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Old 04-22-15, 06:38 PM   #1
Chris Chicago
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wheel build craziness

building a wheel today, my 3rd ever. laced it up, tightened the nipples to where the threads just disappeared, then put it on my makeshift truing stand and started going around the wheel turning each nipple a couple times. went around 3 or 4 times maybe more.

when the spokes start to get tight i notice the wheel is way out of true. i check the tensions by ear and using the park tensionometer and they are all over the place. so I try to true it a little, maybe helps a touch. then i decide to get the dive side tensions equal. so I'm going around the rim plucking spokes and confirming with the park tool and i notice more than once that the spoke i just tensioned has changed pitch when i go to compare the next spoke too it. the third or fourth time this happens , when i'm almost all the way around i notice that a spoke has been tightened so much it's poking out of the nipple outside of the rim.

I'm guessing i should just loosen the nipples to where the threads start to show and start over but I'm wondering if anyone can explain what might have gone wrong.

thanks!
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Old 04-22-15, 06:43 PM   #2
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2 turns 3 or 4 times?
I think you need to go to 1/2 turns and then 1/4 turns a lot sooner.

I pretty much had the same problem on my 3rd wheel because I was getting "confident", and started pushing things too much.
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Old 04-22-15, 06:55 PM   #3
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IME, every turn of the spoke wrench will retention to some degree every other spoke on the wheel.

to avoid this confusion, i usually decide on how much i am going to turn each nipple on a given side (i.e. 1/4, 1/2, 1, or 2 turns) and then complete the circle before evaluating anything. eventually, when everything is within a turn or two of proper tension, i start making lateral corrections.

nowadays, i rarely consider vertical considerations, in as much as i have found them to be, on the rims manufactured in the last decade or two anyway, to be impossible to fix without compromising uniformity of tension.

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Old 04-22-15, 08:04 PM   #4
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i was just thinking about what i did differently with this one and that was it, for exactly the same reason as you said. thanks Bill.

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2 turns 3 or 4 times?
I think you need to go to 1/2 turns and then 1/4 turns a lot sooner.

I pretty much had the same problem on my 3rd wheel because I was getting "confident", and started pushing things too much.
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Old 04-22-15, 08:47 PM   #5
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2 turns 3 or 4 times?
I think you need to go to 1/2 turns and then 1/4 turns a lot sooner.

I pretty much had the same problem on my 3rd wheel because I was getting "confident", and started pushing things too much.
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i was just thinking about what i did differently with this one and that was it, for exactly the same reason as you said. thanks Bill.
That's been my experience too. I've found that the amount of time that I spend Slooowly bringing the wheel up to tension is definitely paid back by requiring less final trueing. I once built a tandem wheel that required no final truing at all, neither vertically or laterally, once I brought it up to it's final tension.
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Old 04-22-15, 09:27 PM   #6
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My approach may differ from some others here, but following my start point and pre-tensioning/aligning of spokes, I always true first, both lateral and radial, then bring the tension up to where it's readable on the park tool scale (still very low) and then work to balance the tension. I find that once the true is set, I can massage the tensions around as needed by compensating for each of my adjustments with the neighboring spokes. The true doesn't change much at all as I make these adjustments, and I don't start bringing it up to final tension until the spokes are all registering on the meter, and ~equal. At that point the hard work is basically done and I can safely approach my final tension by simply working turns around the wheel, knowing that there won't be any surprises. Once I hit my desired tension, I stress relieve, check tension balance (adjusting if needed) and work back up to final tension. Repeat once more and do minor truing to finish it off. Those last minor truing adjustments are small enough that the tension balance isn't affected, so once it's set, I'm done. One last pass with the meter to confirm tension balance and the wheel comes off the stand. I've built lots of wheelsets this year and this has become the process that works most consistently for me.

-Jeremy
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Old 04-22-15, 09:59 PM   #7
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First of all you have to consider how over/under interlacing affects the wheel. the crosses spokes are a team and work as a pair rather than individually. That's because neither is straight, and as you tighten one, it straightens, pushing it's partner over, and causing it to get tighter.

So that's one reason that tightening by tension doesn't work.

Put the tension gauge on a high shelf and leave it there until you have the wheel nearly finished. If you can't work without dragging it down, put it in an packet and mail it to yourself, and build the wheel while it's in transit.

Now, tighten every spoke to the same length (until the last thread just barely shows). Add tension by full turns going around, but doing only one side (every other spoke), then around again doing the opposite side. When the wheel first begins to shoe some tension, work in half turns. I also flip the wheel, and alternate stating/ending at the valve and opposite the valve so I'm not always tightening the same areas first.

As soon as the wheel has some tension, work only the right side for 2 passes (overdish to the right), set the elbows, and do a rough alignment, trying to use mainly the right spokes for hop and the left for wobble, and not turning any spoke more than one turn. This keeps the lengths within one turn of each other which is key to ending up with even lengths and tensions at the end.

Now add tension by half then quarter turns, checking rough true, and much less rough hop after each pass, and also, do light stress relief between every few passes. The goal is to end up with an over-dished wheel with perfect (or close to perfect hop) and slight wobble and abut 80-90% of the target tension.

Now bring the wobble and dish to spec working only the left spokes, except (maybe) a minor right spoke tweak for hop if necessary). Stress relief between passes. Doing this adds the final tension without you needing to turn the tighter spokes, and if you've been consistent the tension will be even. A final stress relief possibly minot tough up and you have a wheel.

Now you can wait for the mailman to return your tension gauge, and use it as an inspection tool to confirm that you've done it right.
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Old 04-23-15, 09:40 AM   #8
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I'll give that method a try Francis, thanks.

what's the reason behind using the right spokes to fix hops and left to fix wobbles?
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Old 04-23-15, 10:03 AM   #9
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If you can't work without dragging it down, put it in an packet and mail it to yourself, and build the wheel while it's in transit.
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Old 04-23-15, 11:07 AM   #10
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Francis's great description is very close to my method. Better said then I ever could say too. To answer Chris Chicago's question- the rh spokes are more in line with radial forces and the lh side spokes are more spaced out and can deal with lateral forces better. Andy.
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Old 04-23-15, 11:26 AM   #11
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oh, i see. bc of dish the nds have more lateral pull.
learn something new. thanks guys
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Old 04-23-15, 02:05 PM   #12
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+1
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Old 04-23-15, 02:21 PM   #13
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oh, i see. bc of dish the nds have more lateral pull.
learn something new. thanks guys
Yes, that was part of my thinking. The rest relates to how wheels work. Radial true is very stable, and hard to correct, so I set a priority on getting that dialed in early on. Once a wheel is tight, correcting radial error is a slow cumbersome process. OTOH lateral (wobble) true is less stable, and easier to correct.

By focusing on radial true first (while keeping wobble reasonable) I can get a wheel that will be easy to final true in the later stages. Overdishing to the right, and adding final tension using the left spokes, while pulling the rim back to center, lets me easily combine final truing in the process, usually without even touching the right spokes. That means less chance of rounding a nipple, and reduces spoke twist to manage, which is nice when working with thin spokes.

So, it's not as much that left spokes pull more sideways, and right downward, which they do, as it is about using an understanding of wheels to streamline the process and make getting good results easier.

As I've said often here, the key to getting even tension in a new wheel is not to introduce uneven tension in the first place. By working methodically, and not getting suckered into having nipples more than a turn from the average (unless necessary) the wheel will end up with all spokes the same working length, and with uniform tension.

The most common newbie errors are trying to true early on when there are too many variables, and truing with one or two spokes rather than spreading the work over a larger area. Keep in mind that if the rim is round, all the spokes should be the same length.
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Old 04-23-15, 08:28 PM   #14
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As soon as the wheel has some tension, work only the right side for 2 passes (overdish to the right), set the elbows, and do a rough alignment, trying to use mainly the right spokes for hop and the left for wobble, and not turning any spoke more than one turn. This keeps the lengths within one turn of each other which is key to ending up with even lengths and tensions at the end.
Francis,

Can you talk a little bit about what you mean by "setting the elbows", and about how you do it. I think you are referring to getting the outside spokes to lie flatter along the hub flange so the spoke points towards the rim.

On the small number of wheels that I've built, I've used my thumb to press on the outside spokes close to the elbow, but I've done this while lacing the rim. It sounds like you prefer to do something like this after you have tension on the spokes.

Also, a few times I have seen references to "setting the elbows" by using a hammer and punch, and never understood what someone was trying to accomplish or how they were going about it. Is there some merit to hammer and punch, or is that getting carried away?

TIA for your thoughts.
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Old 04-23-15, 08:42 PM   #15
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Francis,

Can you talk a little bit about what you mean by "setting the elbows", and about how you do it. I think you are referring to getting the outside spokes to lie flatter along the hub flange so the spoke points towards the rim. .
Yes, I was referring to changing the elbow bend angle so it matches the natural line of the spokes. I do it very simply by either of two methods.

The first is to grab crossed pairs across the wheel and squeeze them together pulling the line of the spokes inward. This needs to be done before the wheel is too tight, otherwise it's harder than you want it to be. But don't do it when the wheel is loose because you don't want to overbend the elbow either.

The other technique is to use a cut down broom handle, pipe, or screwdriver handle and push it into the wheel outside a crossed pair and push the cross down toward the hub and inward. This works better when the wheel is tighter, and I'll often do it if I feel I didn't do the job right with the hand squeeze method.

Neither technique requires great precision, just a bit of touch and you can quickly eyeball the effect by spinning the wheel slowly and seeing if the elbow out spokes are bowing outward or laying straight.

Many production builders now do a similar process by using a press and squeezing the wheel between two rings that touch near the last cross.

However you do this, it'll help keep the wheel true because it helps the spokes take a straight route hub to rim. I suspect that JB does something similar with his "stress relieving" technique of overtightening the wheel then relaxing it back. This is something I've never done, and have never felt that I missed anything by not doing so.

OTOH, both significantly tension the spokes involved, so maybe they co create a stress relief.
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Old 04-23-15, 10:12 PM   #16
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As I've said often here, the key to getting even tension in a new wheel is not to introduce uneven tension in the first place. By working methodically, and not getting suckered into having nipples more than a turn from the average (unless necessary) the wheel will end up with all spokes the same working length, and with uniform tension.
This is wisdom. All hail the guru!
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Old 04-24-15, 06:27 AM   #17
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This is wisdom. All hail the guru!
+1 FBinNY's post's in this thread have been far more beneficial than anything else I've read to date.
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Old 04-24-15, 08:25 AM   #18
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building a wheel today, my 3rd ever. laced it up, tightened the nipples to where the threads just disappeared, then put it on my makeshift truing stand and started going around the wheel turning each nipple a couple times. went around 3 or 4 times maybe more.

when the spokes start to get tight i notice the wheel is way out of true. i check the tensions by ear and using the park tensionometer and they are all over the place. so I try to true it a little, maybe helps a touch. then i decide to get the dive side tensions equal. so I'm going around the rim plucking spokes and confirming with the park tool and i notice more than once that the spoke i just tensioned has changed pitch when i go to compare the next spoke too it. the third or fourth time this happens , when i'm almost all the way around i notice that a spoke has been tightened so much it's poking out of the nipple outside of the rim.

I'm guessing i should just loosen the nipples to where the threads start to show and start over but I'm wondering if anyone can explain what might have gone wrong.

thanks!
You went much too far, too fast too soon. From "no threads showing" you should have done 1/2 turns until some tension was felt and then 1/4 turns.

Exemplary stress relief info (and everything else) is on my website right here.

You should back the spokes off to "no threads showing" and start over.
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Old 04-24-15, 09:53 AM   #19
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mike, your site is a big reason I was motivated to give wheelbuilding a try. guess by this wheel I'd forgotten "It's far better to go round 5x doing half turns than to go round once doing two turns "

much appreciation for your advice.

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You went much too far, too fast too soon. From "no threads showing" you should have done 1/2 turns until some tension was felt and then 1/4 turns.

Exemplary stress relief info (and everything else) is on my website right here.

You should back the spokes off to "no threads showing" and start over.
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