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Wheel building hints and tips.

Old 04-10-19, 08:30 AM
  #1  
bakerjw
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Wheel building hints and tips.

A lot of people end up here when truing and building wheels. I know that there is a hints and tips sticky but this is a bit more focused.
What are some of the things that you do to help build or true a wheel?
Things that I do...
  • Put sticky dots with numbers between each spoke pair.
  • Use the Parks spoke tension app. It helps me keep track of tensions as I go.
  • Get all spokes equally seated and a bit slack before starting.
  • Build tension in stages. Like 50% of desired, then 75% and then 100%.
I find truing and building a Zen activity.
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Old 04-10-19, 07:03 PM
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I think as your wheel building experience goes up, the less you rely on tools to guide you through. I think I built my first wheel around 1980 or so. I've worked for several different shops and bike companies since then, some doing lots of production wheel building. Nowadays, I build a couple or so wheel sets a month. Still a Zen like experience, but a lot faster. I have a Youtube channel with lots of bike related tutorials including wheel building, truing and repairing. Here's a few with some tips and such..

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Old 04-11-19, 08:34 AM
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+1 on Le Mechanic's response.
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Old 04-11-19, 06:06 PM
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I've only got about 8 or 10 wheels under my belt, so this is "from amateur to amateur."

1. I check that the spokes I buy are of equal length by hanging all of them off a straight edge and looking at the ends. The ones I get from Dan's Comp seem to be quite accurate. Once this is done, I can check for equal spoke threading by looking at the spoke ends relative to the tops of the nipples. This seems to greatly reduce the time I spend making the wheel round, and getting equal tension before final truing.

2. Start with round rims, preferably new, especially if this is your first build. Wringing warped rims true is a more advanced skill that I've hardly begun to master.

3. Have peace of mind.

4. I buy 40 spokes and keep 4 as spares. I've never needed them.

5. Confident as I should be in the process, I still check my tension and truth after the first ride, the first 10 rides, etc.
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Old 04-11-19, 09:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Le Mechanic View Post
I think as your wheel building experience goes up, the less you rely on tools to guide you through. I think I built my first wheel around 1980 or so. I've worked for several different shops and bike companies since then, some doing lots of production wheel building. Nowadays, I build a couple or so wheel sets a month. Still a Zen like experience, but a lot faster. I have a Youtube channel with lots of bike related tutorials including wheel building, truing and repairing. Here's a few with some tips and such..
I've come to regard it as an analog of knitting. Once your fingers are trained your brain can check out for a while.

OTOH... it's addictive. I've been building wheels for 35 years or so and I find I need to build a set or two every year or I get twitchy. Getting close to time.
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Old 04-11-19, 10:27 PM
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I work in a quiet place so I can ping the spokes with the spoke wrench and hear the pitch. 2 or three times per build I place the Park tension meter over several spokes and get a feel for tightness. I have never gone around and "Parked" every spoke. Someone would have to give me a huge gift of patience! If I built wheels more often I would have sufficient memory to remember the final pitch of my last wheel and I'd skip the Park. I do 2-4 wheels/years; not enough.

If at all possible I buy unopened boxes of 100, either Wheelsmith or DT. No need to check spoke lengths. If I do need to check, I just grab a handful and stand them up in my hand on a table. Mismatches aren't hard to find.
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Old 04-11-19, 10:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Jeff Wills View Post
OTOH... it's addictive. I've been building wheels for 35 years or so and I find I need to build a set or two every year or I get twitchy. Getting close to time.


I love building wheels. Problem is, if you're halfway decent, you don't need to build or true your own wheels very often! What to do with this urge...
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Old 04-11-19, 11:30 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post


I love building wheels. Problem is, if you're halfway decent, you don't need to build or true your own wheels very often! What to do with this urge...
Easy. Move to the Pacific NW and stay away from disc brakes. Ride all winter. That's a pair of rims every two years or less.

Ben
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Old 04-12-19, 08:57 AM
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Buy or build a lacing jig. After 30 years of sitting on the floor lacing, I recently built a jig and discovered how much easier it made the lacing task.
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Old 04-12-19, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Moe Zhoost View Post
Buy or build a lacing jig. After 30 years of sitting on the floor lacing, I recently built a jig and discovered how much easier it made the lacing task.
I like sitting on the floor actually - prefer it to working on a bench.
Though a jig does speed things up either way.
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Old 04-12-19, 12:35 PM
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I have built or rebuilt about 20 wheels over the last 25 years. I have a truing stand, good spoke wrenches and a Wheelsmith tension meter. I use a pipe dope on the threads (making latter adjustments easy) and a little oil on the nipple heads to facilitate turning.
I like the Gerd Schraner method of lacing the spokes from "The Art of Wheel building". My first priority is working on getting the rim radially true. If it's a rear wheel I don't worry too much about the lateral true until the tension begins to come up. As the tension builds I have found that the radial true remains stable and start to work on the lateral true and building tension. As the tension builds I occasionally stress relieve the spokes by grabbing parallel spokes and squeezing them. I try to maintain equal tension on the drive side spokes and use the NDS for lateral true and dishing. On a 32 or 36 spoke wheel I run a tension of at least 100Kg. On hubs with more dish I shoot for more tension on the DS to have enough on the NDS. I give the finished wheel one last stress relieving and it's good to go.
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Old 04-12-19, 10:02 PM
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Jeff Wills
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Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
I like sitting on the floor actually - prefer it to working on a bench.
Though a jig does speed things up either way.
Back in my shop days all the workbenches had a 1 1/2" hole drilled in the middle. Just the right size to hold a hub upright. Wheelbuilding was a breeze.
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Old 04-13-19, 12:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Moe Zhoost View Post
Buy or build a lacing jig. After 30 years of sitting on the floor lacing, I recently built a jig and discovered how much easier it made the lacing task.
PLS PLS share how you made your jig? I've been tinkering with all sorts of "ways" and have not been successful.
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Old 04-13-19, 06:16 AM
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Originally Posted by cyclingarri View Post
PLS PLS share how you made your jig? I've been tinkering with all sorts of "ways" and have not been successful.
Yes, I had planned to post an account of how I made the jig. Getting pictures ready now so stay tuned. I'll post in a separate thread in a few days.
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Old 04-13-19, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by cyclingarri View Post
PLS PLS share how you made your jig? I've been tinkering with all sorts of "ways" and have not been successful.
See Homebuilt wheel lacing jig
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Old 04-13-19, 05:30 PM
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My experience, yours will be different.

Follow procedure on Sheldon's site: https://www.sheldonbrown.com/wheelbuild.html

Use round and flat rims; I have built wheels with the following suppliers rims (comments):
* Velocity (always round and flat, very fast and easy build).
* Alex (almost as good as Velocity).
* Sun (impossible to get true with even tension, bare rims are always a little out of round and flat).

My time is valuable, so Velocity is my go to rim manufacturer.

Spokes: double butted result in a stronger more flexible (comfortable) wheel - worth the extra money to me, and it is such a small amount compared to the amount of time I have in a wheel.
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Old 04-17-19, 12:17 PM
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Bakerjw, what are the numbers between spoke pairs used for? Never seen it done and don't understand the use.
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Old 04-17-19, 01:58 PM
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One thing I've started to do recently, which I believe has made a significant difference in the quality of my wheels, is to mark each spoke with a Sharpie to keep track of windup. I always thought I was pretty decent at removing windup by feel, but once I started marking them I was shocked to see that I had some spokes that I was leaving twisted by 90+ degrees. Since I've been using this technique, I feel the last few wheels I've built have needed almost no touch up on the truing stand even after a few thousand miles, and despite the fact that they have less spokes than I usually use (32 vs 36). To be fair some of that might be due to the rims I've been using lately -- mainly HED Belgium+, which are excellent but max out at 32 holes.
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