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  1. #1
    Climbers Apprentice vesteroid's Avatar
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    Wheel building class

    I have seen several post of people building their own wheels. While I really dont have an interest in being a full time wheel builder, I do like to know how to do things, so I signed up for a class.

    I went up to Portland and took a class at Sugar Wheel Works. Jude works with you in advance to find out what type of wheel you want to build, then orders all the parts, then teaches you how to build them (in her shop).

    The first day was simply an overview of wheel building, and then we actually laced up the rims. There were 3 of us in the class, and each of us had a completely differnt wheel planned, so poor jude had lots to do to keep us straight.

    My wheels were pretty easy as I was using radial on the front, and 2 cross on the drive and radial on the non drive side on the rear. I think it took me about 2 hours with the instruction to get my two rims laced up.

    The second day was the actual build. I was using Cxray spokes so I didnt have to do stress relieving, and had to use another tool to hold the spoke straight as I tightened the nipples. All I can say was it was a true experience. It took me about 4 hours, but I got that wheel within 1.5 in radial and lateral, and all spokes almost perfect on uniform tension.

    It was harder than I thought, when you start, that wheel moves both up and down, as well as side to side, and you have to watch your dish. So turning those spokes can end up with some very funny results until you get a feel for how far, and how much, and which spokes to loosen and which to tighten.

    I had a flight back so I didnt get all the way through the second wheel, but I was moving twice as fast on that one, when I ran out of time.

    I think I could do a fine job of truing a set of wheels that has gotten out, and making sure they are all equal tension and are radially true. I think I would need a book with reference materials in it to design and build a set from scratch at this point.

    I will go on and add, that I see lots of folks talking about building their own wheels and even their bike shop building wheels for them. Watching someone who truly builds 50-60 wheelsets a week is a true artform. I think as with most things, that many of the LBS guys who build a set or two each month, and all of the home guys who may build a set a year, dont hold a candle to the real wheel builders. Her wheelbuiding equipment is like nothing I have ever seen for sale to a home guy or even LBS. She was able to put mics on both the true and radial and measure the extents. She had very exacting limits that she wouldn't ship a wheel above. I would bet those limits are half what most LBS do, and more than that for the home hobbiest. I dont see how even on the park pro model, that you could duplicate what she did with tolerances.

    Her spoke tension gage alone was 250 bucks compared to the park model of 60 bucks. She even developed a tension standard that she uses to calibrate the parks for classes.

    I probably will build a set of wheels one day, and will most definitely take care of my wheels better in the future (as I bought a set of tools from her to do so), but the best thing I learned in the class, is if you really want a pro set of wheels built, one that will be perfect and stay perfect, I dont think I am qualified and most LBS are not qualified, go to a real honest to go wheel builder.

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    I'm jealous of folks that live in areas where classes like this can happen. I'd love to take some bike building classes locally, but... nada.

    Sounds like an awesome experience bud.
    Chris

    "I want to see the wild country again before I die, and the Mountains..."

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    I met Jude years ago when she was still co-leading tours with a bike tour company and had her build a set of wheels for my now spare road bike during her first year in business. She's a great wheelbuilder in addition to being one of the funniest persons I've come across in my bike-related pursuits. Glad you had a great time!

  4. #4
    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    I believe everything you say!

    It is also true that you will take far more care building or truing your wheels than nearly any local mechanic, so it's worth learning how to do. You also have the luxury of spending 4 hours doing it, whereas a person doing it for a living would need to pump out 1 set an hour to be economical.

    SO what did you build? I'm acquiring parts for my first ever stab at it, probably in February.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vesteroid View Post

    I think as with most things, that many of the LBS guys who build a set or two each month, and all of the home guys who may build a set a year, dont hold a candle to the real wheel builders. Her wheelbuiding equipment is like nothing I have ever seen for sale to a home guy or even LBS. She was able to put mics on both the true and radial and measure the extents. She had very exacting limits that she wouldn't ship a wheel above. I would bet those limits are half what most LBS do, and more than that for the home hobbiest. I dont see how even on the park pro model, that you could duplicate what she did with tolerances.

    Her spoke tension gage alone was 250 bucks compared to the park model of 60 bucks. She even developed a tension standard that she uses to calibrate the parks for classes.

    I probably will build a set of wheels one day, and will most definitely take care of my wheels better in the future (as I bought a set of tools from her to do so), but the best thing I learned in the class, is if you really want a pro set of wheels built, one that will be perfect and stay perfect, I dont think I am qualified and most LBS are not qualified, go to a real honest to go wheel builder.
    I take some exception with the above. There is no black art to wheel building. Practice does make it easier and quicker. But, there is nothing that attention to detail and patience can't attain.

    And, the cost of ones tools does not assure the quality of the product. It is what you do with them.

    With reqard to "qualified" or not. An old friend once said there are two types of people in the world. Those who are 'qualified' to do some things, and, those who are 'capable' of usually just about anything they put their mind to.

    Too many lbs mechanics work from exerience with regard to what has supplied satisfactory results for them. Often times, that isn't up to clyde standards. The industry standard for tension of a machine built wheel is +/- 20%. Hand builders frequently go for +/- 10%. My personal standards have been +/- <5%, while attaining fronts and DS rears at <2% and NDS rear at <3%.

    With the exception of the welded joint my last set of wheels trued to within .008" or .2mm.

    You don't need to be building 50 wheels a week to be a real honest "wheel builder".

    However, I'm super pleased to hear that you went to the class and hope that you continue to get plenty of good mileage and pride out of your new wheels.

    I will say that I'm surprised that you went for, and she endorsed, radial lacing with aero spokes for a first build. I presume that the wheel you finished in class was the rear? If so, you'll find that the front is quite a bit easier to finish. If not, I'll recommend finding a friend with a truing stand.
    Birth Certificate, Passport, Marriage License Driver's License and Residency Permit all say I'm a Fred. I guess there's no denying it.

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    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigfred View Post
    I will say that I'm surprised that you went for, and she endorsed, radial lacing with aero spokes for a first build.
    Depending on what hubs he's using and being a clyde, I'm surprised she endorsed it at all. The dude that gave me lots of info and tips while learning says I ought to avoid radial lacing. Velocity hubs suck for radial and Shimano void their warranty on radial laced as the flange size is not designed to take the stress of radial lacing.

    I searched (right after reading your comment) and sure enough, it came up right away posted on wheelbuilder.com

    http://www.wheelbuilder.com/hub-selection.html

    Now it would be interesting to see what hubs Vesteroid is using, maybe the radial specific designs of Zipp and Mavic?

    I'm curious about her "mic" set up. Being and inspector of mfg for several years, I've never me anybody that measures runout using a micrometer. Dial indiators yes, mics no.




    Hub Flange: The largest load on a hub is created by the tension of the spokes. Wheels that are laced with 2-, 3- or 4-cross spoke patterns create much less stress on a hub flange than those that are radially laced. This has to do with the extreme angle (or lack thereof) in which the spokes apply load to the flange. Radially laced spokes patterns can contribute to flange cracking and breakage. For this reason some hub manufacturers will not warranty hubs that have been radially laced. However, several manufacturers produce hubs with extra thick or forged flanges with holes drilled closer to the axle, leaving extra material to handle the additional stress of radial lacing. Other manufacturers design their hubs to for use with straight pull spokes, which apply loads differently to the hub flange. Examples of these hubs are seen on some Mavic and Zipp Wheels. Keep in mind that larger flange diameters usually contribute to higher lateral and torsional wheel stiffness. For these reasons, large flange hubs are popular with track racers. Lower flange hubs contribute to lower rotating inertia, which we discussed in the previous paragraph.
    Last edited by Mr. Beanz; 01-22-13 at 07:13 PM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member corwin1968's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vesteroid View Post
    I will go on and add, that I see lots of folks talking about building their own wheels and even their bike shop building wheels for them. Watching someone who truly builds 50-60 wheelsets a week is a true artform. I think as with most things, that many of the LBS guys who build a set or two each month, and all of the home guys who may build a set a year, dont hold a candle to the real wheel builders.
    When I started retro-fitting my old Trek the first thing I considered was wheels. I weigh 400 lbs so these are clearly the most critical component for me. I was already familiar with Rivendell Bicycle Works and their wheel builder Rich Lesnik. I was also aware of Peter White. Both buys are professional wheel builders who specialized in strong but light wheelsets.

    My preference was to support a local shop so I inquired at several and asked what components and how much. I already had decided what I wanted based on information from Rich and Peter and none of the local shops specified those components. Most importantly, the prices I was quoted were $20 less than Rivendell's wheels. Rich Lesnik has built 6000 wheels and counting and I have no idea how many the local guys build but I'm guessing it's not something they do a lot. I decided to go with a pro and ordered my wheels online.

    I'm not that mechancially inclined and I have even less patience so I greatly admire anyone who can tackle wheel building and be successful. I'll be happy to learn how to adjust my brakes and derailleurs.
    Currently riding a 1983 Takara Highlander converted to a single-speed.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by corwin1968 View Post
    My preference was to support a local shop so I inquired at several and asked what components and how much. I already had decided what I wanted based on information from Rich and Peter and none of the local shops specified those components. Most importantly, the prices I was quoted were $20 less than Rivendell's wheels. Rich Lesnik has built 6000 wheels and counting and I have no idea how many the local guys build but I'm guessing it's not something they do a lot. I decided to go with a pro and ordered my wheels online.
    I would stay _FAR_ _FAR_ _FAR_ away from any local shop which had more than one employee (with more than one you can't guarantee the competent one will handle your wheels) and shops with one employee that do not have a reputation for building good wheels (while not difficult there are more profitable uses of mechanics' time than building a wheel right).

    I stopped buying wheels made by other people after I got a set from a formerly reputable shop where the rear never stayed true due to insufficient tension and front folded on a small bump most likely for the same reason (when your front wheel folds you stop and end up on the ground).

    My wife needed an IGH wheel, I was feeling lazy, and I thought that a local shop ($70 labor + $1.20/spoke + 8% sales tax) would be able to handle a wheel with almost no dish. WRONG. Nipples unscrewed because they neglected to bring the wheel to high uniform tension. It took me more time to make the wheel almost right (they used spokes which were too long with a few even longer, and one bottomed arriving at the right tension. I just compensated with its neighbors) than if I'd laced it myself and kept the tension relatively uniform during the build.

    Do it yourself (it's about as hard as adjusting a front derailleur but obviously takes much longer), start with cheap machine built wheels that you stress relieve and tune up to have high uniform tension on each side, or get a reputable one-man shop (ex: Peter White, pcad) to do the deed.
    Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 01-22-13 at 09:16 PM.

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    Senior Member corwin1968's Avatar
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    I guess I should have specificed that by "online" I meant having Rich Lesnik hand build a wheelset based on my size and riding style. He went with some 40-spoke touring hubs that are non-branded but built by a big company in Taiwan that does a lot of this type of stuff, Velocity Dyad rims and DTSwiss spokes.

    I did ask around on several local forums but was unable to get anything more than a general recommendation for "good bike shops". I could not find one single positive reference for a local wheel builder and I'm in a metro area of 1,000,000 + people that is oversaturated with bike shops.
    Currently riding a 1983 Takara Highlander converted to a single-speed.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    Home builders are more likely willing to spend whatever time it takes to get their wheels to exceptional standards.
    It's not so much how many bells & whistles you have, but how you use them.
    I do use a dial caliper and run it around the rim to see how the width between the brake tracks varies. I've seen new, CHEAP rims that varied +/- 0.5mm. You aren't going to build it better than that. You can only do so much with a flat spot where the rim is joined, although you can do some. It often is a trade off of how even of spoke tension vs how "true". I'll give up +/- .5mm if I can keep spoke tension within 5%. That wheel is more likely to STAY within that range. Give me a quality rim to start with, and it'll be better yet.

    And 50-60 sets a WEEK?
    Last edited by Bill Kapaun; 01-22-13 at 08:28 PM.

  11. #11
    Climbers Apprentice vesteroid's Avatar
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    You guys are a tough crowd, you would think i told half of you, you dont have any skills lol. I wasnt talking to anyone here.

    First, the set of wheels I built was for my 140 lb wife, as I already have two sets of wheels, hence the radial lacing.

    Fred, I finished the front wheel and got the back up to uniform tension and a bit dialed in, she finished the rest for me and is shipping me the wheels.

    I built (my wife) a set of 24/28 HED Belgium C2 Rims with CK R45 Hubs, with black cxray spokes and allow nipples.

    Beanzy I dont what the measuring tool was, I used mic in a generic sense, I should have known better with you...it was this little dial guage with a stem and a roller ball on it. She would set the ball against which ever edge she wanted to measure, turn the dial so that the needle fell in between the two hash marks (or didnt as the case may be) I think she wanted us to get within .2 mm and she builds to .1 mm if I remember correctly. I think she measured out my first wheel at .15



    Fred, I have to disagree, and thats OK, not saying I am right and you are wrong, but I just dont think its possible for an home guy to learn the theory behind all the component selection, and work out all the issues she does. I am not saying YOU cant do it, I am saying I dont think on average most people can do it.

    I have been in metal fabrication my entire adult life and I assure you, even the most skilled and natural persons that come into my field, have lots to learn about the art of problem solving. Its knowing what to do when things go wrong that separates the master mechanics and the newbies, and only experience teaches that.

    the 50-60 is what she said they do on busy weeks and there are two of them. She said her fastest wheel lace ever was 4 minutes and she typically spends an hour on each wheel set, and fields customer issues. I can tell you she had a stack of hubs and rims on a table about 3 feet deep, for a large order for a LBS making their own bikes.

    found the stand she uses and the tensionometer http://www.dtswiss.com/Accessories/Proline-Tools
    Last edited by vesteroid; 01-22-13 at 10:51 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vesteroid View Post
    I think she wanted us to get within .2 mm and she builds to .1 mm if I remember correctly. I think she measured out my first wheel at .15
    I'm not sure I believe those numbers... 0.1mm is the thickness of a Post-It note (or at least the one I just measured). My guess is that you're off by 10X. She probably builds to 1mm and wanted you to get below 2mm.

  13. #13
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    I'm not sure I believe those numbers... 0.1mm is the thickness of a Post-It note (or at least the one I just measured). My guess is that you're off by 10X. She probably builds to 1mm and wanted you to get below 2mm.
    Tough crowd indeed but I must agree, those numbers are too tight to hold with a wheel. Precision CNC machines can have a tough time holding that on a machined flat surface much less runout on a rim.

    .1 mm equals .004 of an inch, about the thickness of a hair. If she can hold four thousandths of an inch over the circumference of a rim lateral and radial runout, I'd suck the cheese from between her toes.

    I think all the numbers were just a gimmick to impress you to sell you tools.

    Yes, that is a dial indicator, gotcha!

    As far as the stress on a radial laced hub flange, I dont think that applies to Clydes and Athenas ONLY. I'd be worried about getting the wife hurt as the warranty voids the hub due to flange stress no weight limits mentioned. Just my opinion, that is why Gina is riding 32 spoke 3X wheels.

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    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vesteroid View Post
    found the stand she uses and the tensionometer http://www.dtswiss.com/Accessories/Proline-Tools

    Quote Originally Posted by vesteroid View Post
    Her wheelbuiding equipment is like nothing I have ever seen for sale to a home guy or even LBS. .
    So was there a little bit of an exaggeration going on there? Looks easlily acquired to me if you want to pay the big money.

    I know your answer, you're going to say...hey, I said I HAVE EVER SEEN.

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    I would say .5mm runout is pretty darn good.

    0.1mm runout? Completely unnecessary

    The first wheel I built, from scratch, I got somewhere between .5mm and 1mm. No way to measure it really, just by eye. It has held up fine to my 235 (at the time, 225 or less now) on a SINGLE SPEED mtb. Tension and true have not wavered one bit.

    All I used was a Park tensiometer and a cheap wheel truing stand. XTR rear hub laced to an Alex Adventurer rim, using all wheelsmith DB spokes and brass nipples. Linseed oil for threads.

    Easy as pie standard 32h 3x pattern.
    2012 Diamondback Podium 2 - Ready for spring! :D
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    Climbers Apprentice vesteroid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    Tough crowd indeed but I must agree, those numbers are too tight to hold with a wheel. Precision CNC machines can have a tough time holding that on a machined flat surface much less runout on a rim.

    .1 mm equals .004 of an inch, about the thickness of a hair. If she can hold four thousandths of an inch over the circumference of a rim lateral and radial runout, I'd suck the cheese from between her toes.

    I think all the numbers were just a gimmick to impress you to sell you tools.

    Yes, that is a dial indicator, gotcha!

    As far as the stress on a radial laced hub flange, I dont think that applies to Clydes and Athenas ONLY. I'd be worried about getting the wife hurt as the warranty voids the hub due to flange stress no weight limits mentioned. Just my opinion, that is why Gina is riding 32 spoke 3X wheels.
    Beanzy, here is the thing, and I say this with all honesty! If you saw her, you would wish she would let you suck the cheeze from between her toes!!!!!!

    Oh, and Julie (my wife) if you are reading this, I was only speaking in a figurative sense, to irritate beanzy.


    And I stand by my post on not readily available to home hobbiest or even small shops, I went and looked that stand up and it starts at 3200 and goes up from there with options..I would guess she is over 4K all in
    Last edited by vesteroid; 01-23-13 at 07:56 AM.

  17. #17
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    This thread has pretty much convinced me to not try building wheels or to take a class. Too complicated for me and I am too impatient.

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    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by goldfinch View Post
    This thread has pretty much convinced me to not try building wheels or to take a class. Too complicated for me and I am too impatient.
    That's why I wouldn't try knitting!
    You might actually enjoy building wheels, because you get to THINK. Impatience comes from doing boring things.

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    Quote Originally Posted by goldfinch View Post
    This thread has pretty much convinced me to not try building wheels or to take a class. Too complicated for me and I am too impatient.
    Despite what this thread may have you believe, building wheels is actually pretty easy. I'm not mechanically inclined and I managed to build a set of wheel for my touring bike. They needed a minor truing after about 1500mi and have been maintenance free ever since. I used a cheap ($70) truing stand from Performance Bike, a Park tension ($60) meter, a Park dish stick ($20-30) and a spoke wrench.

    You don't need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on tools unless you're going to take up wheel building as a full-time job. You also don't need to fly across the country to take a class, though I'm sure it helps! I read Sheldon Brown's website and watched a few YouTube videos then got to work. First wheel took me about 4 hrs to build. The 2nd would have taken 2 hrs, but I made a mistake in the lacing and it took me a while to figure out where I'd gone wrong. If I'd been building a more standard wheel set, things probably would have gone faster, especially on the 2nd wheel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by goldfinch View Post
    This thread has pretty much convinced me to not try building wheels or to take a class. Too complicated for me and I am too impatient.
    And, this ^^^ is part of the reason I replied as I did. That, and taking some of what Vesteroid posted personally.

    Goldfinch, Wheel building is not hard. It is not a black art that requires thousands in tools to do an excellent job equal to or even exceeding what is turned out by many factories or so call "pros".

    Jobst Brandt proofed his book on wheel building by handing it to his two sons and instructing them to build a wheel each. They did fine and so is the book. Or, several other resources available on the web will walk you through the process. Sheldon Brown's site has a great few page instruction that will, if followed, see you build an entirely successful wheel.

    Now, if you're just not that interested, that's another story. Wheel building does require interest and care in what you're doing. NO book can substitute for those.
    Birth Certificate, Passport, Marriage License Driver's License and Residency Permit all say I'm a Fred. I guess there's no denying it.

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    Vesteroid,

    I am curious. With regard to that DT truing stand, what advantage do you percieve that provides over a Park TS 2?

    In my mind, they both hold the wheel securely by the axle and provide a adjustable reference point both laterally and radially to compare the rim to. I don't see how that tool in any way effects the quality of the outcome.
    Birth Certificate, Passport, Marriage License Driver's License and Residency Permit all say I'm a Fred. I guess there's no denying it.

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    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vesteroid View Post
    Oh, and Julie (my wife) if you are reading this, I was only speaking in a figurative sense, to irritate beanzy.

    Hahahaha, you're too nice to irritate me!




    Quote Originally Posted by vesteroid View Post
    And I stand by my post on not readily available to home hobbiest or even small shops

    But, but, but ..........that wasn't your original post.



    I agree with the others, you don't need expensive tools and books to make a well built wheel. I built my first wheel reading sheldon's site alone. The guys that had nice stands and equipment at the shops couldn't build a good wheel that lasted for me. I built one that lasted till the brake surface wore out (20,000+ miles) with a $30 true stand, dish tool and an on sale $2 spoke wrench, borrowed tension meter.

    I've built about 5 or 6 so far and none have had any problems, some with about 10,000 mile so far. As mentioned many times before, building a wheel is not rocket science. Some say it's an art. Me an artist, pfft I don't think so!
    Last edited by Mr. Beanz; 01-23-13 at 11:53 AM.

  23. #23
    Climbers Apprentice vesteroid's Avatar
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    well fred and beanzy I have an opinion for an answer.

    Having used both (we did our work on the park pro model and then went over to the dt one for the final truing...the park thread count on the adjusting screws, and the springs that hold the arms are significantly looser and just plain sloppy compared to the DT. I didnt get all geeky and measure thread counts per inch, but there was no comparison between the two stands. Therefore my opinion is it is impossible to hold the tolerance on the park that you can on the dt.

    IF the park has a moving part, or is incapable of making micro adjustment, AND you dont have the dial caliper thingys (thats for you beanzy) I dont see how anyone can make a claim that they held x y or z tolerance....what did they use to measure their eyes, a shim, what...what did the hold the shim against, the part that moves or isnt stable down to point something of a milimeter...I find all this hooey.

    NOW all this being said, do I think that stand is needed to build wheels for yourself...NNOOOOOOOO...but to have a bunch of guys come on here and say they can hold the same tolerances and they know that for a fact, I have a hard time believing it.

    As a close and I really posted this just to share, not start a technical debate with a bunch of folks....when she asked me what I had learned in the class, I responded in my usual screwed up humor way, with I learned if I want my wheels perfect I should let you build them.

    I have 26 years in my business, and I consistently run into folks who think they have my industry all figured out (that have been doing it 3 years) they are consistently proven wrong over the long haul. I just dont (and wont by the way) believe any person mechanically inclined or not can actually produce the same quality wheel as a pro, on a day in day out basis...not one wheel to one wheel, but on average there is no way.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vesteroid View Post
    ...........I have 26 years in my business, and I consistently run into folks who think they have my industry all figured out (that have been doing it 3 years) they are consistently proven wrong over the long haul. I just dont (and wont by the way) believe any person mechanically inclined or not can actually produce the same quality wheel as a pro, on a day in day out basis...not one wheel to one wheel, but on average there is no way.
    And you have HOW LONG in the "wheel building business"?

    Many "home hobbyists" can build wheels equal to a "PRO". Often better! They simply may not do it as fast as "A PRO". That's not the reason they do it.
    Does a "PRO" do it as well when nobody is watching?

  25. #25
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vesteroid View Post
    ...but to have a bunch of guys come on here and say they can hold the same tolerances and they know that for a fact, I have a hard time believing it.
    Hope you aren't including me in that bunch of guys. A look back will show I never posted any tolerances. not to mention I said I can build a wheel that lasts as long as the brake surface which is the way it is supposed to be when it comes to the life of a wheel. As far as matching a pro, can she make the brake surface last more than 20,000 miles? If so, I'd like to know how so I can get more mileage out of my wheels.

    BTW, speaking of shims to measure, that's what feeler gauges are used for.

    Of course imo that would be a waste of time so I don't use them, I use the gauges on my stand to check true without making claims in numbers.

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