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  1. #1
    34x25 FTW! oboeguy's Avatar
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    Should I get the Park Tensionmeter?

    I don't expect to be building any wheels from scratch in the near future, but I've kept an old wheel eventually to use for practice. I mostly need to keep-up with the quickly de-tensioning spokes on my folding bike. It seems like a tensionmeter is a good idea, but I've read here that the Park unit is not all that accurate. Will I notice?

    Anyhow, I'd like to take advantage of the Supergobyebye/Performance 10% coupon (expiring tomorrow!) and use a gift card. I was thinking of a chain-checker too. I'm thinking the CC-3 over the CC-2 for the price difference. Also, do I need this SpokePrep stuff? It looks pricey!
    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Order
    Quote Originally Posted by sknhgy
    I do not want to be associated with the kind of riders that come through my neck of the woods on weekends, dressed in superhero costumes
    Do they wear capes?
    ---

    http://www.cycopaths.net/

  2. #2
    me have long head tube TallRider's Avatar
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    Wow, you look like mooncake!

    That aside. The Park unit is pretty good for what it does. Spoke Prep is expensive but worth buying if you're going to build a lot of wheels. Otherwise, blue loctite works fine.

    I've just used the pluck-the-spoke method to test for musical pitch when building 3-cross rear wheels (the place where proper spoke tension - on the drive side - really is critical).

    Here's what Sheldon has to say about this in his excellent wheelbuilding article:
    You also need to keep monitoring the tension on the freewheel side spokes. There are three ways to check tension. One is by how hard it is to turn the spoke wrench. If it starts to get hard enough that you have to start worrying about rounding off the nipple with the spoke wrench, you are approaching the maximum. Fifteen years ago, this would be the limiting factor, and you would just try to get the wheel as tight as you could without stripping nipples. Modern, high quality, spokes and nipples have more precisely machined threads, however, and now there is actually a possibility of getting them too tight, causing rim failure.

    The second way of judging spoke tension is by plucking the spokes where they cross and judging the musical pitch they make. If your shop doesn't have a piano, and you don't have perfect pitch, you can compare it with a known good wheel that uses the same gauge of spokes. This will get you into the ballpark. Before I started using a spoke tensiometer, I used to keep a cassette in my toolbox on which I had recorded my piano playing an F#, a good average reference tone for stainless spokes of usual length. (For more details on this method, see John Allen's article: Check Spoke Tension by Ear.)

    The third, and best way is with a spoke tensiometer. Every well equipped shop should have one. Average freewheel-side tension should be up to shop standards for the type of spokes and rim being used. More important is that it be even. Don't worry about the left side tension on rear wheels. If the freewheel side is correctly tensioned, and the wheel is correctly dished, the left side will be quite a bit looser. You should still check the left side for uniformity of tension.

  3. #3
    34x25 FTW! oboeguy's Avatar
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    LOL I'll setup my oboe next to the truing stand and toot an F# for each spoke. How's that for an expensive ($7K+) tensionmeter? (and you thought bikes were expensive)

    Edit: What's a "mooncake"? Is that the user who copied my avatar?
    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Order
    Quote Originally Posted by sknhgy
    I do not want to be associated with the kind of riders that come through my neck of the woods on weekends, dressed in superhero costumes
    Do they wear capes?
    ---

    http://www.cycopaths.net/

  4. #4
    me have long head tube TallRider's Avatar
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    Yeah, mooncake (a.k.a. sincitycycler's new username, apparently) has your avatar. I've just seen his posts lots more than yours, is all. I figured from your username that you'd have musical instrument onhand. I use the piano when tuning my spokes.

  5. #5
    34x25 FTW! oboeguy's Avatar
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    I also have a digital tuner stashed in my gig bag. I doubt that it's good enough to pick-up the spoke sound.

    I think it'd be easier to have a laptop handy playing a sound file with the correct pitch anyway.

    But seriously, do you think it's worth it to get the tensionmeter? What about the chain checker?
    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Order
    Quote Originally Posted by sknhgy
    I do not want to be associated with the kind of riders that come through my neck of the woods on weekends, dressed in superhero costumes
    Do they wear capes?
    ---

    http://www.cycopaths.net/

  6. #6
    me have long head tube TallRider's Avatar
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    I don't use a tensionmeter, and I get by fine without it. Don't use a dishing tool either; I just flip the wheel in the stand and to check for dish-symmetry. If I built lots of wheels, I'd probably get a tensionmeter at least, but I'm able to get by fine without it.

    Instead of using a chain checker, I just put the chain in the big ring and grab the sides of the chain on the front (3 o'clock) of the chainring and try to lift the chain off the ring. The more worn the chain is, the more of the chainring teeth will be exposed.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by timcupery
    I don't use a tensionmeter, and I get by fine without it. Don't use a dishing tool either; I just flip the wheel in the stand and to check for dish-symmetry. If I built lots of wheels, I'd probably get a tensionmeter at least, but I'm able to get by fine without it.

    Instead of using a chain checker, I just put the chain in the big ring and grab the sides of the chain on the front (3 o'clock) of the chainring and try to lift the chain off the ring. The more worn the chain is, the more of the chainring teeth will be exposed.
    Agree completely.

    Tensiometer? We ain't got no tensiometer. We don't need no stinkin' tensiometer!

    Seriously though. You can tension a wheel really easy by feel. First, find a set of wheels you know are properly tensioned, then squeeze intersecting spokes on both sides of the rear and front to get an idea for how tight they should be. Once you get the feel for it, its really easy.

    Oil/grease is the best for lubricating spoke threads. I have 20+ year old wheels that the spokes still turn because they were oiled. If you use locktite, good luck truing after it sets.

  8. #8
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    I recommend getting the Park tensiometer. Wheels I built without one turned out to have highly variable tension, despite my great care in building them. Those built with the 'meter I was able to adjust for more even tension. They have, in fact, stayed true far better than the earlier wheels.

  9. #9
    kipuka explorer bkrownd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oboeguy
    I also have a digital tuner stashed in my gig bag. I doubt that it's good enough to pick-up the spoke sound.
    How would you know what the right tone is? It will be different for every wheel/spoke combination. Just get the tensiometer and sleep easier, IMHO. Broken spokes are a real PITA. Remember to prestress/flex/squeeze the spokes a bit before measuring.
    --
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  10. #10
    Senior Member capwater's Avatar
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    Metal rulers (like in the old days of computers) work fine to check chain stretch. Most office supply stores have them.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by San Rensho
    Agree completely.


    Seriously though. You can tension a wheel really easy by feel. First, find a set of wheels you know are properly tensioned, then squeeze intersecting spokes on both sides of the rear and front to get an idea for how tight they should be. Once you get the feel for it, its really easy.

    .
    Depends on the wheel design. My new Cane creek Zonos require 110 to 115 kgf. The best local bike mechanic, who does a superb job on wheels by feel, doesn't think he could do a decent job on them with out a gauge. He's got one on the shop's "tools to buy" list.

    I'm planning on getting a gauge, but I'm concerned that the Park may not be accurate enough to tension that high. Cane Creek did caution me to insure that the guage was in fact accurate at 110/115. I guess I need to contact Park and see if they have an accuracy spec.

    Al

  12. #12
    me have long head tube TallRider's Avatar
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    Yeah, but the Park should be fine for non-botique wheels.

  13. #13
    34x25 FTW! oboeguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bkrownd
    How would you know what the right tone is? It will be different for every wheel/spoke combination. Just get the tensiometer and sleep easier, IMHO. Broken spokes are a real PITA. Remember to prestress/flex/squeeze the spokes a bit before measuring.
    That's easy -- get the wheel trued at the shop, then check the tone. OTOH, for building from scratch that's no good.

    I think I'm convinced to get the thing. The wheels on my folder are a serious issue, so having the meter to check them every few rides feels like a good investment.

    But as for what to put on the threads... I dunno. Also, I guess I'll need one of those spoke screwdrivers, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Order
    Quote Originally Posted by sknhgy
    I do not want to be associated with the kind of riders that come through my neck of the woods on weekends, dressed in superhero costumes
    Do they wear capes?
    ---

    http://www.cycopaths.net/

  14. #14
    Senior Member juicemouse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oboeguy
    But as for what to put on the threads... I dunno. Also, I guess I'll need one of those spoke screwdrivers, right?
    Boiled linseed oil (check your local hardware store) has been working well for me. It's very lubricating during the build to limit spoke windup. After a week or so it turns kinda jellyish, which keeps it in the threads but still maintains the lubrication. Only mildly threadlocking. I've not been too happy with having to adjust spokes that have Spokeprep on them. The nipples aren't very easy to turn after the stuff dries. And you can get by without a nipple driver. It just makes things a little easier if you have one.
    It is my belief that every person in this world has something to teach, and everything to learn.

    In memory of Jim Price (aka. sydney) ...

  15. #15
    34x25 FTW! oboeguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by juicemouse
    Boiled linseed oil (check your local hardware store) has been working well for me. It's very lubricating during the build to limit spoke windup. After a week or so it turns kinda jellyish, which keeps it in the threads but still maintains the lubrication. Only mildly threadlocking. I've not been too happy with having to adjust spokes that have Spokeprep on them. The nipples aren't very easy to turn after the stuff dries. And you can get by without a nipple driver. It just makes things a little easier if you have one.
    I have double-walled wheels on my folder, can I still get away without the nipple driver?
    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Order
    Quote Originally Posted by sknhgy
    I do not want to be associated with the kind of riders that come through my neck of the woods on weekends, dressed in superhero costumes
    Do they wear capes?
    ---

    http://www.cycopaths.net/

  16. #16
    Senior Member juicemouse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oboeguy
    I have double-walled wheels on my folder, can I still get away without the nipple driver?
    Yes, as long as you get proper sized spokes, because the nipples will start to engage the threads on the hub-side of the rim so you can spoke-wrench them almost immediately. If you can't, though, just use a regular ol' screwdriver. Nipple drivers just make the process faster.
    It is my belief that every person in this world has something to teach, and everything to learn.

    In memory of Jim Price (aka. sydney) ...

  17. #17
    34x25 FTW! oboeguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by juicemouse
    Yes, as long as you get proper sized spokes, because the nipples will start to engage the threads on the hub-side of the rim so you can spoke-wrench them almost immediately. If you can't, though, just use a regular ol' screwdriver. Nipple drivers just make the process faster.
    But how do you get the nipple onto the spoke threads without dropping it and losing it inside the double wall? (I have one nipple floating around in there at the moment from a failed truing attempt, in fact, very annoying)
    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Order
    Quote Originally Posted by sknhgy
    I do not want to be associated with the kind of riders that come through my neck of the woods on weekends, dressed in superhero costumes
    Do they wear capes?
    ---

    http://www.cycopaths.net/

  18. #18
    Senior Member juicemouse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oboeguy
    But how do you get the nipple onto the spoke threads without dropping it and losing it inside the double wall? (I have one nipple floating around in there at the moment from a failed truing attempt, in fact, very annoying)
    A nipple driver won't really help prevent that (it's just a screwdriver with a rotating handle and a little nub to keep it centered on the nipple). I made myself a little tool to eliminate dropping nipples inside the hub. Take an old spoke and cut it, keeping about 4 inches or so of the threaded end. Then cut off most of the threads, so that only a few are left. Attach this to a handle of some sort (I used an old screwdriver) as securely as you can. That's it! Just thread the nipple onto the tool you just made, and screw it onto the spoke through the hub. Once it's on the spoke securely, you can unthread your tool and take it from there.

    You should be able to get that floating nipple out of there just by shaking it with the spoke hole pointed down.
    It is my belief that every person in this world has something to teach, and everything to learn.

    In memory of Jim Price (aka. sydney) ...

  19. #19
    me have long head tube TallRider's Avatar
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    You can make a nipple driver out of an a flathead screwdriver, if you've got a grinder. Grind the edges down so it seats nicely in the spoke nipple.

    For getting the spokes in without getting them stuck in between the two walls of the rim, just be careful. I built up a wheel with a Mavic MA3 over Christmas, and stuck each nipple on the end of my adapted screwdriver and put it in vertically, so the hole of the rim into which it was going was pointed down (6 o'clock). Deep-V or aero rims will be more difficult because there's a lot of room between the walls of the rim.

  20. #20
    34x25 FTW! oboeguy's Avatar
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    Juicemouse, that's very clever, I think I will try that.
    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Order
    Quote Originally Posted by sknhgy
    I do not want to be associated with the kind of riders that come through my neck of the woods on weekends, dressed in superhero costumes
    Do they wear capes?
    ---

    http://www.cycopaths.net/

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by juicemouse
    Boiled linseed oil (check your local hardware store) has been working well for me. It's very lubricating during the build to limit spoke windup. After a week or so it turns kinda jellyish, which keeps it in the threads but still maintains the lubrication. Only mildly threadlocking. I've not been too happy with having to adjust spokes that have Spokeprep on them. The nipples aren't very easy to turn after the stuff dries. And you can get by without a nipple driver. It just makes things a little easier if you have one.
    Sort of the same deal with pipe joint compound.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by oboeguy
    I was thinking of a chain-checker too. I'm thinking the CC-3 over the CC-2 for the price difference.
    I'd go with the CC-3, a simple go/no-go gauge.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Deanster04's Avatar
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    Yes buy it. Accuracy of the tool isn't as important as the repeatability of the numbers you get. For 30 years I used a fork-in-a-vise and plucking method. Always had a campy dishing tool (today a collectors item but it is still the best). I broke down and bought a Tensionometer (Park) and the Truing stand. WOW what a difference. My wheels today are much quicker to build and I am running a tension much higher than my "plucking" ways. Get the tools if you can afford it.
    You can true your wheels then use the penetrating loctite to be sure they stay where you set them. They can be loosened again don't worry. You don't need much to keep the spokes from unwinding.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Deanster04's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by juicemouse
    Boiled linseed oil (check your local hardware store) has been working well for me. It's very lubricating during the build to limit spoke windup. After a week or so it turns kinda jellyish, which keeps it in the threads but still maintains the lubrication. Only mildly threadlocking. I've not been too happy with having to adjust spokes that have Spokeprep on them. The nipples aren't very easy to turn after the stuff dries. And you can get by without a nipple driver. It just makes things a little easier if you have one.
    Just went back to linseed. I started off and built wheels for years using this as my lube/lock. Still works well and is a lot cheaper. Going to stick with it unless something spectacular comes out to displace it.

  25. #25
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    if you do get a tensiometer here is a tip: don't over-use it. i finally drove myself crazy by over-using it.

    i use the park one and i haven't ever used any others but i like it just fine and ive heard good things from other people too.

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