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  1. #1
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    Just built my first wheel

    Nothing major but it feels good to have taken another step in my skills. I had some hard anodized rims on my vintage Trek 1500 that I really disliked for a number of reasons. The spokes were 20 year-old straight gauge and I had broken a couple over the past season. I had another set of wheels sitting around with some decent Alex doublewalled rims on no-name hubs also with straight gauge spokes. My first thought was to just swap the better rims to the better hubs and reuse the spokes but the wheel builder at my LBS suggested replacing the spokes and nipples. He selected double-butted DTSwiss spokes and white brass nipples for my project.

    So I completely disassembled both wheels and cleaned up the rim and serviced the hub. Using Schraner's The Art of Wheel Building and some photos I took of the old wheel as a guide it took me about an hour and a half to assemble and roughly dish and true the wheel. I don't have a truing stand so I'll have to wait until I can get an evening at the bike co-op. The 3x pattern wasn't nearly as difficult as I had imagined but I spent several minutes shaking nipples out of the rim until I figured out a better way to insert them.

    I'm not trying to make a big deal out of this, but just wanted to encourage anyone who has been putting off trying their hand at wheel building to go for it. It's actually kind of fun.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Chris Chicago's Avatar
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    a picture would really give this thread some power. something like this
    F1P1YKAF8DOU7HZ.MEDIUM.jpgjust kidding. congrats on the build.

  3. #3
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    Congrats! You're allowed extra time for your first build.
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
    RUSA #7498

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    Congrats and welcome to the club. Hopefully the co-op has a tension meter in addition to the truing stand. If not, I would make the purchase of such a priority.Take your time. Enjoy the great degree of satisfaction in being more self reliant with regard to bicycle maintenance. Riding wheels you've built yourself lends a certain degree of street cred to any rider.
    Birth Certificate, Passport, Marriage License Driver's License and Residency Permit all say I'm a Fred. I guess there's no denying it.

  5. #5
    Keepin it Wheel RubeRad's Avatar
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    Yes, congrats, but more info please! I am also interested in learning wheelbuilding some day, and would like to know more about how to jump in.

    Are you planning on riding these wheels, or did you build them purely for a learning exercise?

    I'm sure I could get some free wheels on CL just so I could cut the spokes out and build it up for practice.

  6. #6
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
    I'm sure I could get some free wheels on CL just so I could cut the spokes out and build it up for practice.
    I wouldn't cut out the spokes. You could learn a lot just from unlacing the wheel and building it up again from the same parts.
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
    RUSA #7498

  7. #7
    Senior Member vredstein's Avatar
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    You started with good materials. Many first time builders do it on a budget using bad rims, bad spokes, and bad hubs. This will let you go through the motions and experience the steps, but as far as assessing absolute quality of the final product, you never know if some failures are your fault or just inherent to the low quality components. And it can discourage a first-time builder, reinforcing the idea that it takes highly specialized skills and decades of experience.
    In the end, the single most important thing that matters is whether you will ride the wheel with confidence.
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    Fenders....because it's probably urine."
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  8. #8
    Senior Member canyoneagle's Avatar
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    Congrats!
    It IS fun, isn't it?

    To RubeRad - a great place to start is to read Jobst Brandt's book, "The Bicycle Wheel". It's a pretty quick read and gives you all of the theory behind wheel dynamics and wheel building how-to. The book that the OP mentioned is not as strong on the theory part IMO, but has a great method for lacing. I built my first wheel using only Shraner's book, and it is still standing many years and miles later. I'd still start with Brandt, though.
    +1 to ThermionicScott - get an old wheel that is in serviceable shape (not bent or damaged beyond repair), un-lace it, then re-build it with the old bits and pieces (I wouldn't ride it outside of "testing" though).
    Currently one bike: Singular Gryphon do-it all bike with Nuvinci N360
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  9. #9
    Keepin it Wheel RubeRad's Avatar
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    Thx for the advice, I'll put Brandt's book on my Christmas list.

    So I have a rear wheel right now that I can get into pretty good true laterally, but I can't seem to eliminate the hops, maybe 5-10mm worth, I dunno, maybe that's an exaggeration. Maybe I should find a cheap replacement wheel to ride on, buy some new spokes, and try to rebuild it? (Mavic Open Sport 32H on a 105 hub)

  10. #10
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    Here it is:

    FirstWheel.jpg

    Like I said, nothing special but the guy who built my last wheelset at my LBS said it should be better than what I was riding (assuming I did everything correctly).

    Congrats! You're allowed extra time for your first build.
    I really took my time double checking everthing. I also wasted a lot of time fishing nipples out of the rim until I dug out an old medical forceps I had in my tool box. I've watched the wheelbuilder at the LBS and I was moving at a snail's pace by comparison.

    more info please! I am also interested in learning wheelbuilding some day, and would like to know more about how to jump in.

    Are you planning on riding these wheels, or did you build them purely for a learning exercise?
    Yes, I'll be riding them next spring once I get them tensioned and trued. I really don't have any advice to give except to get a good reference book and dive in. I took pictures close up of the hub, lacing pattern, and the overall wheel before disassembling knowing that I would be using the same lacing pattern on the rebuild. The advice of a good wheelbuilder is invaluable and my LBS was more than happy to help out. Disassembling and rebuilding a wheel just for the practice is a good idea but the wheelbuilder who helped me advised against reusing spokes and nipples on a wheel you intend to ride.

    Thanks for all the advice and encouragement.
    Last edited by Myosmith; 11-27-12 at 06:45 PM.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member canyoneagle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
    Thx for the advice, I'll put Brandt's book on my Christmas list.

    So I have a rear wheel right now that I can get into pretty good true laterally, but I can't seem to eliminate the hops, maybe 5-10mm worth, I dunno, maybe that's an exaggeration. Maybe I should find a cheap replacement wheel to ride on, buy some new spokes, and try to rebuild it? (Mavic Open Sport 32H on a 105 hub)
    You should be fine - "hops" (out of roundness) can occur if a wheel is trued incorrectly (by tightening only or loosening only), and a re-build will usually take care of it. Once the wheel is disassembled, check the rim for roundness by taking measurements across in various directions, and look for flat spots. These can be corrected with a mallet and block of wood (and discretion). I only mention this because 3-5mm seems workable. Much more than that, and you start getting into damage that is very difficult to fix.
    Note that you will almost always have a little dip at the rim seam when you build the wheel - this is okay, but should still be less than 1mm at most.

    A methodical approach will ensure a wheel that is round, centered and true, with consistent tension throughout.

    I'd say give it a go.

    Myo - looks nice!
    Last edited by canyoneagle; 11-27-12 at 07:40 PM.
    Currently one bike: Singular Gryphon do-it all bike with Nuvinci N360
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  12. #12
    Senior Member mrrabbit's Avatar
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    Good....

    Now welcome to the real world of slaving away and keeping fickle customers happy.

    Get to work!

    Honeymoon's over!

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

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

  13. #13
    Senior Member koolerb's Avatar
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    Awesome! I have a pair of hubs and two set of spokes waiting in the wings. I just need to buy some rims. I'll have to figure out where to find a wheel truing fixture as well. Congratulations!

  14. #14
    Can'tre Member 3alarmer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Myosmith View Post
    I also wasted a lot of time fishing nipples out of the rim until I dug out an old medical forceps I had in my tool box.
    I've watched the wheelbuilder at the LBS and I was moving at a snail's pace by comparison.
    There is a special tool for this called another spoke. You screw it
    into the nipple from the top a couple of turns, than use it to poke
    the little bugger where it needs to go and then grab it and twist
    it onto your chosen spoke. Just a couple of threads insertion is
    all that's required.

    And very few guys are left (Mr Bunny excepted, of course) who do
    a better job of building your own wheels than you do.
    Quote Originally Posted by CbadRider View Post
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  15. #15
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3alarmer View Post
    There is a special tool for this called another spoke. You screw it
    into the nipple from the top a couple of turns, than use it to poke
    the little bugger where it needs to go and then grab it and twist
    it onto your chosen spoke. Just a couple of threads insertion is
    all that's required.
    Thank you for the tip, very cool. I just jotted it down in my copy of The Art of Wheel Building. I am embarrased that after all the fooling around today, I never even considered something so obvious. Sometimes I make things way more complicated than they have to be.
    Last edited by Myosmith; 11-27-12 at 10:53 PM.
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  16. #16
    Can'tre Member 3alarmer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Myosmith View Post
    Thank you for the tip, very cool. I just jotted it down in my copy of The Art of Wheel Building. I am embarrased that after all the fooling around today, I never even considered something so obvious. Sometimes I make things way more complicated than they have to be.

    If it's anything, somebody had to show me..........
    Quote Originally Posted by CbadRider View Post
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  17. #17
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    I use one of these:



    $10 and works wonders.
    Birth Certificate, Passport, Marriage License Driver's License and Residency Permit all say I'm a Fred. I guess there's no denying it.

  18. #18
    Senior Member tkncwa's Avatar
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    What was the lacing on the hub/rim the first time?

    Did you reinstall spokes in same direction at the hub flange? Post a pic of the hub flanges up close.

    Congrats though!
    Master Velocipede Alchemist

  19. #19
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigfred View Post
    I use one of these:



    $10 and works wonders.
    Took me a minute to find out what it was but sounds like a good idea: http://www.mytoolstore.com/kd/kdspec07.html#2282

    Quote Originally Posted by tkncwa View Post
    What was the lacing on the hub/rim the first time?

    Did you reinstall spokes in same direction at the hub flange? Post a pic of the hub flanges up close.

    Congrats though!
    Same 3X lacing and yes I did. I'll try to remember to snap a closeup next time I'm in the shop. For future reference, how much difference does it make if you wanted to change lacing patterns, say from a 3X to a 4X on a 36h hub? I know spokes wear into the hub holes and flange, but can the pattern be changed without creating problems?
    Last edited by Myosmith; 11-28-12 at 08:53 AM.
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  20. #20
    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigfred View Post
    Hopefully the co-op has a tension meter in addition to the truing stand. If not, I would make the purchase of such a priority.
    A tensiometer is an extravagance for the casual wheelbuilder working on non-exotic (32+ spokes, non-radial pattern) wheels. If the co-op has one, by all means use it, but otherwise save your money for other tools.

  21. #21
    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
    I wouldn't cut out the spokes. You could learn a lot just from unlacing the wheel and building it up again from the same parts.
    Not to mention, sometimes the sudden change in tension will cause the rim to "taco" and permanently deform it.

  22. #22
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
    Not to mention, sometimes the sudden change in tension will cause the rim to "taco" and permanently deform it.
    +1. Even if all I'm saving is the hub, I'll detension each spoke a couple of turns before cutting them out.

    Another useful building tool is a wide blade screwdriver bit in a battery power variable speed screwdriver. Use it to drive the nipples down to a uniform but loose depth as you go. It saves a alot of time with the spoke wrench.

  23. #23
    Senior Member rootboy's Avatar
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    Before I built my first set of wheels I read a lot. Had a copy of Brandt's book, etc. I found this tutorial the best I've seen. FWIW and if it will help others.
    http://miketechinfo.com/new-tech-wheels-tires.htm
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  24. #24
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
    A tensiometer is an extravagance for the casual wheelbuilder working on non-exotic (32+ spokes, non-radial pattern) wheels. If the co-op has one, by all means use it, but otherwise save your money for other tools.
    I believe the op happens to be a clyde. From my own anecdotal experience and that of many others, even tension at the upper limits of the limiting component is key to building a wheel that will prove to be durable for such a rider. While a tension meter is not necessary to get tension even (as currently being discussed in another thread about spoke pitch), it is almost impossible for a new wheelbuilder to get the absolute tension correct without some form of gauge.


    If someone, especially a clyde, is going down the wheelbuilding route, they have generally already tackled most other bicycle maintenance and are in the game for the long haul. With that in mind and the idea that a tension meter will help speed there development as a wheel builder and confirm if their approximations are correct or not, I strongly recommend the purchase of such. They really aren't that expensive.

    For the well exercised and experienced wheelbuilders hand a tension meter may be unneccessary. But, for the occassional novice I believe they serve a much greater value.

    What 'other' tools would you place before a tension meter, assuming that someone who has taken up wheel building is already fairly well equiped with the basics?
    Birth Certificate, Passport, Marriage License Driver's License and Residency Permit all say I'm a Fred. I guess there's no denying it.

  25. #25
    Senior Member canyoneagle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    I'll detension each spoke a couple of turns before cutting them out.
    +1000 if the cutting route is used. Never snip spokes on a fully tensioned wheel. If the wheel is at proper tension, each spoke will have about 100 KG (220 LB) of force/tension, and the sudden release can shoot the spoke out of the rim like an arrow.

    Also, always wear safety glasses when working on or building wheels (when the tire/rim strip is off) - while it is rare for a new spoke to fail during tensioning, a failure at higher tension can produce a projectile.
    Currently one bike: Singular Gryphon do-it all bike with Nuvinci N360
    Coming soon (winter project) Ciocc Designer '84 mod build
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