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Wheel Rebuild - Encouragement!

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Wheel Rebuild - Encouragement!

Old 06-11-05, 08:39 AM
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darrencope
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Wheel Rebuild - Encouragement!

Hi all,

I have managed to break a spoke on the rear wheel of my vintage road bike (more info here for those that are interested) and am debating if I should rebuild the wheel myself. I don't have very good mechanical skills, although I figured this would be a good way to learn! I am currently not employed, so have some time to devote to this project. However, this is my daily rider, and I'd like to get it on the road as soon as possible (don't like riding the old mountain bike nearly as much any more!)

I called around for some quotes, and it sounds like I can get the wheel fully rebuilt with new spokes for between $40 and $80 CAD. If I were to do this myself, I would have to buy at least a spoke wrench and the new spokes/nipples, etc. What else would I need?

I guess the point of this post is to see just how hard this really is (I realize it's a bit of an "art" to do properly...)

Also, I think I will get the rear rub stripped/cleaned/refurbished/etc. while I'm at it, since I'm not sure when this was last done. Comments on how hard that would be for me to do as well?

Cheers,

Darren
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Old 06-11-05, 09:51 AM
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Vintage implies freewheel rather than cassette. You will need to remove the freewheel, hence need a FW remover and if you don't have a vise with enough clearance to hold the FW remover, a chain whip will be needed to lock the FW so you can unscrew it. You could probably get by with just replacing the drive side spokes as they do most of the work. Keep the dish correct can be a problem and sans a wheel truing rig and dishing tool you may have to use the bike frame as the dish/truing set up. If you completely rebuild the wheel it would help to take a digital pix of the wheel from the side and along a radius so you can see what the dish is all about and how the spokes are laced. If you study the spoke pattern you will see that some spokes come in nearly perpendicular to the rim, others are at an angle. Set it up so your wheel has perpendicular spokes on either side of the valve hole. This gives more clearance for large pump heads. Three cross is generally best for rear wheels, very strong and rigid. It is easy to get confused with spokes when lacing, when I first started I typically had to relace a wheel 2-3x before the differences between apparently identical lacing patterns became apparent. Finally, as tension goes up on the spokes, turning the nipples does not result in the nipple turning on the thread but rather the entire spoke torques (twists) instead. This can make the final truing a real hassle. The cure is to put the wheel on the floor vertically, and bounce our weight (both hands on the rim) up and down on the tire side of the rim. You will hear pinging sounds as the spokes untorque. Rotate the wheel the breadth of two hands and repeat until no more pings are heard. Then retrue the wheel and repeat the spoke detorquing. All the drive side spokes should have a similar tone when plucked, it will be different for the nondrive side spokes. $40 for relacing, truing is a pretty good deal, if you have to buy a number of tools. First wheel might take you 3-6hours depending on how well your first lace up goes. 5th wheel will be an hour or a bit more. Fr wheels are easier. Steve
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Old 06-11-05, 01:54 PM
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One of the things in life that's unfair is that the people who have developed the experience and skill for doing a certain task almost always also have better equipment for doing it. Building bicycle wheels is a prime example of that. It's possible to build a wheel successfully without a tensiometer or a trueing stand, but everybody does better work when they have them. If you're trying to do this on the cheap, you're handicapping yourself like a one armed boxer.

The next question is: What's the condition of your hub and rim? Do you have the experience to know? If your hub and rim aren't in pretty good condition, you can waste a lot of time and money trying to rebuild your wheel and not get an acceptable result.

I'd recommend buying a prebuilt replacement wheel or having yours rebuilt by a pro.
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Old 06-11-05, 02:07 PM
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Forgot the hub. Redoing classic hubs is easy, if you have the correct cone wrenches. These are about 2mm thick. Without them tightening the cones is not easy.
www.parktool.com covers this. Only proviso is take hub apart while sitting on the floor with an old towel underneath. Loose ball bearings tend to run all over the place and are easy to lose if they fall from 3' onto a concrete floor... If the cones are not spalled or corroded, and most important the races on the hub likewise, then you can eyeball the ball bearings for wear or just replace them all. Put enough grease in to only lightly stick the balls into place in the hub. Don't fill the races up with grease!
If the hub races are spalled or corroded, you have to decide whether you want to continue using the hub. Cones can be replaced in theory. Steve
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Old 06-11-05, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
One of the things in life that's unfair is that the people who have developed the experience and skill for doing a certain task almost always also have better equipment for doing it. Building bicycle wheels is a prime example of that. It's possible to build a wheel successfully without a tensiometer or a trueing stand, but everybody does better work when they have them.
I don't agree. Those tools basically make the job go faster and easier, hence their value to a professional. They don't enable you to build a better wheel in any way, but do enable you to build a wheel faster.

See: http://sheldonbrown.com/wheelbuild

Sheldon "It's Not An 'Art', Just A Craft" Brown
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Old 06-11-05, 03:36 PM
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Wow. I think I fall in between both of you. I had built or rebuilt a dozen or so wheels before using a trueing stand and another dozen or so before acquiring a tensiometer. What I've since learned from both allows me to build a better wheel now without using either (better than I could before I'd used them -- does this make sense?). Maybe the trueing stand continues to make my wheels better, but the tensiometer has given me a better "feel" (and ear) allowing for not using it so much anymore. So, I guess I'm saying I can build a wheel now without using either tool, but I think they are better now because I've had experience with those tools.

(did I actually almost disagree with Sheldon? nahhh.)
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Old 06-11-05, 07:34 PM
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Originally Posted by sch
if you don't have a vise with enough clearance to hold the FW remover, a chain whip will be needed to lock the FW so you can unscrew it.
Why not use the qr skewer to hold the tool in place while you turn the tool with a wrench? I don't think you need to have a vise or a chainwhip to remove a freewheel, just the correct remover tool and a big adjustable wrench. It has always worked for me.

Last edited by Grand Bois; 06-14-05 at 07:59 AM.
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Old 06-12-05, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by darrencope

I guess the point of this post is to see just how hard this really is (I realize it's a bit of an "art" to do properly...)
There's no "art" or magic, just practice and patience. With a lot of both, you can build wheels.
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Old 06-12-05, 05:51 PM
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Well, there might be some "art". See Jobst Brandt's
Stress-relieving spokes: http://draco.acs.uci.edu/rbfaq/FAQ/8c.1.html
Wheel Bearing Adjustment: http://draco.acs.uci.edu/rbfaq/FAQ/8c.7.html

he wrote _The Bicycle Wheel_, more on which at: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/brandt/

You have to learn to think of the whole wheel at once while you work on a few spokes, which took me time and practise. Sort of addictive, actually.
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Old 06-12-05, 05:58 PM
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Dirtdrop: Well, that is actually the way I always used to do it. That is: use the QR skewer to hold the FW remover locked into the slots or for a few, the splines and wrench away. It worked until the last one when I had to go to a vise, lock the FW hex in the vise and use the wheel as the wrench. Rarely had FW on so tight they wouldn't come loose that way, but the last one I tried it on ripped the tangs off the FW remover and slightly cocked the FW on the threads. No great loss as all my wheels are freehub nowadays.
I was hearkening back to that experience when I wrote what you quote. Your comment is correct.
Steve
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Old 06-12-05, 06:08 PM
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After recently replacing all the aluminum nipples (which were breaking at the head) with brass ones and truing it, I took it to my LBS to have them take a look at it. They checked the wheel with a tensionometer and suggested increasing the tension all the way round. They said to bring it back when I was done and they would be happy to check it again.

So if you can find a good bike shop, you may not need a tensionometer either.
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Old 06-12-05, 08:30 PM
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Originally Posted by dbg
Wow. I think I fall in between both of you. I had built or rebuilt a dozen or so wheels before using a trueing stand and another dozen or so before acquiring a tensiometer. What I've since learned from both allows me to build a better wheel now without using either (better than I could before I'd used them -- does this make sense?). Maybe the trueing stand continues to make my wheels better, but the tensiometer has given me a better "feel" (and ear) allowing for not using it so much anymore. So, I guess I'm saying I can build a wheel now without using either tool, but I think they are better now because I've had experience with those tools.

(did I actually almost disagree with Sheldon? nahhh.)
I've built hundreds of wheels and totally concur with the above statement. Using a tensiometer told me I was slightly undertensioning my wheels. Now that I have the correct "feel" I really don't need it. The truing stand makes things easy enough that I wouldn't want to build a wheel without it. If I had to, I could build wheels using the front fork or rear triangle of the bike, it would just be more work...
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Old 06-13-05, 03:27 AM
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Darren, what you have to look at is how valuable you think your time is. You have to consider if you think spending a day working on something is better than spending $40 for someone else to do it. Also, working conditions, and tool availability are factors too. Being in a hurry to get it done isn't a good factor when messing around with spokes.
Have you thought about just replacing the broken spoke?? I've broken a spoke or 2 on my 1990's mtb, just had the broken ones replaced, no problems with the rest.
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Old 06-13-05, 06:46 AM
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My time vs shop time (and my money) is a factor, but getting the job done properly is another factor. There also are things you can do yourself that a bike shop might not want to do. Like replacing only one or two spokes, or re-using a rim and half the spokes... In many cases, these combinations are iffy, so bike shops understandably don't want to do it, only to see you coming back the week after with a broken wheel.

Yet at home I have recycled many many parts. It caused me problems once or twice, but I have successfully recycled many wheel parts.
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