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Thread: Wheel building

  1. #1
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    Wheel building

    I've been tinkering more than usual with my Dahon bike and enjoying the process. I have a 28 hole Kinetix Pro rim that would match my sturmey archer hub and I'm debating whether now's the time to learn to do this. . . I've watched youtube videos on the subject and it doesn't strike me as particularly complex. . . but there's always the worry that somehow I'll goof something and cause some damage to the parts. What ought I be wary of? . . obviously there's the whole spoke length thing to figure out. . . and given that the hub is currently attached to a different rim it's not straight-forward to measure. But that's no big deal. . . should I just jump in there and do it?

    Oh, forgot to add, I was thinking of buying this which looks primitive but adequate as far as I can tell:
    http://www.probikekit.com/display.php?code=T3175

    Edit: on second thoughts that doesn't look appropriate for a 74mm hub so whilst it'd be OK for the wheel I want to build it'd require the use of spacers of some sort/might not work for a Dahon front hub.
    Last edited by chagzuki; 09-26-10 at 11:11 AM.

  2. #2
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    I learned to build wheels by following the online videos. Have built at least 6 or 7 wheels now. I'm still alive to tell about it. Really, it's all logic and common sense, not rocket science. With a little patience and time, you'll get there, I'm sure. It's fun, too.

    I have not built wheels for my go-fast roadie bikes yet, though. Those super-light wheels are ridden under more strenuous conditions, and I don't want to take any chances with them...

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    Do you think it's realistic to expect to get it right 'enough' (whatever that is) first time, or perhaps a practice run is recommended?

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    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    IMHO, it depends on what your first application is. if it's for a high spoke count small diameter wheel, for low speed riding, then our margin for error is higher. That would be a good candidate for a first build.

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    I was reading on the Sheldon Brown website that he'd filed a cross head screwdriver down to make a flat screwdriver with a point in the center. . . I was hoping I could buy something like this ready made but I can't see any such product. . . ?

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    Hooligan Abneycat's Avatar
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    This is the professional equivalent of what you are looking for, its an offset driver where the handle and head spin independent of each other:

    http://www.bicycletool.com/nippledrivershort.aspx

    This tool is extremely useful. As opposed to constantly twisting and twisting with a regular screwdriver, moving your hand in a circular fashion allows this tool to thread a nipple onto a spoke very quickly, and while neither this tool nor the modded screwdriver are really appropriate for building a wheel up to tension, it will do an extremely good job of getting the spoke nipples on and threaded down to the point where your regular spoke wrenches will take over.

    I highly recommend having this tool if you are planning on building wheels more than once or twice. It isn't a necessary purchase if you're only planning on trying this out casually, but it saves a lot of time per build.

    I also highly recommend purchasing a short one like the above tool, unless you are working with very deep section rims. The short version is easier to guide a nipple in with, you can hold the driver with one hand and one finger on the spoke nipple easily, whereas the longer version is more awkward. Purchase a longer one only if you are looking to work with deep, deep rims. I have a short one by bicycle research, and a long one by Park Tool, and the short one gets 95% of my attention.

    Wheel building isn't the easiest task you'll ever undertake, but it can be completed on your first try if you are attentive and properly prepared. Take the time to carefully measure everything, ensure you have 100% properly fitting spoke wrenches, and double - triple check everything.

    Sheldon Brown's resources are pretty good. I've usually given people a printout of it along with some one on one instruction, and their first wheels usually come out alright. Don't expect to make a perfectly smooth, perfectly even wheel on the first tries, but decent wheels can be attained.
    Last edited by Abneycat; 09-26-10 at 01:09 PM.

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    I was hoping I could get more done from the screw side of the nipple as in my limited experience it's too easy to round nipples off. Maybe that's as a result of fiddling with wheels where parts have seized over a long time. I was under the impression that once the spoke tension is high enough it takes a fair amount of force to tighten. . . is there a way to avoid nipples rounding (I've used a regular cheap spoke tool in the past)?

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    Hooligan Abneycat's Avatar
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    Use the most precise fitting spoke wrench you can find. An extremely small difference in precision actually means an extremely large difference in how easy it is to strip a spoke nipple. Make sure the tool seats firmly against the spoke nipple entirely before making any adjustments, and press the spoke wrench into the nipple as you turn it to keep the tool from sliding or only supporting the nipple partially. If you have a seized up wheel, you can try using a loosening compound to get things going again.

    Also, when building, some types of wheels should be built using a light grease or heavier oil on the threads and spoke holes in the rim (general wheel building, this is fine), whereas other types of wheels come out better using some form of agent to prevent loosening like DT Swiss prolock nipples, Wheelsmith spoke prep, etc. (better for radial wheels, lower spoke count wheels, etc. You don't want radially laced wheels built with lubricant in the threads) - Actually, I prefer having good stuff like the aforementioned goods with any wheel, but it is with wheels that demand particularly high quality that you should really consider these kinds of things in particular.

    It all depends on the application. Look at what kind of wheel you want to build, and consider your needs. But whatever the circumstances, trust me on finding the most precision spoke wrenches you can possibly get - again, a seemingly minuscule improvement in fit drastically improves how likely a spoke nipple will stay in shape when being turned.

  9. #9
    It's got electrolytes! chucky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chagzuki View Post
    is there a way to avoid nipples rounding (I've used a regular cheap spoke tool in the past)?
    Get a better spoke wrench. Two things to look for:
    1. Good quality material/construction. It must be exactly the right size and it must be manufactured with precision.
    2. Design. The best designs have a diamond shaped hole with a slot in one corner of the diamond. The spoke slips through the slot and then you slide the diamond up where it touches ALL FOUR sides of the nipple. This works 100x better than the cheap 2 or 3 sided designs.

    I recommend the "Spokey" nipple wrench from DT swiss:
    http://www.jensonusa.com/store/produ...le+Wrench.aspx

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    Aha, that makes sense.

    As for type of wheel, well, it's a 20" rear wheel with 28H rim and hub, don't know what else to say. I'm a casual rider so my needs are fairly basic, I just happened to pick up a kinetix pro rim for a cheap price and it'd be nice to shed a bit of weight from my rear wheel and learn something in the process. Really, wheel building is the final piece of the puzzle for me in terms of feeling like I'm really in command of my means of transport; it'd be reassuring to know that should any problem come up I'd have the know-how to fix it myself.

    So I guess the thing to do would be to ask the exact nipple size when ordering spokes and get a corresponding key?

  11. #11
    jur
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    I use a Crank Brother Mini-19's spoke key - it has 4 sizes spoke slots and seems to fit very well, such that I have to push firmly to get the tool on.

    Also, just get a few extra nipples in case you do round the odd one.

    I started building with Sheldon Brown's guide.

    There is also a free downloadable chapter from Barnett's Manual, the one on wheel building. Fanatics only.

    I have lost count - between 10 and 20 wheels built, the latest one just last night in fact.
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

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    smallwheelsonly
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    wheel building can be intimidating at first but go for it !.. like most i learned online via sheldon browns and youtube videos lol
    don't forget check your local bike co-op they might already have all the necessary tools that you might need
    and get some help as well from the volunteer mechanics the run them.

    i snagged up a folder this thursday and relaced the steel rims with bmx alloy wheels and was riding it by friday

    Last edited by EM42; 09-26-10 at 10:06 PM.

  13. #13
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    ^^^^
    stunningly beautiful bike!

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    I have built several wheels. I don't have any of the special tools to start the nipple threading, I just use my fingers and a good spoke wrench. Sheldon Brown site is exceptional for good instructions.

    The last four wheels I built, I trued them on a stand that a friend owns, took 3.5 hours for all four. But otherwise I usually true them in the frame and use the brake pads as my truing guide. Takes longer in the frame to get it done well but it works out in the end.

    I bring the rim and hub to the local bike shop where I buy the spokes and ask them to measure for and calculate spoke length. I currently am buying spokes for $30 for a 36 spoke wheel that are cut and threaded to length, it is hard to find a better price than that. But price varies a lot, I have seen $0.60 to $1.29 per spoke in the local stores.
    Last edited by Tourist in MSN; 09-27-10 at 09:02 AM.

  15. #15
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    My first wheel build was unusual - building a 36-hole Capreo hub into a 355 (18") rim with only 28-holes... My Birdy came with that weird setup, and I kept breaking spokes when using the bike for touring. I wanted to find a 36-hole rim to match the hub, but couldn't find anyone in the USA with such a rim in stock. Anyway, I followed Sheldon Brown's instructions and took my time - the wheel has been completely reliable. I've done more than 500 miles of fully loaded touring on that wheel now, and it's still completely true.
    ICE B1, Brompton H6, Schwinn Mirada drop-bar vintage mtb

  16. #16
    New usename ThorUSA brakemeister's Avatar
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    chag send me your mailing address and I will send you a nice write up
    about that screwdriver ..its good for lacing the wheel up but by all means not strong enough to tighten the spokes
    I like the spokey ... but if you really spend that much for it make sure its the PRO model ... the Pro has 3 layers of steel in the bottom pretty close tolerances the regular spokey has ONE bigger piece which is ok as well for the occasional built but the PRO is much better.
    I am out of stock at this time but will get the Pro version back in a month or so
    Thor

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