My '01 has almost 21,000, should I consider finding a second drive and having it rebuilt so when I do have this issue I will have a swap? Any advice on this?
I did my own crown bearing as a preemptive strike and what I found was it was close to .2mm over shimmed so it would have failed me in time. I did not do anything else at that time but I do have a picture of my pinion and I believe I can see the creeping roller race issue.
Since I do not have the skills of Dave ( Saddleman ) I bought a cheap one off flebay and pulled it apart completely, making the proper holding jig and modifying tools to be able to properly disassemble and reassemble it. What I found was the bearings and races were all in good shape and all the shimming was optimal. This is possibly one Dave did for someone else that found its way to me but I have no way of telling other than it is all set up properly. Even so, it is my goto spare as nothing was replaced in it other than the pinion seal as there were signs of a leak there but the oil could have come from anywhere after it was removed from the bike and sold to me.
You can get them fairly cheap but without a proper inspection, you have no real way of telling if it will last. You could do it 2 ways if you really want a spare and don't have the tools to rebuild one yourself which I don't recommend now that I have done one unless you have the proper skills and knowledge. I am a tinkerer so it was a learning experience for me to see if I could do it.
If you have a no riding season, pull it and ship it to Dave and save the several hundred on the second one, or keep riding and get a spare and have it rebuilt for the eventuality of a FD failure that may or may not happen any time soon. I have heard that Dave has had some available at times so you might ask him about it.
Now for the advice. Keep the oil changed in your FD and check often for any rear wheel play that can not be traced to the pivot bearings and ride it. If you really want a spare, buy one and send it to Dave or get it from him directly if he has any to spare.