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I find myself with a modest budget and could use some advice

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I find myself with a modest budget and could use some advice

Old 09-30-07, 08:57 AM
  #1  
Joshua A.C. New
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I find myself with a modest budget and could use some advice

I'm a non-professional bike builder who suddenly finds himself with $300 to allocate to building bikes. I just finished a junk bike buildup that was sufficiently successful to give me another ride to get around town, and I want to learn some new stuff.

My first thought was stuff for brazing frames. I've always wanted to do that, but I also just made a connection with a shop that might mean I can use their gear and expertise, which means that I might be able to make more intelligent decisions about what I want to do after I've worked with them a bit.

So my second thought was wheel building gear. I've got a 60s Sturmey Archer hub that used to be my dad's that needs to get in a decent wheel, and I think that being able to build wheels will get me the wheels I want for a given project; finding a functional hub and a functional rim in the garbage or super cheap is much easier if I don't have to find them together.

So, advice on brazing stuff would be welcome, but since it's so complex and I'm liable to learn some stuff face-to-face, I think I'd really like to know how to invest in wheel building.

And a question about tools in general: Park tools seem ubiquitous, but they also seem to make some real crap. Do they stretch too far into the low end and their high end stuff is OK? Or is it just a case of effective branding? Is there another brand I should consider when I'm looking for tools in general?
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Old 09-30-07, 09:00 AM
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For cheap tools I just buy Spin Doctor from performance or Nashbar's brand. They seem to do the job fine.
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Old 09-30-07, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Joshua A.C. New View Post
So my second thought was wheel building gear. I've got a 60s Sturmey Archer hub that used to be my dad's that needs to get in a decent wheel, and I think that being able to build wheels will get me the wheels I want for a given project; finding a functional hub and a functional rim in the garbage or super cheap is much easier if I don't have to find them together.

And a question about tools in general: Park tools seem ubiquitous, but they also seem to make some real crap. Do they stretch too far into the low end and their high end stuff is OK? Or is it just a case of effective branding? Is there another brand I should consider when I'm looking for tools in general?
Branding. Park i'd say is good enough for the casual home mechanic, but for shop use - they blow.

If you are really only going to build wheels off junked hubs and rims - forget anything except a spoke wrench and jobst brandst book (or any other book) on wheelbuilding. It will not be cost effective in buying a good truing stand + tensionmeter to do what you what you are planning on doing.
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Old 09-30-07, 09:30 AM
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I doubt that $300 is going take you very far toward getting tooled up for frame building and painting. Even after you get tooled up, what are you going to do with it? How many bike frames do you envision yourself making?

The wheelbuilding route makes a lot more sense to me. Frankly, I have no trouble with using pre-ridden hubs but I'd advise buying brand new rims and I wouldn't mess with the cheapo's either. If you want to build a good wheel you have to start with a good rim.
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Old 09-30-07, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
I doubt that $300 is going take you very far toward getting tooled up for frame building and painting. Even after you get tooled up, what are you going to do with it? How many bike frames do you envision yourself making?

The wheelbuilding route makes a lot more sense to me. Frankly, I have no trouble with using pre-ridden hubs but I'd advise buying brand new rims and I wouldn't mess with the cheapo's either. If you want to build a good wheel you have to start with a good rim.
+1 on new rims, even less expensive ones for your stated purposes and budget.
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Old 09-30-07, 11:07 AM
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Joshua-

Second Retro Grouch's advice on brazing/framebuilding, lots of experience and expertise to it so take some time doing the other bike wrenching stuff before you get there or even make a decision that that's what you want to do. If you get a chance to talk to/observe the brazing/framebuilding process you will begin to appreciate the high level of this process.

It sounds like your passion for building things is a perfect match for working on bikes, and it will mesh well with wheelbuilding which I would recommend you persue. I'm also not a professional bike mechanic, but my own passion for building/craftsmanship (I'm a carpenter by trade) has fit extremely well with bikes.

Happy trails!
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Old 09-30-07, 11:29 AM
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Yeah, I picture myself building a handful of frames, but by the time I've done that, I'll know so much more about what I should be doing (and if I want to do more) that I'm pretty sure I should learn stuff first, since it looks like I'll have those facilities.

OK, good point about the rims. I imagine it's tough to get a doughy, formless rim to be a circle, and of limited value in the end.

So imagine that I'm going to be getting decent rims and acceptable, though probably used, hubs. Since they're cheap as bike parts go, I'll certainly be using new, good spokes.

Now, I'll need a truing stand and spoke wrenches. As I understand it, I don't need a dishing tool unless I'm doing things at a precision greater than I care about. So what are some concrete recommendations? What do you folks recommend? I mean, how much *can* I do with a spoke wrench sitting in front of the TV? If I'm using decent rims and stuff, what's a decent truing stand? While I'm at it, who makes decent spoke wrenches and good spokes?

I've ordered the Jobst Brandt book and expect it will clarify this quite a bit, but I want to get building as soon as I can, so I appreciate any concrete recommendations. It looks like a lot of fun, as well as getting me the wheels I want for a given project.

[Edit: crossposted with a couple of folks there. Thanks for the encouragement. I'm pretty settled on wheelbuilding for the time being, since it looks like there might be the time and facilities to learn frame building in the long term. Also, I take seriously the recommendation about rims. I'll be sure to check for rims' decency before building a wheel, or I'll just buy new ones when the opportunity presents itself.]
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Old 09-30-07, 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Joshua A.C. New View Post
What do you folks recommend? I mean, how much *can* I do with a spoke wrench sitting in front of the TV?
Forget the TV. Focus ALL of your attention on producing the best wheel that you're capable of building.
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Old 09-30-07, 04:04 PM
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Then answer the question.
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Old 09-30-07, 05:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Joshua A.C. New View Post
Then answer the question.
That is the answer to your question.

It's possible to build a perfectly good wheel with a spoke wrench and a wheel trueing stand. In fact, it's possible to build a perfectly good wheel using your bike as a stand for trueing the wheel. It's not the tools, it's the the process. You're not likely to build a very good wheel, even with the best of tooling, if your mind's partially occupied with something else.
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Old 09-30-07, 05:18 PM
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Yeah, I'd been wondering about the difference between a truing stand and a fork with some C clamps and appropriately cut pieces of plywood.

The question, though, restated:

What specific models of what tools do you recommend?

"It's not the tools" is only the case when your tools aren't crappy. I grew up in a workshop. I know the difference between a good tool, an unnecessary tool, and a cheap tool. But I don't know the characteristics of bike building tools. I'm just learning about stuff, so I lack the ability to judge. Your sage flippancy is standing in for a list of brand names and models and notes of the differences.

[Edit: ...or, alternately, some instruction on doing without.]
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Old 09-30-07, 06:24 PM
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Park or Minoura truing stands are well thought of. The Parks come in several models but the basic TS-8 should get you started at a modest price. Performance's house brand "Spin Doctor" truing stand is simple but functional and on sale for $45 right now.

Park's SW series of spoke wrenches are also very good. The SW-0 (black) fits most of the better quality spokes (DT, Wheelsmith, etc.) and should be the one you need. It's about $8 at Performance, maybe a bit less elsewhere.

You will want, if not need, a dishing tool. You can't do it by eye but one work around is to frequently flip the wheel over in the truing stand and recenter each time until it doesn't change distance from the index when reversed. A dishing tool isn't very expensive ($25 at Performance) and saves a fair bit of time.

BTW, RG's comment was sage but not flippant. Anyone new at this should expect to give the job his undivided attention. I admire your enthusiasm but you have a lot of studying to do before you apply tools to components.
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Old 09-30-07, 06:28 PM
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Thanks!
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Old 09-30-07, 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Joshua A.C. New View Post
"It's not the tools" is only the case when your tools aren't crappy. I grew up in a workshop. I know the difference between a good tool, an unnecessary tool, and a cheap tool.
A wheelbuilding stand is only a fixture that gives you someplace to measure from. The more expensive ones have some features to make wheelbuilding a little faster, but the cheap ones actually work just as well.

Spoke wrenches are the only really necessary tool. Make sure that you get the right size or you'll round out the niples before you get the wheel up to tension. Park and Spoky are 2 commonly recommended brands.
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Old 09-30-07, 07:57 PM
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What I use, FWIW:



Truing Stand- http://www.jensonusa.com/store/produ...ing+Stand.aspx



Spoke Wrench- http://www.jensonusa.com/store/produ...le+Wrench.aspx



Dishing Gauge (custom made)-
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Old 09-30-07, 10:28 PM
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Thanks, folks! I've made some orders based on recommendations, including the book. I'm very familiar with Sheldon's site, too, and he gives solid advice on everything else I've looked to him for, so I consider his wheelbuilding page valuable.

I'll be back with some informed questions sometime soon, as well as a bent back fingernail, since that seems to happen whenever I start a new project.
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Old 10-25-07, 10:53 AM
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Hey, that wasn't too hard at all!

I got a DT Swiss RR 1.1 rim for $0 from a bike shop because it has a rattly piece of metal in it (I'd guess it's the slug from the valve hole or something), a hub for $6 from a sale at Nashbar ($15 with Impatient Shipping), and spokes from the bike shop in town. Using a Spin Doctor Truing Stand II (This Time, It's Personal!) and a the red Performance spoke wrench, I built a wheel in a few hours last night. I screwed up twice (skipped a spoke once, plugged into the wrong hole another time don't tell my wife), but one error was the result of the other and it only took 20 minutes or something to redo (which made it a pretty parenthetical experience). Like everyone says, the key seems to be patience: just go around and around, adjusting each nipple by half a turn or whatever, noticing places that are weird.

I realized that my extreme frustration as a teenager truing rims came from 2 factors:

1: I think I was constantly bashing the crap out of my rims because I was a teenage boy.
2: You turn nipples the opposite way than you'd think because you're turning the back of a nut. So clockwise loosens. I think I never put that together in my mind, which means that I was constantly making small problems into bad problems.
3: Even if I had 2 right, I probably had the wrong spoke wrench.
4: If I didn't have the wrong spoke wrench and I was turning in the right direction, I was almost certainly turning too much.

So, now I've got a wheel! One down, one to go. Oh, and I suppose this bike will need a cassette, fork, saddle, chain, and headset, too, if I'm being fussy.

I'm gonna stop by my favorite LBS and ask Jason to check my work. I don't want my front wheel failing on me because I did something backwards, but it looks pretty durn good.

Thanks for the recommendations, everyone. Jobst Brandt came through for my big time and Sheldon Brown, of course, too. Not to mention Spocalc.
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Old 10-25-07, 01:47 PM
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For whatever reason I've found Shraener's lacing method easier to learn and repeat.
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Old 10-25-07, 04:04 PM
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Can you link me?
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Old 10-26-07, 03:53 AM
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Old 10-26-07, 04:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Joshua A.C. New View Post
I got a DT Swiss RR 1.1 rim for $0 from a bike shop because it has a rattly piece of metal in it (I'd guess it's the slug from the valve hole or something)...
I had a similar very annoying rattle in a Mavic CXP-33 rim that came on a built up wheel. Once I was able to locate the exact position of the rattle (that was the hard part), I removed the tire and rim strip. Then I squirted a few drops of Superglue into the adjacent spoke holes in the inner wall of the rim and let it sit for a few minutes. The glue fastened whatever was loose in the rim in place and it's been completely quiet ever since.
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Old 10-26-07, 11:03 AM
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Moose: Oh! I didn't know they author's name. Thanks!

Hill: That's exactly my plan! Ha ha! It was my dad's recommendation he's full of good solutions for stuff like this (he's a restoration metalsmith and deals with strange problems all day). But I can't figure out how to wick glue into there there doesn't seem to be a hole anywhere near the rattle. The spoke holes are all sealed up.
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