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Misaligned Rear Wheel. Frame/Dropout issue?

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Misaligned Rear Wheel. Frame/Dropout issue?

Old 01-08-21, 05:14 PM
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drewfio
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Misaligned Rear Wheel. Frame/Dropout issue?

I have been fixing up an old Schwinn Voyageur. When I was servicing the rear wheel and mounted it I realized it was crooked, closer to one stay than the other, but pretty much centered under the brake bridge. I flipped the wheel to check if it was the wheel, but it is the same. I also tried another wheel of the same rear spacing, also with the same result. So this suggests to me that it is a frame or dropout issue. I've included some pictures. A little hard to capture in photos, so I have added pictures of my finger being able to be inserted to different depths between the rim and frame on each side.

I took it to a local bike shop, which agreed with that assessment, but declined to attempt fixing it. I contacted another bike shop and described the issue; they said they did not want to take on the work, and would not even take a look at it.

So, I'm stuck trying to figure out how to fix this. If it is misaligned dropouts I gather they can be bent back into shape with the proper tools/gauge. I would consider buying the tools to attempt fixing it myself, but I'm not 100% sure that is the problem. I can also keep contacting every bike shop in my area (Brooklyn) and see if I can find one that will work on it. Do any of you have suggestions of who might fix this (ideally in Brooklyn, NY not crazy far from Prospect Heights / Park Slope) or how to go about fixing this myself? Thanks!






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Old 01-08-21, 06:38 PM
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First thing I would ask is does the bike track OK when actually riding it. If so then don't fix what isn't an in use problem.

By the amount of off center I see it's not too bad. But there are more then a couple of ways the imaged "alignment" might be caused by, some actual wheel/frame relative and others that have nothing to do with the wheel's alignment WRT the main frame or fork. Without more info I won't say what I think is going on as that's only a guess at this point.

What i will say is that no bending of the dropouts will fix this. At the least is aligning (cold setting/bending of the rear end to center WRT the main triangle) and very possible will some drop out slot filing will be needed. But it all depends on the whole picture, not just one aspect.

To begin with you need to confirm the frame's straightness. Is the rear triangle centered WRT the main triangle? Are the seat stays, and the brake bridge part way along the stays, straight or are they bowed to one side (and falsely making the rim look centered under the bridge)? Is the axle bent (although the second wheel should have exposed that possibility unless it's axle is also bent)? Of course the wheel dish counts. Only after these aspects are correct can you make assumptions using the mentioned parts as confirmed reference points.

BTW the wheel shown in the frame looks to have the LH spoke lengths a bit too short. Not a deal breaker but an indication at that wheel's source scrimping on best length spoke choices. Andy
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Old 01-08-21, 07:16 PM
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Thanks for the reply! To answer some of your questions:

Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
First thing I would ask is does the bike track OK when actually riding it. If so then don't fix what isn't an in use problem.
It does not track quite right. I cannot easily ride without hands as I can on my other bike. I also don't want to invest a lot (since it does need a good bit of work, some replacement parts, and if I like the bike I'll probably upgrade some things over time, and put a lot of miles on it) in something that isn't solid.

To begin with you need to confirm the frame's straightness. Is the rear triangle centered WRT the main triangle? Are the seat stays, and the brake bridge part way along the stays, straight or are they bowed to one side (and falsely making the rim look centered under the bridge)? Is the axle bent (although the second wheel should have exposed that possibility unless it's axle is also bent)? Of course the wheel dish counts.
I haven't checked absolutely everything, but I did use Sheldon Brown's string method to see if the dropouts were centered, and the string wrapped around the head tube to the dropouts measures the same distance from seat tube on either side.

Only after these aspects are correct can you make assumptions using the mentioned parts as confirmed reference points.
It seems like making a confident diagnosis is not simple. Much the reason I was hoping a bike shop could help, but so far two shops have not been interested in helping.
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Old 01-08-21, 07:37 PM
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Also, just took a measurement with calipers for the distance from the chain stay to the rim on either side. One side is 12.5mm and the other is 17mm.
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Old 01-08-21, 07:56 PM
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I'm gonna say wheel dish is too far to the NDS. Maybe because the spokes are too short to put it in the right spot. Looking at the first picture, the left brake pad sits closer to the rim surface compared to the right pad, in addition to the rim being closer to the NDS chainstay. You've already confirmed that the dropouts are centered.

Take it all with a grain of salt. An easy check for wheel dish is to put the wheel in backwards, and see if the rim ends up closer to the DS chainstay. With what looks like 3 to 4 threads visible on the NDS spokes, I would measure all the necessary parameters and find the recommended spoke length to order replacements.

An interesting thought... What if the DS and NDS spokes were inadvertently swapped when the wheel was built? If you have a lot of spoke past the back of the nipple on the DS, that might be the answer.
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Old 01-08-21, 08:07 PM
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I have no surprise that a LBS might shy away from this type of repair. First is that most LBSs are not too frame or alignment repair experienced, for quite a while the "repair" method of a miss aligned frame/fork was to seek warranty replacement. Second is that damage can be done if aligning is not carried out well. Third is that alignment is a very complex result of a few differing aspects INCLUDING the rider's body. (How do you align the rider's leg length difference that can cause a hip cant and thus side forces on the seat that are not symmetrical, as example). Fourth is to what standard does the shop align to. There are no such published ones that I know of. Fifth is that it's the result that counts and the only test (that I know of) of a well aligned bicycle (note I didn't say frame/fork) is the after aligning test ride. Now if the result isn't quite "good enough" (according to the rider's "feel") the bike gets broken down enough to do more aligning. This can be rather open ended as to time and thus cost. Few shops have the equipment to do controlled and safe aligning, and do so in a time effective manor.

Below are a couple of the many posts I have done here about alignment. It's worth reading through the whole threads as others have their points that are good. Andy

Front wheel turns hard right. - Bike Forums

Alignment thoughts - Bike Forums
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Old 01-08-21, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Unca_Sam View Post
I'm gonna say wheel dish is too far to the NDS. Maybe because the spokes are too short to put it in the right spot. Looking at the first picture, the left brake pad sits closer to the rim surface compared to the right pad, in addition to the rim being closer to the NDS chainstay. You've already confirmed that the dropouts are centered.

Take it all with a grain of salt. An easy check for wheel dish is to put the wheel in backwards, and see if the rim ends up closer to the DS chainstay. With what looks like 3 to 4 threads visible on the NDS spokes, I would measure all the necessary parameters and find the recommended spoke length to order replacements.

An interesting thought... What if the DS and NDS spokes were inadvertently swapped when the wheel was built? If you have a lot of spoke past the back of the nipple on the DS, that might be the answer.
He already flipped the wheel and tried another wheel and keeps getting the same results.
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Old 01-08-21, 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Bigbus View Post
He already flipped the wheel and tried another wheel and keeps getting the same results.
So he did. So much for an easy fix. I'll keep watching to see if there's a diagnosis I can understand.

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Old 01-08-21, 08:19 PM
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That looks exactly like the problem I just had on my MTB along with another poster on here who had the same problem with a road bike. He solved his by re-dishing his wheel, if I remember correctly and I solved mine with a rat tail file. I'm going to assume that my problem came from bending the chain stay due to my rough riding. I am not recommending you take a rat tail file to your Schwinn. That is just something this old hick did because I got frustrated. I know you've already checked the wheel as well as a different one, but I am leaning toward the dish being off for that particular frame. Find out what dish you need and then find out what the dish is on the wheel. Good luck
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Old 01-08-21, 08:59 PM
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I doubt that this will cause any actual problem in use. If you are unable to ride "no hands," then you probably have a worn or mis-adjusted headset (or poor balance).
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Old 01-09-21, 12:39 AM
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I sure would not ride a crooked bike. Filing one of the dropouts might be the easiest fix.
But first figure out if it has already been spread out poorly. I think it was 3x6 originally. It looks like 7 or 8 now?? And make sure the deraileur isn't pushing the axle somehow.
To line it up properly, I took off my tires and used a straight edge from rim to rim. Eyeballing is your best friend also. On my bike, I had no choice with all the stuff I had on the frame.
Measure the axle OLD and the frame with the wheel out. If different, then that might be the place to start some gentle bending of the stay. But that dropout is likely harder steel than mine was.

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Old 01-09-21, 01:04 AM
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I own a bike with very sloppy dropouts on the rear. To align the back wheel I need to flip the bike up side down and hold the wheel in position while tightening the QR. Else it all misaligned. It does stay put tho, so not a big deal, just a minor annoyance that points to sloppy manufacturing and engineering.
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Old 01-09-21, 07:07 AM
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What a conundrum. The picture at the brake bridge appears centered but it also appears to be shot at a slight angle from the right. Have you measured from seat stay to rim? What are the measurements? From the photo, I think the rim could also be a little to the left. You state that it is "pretty much" centered under the bridge. What does that mean?
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Old 01-09-21, 08:11 AM
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Have you measured the length of the stays? I think if the nds stay is a bit longer than the ds stay it will cause your problem. If your dropouts are vertical (I can’t tell from pics), I’m not sure what can be done, maybe that is when one resorts to a file?. If the dropouts are horizontal, you should be able to adjust how far into the dropouts you pull the wheel back on each side to center things up. Only a 1mm difference in stay length can make a very noticeable difference at the rim.
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Old 01-09-21, 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Racing Dan View Post
I own a bike with very sloppy dropouts on the rear. To align the back wheel I need to flip the bike up side down and hold the wheel in position while tightening the QR. Else it all misaligned. It does stay put tho, so not a big deal, just a minor annoyance that points to sloppy manufacturing and engineering.
I have the same problem with my old DiamondBack steel frame bike, and my fix is the same as above. Easy to do, but it is annoying that the frame/dropouts were so poorly made.
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Old 01-09-21, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by mitchmellow62 View Post
What a conundrum. The picture at the brake bridge appears centered but it also appears to be shot at a slight angle from the right. Have you measured from seat stay to rim? What are the measurements? From the photo, I think the rim could also be a little to the left. You state that it is "pretty much" centered under the bridge. What does that mean?
I said "pretty much" because it is not perfectly centered under the brake bridge either, but the difference is much less. I first noticed it there actually, which is what got me inspecting the rest of the alignment, to find it was much more misaligned near the chain stays. I then flipped the wheel to see if it was dish. I think this makes sense if it is crooked in one axis—some parts of the rim will be further from the center line than others.
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Old 01-09-21, 09:38 AM
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Filing drop outs should be the last thing someone does when trying to align a frame/fork. As this is the most non reversible step. Remember "do no harm". Andy
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Old 01-09-21, 10:01 AM
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Try
to check frame alignment.
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Old 01-09-21, 10:52 AM
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I am really laughing at myself!! By the color, your Voyageur is an '88 or '89. I own one and believe it is an 89. The head tube angle and wheelbase are slightly different between the two years and I always get a little foggy on which is which. I bought mine in 1990 from a lbs that would buy a frame/fork and build it with accumulated parts. That shop built the wheels and I have always blamed them for not quite dishing the rear wheel enough. It rode fine and was never enough of an issue in my early, poor years to address. I put a ton of miles on that bike but it's use faded as I acquired others. It has been fully retired for a couple of years with some of the components now harvested. Today I went out and flipped the wheel. It's a little difficult because it is slightly out of round but I think I have the same results. The wheels on this bike are 27"/630. I don't have any others 27's but I do have a straight 700c wheel with 126 mm spacing. I'm going to put that wheel in, flip it and see what the results are. I believe these bikes were built in the Mississippi plant. Columbus Tenax tubing was used.
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Old 01-09-21, 11:32 AM
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For years, I have been using the closed end of a wrench to center the rim. Could be 8 to 10 mm, whichever one is closest to the gap. Always the chainstay.
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Old 01-09-21, 11:57 AM
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If its just the dropouts that are bent its a easy fix.

Park makes a alignment tool https://www.parktool.com/blog/repair...pout-alignment

But you can make your own using a axel cut in half and some wheel nuts.

The the chain and seat stays are out that's a bit different. There's a good article on Sheldon brown's site.

I don't know if your city has a bike co-op. But sometimes they have frame alignment tools.
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Old 01-09-21, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by mitchmellow62 View Post
I am really laughing at myself!! By the color, your Voyageur is an '88 or '89. I own one and believe it is an 89. The head tube angle and wheelbase are slightly different between the two years and I always get a little foggy on which is which. I bought mine in 1990 from a lbs that would buy a frame/fork and build it with accumulated parts. That shop built the wheels and I have always blamed them for not quite dishing the rear wheel enough. It rode fine and was never enough of an issue in my early, poor years to address. I put a ton of miles on that bike but it's use faded as I acquired others. It has been fully retired for a couple of years with some of the components now harvested. Today I went out and flipped the wheel. It's a little difficult because it is slightly out of round but I think I have the same results. The wheels on this bike are 27"/630. I don't have any others 27's but I do have a straight 700c wheel with 126 mm spacing. I'm going to put that wheel in, flip it and see what the results are. I believe these bikes were built in the Mississippi plant. Columbus Tenax tubing was used.
It is in fact an '88. The wheels that came on it are 27" as yours are. And the second wheel I tested with was a 700, but has the same 126 hub spacing. The original wheels have pitted cups and cones, are out of true, and have corroded seized spokes, so I was planning on replacing them, probably with the other wheels I tested with for now to get it up and running. The brakes line up fine after a little adjustment.
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Old 01-09-21, 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
Filing drop outs should be the last thing someone does when trying to align a frame/fork. As this is the most non reversible step. Remember "do no harm". Andy
What do you think about re dishing the wheel to work better on just thsi bike?
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Old 01-09-21, 10:46 PM
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Originally Posted by dwmckee View Post
What do you think about re dishing the wheel to work better on just thsi bike?
if the problem is because the stays are not of equal length and this is not addressed, the rear wheel will be running cockeyed no matter what one does with the dish. The rear axle won’t be perpendicular to straight ahead forward motion. Have the stays been measured?
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Old 01-10-21, 12:21 AM
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Originally Posted by L134 View Post
if the problem is because the stays are not of equal length and this is not addressed, the rear wheel will be running cockeyed no matter what one does with the dish. The rear axle won’t be perpendicular to straight ahead forward motion. Have the stays been measured?
In a manor of function the trued and dished wheel acts as the gage. No need to do any other measure to see if the wheel sits off plane WRT the front triangle. One's eyes can see the gaps and overlaps that frame alignment works with. Of course knowing how to interpret what you see...

Before I would consider filing anything I would want to do a full frame alignment lookover. I will not be surprised if there's other issues elsewhere. But this means a rather deep breakdown of the bike to pretty much just the frame and separate fork, not something many will want to do. So I also won't be surprised if the OP only deals with the rear end. I hope this is enough change to make the bike handle/track better enough. Andy
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