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  1. #1
    Not-so-Senior Member
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    Spoke prep - LocTite or grease?

    I'm going to be building up a wheelset for my fixie project, but I'm not sure what I should put on my spoke threads. I didn't use anything on all the wheels I've built before (for my BMX), which is a bad habit I'm determined to break. I have some red LocTite, thick white lithium grease and thin 3-in-1 oil. What's best? Should I use something else?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Senior Member demoncyclist's Avatar
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    Spoke prep. That's what its called. If you use Loctite, you will never be able to true the wheels. The spokes will just wind up until they snap.
    DEMON

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  3. #3
    Forum Admin lotek's Avatar
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    Rock and Roll nipple cream.
    easier to find than spoke prep, and you can
    still true wheels after you apply it.
    If not that then linseed oil (boiled) works well

    Marty
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  4. #4
    Senior Member gazedrop's Avatar
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    Yes, the loctite is definately a bad idea. Especially red loctite, which is the high-strength version (it requires either heat or a solvent to loosen.)

    And 3-in-1 oil is vegetable based (the red can; the blue can is motor oil), so it just turns to goo in short order from decomposition.

    You can just use a plain, light oil and be fine.

    I did just build another wheel earlier this week and tried out Wheelsmith's Spoke Prep. Just wanted to try it since I've never used it (not that a properly tensioned wheel needs a locking agent; I wanted to see how its lubrication properties rated. Just trying to avoid having to re-oil the nipples (aluminum) when it comes time to retrue after all this rain riding).

    I have to say that I was impressed. The spokes didn't really want to wind up even on the final truing at full tension. And since you let the spoke prep dry before building the wheel, it should be just as easy to true in the future.

    Unless a LBS carries it, take a look at http://www.bicycletools.com . They're the cheapest I've seen at about $9 a vial, and they've given me good service in the past.

  5. #5
    suitcase of courage VegasCyclist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gazedrop
    I did just build another wheel earlier this week and tried out Wheelsmith's Spoke Prep. Just wanted to try it since I've never used it (not that a properly tensioned wheel needs a locking agent; I wanted to see how its lubrication properties rated. Just trying to avoid having to re-oil the nipples (aluminum) when it comes time to retrue after all this rain riding).

    I have to say that I was impressed. The spokes didn't really want to wind up even on the final truing at full tension. And since you let the spoke prep dry before building the wheel, it should be just as easy to true in the future.

    Unless a LBS carries it, take a look at http://www.bicycletools.com . They're the cheapest I've seen at about $9 a vial, and they've given me good service in the past.
    I agree, wheelsmith spoke prep is likely your best bet.
    -VegasCyclist
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  6. #6
    NOT a weight weenie Hunter's Avatar
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    You can use blue Loc-Tite. After all alot of bolts come with it already. The blue version is made so you can get it out. I have built wheels with it I ride on some now I can true them up just fine.

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    I just built my firt wheelset and ued boiled Linseed oil. Truing was no problem at all, and the spokes didn't seem to twit either...although I've never built a wheel before so I don't have any authority on this subject. I guess I just like to see my words on the screen.

    PJBAZ

  8. #8
    d_D
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    I would just use the grease, the specialist stuff doesn't have any advantages that are worth the effort or cost to get it.

  9. #9
    Senior Member gazedrop's Avatar
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    I wouldn't recommend using locktite at all for something that you plan to adjust. If you decide that you must use one of their products, then use the purple locktite; it is the only one intended to a) be adjusted at a future date (i.e. post cure), and b) is made for use on something that's small in diameter.

    Locktite is designed to be applied and assembled wet. It's anaerobic, meaning that it will cure without exposure to air. With the above exception (purple), you are supposed to remove and clean the part, and then reapply the locktite, once you have disturbed (adjusted) the said part after the locktite has cured.

    In all cases, locktite is intended to be installed while wet. Why? Because it cures hard and brittle. Breaking the part loose destroy the bond that makes loctite work (again, purple notwithstanding.) (Also note that all brands of spoke preps explicitly state "Non-hardening".)

    There is another color of locktite that is designed to be applied post assembly. Loctite green. It has very low viscosity and immediately wicks anywhere there is a tiny gap to allow capillary action. And this usually means more places than you intended to apply it! I would specifically avoid this stuff on a wheel because the tiniest over application would get it in the joint where the nipple meets the rim. A well locked nipple? Yup. A rounded-off aluminum nipple? Very likely.

    The stuff that you see that comes pre-applied on fasteners is a different beast entirely. The most common brand name is called Vibra-Tite. It needs to be fully cured before assembly, and is designed to allow future adjustments. However, that being said, it doesn't work too well on something that is spoke sized; it has too much filler and therefore cures far too bulky.

    After all the above, am I saying that others have used loctite on spokes and gotten poor results? Not at all! I haven't ridden their wheels and therefore can say nothing against them. Spoke preperation doesn't determine build quality.

    Would I actually recommend it (locktite)? Well, no again. It's just not designed or even well suited for it. Why use a screwdriver when you have (or can get) a nice set of tire levers?

    So, don't want to buy anything extra and use what you have at hand? That grease of yours will do just fine.

    Don't mind buying something? Try any variety of spoke prep (looks like the Rock 'n Roll cream gets some thumbs-ups), a light oil (like you would use to lube your deraileur), or boiled linseed oil (the bonus extra: Old Skool Cool).

    You just want to accomplish 2 things: a) lubrication to prevent spoke wind-up during building, and b) corrosion prevention (which prevents spoke wind-up during truing!).

    -Erik

  10. #10
    GT enthusiast midwestmntnbkr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gazedrop
    I wouldn't recommend using locktite at all for something that you plan to adjust. If you decide that you must use one of their products, then use the purple locktite; it is the only one intended to a) be adjusted at a future date (i.e. post cure), and b) is made for use on something that's small in diameter.

    Locktite is designed to be applied and assembled wet. It's anaerobic, meaning that it will cure without exposure to air. With the above exception (purple), you are supposed to remove and clean the part, and then reapply the locktite, once you have disturbed (adjusted) the said part after the locktite has cured.

    In all cases, locktite is intended to be installed while wet. Why? Because it cures hard and brittle. Breaking the part loose destroy the bond that makes loctite work (again, purple notwithstanding.) (Also note that all brands of spoke preps explicitly state "Non-hardening".)

    There is another color of locktite that is designed to be applied post assembly. Loctite green. It has very low viscosity and immediately wicks anywhere there is a tiny gap to allow capillary action. And this usually means more places than you intended to apply it! I would specifically avoid this stuff on a wheel because the tiniest over application would get it in the joint where the nipple meets the rim. A well locked nipple? Yup. A rounded-off aluminum nipple? Very likely.

    The stuff that you see that comes pre-applied on fasteners is a different beast entirely. The most common brand name is called Vibra-Tite. It needs to be fully cured before assembly, and is designed to allow future adjustments. However, that being said, it doesn't work too well on something that is spoke sized; it has too much filler and therefore cures far too bulky.

    After all the above, am I saying that others have used loctite on spokes and gotten poor results? Not at all! I haven't ridden their wheels and therefore can say nothing against them. Spoke preperation doesn't determine build quality.

    Would I actually recommend it (locktite)? Well, no again. It's just not designed or even well suited for it. Why use a screwdriver when you have (or can get) a nice set of tire levers?

    So, don't want to buy anything extra and use what you have at hand? That grease of yours will do just fine.

    Don't mind buying something? Try any variety of spoke prep (looks like the Rock 'n Roll cream gets some thumbs-ups), a light oil (like you would use to lube your deraileur), or boiled linseed oil (the bonus extra: Old Skool Cool).

    You just want to accomplish 2 things: a) lubrication to prevent spoke wind-up during building, and b) corrosion prevention (which prevents spoke wind-up during truing!).

    -Erik
    Excellent info on the loc-tite. I have been a mechanic for many years,and used the stuff regularly but didn't know all the skinny on it. I knew about the blue and red being medium strength and high strength, but that was about it. That is about the only two types I use in my business.

    How do you know so much about it? If I may ask.

    anyway Thanks
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    you're taking up too much space"


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  11. #11
    Senior Member gazedrop's Avatar
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    How do you know so much about it? If I may ask.
    Motorcycle road racing. Racing in general tends to accelerate the learning curve. It also regularly reminds you that you haven't seen, done, or know it all, and it usually does so at the worst possible time in the most expensive way!

    I didn't know about the green loctite until the mechanic on another team asked me for some at a race (his had dried-up). Some quick research showed that there were about a dozen different varieties, all for different uses!

    I only keep the blue and green types on hand in my toolbox, in addition to Vibra-Tite. The others we just don't have a need for (although I probably just cursed myself----see paragraph one!) Even then we rarely use them; everything gets disassembled far too often to make them practical. The things that we would use it on on a public road going vehicle we safety wire instead. It also gives us visual cue as to the state of a fastener... See safety wire? It's been torqued. Don't see safety wire? Loosen it, torque to spec, and add safety wire.

    An anecdote to support this last point... Last season at Laguna Seca, a friend of ours lost his footpeg during Saturday Practice. He came into the hotpit, we slapped-on a spare for him, gave him a slap on the ass and sent him back out. He finished his session with no further incident.

    It came clear after the session when he filled us in. "Yeah, I use red locktite on my footpeg bolts. Right before I went out, I checked to make sure they were tight by trying to tighten them just a little more. I felt that side give a little, but I thought it was just the locktite giving a little. I guess I actually stripped it out..."

    Don't get me wrong; I'm not down on loctite. But it does have it's place.

    To learn more than you thought could be known about nuts and bolts, check out
    "Nuts, Bolts, Fasteners and Plumbing Handbook" by Carroll Smith. Note that "Plumbing" refers to automotive plumbing, not toilets!

    It is because of that book that I firmly believe Jobst Brandt when he says in his book "The Bicycle Wheel" that a spoke nipple doesn't need a locking compound in a properly tensioned wheel. Brandt just doesn't explain the whole reason; only part of it...

    Oh, and the bit about Loctite Green finding its way to places where you didn't want it? A bit of personal experience there... On a carburetor!

    -Erik

  12. #12
    Not-so-Senior Member
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    Hmm, glued up carbs, not a good idea...

    Thanks for all the help; I remember we have a tin of linseed oil at home, I might use some of that.

  13. #13
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    According to books I've read on the subject, if you don't have proper spoke prep you should just use grease. Esentially it does the same thing as the spoke prep, makes the spokes easy to thread in and adjust later, only it dosen't keep them from coming loose later. However, I built my wheels with plain old lithium grease and haven't had to true them yet. So I would just use grease and call it good. Just make sure that the grease is only in the dips in the spoke threads, I dipped mine in the grease then cleaned it all off with a rag except for the grease in between the threads.
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  14. #14
    aka old dog greywolf's Avatar
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    Not LockTite, Coppercote would be best ,other than that grease would do well enough
    :D
    dont worry be happy ????

  15. #15
    Not-so-Senior Member
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    Isn't Coppercote a tanning cream?

    No wait, that's CopperTONE...


  16. #16
    aka old dog greywolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonny B
    Isn't Coppercote a tanning cream?

    No wait, that's CopperTONE...

    Coppercote is an anti-seize compound & contains minute particials of copper and enables the parts to move / adjust easily without working loose by themselves (as with grease) or seizing up (as with nothing or locetite). Anyway thats the theory .
    :D
    dont worry be happy ????

  17. #17
    -RiDe On- Jay_2004's Avatar
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    RED LOCKTITE IS STRONG

    In the spring I had made a motorized bycycle with a water pump engine, and the bolts would come loose EVERY 20 feet or so from the vibration. WELL, bought myself some RED locktite, didnt come loose, over 100 kms probably. After that i checked all the bolts, they were ALL stripped, the only thing holding everything on was the locktite!!

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