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  1. #1
    He drop me Grasschopper's Avatar
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    Wheel building question: Good rim vs bad rim...can you check?

    Ok so I want to do a couple of things in the near future. #1 is to build my first set of wheels and #2 is to have my current rear wheel rebuilt. I have purchased 4 brand new rims (which leaves me an extra) and I keep hearing this talk about a bad build possibly being influanced by a bad rim.

    So what makes for a bad rim? What should i look for on these 4 rims I have (Sun M19A-II tubulars) to be sure I weed out a bad rim or am able to compensate for any minor flaws (is that even possible)?

    My concern here is that I had my LBS build me a set of wheels and they a) wont stay true and b) the rear has a high spot that I can get out (tension is high in this area from me trying...the LBS says they don't even want to try to get it out). I have come to the conclusion that my LBS can't build a wheel to save it ass (they built me another set that also wont stay true) and they wont be building any more wheels for me but I wonder if there was a rim issue prior to the build.
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  2. #2
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    Lay the rim on a glass table to see if it lays fairly flat, a mm or 4 is not a big deal, and check the diameter at a few points.
    Il faut de l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace

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  3. #3
    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by San Rensho
    Lay the rim on a glass table to see if it lays fairly flat, a mm or 4 is not a big deal, and check the diameter at a few points.
    Lay a straightedge on the table first. They can be way out of flat. If you have access to a cabinet saw, that table would be a reliable reference.

    /astronomer who has stressed out over mirror cells and glass flex before...

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grasschopper
    my LBS can't build a wheel to save it ass
    Not unusual.

    I've got two LBS's that I almost trust and two more that I don't. Many mechanics go by "feel" and often leave the spokes without enough tension. For some reason, they consider checking tension an optional step. 32-spoke wheels with 800 Newtons of tension "sound" right but will only work for a while. I generally aim for 1000 on the front and 1200 on the rear drive side.

    A couple of years ago, because days lack a sufficient number of hours, I allowed a local shop with a good reputation to finish the build on a 36-spoke touring set after I laced them. I should've checked their work before I loaded up the bike for a night at the local hot springs. I later noticed the rear wheel needed truing and set it aside. With another trip looming and having recently purchased a tension meter of my own, I finally threw it on the stand and found the drive side at just 700 Newtons. The now discontinued rim was doomed from the very beginning.

    After having built over a dozen wheels, I'm now sold on building my own. The ones I've done the best job on never need truing. Nowever, I'll never build another without a dishing tool and a tension meter. the dishing tool saves me a lot of time. The tension meter keeps me from guessing about how good the build really is.

    Basic 32-spoke wheels are also stealthy. They just don't look fast and I love making newbies on Ksyriums and Race Lites look foolish with my rather pedestrian looking open pros on ultegras.

  5. #5
    He drop me Grasschopper's Avatar
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    That brings me to another question...tools. I plan on getting a Park TS-2 and the tilting base (currently have the SpinDoctor stand and don't like it much) a dishing tool (probably Park as well) and a tension meter/guage. So the question is what tension meter?

    Most people seem to mention the Wheelsmith tool over the Park tool...but what about the DT Swiss tool (non digital), the FSA and Hozan? I know they are all ~$300...is 2x the cost worth it (I have no problem spending the money if it is a much better tool)?
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  6. #6
    Decrepit Member Scooper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grasschopper
    That brings me to another question...tools. I plan on getting a Park TS-2 and the tilting base (currently have the SpinDoctor stand and don't like it much) a dishing tool (probably Park as well) and a tension meter/guage. So the question is what tension meter?

    Most people seem to mention the Wheelsmith tool over the Park tool...but what about the DT Swiss tool (non digital), the FSA and Hozan? I know they are all ~$300...is 2x the cost worth it (I have no problem spending the money if it is a much better tool)?
    There is nothing wrong with the Park TM-1. Many who complain about it simply don't use it correctly. The handles must be released gently to get accurate, repeatable tension readings. The extra cost of the more expensive tension meters doesn't translate to easier use or more accuracy, IMHO.
    Last edited by Scooper; 09-07-06 at 11:37 AM.
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  7. #7
    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scooper
    There is nothing wrong with the Park TM-1. Many who complain about it simply don't don't use it correctly. The handles must be released gently to get accurate, repeatable tension readings. The extra cost of the more expensive tension meters doesn't translate to easier use or more accuracy, IMHO.
    +1

    I've built 6 wheels with my TM-1, and they are all still perfectly tensioned after 6-9 months. Two of the pairs are under different riders in the 185# class and get a LOT of use full-time.

  8. #8
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    Try adding the number of wheels you anticipate building to $50 and seeing if it adds up to the Wheelsmith tension meter. If it falls short of $100, the Park TM-1 will definitely do the job. The intent is to ensure the wheels have sufficient tension and not necessarily the perfect tension. The Park dishing tool is also a good deal at under $30US if your shop gives you the same discount mine does. I think Topeak or someone makes a slightly more expensive "folding" dishing tool but this sounds like a solution in search of a problem. I've never once taken any of my wheelbuilding tools on the road.

    I also use an Ultimate truing stand with a nice heavy base. I looked at a friend's Spin Doctor and the Park TS-2 before choosing the Ultimate. The Spin Doctor seemed a bit flimsy and felt like some of the bolts/shafts/holes/etc would eventually develop too much play. The Park was sturdy, expensive, and very nice but didn't seem to have the same portability that the heavy base provided for the Ultimate. However, the Ultimate stand requires a dishing tool. Trying to get the dish right by flipping the wheel back and forth will take you an eternity.

    Oh yeah, and back to the original question. I have never once run into a defective rim that was both brand new and in undamaged packaging. If it lays flat and measures the same diameter in something like three different places, I think you're good to go.

  9. #9
    He drop me Grasschopper's Avatar
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    Ok thanks for the responses guys...not sure how many wheels I will be building over time (I do know I want to build 4 or 5 sets right out of the gate) but I know I want to buy the right stuff the first time and own it for a long time...I think I may just go with the Wheelsmith tool.

    Now in leiu of starting another thread Talk to me about spoke length. I have run the numbers through several spoke calcs on line and they are all giving me the same numbers so I assume it is the correct length for the given setups I am going to build first. The front length is 291.1mm and the rear is 294.3mm non drive and 292.0mm on the drive side. So looking around the net is seems most places stock in 2mm gaps with some gaps at 1mm. That said, for the above build I assume 292mm will work for both the front and the drive side rear but is 296mm ok for the non drive rear?

    Also what is the deal with spoke prep? I have seen spoke prep which sure looks like thread locker and then I have also heard of people using oil. Now those choices sure seem to be polar opposites to me. is one better for Al vs brass nipples? Or is there something else going on here?
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  10. #10
    Decrepit Member Scooper's Avatar
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    Regarding spoke length, the nipples will almost always accommodate spokes one or two mm shorter than the calculated length and still have several threads' grip, while spokes even a fraction of a millimeter too long will run out of thread before achieving proper tension. I always go shorter rather than longer, and on a typical rear wheel the drive side is nearly always 2mm shorter than the non-drive side, assuming it's got a multi-cog freewheel or cassette.

    I use spoke prep, but very competent wheelbuilders I know prefer oil. The important thing is to avoid spoke twist while tensioning, whether you're using spoke prep or oil. I put a small piece of masking tape on the spoke near the nipple end to ensure I'm not twisting the spoke as I tighten the nipple.
    Last edited by Scooper; 09-07-06 at 02:32 PM.
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  11. #11
    He drop me Grasschopper's Avatar
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    Ok so for the above build with the spokes I plan on using in the front and non drive side I can only get even lengths...I should go with 290mm for all of them or should I go with 290 in the front and 294 in the rear on the non drive side...the drive side spokes (heavier guage) are sold in 1mm gaps so I can get a 291mm or a 292mm...sounds like I should go with 291, correct?
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  12. #12
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    I'd just round to the nearest even number myself. I think my last build called for all 292's on the front and 292/294 on the rear. 1 mm too long or too short will make no difference but I don't think I'd round 294.3 all the way up to 296 either.

    It's proper and even tensioning that makes the wheel strong, not the spoke prep. The spoke prep's primary function is to help reduce the stress built up in spoke twist when building the wheel. Less twist means less stress relieving and makes the job a little easier. One of the shops works like I do and uses a light oil. I usually lace while waiting for dinner one night, tension while watching the news the next night, and then do the final truing on a third night. The other shop always starts and finishes a wheel in the same few hours and uses something like DT Spoke Freeze.

    I use good old Permatex Anti-Seize for spoke prep. It's available in auto parts stores for about $3 per tube. If I used Spoke Freeze, I'm afraid I'd have to break the nipples loose before moving on to the next step. I like the fact that the Permatex won't dry hard and hold the nipple fast but it really isn't a lubricant either. Linseed oil also dries hard like Spoke Freeze but costs a lot less. I think a spoke prep that dries hard is better for someone who doesn't work on their own wheels and can't be counted on to check them after crashing, pinch flatting, or riding into a storm grate. Nipples on a properly tensioned wheel that hasn't been knocked around won't loosen up on their own and therefore don't really need to be frozen in place.

  13. #13
    Klaatu barada nikto cascade168's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grasschopper
    That brings me to another question...tools. I plan on getting a Park TS-2 and the tilting base (currently have the SpinDoctor stand and don't like it much) a dishing tool (probably Park as well) and a tension meter/guage. So the question is what tension meter?

    Most people seem to mention the Wheelsmith tool over the Park tool...but what about the DT Swiss tool (non digital), the FSA and Hozan? I know they are all ~$300...is 2x the cost worth it (I have no problem spending the money if it is a much better tool)?

    Just a few comments .....

    The tilting base is nice as it has slots for the spoke wrenches and little containers for nipples, etc. Once mounted on the tilting base, you can use the truing stand on any flat surface - no need to bolt it down.

    I strongly recommend the Park WAG-4 dishing gauge for several reasons. It has sliding blocks which allow you to dish the rim (not the tire!!!), even with a tire installed. In the newer version of this tool, the "feeler" is designed to work perfectly with the TS-2 truing stand, so you can check the dish when the wheel is in the stand. Don't believe claims that the TS-2 will "automatically" dish the wheel - there are any number of things that can throw this off. But, with a real dishing gauge there is no question. The WAG-4 is well worth the $40.

    The TM-1 is a great tool and, as long as you use it consistantly (see Scooper's comments - right on target), you can build great wheels with it. The others are so overpriced and unnecessary. If I had to, I would replace the one I own with another in a minute. The "others" are all actually 4-5x the cost of the TM-1. You can get it for $59.95 here:

    http://biketoolsetc.com/index.cgi?id...Tension-Meters

    I suppose if you are writing your PHD on "The science of the tensioning of bicycle wheel spokes" then maybe the others tensiometers might be nice for data (and wool) gathering. But, if you just want to build some nice, reliable wheels the TM-1, WAG-4, TS-2 and good spoke wrenchs are the basic needs for the task. There are a hell of a lot of bike shops that seem to get by just fine with these Park tools.

    Some other nice things for wheelbuilding:
    1. A good spoke ruler - the blue Park SBC-1 is great for measuring spokes, balls, cotters, and so on.
    2. SpokePrep - not everyone likes this stuff. I do, and so do a lot of other wheelbuilders. The thing it does that seems under appreciated is that it prevents the nipple and spoke threads from corroding.
    3. Spoke wrenches - your favorites, of course. You can't go wrong with the Parks, but that DT "butterfly" wrench is pretty sweet.
    4. Alcohol - I usually like to have a couple of beers to take the edge off of the wheelbuilding process (which is why I won't build wheels at work - only at home). Oh, and it's a good idea to clean the inside of the rim with some rubbing alcohol before installing the rim tape. If you're going to build a good wheel, use good rim tape like Velox or Zefal. It will stick better if you clean the rim first.
    5. A good spoke calculator. I have not found anything better than SpoCalc, by Damon Rinard. This is available in a free download from Sheldon Brown's site:

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/rinard/spocalc.htm

    Once you get used to using SpoCalc, the others are second class. SpoCalc has a very large database of rims and hubs. With very few exceptions, you can just plug in the rims and hubs you are using and automatically get spoke lengths for radial, 1x, 2x, 3x, and 4x lacings. Plus, a lot of other nice information.
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  14. #14
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    As for spoke lengths, always round down to the shorter length. Nothing worse than running out of threads when approaching your target tension. I like to buy the driveside rear spokes 1 to 1.5 mm shorter than calculated.
    I agree with cascade, the TS-2 is a good solid truing stand but it does NOT automatically center the rim. I reverse the wheel on the stand repeatedly to confirm dish. I don't see a need for the tilting base.
    The Park TM-1 tension gauge is a good one, just be sure to release it gently onto the spokes for accurate measurements. It's usually listed for $55.

    Al

  15. #15
    Decrepit Member Scooper's Avatar
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    Another $.02.. I agree with everything cascade168 and Al1943 said in their posts.
    - Stan

  16. #16
    He drop me Grasschopper's Avatar
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    Thank you to those that have responded...lots of help.
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