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  1. #1
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    Replacing tubular rims with clincher

    I'm a beginner at wheels - actually not even a beginner since I'm taking a wheel building course at the local co-op on Wed.
    I've accumulated a few tubular wheels and was wondering about converting them on the cheap to clincher - re-use the spokes.
    Looking around, it doesn't appear to be possible to find clincher rims with similar ERDs to tubular rims. Looks like both the rims I've got are probably 618 ERD - I could build up a nice set of 27 inch wheels but not 700.
    If I want to build new wheels I'm on the hook for rims and spokes from the looks of it.

    Does this agree with what other people have experienced?

  2. #2
    aka: Dr. Cannondale rccardr's Avatar
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    Not me. I've converted several pairs of tubulars to clinchers by eyeballing a close match and then swapping the original hubs and spokes over to the new rims. That sounds like a very large ERD...are you sure of that number? That sounds like maybe a Weinnmann concave...

    Maybe I've just been lucky, but most of my conversions seem to be in the 611-612 ERD region. So, Nisi to Wolber was simple, for example.
    Hard at work in the Secret Underground Laboratory...

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    Senior Member CliffordK's Avatar
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    It has been a while since I've done the change. I would think some of the older box section rims would be close, but perhaps not close enough. I think we generally replaced spokes.

    Are your spokes galvanized or stainless? If they are 30 yr old galvanized spokes, I'd probably go ahead and upgrade.

    I was at our local co-op yesterday, and someone was using a very nice spoke cutter/threader machine. A bit of work, but possible.

  4. #4
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    I have done this conversion a couple of times, most recently on the Bianchi. My 700C Campagnolo Omega rims happily took the existing spokes from the original tubular rims.

    I am getting ready to replace the rims because of sidewall wear, but this time I'll probably replace the spokes, as well, but keep the same length.
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  5. #5
    What??? Only 2 wheels? jimmuller's Avatar
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    It's easy enough to measure your current ERD with a caliper and a meter stick. Measure the outer edge-to-edge diameter at several points. Then with a caliper measure the drop from the rim edge to the depth of the spoke holes, multiply by two and subtract from the overall diameter. It's a good way to check the real rim against whatever database gave you your own rim's ERD. You can measure your own spoke lengths pretty easily that way too. It's accurate enough for determining the required spoke lengths. Don't forget to allow for the nipple head thickness when you compute spoke lengths. So then you just need to find a rim that works with the spoke lengths you already have. If you can't find a rim you like, just order new spokes.

    I just built up a set of wheels with GP4 tubular rims and Mavic 501 hubs. The spokes required were longer than for any of my clincher wheels. If you go the other way, your spokes may be too long but that's not really a problem as long as they don't stick up too high out of the spoke wells in the rim.
    Last edited by jimmuller; 01-16-16 at 09:49 AM.
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    I've got 3 Ambrosio Montreal Médaille D'or which from the Internet appear to be 618 ERD.
    I've got a couple of Saturne HT-C21 and can't find the ERD for them. Guess I'll have to pull a couple spokes and measure them.

    Cool - @jimmuller, I'll try your method on the Saturnes.
    Last edited by Slash5; 01-16-16 at 10:00 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmuller View Post
    It's easy enough to measure your current ERD with a caliper and a meter stick. Measure the outer edge-to-edge diameter at several points. Then with a caliper measure the drop from the rim edge to the depth of the spoke holes, multiply by two and subtract from the overall diameter. It's a good way to check the real rim against whatever database gave you your own rim's ERD. You can measure your own spoke lengths pretty easily that way too. It's accurate enough for determining the required spoke lengths. Don't forget to allow for the nipple head thickness when you compute spoke lengths. So then you just need to find a rim that works with the spoke lengths you already have. If you can't find a rim you like, just order new spokes....
    I use the same basic method but take a small shortcut by dropping a nipple into the spoke hole and measuring from the rim edge to the top of the nipple. This automatically compensates for the nipple head and saves one measurement.

  8. #8
    What??? Only 2 wheels? jimmuller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by T-Mar View Post
    I use the same basic method but take a small shortcut by dropping a nipple into the spoke hole and measuring from the rim edge to the top of the nipple. This automatically compensates for the nipple head and saves one measurement.
    Nice shortcut.

    @Slash5, be aware that what the various spoke calculators call ERD is actually the diameter of the spoke ends. Inotherwords, the diameter of the bottom of the wells plus two nipple heads' extra. It should probably be called Effective Spoke End Diameter. I've never seen that point in print or online. I learned it after trying to build with spokes too short and then read between the lines of some wheelbuilding descriptions. (The lesson was made complicated by a worse experience when the first build I did was with spokes from a local LBS, and the senior guy who selected them for me got them very wrong. I never did figure out what his mistake was, 4x vs 3x, or whatever.)

    I've done builds with MA40s, which carry a peculiarly worded ERD in some databases, and with rims which are never listed. Once I tried measuring the ERD three different ways. I did what I described above. I measured the inner diameter and added twice the distance from the inner edge to the well bottom. I ran a string around the rim strip surface, marked it at a spot where it passed itself, measured the length between the marks, and divided by PI, then subtracted twice the depth of the well bottom below the rim strip surface. Within a fraction of a mm I got the same value all three times. (For the MA40s it was different from what the databases said.)

    On a side note, be aware that a wheel can have absolutely uniform diameter but not be round! A "bulge" on one side can be matched to a flattened spot opposite to it. Of course if the bulges are equally spaced around the rim this can happen only when there are an odd number of such bulges. But it means that just because you measure a constant diameter doesn't mean the rim isn't deformed. Measuring roundness isn't easy.
    Last edited by jimmuller; 01-16-16 at 09:54 PM. Reason: Correcting a few dumb things
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slash5 View Post
    Looks like both the rims I've got are probably 618 ERD - I could build up a nice set of 27 inch wheels but not 700.
    That was my experience the only time I've done this conversion. It was back in the '70s when narrow clinchers first became available and I switched to a pair of Rigida 13-19s. At that time 27" tires were far more common than 700c so that was the size I chose and the old spokes were a good match.
    But it should be possible to find a set of clincher rims with a large enough ERD with the variety available these days.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Ed.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slash5 View Post
    ..
    I've accumulated a few tubular wheels and was wondering about converting them on the cheap to clincher - ...
    Why?
    Yes, you can have my sew-ups, but first you'll need to pry my cold, dead fingers from them.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Ed.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmuller View Post
    ... But it means that just because you measure a constant diameter doesn't mean the rim isn't deformed. Measuring roundness isn't easy.
    damhikt!
    Yes, you can have my sew-ups, but first you'll need to pry my cold, dead fingers from them.

  12. #12
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    AFAIK thewhole idea of 700c wire bead rims is to go on bikes which will also use 28" sew ups..

    now Cyclocross racing is a good place to re use sew up rims,

    as the option of lower pressures for the prepared courses has some benefits

    & you need more than 1 set of wheels since punctures will take a week between races to mend.

  13. #13
    billy chuck eschlwc's Avatar
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    sun m13ii rims from niagara ($70ish).

    sapim db race spokes from danscomp ($30ish).

    sheldon brown's wheelbuilding page (free).
    happer: keep watching the sky, macintyre.

  14. #14
    Idiot Pro Tempo RobbieTunes's Avatar
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    Good advice here. rccardr's advice on the eye being an excellent measuring tool is right on the money.

    I really wish I could keep all the wheels I have and wave a magic wand to make them tubular instead of clincher.
    Last edited by RobbieTunes; 01-16-16 at 07:47 PM.

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    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    The spokes on my tubular wheels accumulated a lot of tire glue on the threads. Rebuilding would have been difficult.
    Quote Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
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  16. #16
    billy chuck eschlwc's Avatar
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    never understood reusing spokes unless it's a brand new wheel and you're just replacing a taco'd rim or something similar.

    (this has happened to me.)

    spokes are cheap when you consider everything involved in wheelbuilding.
    happer: keep watching the sky, macintyre.

  17. #17
    Senior Member crank_addict's Avatar
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    Fun read from a terrific site and resource.

    HP Clinchers are Dead, long live clinchers! - Wheel Fanatyk

    ps. I also use the Czech made Tufo tubular / clincher

    Last edited by crank_addict; 01-17-16 at 03:59 PM.
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