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This page is still being written, any comment/additions appreciated.
Sourcing parts, whether to complete your vehicle or to repair wear and tear can be very satisfying or endlessly frustrating. Over time this article will grow. For the moment here are some of my experiences:
A) The Cat mystery:
In the 1990s, my M8 Greyhound fan drive became increasingly noisy. The Greyhound has twin belt driven fans serving one large radiator. I traced the problem to the tensioner pulley. At that stage, although noisy, the bearing was still usable and had not done anything dramatic. It was a strange looking thing, long with an integral shaft, sealed both ends and with double to triple the length of outer race of a normal bearing.
I have a parts book and it quotes the usual ordanance numbers, so I tried the various overseas dealers without success. The parts book also quotes an ND number, that rang a bell as belonging to the American company "New Departure" (weird name for a bearing manufacturer - the company no longer exists as a bearing manufacturer). So I phoned the major bearing suppliers in Adelaide and all of them said it was an obsolete part no longer manufactured and unobtainable. Sigh.
At some point I mentioned this problem to someone I knew vaguely (don't remember who now) and he responded with "try Cat". My response was "why would Caterpillar have an obsolete part for a WW2 armoured car". To which I got told "just try Cat".
So, having nothing to lose I went to the local Cat dealer with my parts book in hand on a Monday morning. That caused some interest in the parts office! The bloke who worked there at that time looked at the ordanance number went "nup, no use", then the next number with the same response, I pointed to the ND number and asked if something that old would be of any use. "Yep, I should be able to cross reference that to a Cat number". Out came one of those much treasured and very used cross-reference bibles and he soon had a Cat number, so things were looking up. The next question being, could they obtain one?
The answer was, "not in Australia, but there are 130 in San Diego (or maybe that was San Franscisco)". Er, okay, will you order one please and how much is it going to cost me. He said $14! Aussie or Yank?
Answer = Aussie. Thinking that he didn't understand the question and had given me the postage cost, I asked for clarification, 'no, what is the total', "that is the total". Being on a roll, and thinking Cat was just as likely to scrap the rest at some point, I said I will have 2.
Curiosity getting the better of me, I asked why Cat would have these bearings and what they could possibly fit (having visions of huge Cat D10 bulldozers being an unlikely match). He looked it up and it was a 1920s bulldozer, one of those very small ones that crossed over from the earlier Holt designs. The comment was made, that some other Cat products would also use them, but the parts list reverts to the first product. I suppose if something works, stick with it. Apparently in the listed vehicle it was the actual water pump bearing.
Then it got weirder: expecting that it would take ages for those bearings to work their way through the Cat system I asked in how many weeks I should come back.
Answer = Thursday. Ok, now he was just having a lend of me. But he insisted that the bearings would be in his office by 8am on Thursday (year right, Thursday next year sometime.....).
However, just to prove a point, I returned on the Thursday at 9.30am where upon the 2 bearings were plunked on the counter and I duly paid my $28 and walked away shaking my head, one very bemused but now converted customer.
Fast forward to roughly 2012 to 2014. A friend had purchased a Greyhound and unbeknown to me, soon after his fan pulley idler bearing had failed and the vehicle was not driveable. I received a phone call which went like this: Doug, my Greyhound is broken and I am out of solutions to get it back on the road without having to modify it. He described how he had tried both major bearing suppliers in Adelaide, to be told the bearing hadn't been availabe for decades and then also tried the smaller places. He was also in need of the 4 bearings for the 2 fan pulleys proper, which had got the same response.
This was a Friday, when I told him that if I could not source his idler pulley by Thursday of next week, I would give him my spare (which finding out I had one surprised him), but would want him to replace it at some point, he kept wanting me to assure him that we were talking about the same item. I asked for the bearing numbers for the fan pulleys.
On the Monday, back out to Cat. Different storeman, but a face I remembered from school. I had my spare bearing in hand and when I asked 'can you still get these?'.
'San Diego again?'
'Ok, how much?'
'Come back Thursday?'
'Ok, make it 2'
'I just have to ask, what is going on? How come you can get them so quickly from America, yet a letter takes 5 days to get here from Adelaide?'
Apparently, when someone buys a Cat machine, they pay not just for the machine, but also the entire Cat organisational arrangement (sounds like the good old days of Rolls Royce). Part of the arrangement is the spares support is as quick as they can possibly make it and for as far back in history of their products as they still have parts tucked away. Their huge parts warehouse on the US West Coast is situated next to the International airport and they have a constant flow of parts being dispatched worldwide. Not just one dispatch per day as do most businesses, but constant dispatch. Very impressive. All that and I have never had cause to grumble about their prices.
When I asked about the 4 fan pulley bearings the response was, "they are just common bearings, not worth the mucking around for us to buy in, go to X in town". Not needing to be told twice, but a bit dubious, off I went. The lifetime experienced parts clerk at the store I had been sent to looked at the numbers and agreed they were common. 'Ok, how long to get them?'
Answer = "As long as it takes me to walk over to that shelf!" - Conversations with storemen are certainly different from those with regular sales people.
So there you go, unavailable according to the big city bearing specialist, but on the shelf in Broken Hill!
Download the big pics by clicking on the small pics...
F and L are fan pulley bearings, AH is idler pulley bearing.
On the Thursday, I had some other work to do and was going to worry about the idler bearings that afternoon. However, apparently I had not fully got my head around the Cat concept and at 11.am had the following phone call:
"Doug, _____ at Cat here, when are you going to come and get these bearings, they have been waiting for you since 7.30 this morning!"
'Er, right now, see you soon.'
Suitably educated in not being tardy, I arrived at Cat. I had been told when I ordered the bearings that the price would be $18ea, but would not have been surprised if it was double that given the 10 or so years since previous buy. Nope, $18 each was correct, I was still learning the Cat way of doing business.
I was then able to gleefully phone my friend and tell him that I had some good news and some bad news for him.
'Hey mate, I have got all of your bearing sitting in my lap'.
"You're kidding me?"
'Nope, couldn't be more truthful.'
"But how can you have got these in Broken Hill when it could not be done in Adelaide?" So then I told him about the Cat experience.
"Ok, what's the bad news?". 'Cat have put the price up on the idler bearings in the 10 years since I last bought them!'
"Oh, so how expensive were they?"
'$18 each landed here from San Diego.'
"You mean by $18?"
'No, to a total of $18 each.'
"That's all they cost? I don't believe it......"
"What about the pulley bearings?"
'On the shelf at the local bearing place, I have had them since Monday AND I got you the ones that are sealed both sides as a bonus.'
"But Adelaide said they don't exist plain let alone with seals...."
'Yeah, well, that's the big city for you....'
So, do keep in mind, if you are in need of bearings or seals, it may be a lot less trouble just to go straight to Cat. Don't be late returning to collect and pay for them though, Cat seems to feel you have let them down if you do that. (I don't know, but perhaps they have some sort of internal service time tracking that says the parts must be in the customer's hands within a certain number of hours of the part being ordered?)
B) Kettenkrad seals
The Kettenkrad was designed and built by the motorbike manufacturer NSU (see specific Kettenkrad articles elsewhere on this website). They were overly clever in that not just the specific Kettenkrad parts were designed in house, but also lots of the parts where they could have otherwise used off the shelf components. Where they could have used say a 40mm ID seal, they used 37.5mm, but combined it with something weird such as 55.5mm OD x 9mm thick. This meant that the 3rd Reich had to source the maximum from NSU rather than from competitors. Just one of those parts that was unique to the Kettenkrad was the sprocket grease seals.
Due to leakage issues with the existing ones, I pulled the seals and found no useful markings. I then measured the seals and did the rounds (starting with Cat) and was unsuccessful in finding anything that would do the job. Being that Cat did not have them, I knew I was in trouble.
After spending many many hours on the internet I chanced across a reply on a forum from an Aussie who worked for a specialist bearing and seal importer. Very luckily his account on that forum was still active and I could message him. On explaining the problem (and emailing a photo of the vehicle and offending seal) he said he would look into it for me. After a few days I received an email stating that he had located a seal that would fit, it was more expensive than a seal of similar size but not out of reason. The problem being he could not sell to me as the business he worked for was an importer only, I had to nominate a store of one of the 2 major (and useless) companies in Adelaide. I then had to contact the store to arrange payment for the seals and postage and duly received the seals and installed them. The rubber material in the seals is bright blue, but otherwise they look like normal grease seals.
Download the big pics by clicking on the small pics...
Part No10 Dichtring.
C) Next Subject
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