight's stop, keeping it to 50mph, the bad hub read 110 while the good hubs were 86.

Does that change your advice?

...  If there is *anything* at all that we can help facilitate on this end for you, please let us know.
...
When/if you do make it, there will be hugs and wine awaiting you.


Thanks, I will let you know if I need anything.  I knew you were in the shop from Mike, whom I had asked for assistance in teeing up the bearing replacement with Joel next week.  I need to get the parts started on coming from Europe and Choo Choo is as good a place as any to have them sent.

If I make it to Chattanooga, I will go to the park for the rally on Saturday and roll over to the shop Monday, where I need to be anyway for my workshops.

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com
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« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2011, 05:24:33 AM »

Sean,

With no grinding I would run it. It's not getting hot enough to worry me either. If you can remove the bearing cap & shoot some new grease in there I would do it.

Another method would be to replace the outer cap with an oil bath type cap. Then fill it with 140 wt. gear oil to make it a wet type wheel bearing. You would have to keep filling the reservoir up since the oil would work it's way through to the back bearing as you drive. The down side is your inner seal may leak & ruin the brake linings but they are probably cheaper than having the problem fixed on the side of the road.

You should be able to buy a oil bath type cap at NAPA if you have standard hubs. Not sure about the Neoplan.

I would probably try this but I am known for harebrained schemes, and I did it before on a loaded trailer axle. It lasted about 300 miles to my destination. Ruined my brake shoes though.  BK would probably try it too.  Grin

How about it, Clifford? You are probably the voice of reason here...   Grin

TOM
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« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2011, 05:41:25 AM »

If it's the outer bearing, it's not too hard to remove and replace. Bearings are usually identified by size, not by the end user, and you may well be able to find a replacement at NAPA or a similar supplier. If it's the inside bearing, it's only a little harder (must remove wheel and hub/drum), but still not beyond the ability of a reasonably trained mechanic. Might save you the headache of repairing or (!) finding a new one. Good luck.
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Sean
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« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2011, 06:36:04 AM »

... 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.

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... 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.

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com
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« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2011, 07:03:39 AM »

Man, that's tough!!

I knew a lot of stuff on your bus was not American but was hoping the running gear was something you can get here. I see that's not the case.

You are probably right in buying the extras and keeping them. I don't know if I would install both front sets. Wheel bearings are fairly easy to check. If they don't have any fatigue cracks in the rollers or scaring on the races I would repack them & keep my new ones. Then again, I have the facilities to replace them myself & don't travel as much as you. Tough call.

I hope you make it!!

TOM
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