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  1. #1
    Painfully average. calv's Avatar
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    Track Wheel Building tactics

    Hello mechanics posters,

    I'm currently in process of building my first set of wheels (I started a long time ago) for my fixed gear. Velocity A23's with Sapim Laser spokes, Sapim polyax nipples, and Novatec sealed formula hub.

    I've laced the wheel 3x and I'm having trouble getting the wheel to stay round and true as I build up tension. I purchased a Park Tool's TS-2.2 and a spoke wrench for the build because I want to learn correctly and plan on building all my own wheels for no on. I have not put any Wheelsmith spoke prep either, just some chain lube that I had lying around on the threads. I have yet to oil the holes where the nipples interact with the rim.


    I've developed hops in the rim and I simply cannot fix it. Whenever I try to tighten or loosen a set of nipples, the rim turns into a series of mini hops. At this point, both wheels are not evenly tensioned and are out of round. Is it worth it to loosen them all and try again?
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    incazzare. lostarchitect's Avatar
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    IMO, yes, I'd loosen the whole thing and start again. I've built a few sets of wheels, but I am also new to this, so I understand what you're going through!
    1964 JRJ (Bob Jackson) San Remo Plus, 1989 Trek 520, 2000ish Colian (Colin Laing), 2013 Velo Orange Pass Hunter

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    AEO
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    start over.

    There are many threads on how to start, tighten, adjust and fine tune wheel builds with many tips as well. Faster if you search, but I'm sure someone will chime in the details here if you wait a bit.
    Food for thought: if you aren't dead by 2050, you and your entire family will be within a few years from starvation. Now that is a cruel gift to leave for your offspring. ;)
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    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    I'd loosen all of the spokes until just one spoke thread is showing. Actually, I find that it's easier to feel for the spoke thread with my thumb nail than it is to see it. Then, starting at the valve hole I'd tighten each spoke only 1/2 turn. Working slowly and evenly like that should make the rim round. When you've got some tension in the spokes, lateral trueing is easy as long as you tighten and loosen opposing pairs of spokes by the same amount.

    Good luck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    I'd loosen all of the spokes until just one spoke thread is showing. Actually, I find that it's easier to feel for the spoke thread with my thumb nail than it is to see it. Then, starting at the valve hole I'd tighten each spoke only 1/2 turn. Working slowly and evenly like that should make the rim round. When you've got some tension in the spokes, lateral trueing is easy as long as you tighten and loosen opposing pairs of spokes by the same amount.

    Good luck.
    that's how i do it. drag a nail on the smooth section till it hits the thread. turn with nipple driver till it stops. good lighting helps. i don't like interruptions during wheel builds. no phones, tending to customers etc. get rid of hops early in the tension stage

  6. #6
    Painfully average. calv's Avatar
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    Thank you guys! I'll loosen them tonight and get ready to start again when I have free time!
    Quote Originally Posted by ThisJauntyGent View Post
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    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by reptilezs View Post
    i don't like interruptions during wheel builds. no phones, tending to customers etc. get rid of hops early in the tension stage
    I like to have a sporting event on. Doesn't matter if it's football, baseball, hockey, basketball. But if I sit down with a game I am somewhat interested in, it kind of steadies me and makes me patient.

    Oh, and, beer.

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  8. #8
    tcarl
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    When I first started truing my own wheels, I made them worse before I learned how to make them better. Just be patient, go slowly and ask questions.

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    Constant tinkerer FastJake's Avatar
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    +1

    Start over. I learned wheelbuilding from Sheldon's article, it hasn't led me wrong let. Realize that your first wheel won't be perfect (at least not the first time) and that everyone makes mistakes. IMO you have to build about a dozen wheels before you really know what you're doing. There are folks on here that have built thousands of wheels, it's not something you become an expert on right away.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    I'd loosen all of the spokes until just one spoke thread is showing. Actually, I find that it's easier to feel for the spoke thread with my thumb nail than it is to see it. Then, starting at the valve hole I'd tighten each spoke only 1/2 turn. Working slowly and evenly like that should make the rim round. When you've got some tension in the spokes, lateral trueing is easy as long as you tighten and loosen opposing pairs of spokes by the same amount...
    this is good advice. including the use of the thumbnail.

    just remember when one spoke is tightened they ALL tighten up to some degree. same goes for loosening. and if a rim shows any vertical or lateral deformity before the build, i have found that it is not possible to build it with even tension in all spokes.
    Last edited by hueyhoolihan; 02-06-12 at 10:12 PM.

  11. #11
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    Start by getting the wheel radially true and worry about the lateral as you go. AS the tension goes up it is easier to get the lateral trueness and tension without screwing up the radial runout. You are shooting for at most a .5mm runout.

  12. #12
    Mister Bleak! mconlonx's Avatar
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    Worry about true-ness long before you worry about tension.

    Once you have things loosened, start by bringing the wheel up to working tension by turning spokes the same amount, starting at the valve hole and working around the wheel. You can make big adjustments at this point, like one whole turn on each nipple. When things start coming up to tension, start making half turns or quarter turns all the way around. I count quarter turns to keep track of what I'm doing and tension spokes evenly.

    When correcting lateral true, work in pairs -- tighten the spoke that needs it, loosen an adjacent spoke the same amount. This will supposedly keep things radially true wile you work on lateral.

    When correcting radial true, work in pairs -- tighten the spoke that needs it, tighten an adjacent spoke the same amount. This will supposedly keep things laterally true while you work on radial.

    When correcting radial true, I don't worry too much about lateral true. For radial, I'll fix the high spots first by tightening appropriate pairs of spokes, but if there's parts that are significantly tight and there are low spots on the rim, I'll loosen pairs of spokes to releive such. Getting initial radial true set is a(nother) lesson in patience. Starting spokes all at the same thread as others have suggested mitigate this a bit, but you'll still be spending plenty of time working out that initial radial true.

    I'll also work in a regular series: correct lateral true, correct radial true, touch up lateral true, correct dish, add tension to all spokes, relieve stress. Generally speaking, once I'm approaching correct tension, radial true and dish tend to stabilize, so it's just adjusting lateral true, adding tension and relieving stress. I'll also start paying attention to spoke tension around the wheel at that point, measuring with a tensiometer.

    Good luck!
    Quote Originally Posted by Nicodemus regarding mconlonx View Post
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  13. #13
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    i also tension balance when im at about 75% of the target tension. i don't worry about the balance after that, just check a few spokes for terget. don't forget stress relieving between rounds and setting the elbows

  14. #14
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    Are all the spokes the same length? I had to abort my first wheel build because some of the spokes at the shop had migrated to the wrong drawer before they made their way to me.

    - Scott
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  15. #15
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
    Are all the spokes the same length? I had to abort my first wheel build because some of the spokes at the shop had migrated to the wrong drawer before they made their way to me.
    Yup. There's a special place in hell for the people who are responsible for doing that. I've also has 14 gauge and 15 gauge nipples intermixed. The 14 gauge nipples work fine until you start to get some tension on them.

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    Oops number 7642.
    Last edited by davidad; 02-08-12 at 01:24 PM. Reason: wrong place

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
    Oh, and, beer.
    +1.

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  18. #18
    Senior Member marcusbandito's Avatar
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    I love the A23 rims, and most of Velocity's products as well. Their only problem is when you push the spoke tension past the 107kgf that they recommend. When you do the wheel tends to get all wonkey and its a losing battle to get the wheel straight or round. So, if you're having these problems sometimes it's a good idea to just checked the tension real quick and see if you push past that point.
    Sounds like you are doing good and having fun. Remember that wheelbuilding is kind of an addiction and I think you're probly hook at this point.

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    Good reading on this thread. Everybody relates their experiences just a little differently.

    I find using a reference pt on the radial runout viewed from the side rather than over the wheel positioned more useful. Get your wheel round at low tension.. the spokes as equal tension as you can at this tension level. Avoid higher tension correction early on.. one spoke making things right as it were. Add tension to one side for correction.. subtract via the other adjoining spoke/s..if their showing tension above your median 'feel' for the whole group. Balance early on.. means same in the end.

    Bring the tension up in precise half turns.. accounting for the dish if needed early on. Then check the radial after a trip around the wheel and correct.. add/subtracting tension adjoining sides. At times a high/low spot develops around the joint... analyzing why rather than reacting works best for me. Opposite tension across the wheel could be higher.. often tensioning that high group of 3-5 spokes works. For low pts go around the wheel tensioning skipping this area.. often higher tension away from this area pulls it back round.

    Slow deliberate balancing is for me much faster than trying 'to get it done'.

  20. #20
    Senior member Dan Burkhart's Avatar
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    Your spokes are 1.5mm section in the middle. In my experience, this size spoke tends to stretch before reaching full tension. Anybody else experience this?
    Gearhubs demystified and other cool stuff.


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    Can'tre Member 3alarmer's Avatar
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    +1 on beer. The best wheels are always built with beer.

    +1 on always check your spokes for both length and gauge
    prior to assembly. It is not uncommon in the shop environment for
    stuff to get put back in the wrong place.

    Butted spokes do stretch a little, and this needs compensation in
    your original calculation most times.

    You cannot use too much nipple lube...more is better..(what she said).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Burkhart View Post
    Your spokes are 1.5mm section in the middle. In my experience, this size spoke tends to stretch before reaching full tension. Anybody else experience this?
    By the time they get to 110kgf they'll have stretched elastically (if you remove tension they'll be back to their original length) nearly a full millimeter (I looked at the arithmetic once and IIRC it was about 0.7mm). While you need to account for it when choosing spoke lengths (you might bottom spokes if you were aiming for the nipple end and hadn't accounted for that) it's not a problem getting to 110kgf front and drive side or even 120kgf drive side in a beefy deep rim.

    At that point windup with alloy nipples is about 1/4 turn when the threads are lubricated with anti-seize and would be worse unlubricated. If you're not accounting for that you could get to where you're just not turning the nipples enough to tighten them farther.

    I've put 14-15 years on DT 2.0/1.5 Revolutions front and rear non-drive side with two front rims and 2-3 rears. The last build before I got a tension meter and therefore used the Jobst method averaged 110kgf front and rear drive side and I went for the same measured tension after getting a Park TM-1. I figured that since they were working fine at that tension in front wheels I might as well start trying them rear drive-side especially since that's what the boutique vendors are doing at lower spoke counts although I couldn't say much yet apart from noting that they build fine at 110-120kgf rear drive side.
    Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 02-09-12 at 11:38 AM.

  23. #23
    Painfully average. calv's Avatar
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    More replies, woo! Thanks, all, for chiming in.

    I loosened one wheel until one thread was showing. So far all I've had time to do is tighten the spokes one full turn around the wheel three times, starting at the valve hole. So far is is badly out of lateral true, but seems to be pretty round.

    Some nipples are still very loose, you can pretty much hand turn them. I feel like they will tighten up soon.

    Is this the time to correct lateral true? I'm afraid if I try to correct lateral true, I will make some too tight or too loose and not evenly. Am I okay with attempting to fix the bad wobble? Or will the wheel straighten out after a few more rounds. I plan on doing one full turn around the wheel about two more times before I start doing half-turns.
    Quote Originally Posted by ThisJauntyGent View Post
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  24. #24
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    it sounds like you at about the point where i usually tighten all spokes finger tight if they are not already that tight. my thinking is that not all spokes are threaded the same. and neither are the nipples. and my original starting point determined by my thumbnail ain't all that accurate either...

    then maybe a half turn all round and then i start plucking them and adjusting to a common tone. the tone should be identical for all the fronts and on the rear should ring the same tone all round on driveside. and should (eventually when dished properly) ring same, but lower tone on non-driveside.

    then on to alternating lateral tuning and tension (using tone) tuning. and finally centering for rear. and centering for front if it needs it, which it shouldn't if the fork is straight.

    BTW, much of this, if not all, is likely a personal matter, so i don't expect anyone to necessarily agree with this.

    edit: sorry, didn't intend to write an essay. i guess i just wanted to write it all down and see if it made sense to ME.
    Last edited by hueyhoolihan; 02-13-12 at 09:01 PM.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Burkhart View Post
    Your spokes are 1.5mm section in the middle. In my experience, this size spoke tends to stretch before reaching full tension. Anybody else experience this?
    Maybe. I recently abandoned a build (rear) using 2-1.5-2 spokes when I became suspicious they were no longer tensioning but meerly stretching. Also the rim (dyad) seemed like it reached a point where further attempts to pull it to one side was just causing it to warp further to the opposite side. After numerous restarts I took the whole thing apart and discovered 7 spokes were 2 and 3 mm wrong (both ways). That launched me into a project of re-measuring all my spoke bundles. I'm considering a jig where I can spread out groups of spokes and verify their lengths more easily.
    David Green, Naperville, IL USA "The older I get, the better I used to be" --Lee Trevino

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