Sorry for the length, but I've found that the more details I include, the better recommendations/ advice I receive.
It's looking like I'm needing to rebuild/ have rebuilt the rear wheel on my 2007 Jamis Aurora. Most of my riding is commuting but this summer I'm planning a couple 3-5 day fully loaded tours, probably the GAP/C&O Canal and some time in the Adirondacks. I'm 6'2" and about 320 lbs. I anticipate carrying 50 lbs of gear. The stock rear wheel is a 9 speed cassette Shimano Tiaga.
It seems that I'm pretty rough on my rear wheels. I had the rear wheel on my Trek 7300FX rebuilt after less than 500 miles (over 3 years, wasn't riding much.) I've been popping spokes on the NDS of Aurora wheel and have been replacing them myself throughout the fall (haven't been riding it much over the winter.) Now, I'm pretty sure the current hub seems to be in decent shape, but I'm not sure if I should rebuild the wheel or replace wheel. Reading Peter White's recommendation he suggests going to a Phil Wood Touring Hub, but my thrifty side balks at the possibly $600 cost of a new wheel built around a Phil Wood Touring Hub. I could have the wheel rebuilt for about $120 or do it myself for less. If I upgrade the wheel, I'll go from a 3-cross 36 spoke wheel to a 3 or 4 cross 48 spoke hub, which is probably a better choice for my weight.
Alternatively, I could go with a freewheel hub but that would require changing the Tiaga STI system to something else and probably end up costing me near the cost of the Phil Wood cassette hub-based wheel.
So what I'm looking for is the experience of my fellow clydes in this regard. Is the Phil Wood cassette hub worth the cost? What are the advantages of having a custom wheel built. Peter White's reputation is not in question as a wheel builder (haven't found any good local wheel builders that do more than a handful of touring wheels each year,) but what are the advantages/ disadvantages of a professionally built wheel vs a home built wheel? Is the change to a freewheel hub worth considering?
Your advice/ experience is appreciated. Thanks.