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  1. #1
    Si Senior dbg's Avatar
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    Spoke sources delivering wrong sizes

    It's getting frustrating ordering spokes that end up wrong. I had gravitated to biketoolsetc.com and univeralcycles.com because they are prompt and helpful and reasonably priced. But I'm now getting 50% of my orders delivered with wrong sizes.

    They're very close (1-2mm wrong) but with a margin of error in the ERD measurement, 1mm off can cause problems. I now measure all my spokes when delivered. If they're 1mm off I usually attempt the target build. If they're 2mm off I call the vendor and ask for replacement.

    Both vendors are helpful and usually say to keep the wrong ones, but it throws off my timelines and is frustrating.

    And it's not just spokes. I recently received the wrong BB axle bolts, the wrong caliper device, the wrong hub, ...ouch. (on the caliper I specifically called the vendor identified on amazon and asked them to be sure and send the right one. --with no order yet they just blew me off --and then sent the wrong one anyway.)

    What gives?
    David Green, Naperville, IL USA "The older I get, the better I used to be" --Lee Trevino

  2. #2
    Bikaholic blamp28's Avatar
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    Vote with your dollars and shop elswhere but not without giving vendors a chance to make it right. If it repeats often, find another source. This is what drives improvements in service unfortunately. I have had great history with Universal but will definitely look at lengths on spokes to be sure.
    Trek Fuel XC MTB, Giant OCR Road Bike, Rans Screamer - Tandem

  3. #3
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    Question, are you getting the wrong spoke length because the seller did the calculation for you and came up wrong, or is it a picking error where, for example, the paper work says 295mm and you get 294mm?. Are the spokes in factory packages with labels? or loose?

    Picking errors where the wrong item is sent are getting more common. Often (usually) the order filling staff aren't cyclists, and simply fill orders by the numbers. This is also common at the wholesale level, where a dealer might order 6 seat bags, and the packing slip says he got 6 seat bags, but in reality he got 6 kickstands. The errors happens because of the picker's sloppiness, or because the wrong item was placed in the shelf location.

    One of my biggest annoyances as a wholesaler was the number of errors made by vendors filling errors, both wrong item sent, or more often wrong count. These made what should have been a simple receiving process much more complicated taking 10 times the time it should have.

    BTW- If the seller is selling loose spokes and they're short by 1mm or so, it's possible that the seller is measuring wrong. Spokes shpould be measured from the inside of the elbow to the end. If the shop measures on center, then they'll be 1mm short.
    FB
    Chain-L site

    An ounce of diagnosis is worth a pound of cure.

    “Never argue with an idiot. He will only bring you down to his level and beat you with experience.”, George Carlin

    “One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions” - Adm Grace Murray Hopper - USN

    WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.

  4. #4
    Si Senior dbg's Avatar
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    They most often are 1mm or more too short from what I specified. A recent order of 70 250mm DB from bicyclesetc came up 252 on my sapim ruler. When I called the vendor they went back and measured all their 250's and told me they were all actually 251.5 --their whole stock. Recent orders from universalcycles are always loose spokes rubberbanded together and most have been 1-2mm shorter than what I specified.
    David Green, Naperville, IL USA "The older I get, the better I used to be" --Lee Trevino

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbg View Post
    They most often are 1mm or more too short from what I specified. A recent order of 70 250mm DB from bicyclesetc came up 252 on my sapim ruler. When I called the vendor they went back and measured all their 250's and told me they were all actually 251.5 --their whole stock. Recent orders from universalcycles are always loose spokes rubberbanded together and most have been 1-2mm shorter than what I specified.
    Sounds like they're measuring wrong. If they're cutting to order from blanks, odds are that they're setting up the device off by 1-2mm. either because it's gauge is off, or if it's a Phil machine because they're not setting the spoke elbow in the pocket correctly.

    I own a Phil machine and my number one beef is that the sliding gauge can creep as I cut large batches. I've taken to taping it down, to avoid the pattern where the spokes change size between the start and end of a batch. It's also possible that they're people are letting the hook slide out to the head when measuring. This adds a fictitious 1mm to the measurement.

    BTW- I'm not excusing they're error, just explaining possible sources. If they're consistent, and the service is otherwise good, you might simply compensate by ordering 1-2mm (depending on rounding) longer to get what you need.
    FB
    Chain-L site

    An ounce of diagnosis is worth a pound of cure.

    “Never argue with an idiot. He will only bring you down to his level and beat you with experience.”, George Carlin

    “One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions” - Adm Grace Murray Hopper - USN

    WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.

  6. #6
    Si Senior dbg's Avatar
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    That's the plan. I'm also discovering I'm too trusting of ERD from a chart or spec sheet. The idea of ordering rim, hub, and spokes simultaneously is not working. I'm on a 12 wheel build right now and am discovering ERDs are notoriously short. Couple that with a 1mm shorter spoke than ordered and I'm getting several packages with unbuildable pieces. You guys already know this I guess, but I'm having to order hubs and rims first and measuring them myself before ordering spokes. Anybody have a good recommendation for a usable rim-rod for measuring actual ERD? I'm tired of my kluges.
    David Green, Naperville, IL USA "The older I get, the better I used to be" --Lee Trevino

  7. #7
    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    Wheelsmith rim rods work for me. On the main topic, not to be Captain Obvious here, but it may be best to buy factory-packed DT or Wheelsmith spokes and be done with it. IME they're reliable on getting the length close to spec.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbg View Post
    That's the plan. I'm also discovering I'm too trusting of ERD from a chart or spec sheet. The idea of ordering rim, hub, and spokes simultaneously is not working. I'm on a 12 wheel build right now and am discovering ERDs are notoriously short. Couple that with a 1mm shorter spoke than ordered and I'm getting several packages with unbuildable pieces.

    I also measure rims myself because of the inconsistency of published rim ERD specs. I've posted about the
    issue so often, that I won't go into it here.

    Simple solution to making rods. Order 2 spokes as long as availaible, ie 310mm. Cut the elbows off squarely and thread them into nipples so that then they just touch the distance end to end measures something easy, like 620mm. Then loctite the nipples in place and you can measure any rim by measuring the overlap, and subtraction from the original length.

    Always measure twice at right angles and average the results to correct for errors caused by oval rims (not rare).

    Now for the controversy, There's some confusion as to what an ERD is. Some, including me, measure to the nipple seat on the rim, something I'm going to start calling the NSD (nipple seat diameter) to avoid confusion (base of nipple to base of nipple on my rods). Others measure to the point where they want the spokes to end (roughly 5mm more than the NSD, to account for 2.5mm engagement into the nipple heads).

    It doesn't matter what you call it, or where you set the length for your home made rods, as long as you're consistent and stay with the same spoke calculation program, since some compensate for nipple height and others don't, figuring that you will.
    FB
    Chain-L site

    An ounce of diagnosis is worth a pound of cure.

    “Never argue with an idiot. He will only bring you down to his level and beat you with experience.”, George Carlin

    “One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions” - Adm Grace Murray Hopper - USN

    WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.

  9. #9
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    You buying by the labeled Box? ie 50/100 count?

  10. #10
    Senior Member mrrabbit's Avatar
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    1. Too often, boxed spokes are .5mm shorter than what the label says. But that doesn't explain 1-2mm shortness...

    2. As FBinNY noted, the Phil Wood spoke machine's ruler can shift, and the user can fail to be consistent with firm placement of the elbow in the hook. I can secure the ruler with tape - firmly place the elbow and keep it there with some thumb bruising - and run off 600-800 spokes in an hour AND achieve +/- .25mm deviation throughout.

    Having said that, here's are the possibilities for what is going on:

    A. If off a Phil machine, the employee is just not using good technique or is simply careless.
    B. If out of a box, spokes are being moved between boxes by employees and they're not checking before counting for a customer.
    C. The spoke manufacturer is screwing up when filling boxes - (kinda doubt that though cause usually I see .5mm short - not more...)

    or

    D. Your source is using ONE particular ruler that when used with the Phil machine will make them think that they are rolling spokes off .5mm too long and they'll adjust the Phil Spoke Machine ruler accordingly resulting in you getting spokes that are 1.0mm too short. (Bad ruler..) I know, that didn't make sense, but trust me...somehow that's what happens with ONE particular ruler...

    The Phil Wood Spoke Machine is my favorite machine, and the best one out there that's hands operated. It's the winner, no doubt. I'm maintaining and adjusting 2-4 of them at any given time. However, the Morizumi and Kowa do have one little advantage. They both free-hang the spoke before cutting - which make for very very very consistent cutting. Accuracy still has to be verified with a ruler though.

    To be honest, the best solution for you really is to go to an LBS and have 'em do the spokes for you off a Phil Wood Spoke Machine right there in front of you with YOU checking the first spoke of each batch. Maybe, they'll let you try out the machine yourself.

    =8-)
    4000+ wheels built since 1984...

    Disclaimer:

    1. I do not claim to be an expert in bicycle mechanics despite my experience.
    2. I like anyone will comment in other areas.
    3. I do not own the preexisting concepts of DISH and ERD.
    4. I will provide information as I always have to others that I believe will help them protect themselves from unscrupulous mechanics.
    5. My all time favorite book is:

    Kahane, Howard. Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric: The Use of Reason in Everyday Life

  11. #11
    Senior Member miamijim's Avatar
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    3 things crossed my mind....

    1. The spokes were being cut versus coming from a box...
    2. A Phil machine is being used to cut...
    3. Someone doesn't know how to use a spoke ruler...

    But that's all been covered.

    Back in the day I'd mark the end of our Phil machine's slider with a Sharpie and cut away, it was easy to see if the slider slide. The Phil machine worked well for a left hander like myself, I'd grab 36 spokes and feed away....
    WWW.CYCLESPEUGEOT.COM 2005 Pinarello Dogma; 1991 Paramount PDG 70 Mtb; 1976? AD Vent Noir; 1989 LeMond Maillot Juane F&F; 1993? Basso GAP F&F; 1989 Terry Symmetry; 2003 Trek 4700 Mtb; 1983 Vitus 979

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