I built up an 8s Alfine (SG-S501) yesterday for my commuter. Nice enough, and I could get it for a fraction of the price of the 11s hubs. I've heard the 8s are prone to all manner of problems, but I figure I'm capable of taking care of my own stuff well enough!
I have two questions, if anyone can help:
1) Regarding the oil, does this serve any purpose other than cleaning and lubrication? i.e., is the hub highly viscosity-dependent on the oil, does it have a viscous coupling inside, etc.? I dipped mine before building it, just to be out front of potential problems, but was wondering what purpose it served, and if something cheaper, thinner, slipperier, etc., could be substituted.
2) Regarding the shifter, will any Shimano 8s shifter work? I have a Nexus twist shifter on there now, because that's what I could get. I can't find the 8s Alfine shifters through any of my always-awesome Canadian distributors. Any chance an Acera, etc., will work, just with backwards numbers? I can live with backwards numbers.
Thanks for any light anyone can shed for me!