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  1. #1
    Senior Member Shuke's Avatar
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    Rattling Sound, Spoke and Nipple Spin Freely? - Solved

    I went and had my conti trainer tire put on my old rear wheel today at my LBS so I could have a dedicated trainer wheel around (i know: htfu and put it on yourself) and while walking home I noticed a rattling sound coming from one of the spokes. Upon closer inspection of this spoke it and its nipple spin freely together inside of the hole in the rim and won't tighten. In September this wheel was the primary impact location for a car. I took it to another LBS in September and they trued it but I never rode on it again until now. Ideas?
    Last edited by Shuke; 03-09-10 at 07:44 PM.

  2. #2
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    Does it have straight pull spokes? If it has j-bend spokes, the spoke has to be broken to spin freely.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Shuke's Avatar
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    It's a Shimano RS-10 with straight pull spokes.

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    I was going to ask if the spoke had any tension on it but it sounds like the answer to that question would no as the spoke was rattling. If the wheel was hit, it's possible that the rim was flat spotted in the area of that spoke causing the low tension. Coupled with some corrosion and maybe some damage to the hub, I could see how the spoke might just spin. The straight pull spokes on my Mavic wheels are formed into a square cross section at the hub end to resist twisting during tensioning. However, given the small size of the square, the hub has to hold the spoke quite tightly to have the desired effect.

    So assuming that the rim isn't in such bad shape that it's unrideable (doesn't seem to be the case), I would try holding the spoke with some pliers (teeth parallel with spoke so that spoke sits in v-groove) and turning the nipple until you reach the desired tension. If the wheel was previously trued and the shop just skipped over that spoke due to the twisting issue, you'll likely be correcting a bunch of other spokes to get even tension and reasonable true. This might be a job for a competent LBS or a good learning experience for you.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Shuke's Avatar
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    To elaborate more on the spoke "spinning freely" I mean that it's not connected to the hub and the nipple isn't connected to the rim. The spoke and nipple are however solidly connected to each other though. Trying to true that spoke would have no effect on the rest of the wheel because it is not connected to the wheel anywhere.

    At the hub and rim, the spoke and nipple sit in their places respectively but there is nothing keeping either of them in place other than the drilled holes.

  6. #6
    bike whisperer Kimmo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shuke View Post
    Trying to true that spoke would have no effect on the rest of the wheel because it is not connected to the wheel anywhere.
    It's connected by the spoke head and nipple, isn't it? Why couldn't it exert tension if you were able to tighten it?

  7. #7
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    I still think that the reply from joejack above is correct. It sounds like the nipple is perhaps not turning easily on the spoke threads. Without any tension, and also because the spoke is a straight-pull, there is nothing to keep the spoke/nipple pair from turning together, in their respective holes.

    So you need to hold the spoke with a pliers or something similar, to keep it from turning, while the nipple is turned with a spoke wrench. (This would be easier if the spoke was a flat, aero spoke, but it should still be possible to grip a round spoke sufficiently with a pliers. But you don't want to grip it so hard that you put a bend in the spoke, or scratch it too badly.)

    If the nipple is stuck on the spoke, either due to corrosion, or due to being somehow cross-threaded onto the spoke, then you may need to replace the spoke and/or nipple. But hopefully it will be possible to move the nipple on the spoke threads. Once there is at least some tension, then you should be able to let go of the pliers while continuing to tension the spoke properly (using the spoke wrench). Needing to prevent the spoke from turning while the nipple is being turned is a pretty typical situation, with straight-pull spokes.

    The other possibility is that the nipple is pulling through its hole in the rim, or already has. In which case you might need to add a collar (basically a washer) on the inside of the rim, to reinforce the spoke hole. I suppose it is possible for the spoke hole at the hub end to have become enlarged, but hubs are generally much stronger than rims, so a "spoke pull-through" problem is almost always going to be at the rim.

  8. #8
    bike whisperer Kimmo's Avatar
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    If you need to grab that spoke really hard, I'd fold a rag over it a couple of times and use vicegrips.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
    If you need to grab that spoke really hard, I'd fold a rag over it a couple of times and use vicegrips.
    Putting cloth between the jaws and spoke will negate any increased pressure you might get from the vice grips. Vice grips also tend to have knurled jaws which would not be ideal for holding spokes.

  10. #10
    bike whisperer Kimmo's Avatar
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    It grabs harder than pliers can and doesn't damage the spoke. Fills the brief.

    And most vicegrips I've seen have lateral grooves like pliers.
    Last edited by Kimmo; 03-09-10 at 07:16 PM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shuke View Post
    To elaborate more on the spoke "spinning freely" I mean that it's not connected to the hub and the nipple isn't connected to the rim. The spoke and nipple are however solidly connected to each other though. Trying to true that spoke would have no effect on the rest of the wheel because it is not connected to the wheel anywhere.

    At the hub and rim, the spoke and nipple sit in their places respectively but there is nothing keeping either of them in place other than the drilled holes.
    By "not connected" I assume you mean "not anchored". J-bend spokes have an anti-rotation feature built in by design. The j-bend going through the spoke hole keeps the spoke from turning. Straight pull spokes have no such bend and must use other means to keep the spoke from turning, either through a square shaped section like my Mavic spokes or use of a tool during tensioning.

    Either your spokes always required a tool or that single spoke now requires a tool due to damage to the hub. Regardless, if you can keep the spoke from turning, you'll be able to turn the nipple independently from the spoke and apply tension to the spoke.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
    It grabs harder than pliers can and doesn't damage the spoke. Fills the brief.
    Yes, vice grips will grab harder than pliers (as you can exert a larger force for a short duration to close the vice grips and they'll hold that tension) but using the cloth in between the jaws will negate that grip by severely reducing the coefficient of friction. With that said, likely either suggestion will work as it generally doesn't take much grip to keep a spoke from turning unless the nipple is all but welded to the spoke.

  13. #13
    bike whisperer Kimmo's Avatar
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    The rag makes it easier for the spoke to spin, but you just crank more pressure on the vicegrips.

    I just verified it works with an old spoke, actually. There's no way I could've grabbed the spoke that hard any other way without scarring it.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Shuke's Avatar
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    Thanks to everybody that replied here, I did as JoeJack suggested, gripping the spoke with a pliers and turning the nipple and this worked spectacularly. The reason that it wasn't truing when I turned the nipple before was because it was THAT far out of true already that the nipple and spoke moved together (no idea why it was so loose) not that the hub was damaged. Anyway, thanks again!
    Last edited by Shuke; 03-09-10 at 07:49 PM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
    The rag makes it easier for the spoke to spin, but you just crank more pressure on the vicegrips.

    I just verified it works with an old spoke, actually. There's no way I could've grabbed the spoke that hard any other way without scarring it.
    You wouldn't have to grip that hard and wouldn't scar the spoke either if you used pliers with straight v-shaped grips on the jaws and without anything between the jaws and spokes. See, Shuke understood

    Shuke, glad you got it sorted out.

  16. #16
    bike whisperer Kimmo's Avatar
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    The vicegrips would only have been necessary if the nipple was seized.

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