I scored myself a Mavic MA3 wheel yesterday, second hand, no known info. It has a 36 spoke Mavic branded hub (cast in branding, not a sticker), stainless straight gauge spokes laced 3X, with a Kenda 700Cx20 tyre on it.
Reading about the MA3's, apparently they were "known" for failure rates from sidewall explosions when the braking surface became thin. People reckon the MA2 is a bombproof wheel when laced correctly, but the MA3 seems to be a mixed bag.
The lack of wear indicator has me in two minds whether or not to use this rim on a bike. It runs very smoothly, straight and true, with no rough spots or grinding. The spoke eyelets all look clean and smooth, with no signs of pulling through at the rim. The hub flanges show no visible signs of cracking either. The Campy QR skewer was a tad rusty on the lever. The surface corrosion on the alloy hub (probably) indicates it hasnt been used or cleaned in some years (though the Autosol bought back the bling).
Its amazing what people will throw out. I just wish the rear wheel had been there as well.
Do Mavic have guidlines for safe braking surface minimum thickness for the MA3?
Is there a generally accepted universal minimum anywhere else?
Is there anything else beside visual checking that you can do to an unknown wheel to check for flaws?
Advice appreciated, and I wont hold you responsible for my safety!
I was under the impression that the MA3 problem was spoke hole cracking. This led to the renaming of the rim as the open sport and the offering of the "MA3" warranty by mavic to boost customer confidence.