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Thread: Wheelbuilding

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    Senior Member yellowjeep's Avatar
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    Wheelbuilding

    Earlier I finished up a front wheel for a cyclocross build (with some random vintage parts thrown in). Waiting on spokes so I can do the rear. XT non disc hubs to Campy Omega V rims (vintage!) I have had for quite a while. I haven't built a wheel in a few years and I ran in to a few snags, had to relace um...more than once but once I was done it felt awesome. I had forgotten how how enjoyable it is. So much so that I snagged an NOS pair of Ambrosio Formula 20 rims to build up a little latter.

    That got me thinking what are some of the more exotic wheel builds you done or seen? Looking for vintage tubular rims has my mind racing. I know there were quite a few sub 300g rims out there and I am just wondering what other crazy or otherwise interesting stuff people have kicking around. Or just story in general. I guess I really just wanted to start a general thread about wheelbuilding... Discuss.
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    Mote of Dust degan's Avatar
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    Unfortunately this isn't my creation, but I recently found a wheel at a bike co-op for $10. Its a BMX Suzue flip flop hub laced to a 48H Sun Chinook tandem/touring rim. Pretty odd mix, but I now have the strongest fixie wheel around.

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    Senior Member yellowjeep's Avatar
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    Is it the older non-eyleted type and how is 48h laced 4x possibly even 5x? Having just done 32h non eyelet it would take a substantial amount of money and or whiskey to talk me in to doing 48h. Shaking nipples out of rims is no fun.
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    Senior Member rothenfield1's Avatar
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    I had the experience of building my first wheelset a couple of years ago; and I loved it. I used a book by Jobst Brandt and some advice from Sheldonís website to get me through. My conclusion of the process was that wheel building is more art than science. It seems to be more of a lost craft to tune and balance the spokes to the rim. One needs an ear for it, for the good wheels. The best wheel builders must be great Steinway piano tuners.
    Half of the time I fear I may not know what the hell Iím doing; the other half, Iím sure of it.

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    Senior Member yellowjeep's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rothenfield1 View Post
    The best wheel builders must be great Steinway piano tuners.
    That is a great way to put it.

    I used all kinds resources including Brandt's book and The Art of Wheel Building by Gerd Schraner. I am also going to be purchasing The Professional Guide to
    Wheel Building
    by Roger Musson found here.

    Also anybody thinking about building their own wheels should read this http://miketechinfo.com/new-tech-wheels-tires.htm.
    When in doubt, style it out.

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    Senior Member yellowjeep's Avatar
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    Does anybody have experience with 28h vintage lightweight tubulars? The Formula 20s I have are 28h. I feel a lot more ok about this now that I would have a year ago (260ish to 168 and still dropping) but I just wanted some other opinions.
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    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    I love building wheels... it is a meditative process and wonderful to see a wheel come together and for the most part, nearly every wheel I ride on has been built with my own hands and a bunch of folks ride around on wheels that have come out of my shop.

    It is also nice to be able to build those wheels you just can't buy off the peg... because of this I have built a lot of 26 inch mtb wheels with SA hubs for winter riders and run a 1964 SS AG on my own winter bike.

    I acquired a good number of 650A Mavic rims and have been very pleased at how nicely these work with vintage Raleigh bicycles... they are a little unique.

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    Rustbelt Rider mkeller234's Avatar
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    I have a question for all the wheel builders. How few tools can an inexperienced wheel builder get by with?

    I've got a spoke wrench, a copy of "The Bicycle Wheel" by Jobst Brandt and a spare fork. Is that enough to get the job done properly? I'd like to re-build my Viscount rims with new spokes since the old ones are completely rusted.
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    Senior Member yellowjeep's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mkeller234 View Post
    I have a question for all the wheel builders. How few tools can an inexperienced wheel builder get by with?

    I've got a spoke wrench, a copy of "The Bicycle Wheel" by Jobst Brandt and a spare fork. Is that enough to get the job done properly? I'd like to re-build my Viscount rims with new spokes since the old ones are completely rusted.
    You are probably good to go, read this if you need more convincing http://miketechinfo.com/new-tech-wheels-tires.htm.
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    Senior Member rothenfield1's Avatar
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    Not that Iím very experienced, but I wouldnít try building another wheelset without access to a tension meter. Itís the tensioning and especially the breaking-in of the spokes that seem to me very important in the making of a strong wheel that will last without major retuning.
    Half of the time I fear I may not know what the hell Iím doing; the other half, Iím sure of it.

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    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mkeller234 View Post
    I have a question for all the wheel builders. How few tools can an inexperienced wheel builder get by with?

    I've got a spoke wrench, a copy of "The Bicycle Wheel" by Jobst Brandt and a spare fork. Is that enough to get the job done properly? I'd like to re-build my Viscount rims with new spokes since the old ones are completely rusted.
    You can use your bike as a truing stand, zip ties for indicators, and need a spoke wrench.



    My truing stand is an old fork and I use several dial indicators as well as good old zip ties to reference things.


  12. #12
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    I've built many good wheels with a spoke wrench and a flipped-over bike for a truing stand. Of course, I learned in a shop with a Park stand and an expert at my side. Good tools aren't essential, but they make the learning curve more tolerable.
    Jeff Wills

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    Senior Member yellowjeep's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    You can use your bike as a truing stand, zip ties for indicators, and need a spoke wrench.



    My truing stand is an old fork and I use several dial indicators as well as good old zip ties to reference things.
    That is going to be my next project I am not very happy with the Ultimate stand that I have now. It works but I want something more substantial. Any more pictures? I understand its pretty simple I just like pictures.


    Quote Originally Posted by rothenfield1 View Post
    Not that I’m very experienced, but I wouldn’t try building another wheelset without access to a tension meter. It’s the tensioning and especially the breaking-in of the spokes that seem to me very important in the making of a strong wheel that will last without major retuning.
    First I bend the spokes down so the sit flatter against the flange then I used a left crank arm to bend the spokes around each and then squeeze parallel spoke multiple times while bringing the wheel up to tension. After I get true I lay it on the ground and rotate it while pressing in the raised sides, then I reture. I do that until they stop pinging when I put pressure on them. I hope that is enough.
    Last edited by yellowjeep; 01-26-12 at 11:13 PM.
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    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yellowjeep View Post
    That is going to be my next project I am not very happy with the Ultimate stand that I have now. It works but I want something more substantial. Any more pictures? I understand its pretty simple I just like pictures.
    I made the base at the machine shop... was nice to have a drill press, a 1 inch bit, and some scrap angle iron to work with.

    Fork is mounted in that base which is clamped to the desk, and the lateral indicator is mounted to the brake boss as then it's position does not change relative to the wheel when I flip it.

    It trues and dishes wheels as I can measure lateral offsets in thousands of an inch and make adjustments accordingly... it is also quite portable and I can clamp it to the deck of my extrabike when I do mobile work.

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    Senior Member yellowjeep's Avatar
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    Do you mount rears on the out side of the fork?
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    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yellowjeep View Post
    Do you mount rears on the out side of the fork?
    Yep.

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    Senior Member rothenfield1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yellowjeep View Post
    I used a left crank arm to bend the spokes around each and then squeeze parallel spoke multiple times while bringing the wheel up to tension.
    It seems you have read the same Sheldon as I have about using a spare crank arm to un-tension the spokes. What sort of lubricant do you use in the eyelets? Iíve read about some using linseed oil, but that seems old school. However, I do see the importance of allowing the spoke to unwind while it finds its proper tension.
    Half of the time I fear I may not know what the hell Iím doing; the other half, Iím sure of it.

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    Senior Member yellowjeep's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rothenfield1 View Post
    It seems you have read the same Sheldon as I have about using a spare crank arm to un-tension the spokes. What sort of lubricant do you use in the eyelets? Iíve read about some using linseed oil, but that seems old school. However, I do see the importance of allowing the spoke to unwind while it finds its proper tension.
    Phil green grease on the nipple and on the threads.
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    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    My partner has been building wheels in the same manner for well over 50 years... we both have backgrounds in machining and fabrication and he builds some incredibly nice wheels on home build stands.

    I do have a vintage Hozan stand coming my way and it will be a nice addition to my shop.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Alan Edwards's Avatar
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    Not to brag but I am waiting for a set of wood rims from Italy. I have been excited about the idea of wood rims for about a year. I have a set of wheels with SS spokes, 78'+ Record hubs , and Mavic OR-7 rims and will switch the rims for wood. Post a picture of your setup.
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    Senior Member yellowjeep's Avatar
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    Those OR 7 rims are damn cool... If they are the wood rims I am thinking of I am jealous.

    I have these in my closet.
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    likes to ride an old bike
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    I once built a wheel without a spoke wrench, instead using a screwdriver from the outside. I wouldn't recommend it, though the wheel did turn out OK (relacing a steel Schwinn S-6 rim onto a coaster brake hub after the stock hub self-destructed). In that case it didn't need to be particularly true :-)

    I've got a project that will probably need a wheel build soon... I'm looking forward to it. +1 to everything everyone has said in favor of building wheels.

    I used to do the "step on your wheel" thing, but I ruined a wheel that way and gave it up.

    Now, I bend the spokes toward the flange, gently tap the spoke heads home with a hammer and punch, squeeze the parallel spokes (wear gloves!) at multiple points in the build, and do a gentle inward press at the outer crossing using a round plastic tool handle midway through the build. It's an amalgamation of stress-relieving tips from various sources.

    The most important thing, in my opinion, is to hold the center of the spoke in your off-hand every time you do a tension adjustment. This lets you feel if the spoke is starting to wind-up -- always overshoot your intended adjustment and then back off enough to remove any wind-up that you caused. Maybe old pros can do this by intuition, but I've just gotta feel it every time to get it right.
    Last edited by MrEss; 01-27-12 at 07:03 AM.

  23. #23
    Cottered Crank Amesja's Avatar
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    I built quite a few wheels on an old fork mounted in a vise before I got serious and upgraded. Zip-ties make for good feelers and are infinitely adjustable. This is much nicer and more handy (and better on your back) than doing it on the bike -especially if you don't have a bike stand that can position the frame at a good height to work on and hold it steady. A bike stand is a must-have for anyone who wants to work on bikes. The Park PCS-9 or PCS-10 are both good stands for the beginner as well as advanced bike wrench. I actually prefer the cheaper PCS-9 because it clamps bikes faster than the "quick clamp" of the PCS-10 if you are changing frame sizes often. The PCS-10 needs a lot more work to adjust sizes but clamps back to the same size very fast.

    The fork in he vise worked well for a long time until I sprung for a cheap wheel truing stand. I got the Sunlite which is based on an old design. This stand was $45 last year and now runs for $60 on Amazon. Everything bike-related seems to be really going up lately for some reason. It's a low-end stand and has its limitations but it works very well and is much handier than the fork in the vise method.

    About the only thing really necessary to build a wheel is a spoke wrench sized for your nipples. I like my Park SW-7 It's got the three most-common sizes right there in one tool. Putting a different color of paint on each of the 3 wrench flats helps visually identify each one from each other and makes this tool much more handy as the little markings are hard to spot (much less read) for old eyes.

    A spoke tensionometer is nice but not 100% necessary. The Park TM-1 is pretty much the standard although it's a big chunk of change for the occasional wheel-builder. IT's a tool that is very helpful but shouldn't be used as a crutch either. As you use the meter you learn what the tension should be and need to use it less. It's good to check your work when you are done but you really shouldn't depend on the meter to check every spoke as you go. That's not really how it should be used IMHO. But without the tool you really are guessing as to what the correct tension "feels" like. It is sort of a catch-22.

    Needless to say I'm glad I own mine. There are very few bike tools I have remorse over buying other than a set of cheap 4-in-1cone wrenches from Avenir. Wow were those junk...
    '74 Raleigh Carlton Competition w/ Ultegra | '97 Trek 720 Singletrack CX-er w/ 105 | '64 Raleigh LTD-3 modernized w/ all alloy components |'69 Raleigh Twenty | '54 Raleigh Sports

  24. #24
    Cottered Crank Amesja's Avatar
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    Another tool that is handy but not absolutely necessary is a dish gauge. A dish gauge is nothing more than adjustable stick designed to measure the distance between the plane of the rim and the plane of the outside of the cone lock-nut. Theoretically it should be the same on both sides if your rear triangle is straight

    Park wants a rediculous amount of money for their "pro" dish gauge, the WAG-4 and even their cheaper WAG-3 portable unit is a bit pricey although I see the price has come down from the $30 they used to charge for it to a more reasonable $19.99 on Amazon through Nashbar (plus $5 shipping, of course!)

    I just couldn't bring myself to pay that kind of money for a metal stick so I made my own out of 1/2" conduit, and a 1/4"-20 toggle bolt and nuts fitted through a drilled and tapped 1/4"-20 hole in the center. It works just fine for me.

    Last edited by Amesja; 01-27-12 at 08:27 AM.
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  25. #25
    Senior Member yellowjeep's Avatar
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    ^^ I'm a big fan of homemade tools. Might have to stop by Home Depot later.
    When in doubt, style it out.

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