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Old 11-08-10, 08:34 PM   #1
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blindly going where I have not gone before....

I'm sick of trying to clean and polish wheels to their full potential while still assembled.....

I am going to take a 27" wheel all the way down to spokes, nipples, hub, balls, cones, cups, flux capacitor, etc................clean & rebuild; even if it is still true.....

I've seen kids on Youtube do it while drinking beer; surely I can pull it off.....it just can't be that tough.......

or am I asking for trouble?
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Old 11-08-10, 08:40 PM   #2
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If you have never laced a rim to a hub before, you will have some surprises. Don't bother taking out the spokes. It's faster to polish the wheel with the spokes in place than it is to learn how to build a wheel.
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Old 11-08-10, 08:43 PM   #3
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there must be some trick to cleaning polishing a wheel w/o dis-assembly that I don't know.......it takes me at least an hour per wheel just to clean and get a moderate polish....and the spokes always look bad.....
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Old 11-08-10, 08:48 PM   #4
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Some folk recommend keeping the spokes in their original orientation, ie left forward leading, left after leading, right forward leading right after leading. Just keep them in they're respective group as they come off the wheel and put them back on, not necessarily in exactly the same order but at least in the same layer. I don't know if there's any truth in it but it's easy to do.
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Old 11-08-10, 09:00 PM   #5
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What do you use, how do you do it? An hour is better than learning to build a wheel. However if you consider yourself good with mechanical things search for wheel building and read about it. There is a lot to it. Spoke tension, dish, How many cross, and more. Spoke prep for the threads not lube.

One can live with a gray wheel instead of a shiny polish. But I understand how you feel, I used to do the same thing on motorcycle parts. I wipe dirt off my wheels, but don't polish most of them. Modern wheels are anodized aluminum, they don't tarnish except on the braking surface. I do polish some small rusted areas on three old chromed wheels on an antique trike. I just don't look at the time. And I only do it once or twice a year. It never gets wet. It does seem like it takes a long time. Some of the places where the chrome is missing I painted with "chrome" paint. It does not really match, but it's not a show bike, it's just the dog trike in my sig. I do keep everything painted or clean to prevent rust. I have to, dog saliva is like naval jelly it will remove paint! I have to get all the saliva off every ride.
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Old 11-08-10, 09:15 PM   #6
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You can do it, but you won't save yourself any trouble.
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Old 11-08-10, 09:19 PM   #7
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I just built my second set of wheels and couldn't be happier. If you do disassemble this wheel to clean everything and get it back together you'll have acquired one of those skills that every bike aficionado should have IMHO. My first set of wheels took three lacings to get right...I probably spent 8-10 hours to make them right. My second set last week...3.5 hours start to finish, from hubs, spokes, and a pile of nipples to finished wheels. It's NOT hard. Follow Sheldon's guide, you'll be fine. A truing stand is helpful.

EDIT: I should have said for the OPs benefit too, I have a wheelset in active use that has galvanized spokes. They're in good shape for galvanized but I plan to unlace the wheels and replace the spokes with stainless this winter. I don't fear it for a second.

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Old 11-08-10, 09:20 PM   #8
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I'd pay to watch that.

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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 11-08-10, 09:25 PM   #9
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I'd pay to watch that.
Watch what?
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Old 11-08-10, 10:20 PM   #10
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Watch him take his wheel apart to clean it, then put it back together.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 11-08-10, 10:23 PM   #11
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..and the spokes always look bad.....
Are they zinc plated or stainless?
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Old 11-08-10, 11:01 PM   #12
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I'd have to guess galvanized. One of my wheelsets was built in ~1980 with DT Swiss and still looks great. What are you using for polish on the hubs? I swear by Simichrome, but yeah, it can be kind of a pain in the ass to get around the spokes to get the hub polished real good.
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Old 11-08-10, 11:08 PM   #13
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I'd have to guess galvanized.
I wouldn't be surprised if this is the case - not a whole lot one can do there, huh?

I see an opportunity here. Perhaps the OP can break the wheel down, polish the hub and rim, then rebuild the wheel with new spokes and nipples.
OP- search the mechanics threads for wheelbuilding - tons of great info there.
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Old 11-08-10, 11:49 PM   #14
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khatfull had a good thread about it, I think over in the Classic & Vintage forum. He posted as he did it.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 11-09-10, 01:17 AM   #15
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Shoot, I didn't do anything other than follow Sheldon's guide for the most part.
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Old 11-09-10, 03:01 AM   #16
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I know that it is a horrible sacrilege to suggest this, but take the wheels to the car wash. Soak them in the engine and tire goop for about a minute then high pressure wash the wheels. You might have to repeat this process a couple of times but the results are stunning. There will be no bits and pieces trapped between spokes and hubs. The original patina of the alloy hub will be restored, mostly.

Of course, once the wheels have been washed this way, you will have to disassemble, clean, inspect, lubricate and assemble the hubs. I absolutely guarantee that water will get into the bearing cavities. That said...

If you plan to ride a vintage road bicycle, it would be very wise to learn how to maintain your wheels. Building and truing wheels does take some time, trial and error, to learn, but the end result is really worth it. Take the advice offered in this forum thread and use Sheldon Brown's procedure for building. You will be surprised that there is no magic involved. Just understanding, coupled with practice and you will become a wheel builder.

Hope this is a help.
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Old 11-09-10, 05:18 AM   #17
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Go to utube and get a hands on look at how its done step by step
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Old 11-09-10, 07:13 AM   #18
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Go to utube and get a hands on look at how its done step by step
I would agree that watching YouTube videos would be a good way to see whats involved but I would still follow Sheldon's guide. I tried to watch videos as I went the first time thinking video had to be better right? Wrong. Sheldon's guide, followed closely and carefully will work for you OP.

But, the videos might let you know if it's something you want to tackle.
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Old 11-09-10, 08:59 AM   #19
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I used Sheldon' Browns website. Took me about 2 hours to relace a wheel. Got everything finger tight then took it to the shop to true it up....guys said I did a pretty good job...missed a lace (went over instead of under on one). It's something I plan to try again and again, like someone posted above....think it's a skill every "biker" should have.

I say go for it but if all you are wanting is a polished wheel and could care less, then don't do it. Use a Drimmel or something.
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Old 11-09-10, 11:44 AM   #20
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I know that it is a horrible sacrilege to suggest this, but take the wheels to the car wash. Soak them in the engine and tire goop for about a minute then high pressure wash the wheels.....................i

I repack/replace/rebuild all the axles anyway; so I'll try this first....
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Old 11-09-10, 01:04 PM   #21
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I disassemble all wheels which have non-anodized rims because I can get a much (MUCH) better polish with my buffing wheel than by hand. Those who say you don't save any time or effort are right but for me the results are worth it, even on bikes I'm going to sell.

Also, I'm not too sure about plated spokes, but the old bare-steel ones will clean up with fine steel wool soaked in phosphoric acid. That's really unpleasant so I only do it when it's important to keep the original spokes.
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Old 11-09-10, 01:18 PM   #22
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I've seen kids on Youtube do it while drinking beer; surely I can pull it off.....it just can't be that tough.......

or am I asking for trouble?
With the beer, the kids, or the wheel?
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