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Old 09-04-08, 01:18 AM   #1
PNB
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Lubricating spoke threads

Quite excited Im about to start my carreer of wheel builder

One thing I do not get, I read in many threads of the ways people lubricate nipples and spoke threads.
Used stuff ranges from thin oil to thick grease (going through bee wax and some more), so Ill guess Ill try different solutions looking for the favourite one.
But whats the math of that: different medias for different situations or about anything would do the trick?
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Old 09-04-08, 01:25 AM   #2
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If u wanna get complicated. Grease is all I use on a bicycle. Keep It Simple and Stupid.
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Old 09-04-08, 01:37 AM   #3
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If u wanna get complicated. Grease is all I use on a bicycle. Keep It Simple and Stupid.
Grease for the chain too?
It can be either "complicated" or "attentive" and "professional".
Anyway, "stupid" its not something I like.
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Old 09-04-08, 09:07 AM   #4
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When I built my MTB wheelset the mechanic at that shop I bought the spokes from put a spoke prep on the threads. I want to say that he said it was a DT Swiss product but I've got CRS so I can't remember what I did yesterday let alone last year. Anyway, he dipped the nipple threads into this stuff so that it covered about 3/4 of the threads and had me hold the spokes thread end down for a few minutes while the stuff set up. It wasn't completely dry but had some tack to it and he said it would help lube the nipple as I start to really put the spokes under tension and help prevent the nipples from seizing up. He recommended I follow that with some DT Swiss spoke lock. I did, and despite some hard riding those wheels have remained tensioned and true from day one. So, ask your local mechanic about this stuff.

I will also say this, DT Swiss specifically states on their website that they advise against using oil or grease in the assembly of a wheel. They seem to know a thing or two about wheelbuilding so I'd tend to listen to their advice.

Mike
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Old 09-04-08, 10:58 AM   #5
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always try to use fresh new spokes-- properly matching nips--- wheel building is fascinating--
I dont do a lot of my own new builds--- but if you were to work on old stuff--- use oil--- better than no oil--- a properly tensioned new wheel does not need a lot of thread prep-- thats my opinion--- but they do need tweaking and proper break in-- obviously if one or two are not tensioned properly ( no matter what was applied to the nip) the whole wheel will suffer...
I like to work on junk so the feel of a pro built wheel is easy to discern...
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Old 09-04-08, 11:06 AM   #6
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I say no on oil or grease because they don't provide a threadlocking function. Wheels go out of true when the nipples rattle loose at the bottom rotation. SpokePrep or blue Loctite provides a lube function as well as a threadlocking function so that the nipples don't spin and cause your wheel to go out of true. Yet, they provide lube and anti-corrosion function to keep the nipple adjustable at a later time.
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Old 09-04-08, 11:35 AM   #7
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I say no on oil or grease because they don't provide a threadlocking function. Wheels go out of true when the nipples rattle loose at the bottom rotation. SpokePrep or blue Loctite provides a lube function as well as a threadlocking function so that the nipples don't spin and cause your wheel to go out of true. Yet, they provide lube and anti-corrosion function to keep the nipple adjustable at a later time.
A properly built wheel does not need threadlocking. The nipples won't rattle loose if properly tensioned. Your nipples won't spin and cause your wheel to be out of true.

I have never used nor needed any type of glue for my spokes or nipples. I use a lot of oil. When building a wheel, I place all of the nipples in a small glass bowl, covered in oil. I then dip the threads of the spokes in the oil and lace up the wheel. A well lubed nipple/spoke combination makes it easier to tension and reduce spoke wind up.

If the rim doesn't have eyelets, I also put a dab of grease on the nipples.
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Old 09-04-08, 11:38 AM   #8
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I will also say this, DT Swiss specifically states on their website that they advise against using oil or grease in the assembly of a wheel. They seem to know a thing or two about wheelbuilding so I'd tend to listen to their advice.

Mike
You don't think they might be trying to sell you a $20 bottle of their thread lock do you? I'd take advice from respected professional wheel builders who say to lube and no thread lock is needed.
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Old 09-04-08, 11:54 AM   #9
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I've read boiled linseed oil works as a poor-man's spoke prep and it's what I used on my first wheelbuild recently. I screwed up the rear wheel like 3 times and had to de-lace it and I can attest the stuff does act somewhat like a threadlocker. It lubes when you first put it on then sets up without becoming glue-like.
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Old 09-04-08, 12:16 PM   #10
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A properly built wheel does not need threadlocking. The nipples won't rattle loose if properly tensioned. Your nipples won't spin and cause your wheel to be out of true.
"Properly" is subjective and if you asked every single wheel-builder to quantify all the variables they will ALL be different. So no one can actually agree on what "properly" refers to.

The thing is, you cannot and will never ever be able to anticipate all the riding-styles and obstacles a wheel will encountre during its lifespan. Bunny-hopping kerbs and speed-bumps will ALWAYS untension the bottom spokes due to the loads imposed. Heck, just riding over a speed-bump without rising out of the saddle will subject the wheels to 1000lbs of loading and end up untensioning the bottom spokes.

Now the only "properly" I may agree on is a "properly" ridden wheel that never ever hits a pothole, never goes off a kerb, never goes over rocks or speed-bumps and never bumps into a parked-car. In those cases, then yes, lubed/unlocked nipples will perform just as well as thread-locked ones.

Of the hundreds of wheelsets I've built, the ones with SpokePrep, Loctite or linseed-oil on the nipples have stay true the longest. Heck, I had a set that was 20-years old and over 50k-miles that I rebuilt recently due to spoke-fatigue. Although my weight-gain from 180 to 245lbs probably helped its demise.

Last edited by DannoXYZ; 09-04-08 at 12:20 PM.
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Old 09-04-08, 12:48 PM   #11
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No, properly is not subjective. It means to build a wheel so that it won't loose tension and it stays true. Wheels that need to be glued or re-trued after 100 miles for break in were not properly built.

If your wheels come out of true because you hit curbs, bunny hop, etc. that is because you are not using a strong enough rim for your riding conditions and have bent the rim or because the wheel was not properly built. Not because the spokes have lost tension in a well built wheel.

Well, not everyone I have built wheels for has given me a log of their miles, riding conditions, etc. But I do know that the wheels that I have built for people I see regularly and myself have never needed to be re-trued and I do hit a lot of pot holes. I travel through a city that has some of the worse roads I have ever seen.

My only guess why your wheels with glue are better than the ones without the glue is because you are not building them properly and need the glue to keep the spokes from losing tension. Which sounds like the case since your spokes fatigued after only 50,000 miles. Spokes should last through many rims before they fatigue.
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Old 09-04-08, 01:43 PM   #12
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I say no on oil or grease because they don't provide a threadlocking function. Wheels go out of true when the nipples rattle loose at the bottom rotation. SpokePrep or blue Loctite provides a lube function as well as a threadlocking function so that the nipples don't spin and cause your wheel to go out of true. Yet, they provide lube and anti-corrosion function to keep the nipple adjustable at a later time.
+1
A properly built wheel is better with spoke prep. My LBS dips the threads in spoke prep at no additional cost to me. Spoke prep acts as a lubricant and as a mild locking agent. The nipples will be fully adjustable at any time after using spoke prep.

Al
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Old 09-04-08, 01:48 PM   #13
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Linseed oil. I tried the spoke prep product that sells for $20 for a small vial. In my experience, it tightened up quickly and didn't provide much lubrication when tightening and tensioning spokes.

joel
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Old 09-04-08, 02:18 PM   #14
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When I learned how to build wheels I was told to use a drop of TriFlow in the back side of the nipple once you have the wheel laced. Obviously before you tighten anything...
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Old 09-04-08, 02:29 PM   #15
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I've been building wheels for big boys for a while, lubing with a light oil, and had no loosening spokes.
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Old 09-04-08, 04:13 PM   #16
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Just spent four nights trying to re-dish an old six-speed wheel to accept a 7 speed freewheel block. I kept breaking spokes on the drive side during the final adjustments.Finally stripped off all the nipples and lightly oiled the nipple threads & spoke eyelets, did the job again last night and Hey, Presto - it worked! I now figure the New old stock chromed butted spokes were winding up under the final tension, so will always use some sort of lube in future - whether a proper spoke prep, linseed oil, grease or oil
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Old 09-04-08, 07:05 PM   #17
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so that it won't loose tension
It's safe to say if you can't spell lose properly we can ignore the rest of your post.
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Old 09-04-08, 07:06 PM   #18
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"Properly" is subjective and if you asked every single wheel-builder to quantify all the variables they will ALL be different. So no one can actually agree on what "properly" refers to.

The thing is, you cannot and will never ever be able to anticipate all the riding-styles and obstacles a wheel will encountre during its lifespan. Bunny-hopping kerbs and speed-bumps will ALWAYS untension the bottom spokes due to the loads imposed. Heck, just riding over a speed-bump without rising out of the saddle will subject the wheels to 1000lbs of loading and end up untensioning the bottom spokes.

Now the only "properly" I may agree on is a "properly" ridden wheel that never ever hits a pothole, never goes off a kerb, never goes over rocks or speed-bumps and never bumps into a parked-car. In those cases, then yes, lubed/unlocked nipples will perform just as well as thread-locked ones.

Of the hundreds of wheelsets I've built, the ones with SpokePrep, Loctite or linseed-oil on the nipples have stay true the longest. Heck, I had a set that was 20-years old and over 50k-miles that I rebuilt recently due to spoke-fatigue. Although my weight-gain from 180 to 245lbs probably helped its demise.
What a bunch of monumentally bad advice.

Spokes need lubrication, be it phil wood tenacious or grease (if you can get it in there). The only exceptions may be when you're building radially laced wheels.

If you're recommending NO lubrication for everything else, you either

a) need to learn how to build wheels properly
b) obtain the tools needed to build wheels properly

Spoke prep is a waste of time, waste of money and shows a lack of real wheelbuilding skills if you're using it as a stopgap to keep wheels from going out of true.

Last edited by operator; 09-04-08 at 07:10 PM.
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Old 09-04-08, 07:46 PM   #19
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The question of lube or locking compounds seems to be a split issue. Some are in the camp that likes the thread lube to then dry to a soft locking "glue". That includes the boiled linseed oil that hardens after a week or so and apparently Spoke Prep that I thought was just a lube and any other locking agent.

Then there's the oil and grease camp. I'm in the oil and grease camp. Out of the dozen or so sets of wheels I've either built or rebuilt I've lubed all of them with a "soup" of grease with just enough mineral spirits in it to thin the grease to a thick oil consistency so it'll flow around the nipples. I dump the nipples in and swish them around and wipe a smear on the threads of the spokes as I install the nipples. The mineral spirits dries away over a few days to leave a thin film of grease to keep out water and prevent corrosion. Over the years the wheels need the odd tweak here and there but this is highly variable and I'm pretty happy that it's due to fair wear and banging around rather than the spokes actually coming loose from cyclic loading making the nipples creep. I DID have a couple of spokes come loose on me with one wheel but I chalked it up to poor tensioning on my part. It was fixed and the overall wheel tuned back up a couple of years ago and it's been fine to this day.

On the other hand lots of folks use the Spoke Prep or linseed oil with good results as well. So really it comes down to YMMV. I like my grease method not only for the lubrication and water repellancy but also because 5 and 6 years down the road I can still easily tweak out a bit of runout without the spokes binding and winding up.
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Old 09-04-08, 08:51 PM   #20
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Personally, I use grease for everything except the chain.
For it, I use the ShelBroCo Bicycle Chain Cleaning (and lubrication) System, Details here: http://sheldonbrown.com/chainclean.html

Disclaimer: I'm not a bicycle mechanic, I just pretend to be one on the internet.
And for truly improved performance, I grease the tires.
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Old 09-04-08, 09:35 PM   #21
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Let's give PNB some targets in figuring out if his wheel is "properly" built:

1. what spoke tension is acceptable to be "proper"?
2. what spoke tension variation-range?
3. what +/- radial and lateral trueness is "proper"?
4. what load-ranges must the wheel be able to withstand with what degree of run-out?
5. how many miles must the wheel be able to run with what amount of run-out?

If 100 people can agree on the exact numbers for the above, I'll accept that the wheel is "properly" built. Otherwise, it's all a group of varying opinions. Anyone with over +10-years hands-on shop-experience and having built hundreds of wheelsets and raced for 10-years is welcome to add their experinece as well.

You see, for the first 5-years working in a shop and 1st year racing, I was firmly in the oil/grease camp having gotten my hands on so many old wheels with corroded nipples that made truing difficult if not impossible. Then I started noticing trends (wheels aren't binary). After the first 100th wheelset, you begin to see the difference between oil/greased nipples versus SpokePrep/Loctite/Linseeded ones. Same with riding 50k-miles on the same wheelset and comparing it to others of different construction.

Last edited by DannoXYZ; 09-04-08 at 09:51 PM.
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Old 09-04-08, 10:35 PM   #22
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Jobst Brandt might know a thing or two about wheel building.

He says:

"The correct way to replace
the nipple is as you did, but the right way to avoid the problem is
to lubricate the nipple sockets with 90W gear oil to prevent galling
and excess friction that leads to the problem. 90W gear oil is
pretty good stuff for both the spoke threads and the rim sockets."

source of above quote
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Old 09-05-08, 12:25 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by DannoXYZ View Post
Let's give PNB some targets in figuring out if his wheel is "properly" built:

1. what spoke tension is acceptable to be "proper"?
2. what spoke tension variation-range?
3. what +/- radial and lateral trueness is "proper"?
4. what load-ranges must the wheel be able to withstand with what degree of run-out?
5. how many miles must the wheel be able to run with what amount of run-out?

If 100 people can agree on the exact numbers for the above, I'll accept that the wheel is "properly" built. Otherwise, it's all a group of varying opinions. Anyone with over +10-years hands-on shop-experience and having built hundreds of wheelsets and raced for 10-years is welcome to add their experinece as well.

You see, for the first 5-years working in a shop and 1st year racing, I was firmly in the oil/grease camp having gotten my hands on so many old wheels with corroded nipples that made truing difficult if not impossible. Then I started noticing trends (wheels aren't binary). After the first 100th wheelset, you begin to see the difference between oil/greased nipples versus SpokePrep/Loctite/Linseeded ones. Same with riding 50k-miles on the same wheelset and comparing it to others of different construction.
Thanks for your comprehensive contribution.
1 or 2 more questions if you dont mind:

- Uncooked lineseed oil is to any degree effective as thread locker or works just as another oil?

- Whats the correct "cooking" procedure? (I guess I should put a container with some oil inside in a boiling water bath, but how long? Something special to care about?)

Once more thanks!
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Old 09-05-08, 12:42 AM   #24
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THe raw linseed will dry after some time but it's measured in months. The boiled linseed dries hard in a few days to a sticky consistency and dries hard after around a month.

No need to cook your own oil. It comes in both raw and boiled forms from better hardware stores. Or at least it USED to. You may need to go to a specialty wood working store that carries finishing supplies or a better paint store to find it these days. Some of the shops that pander to furniture re-finishing should have it. In any event do NOT try to cook your own oil at home. It involves care and the oil is raised to a point where a flash fire is a very real risk.

Another option that you won't hear much about is raw tung oil. It's actually an edible oil that is used by hobbyist woodworkers as a finish for salad and other food contact wood utensils. It dries to a stiff but relatively soft polymer after about a week or so of air contact. If you can't find the boiled linseed oil the raw tung would be a good option.

Walnut oil from a health food store is yet another nut oil that dries in air. I believe that you're looking more at a month or two for walnut oil to dry to a non sticky state. And what you don't use in wheel building goes nicely in a salad dressing..... I'd put a smilie in here but this is true.

Up here in Canada Lee Valley has the raw tung oil (it's NOT tasty in salads. It's edible but tastes terrible, I tried a fingertip's worth once). In the US you'd need to shop around but there was a company called Garret-Wade that used to have much the same lines as Lee Valley.
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Old 09-05-08, 12:48 AM   #25
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THe raw linseed will dry after some time but it's measured in months. The boiled linseed dries hard in a few days to a sticky consistency and dries hard after around a month.

No need to cook your own oil. It comes in both raw and boiled forms from better hardware stores. Or at least it USED to. You may need to go to a specialty wood working store that carries finishing supplies or a better paint store to find it these days. Some of the shops that pander to furniture re-finishing should have it. In any event do NOT try to cook your own oil at home. It involves care and the oil is raised to a point where a flash fire is a very real risk.

Another option that you won't hear much about is raw tung oil. It's actually an edible oil that is used by hobbyist woodworkers as a finish for salad and other food contact wood utensils. It dries to a stiff but relatively soft polymer after about a week or so of air contact. If you can't find the boiled linseed oil the raw tung would be a good option.

Walnut oil from a health food store is yet another nut oil that dries in air. I believe that you're looking more at a month or two for walnut oil to dry to a non sticky state. And what you don't use in wheel building goes nicely in a salad dressing..... I'd put a smilie in here but this is true.

Up here in Canada Lee Valley has the raw tung oil (it's NOT tasty in salads. It's edible but tastes terrible, I tried a fingertip's worth once). In the US you'd need to shop around but there was a company called Garret-Wade that used to have much the same lines as Lee Valley.
Pity, since just yesterday I bought a bottle of linseed oil in a supermarket and I planned to use it once cooked.
So Ill browse the hardware stores, but Im not in USA or Canada, rather on the other side of the atlantic ocean and not very close to the seeside too ;-)

Sure there is no way to cook our own oil?
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