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Tension Meters

Old 10-26-07, 12:35 PM
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Sammyboy
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Tension Meters

I've been searching both here and online generally, and the only tension meter I'm finding is the Park TM-1. People here refer to it as a $50 tool, but in the UK, it's a 50 tool, more like $100. I'm already going to have to spring 65 for a Minoura wheelbuilding rig, is there a cheaper option for a tension meter?
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Old 10-26-07, 12:45 PM
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Nope, that's the cheapest one currently on the market. I would say to get the cheapest truing stand you can find or use your frame. The TM-1 is worth every penny.
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Old 10-26-07, 01:24 PM
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I also think the Park Tension meter is a good one, I think they're usually about $55 plus shipping in the U.S. There is a trick to using it though. You need to release the tool gently onto the spoke. A quick release causes an elastic rebound and an inaccurate measurement.

Al
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Old 10-26-07, 02:12 PM
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+1 on the Park TM-1. But I got mine from Nashbar with a 20% coupon (net $48), I wouldn't be happy about spending nearly $100 for it either. As for the tool itself, it sure is nice and useful to be able to put a meaninful number to spoke tension. Musical pitch and feel are okay, I did that for years, but my TM-1 has enlightened me.
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Old 10-26-07, 02:26 PM
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here is your tension meter

ping = good

pong = bad


Discuss
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Old 10-26-07, 02:29 PM
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As a musician, I'm tempted to go with the Ping! Pong! method. As a fairly skilled amateur bike mechanic, my brain is telling me not to. As a young lad, I used to check my tire pressure with my thumb, but since I've had a track pump with a gauge, I wonder how I didn't destroy more tubes. I suspect this is the same deal......
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Old 10-26-07, 02:36 PM
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Plucking is great for relative tension, but absolute tension needs to be measured. Some people measure one spoke, pluck it for reference, and level tension from there. I actually use the TM-1 on every spoke because it's so easy to use, and if multiple adjustments are made, I don't have to worry about my reference spoke changing at all.

My last 5 wheels have ended up better than +/- 5% of target and average tension on every spoke, and that's a good feeling.
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Old 10-26-07, 03:13 PM
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Originally Posted by waterrockets View Post
Plucking is great for relative tension, but absolute tension needs to be measured. Some people measure one spoke, pluck it for reference, and level tension from there. I actually use the TM-1 on every spoke because it's so easy to use, and if multiple adjustments are made, I don't have to worry about my reference spoke changing at all.

My last 5 wheels have ended up better than +/- 5% of target and average tension on every spoke, and that's a good feeling.
+many
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Old 10-26-07, 10:24 PM
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Why can't you use a torque wrench?
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Old 10-27-07, 03:15 AM
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How would that work? A tension meter doesn't measure the torque on the spoke nipples, but the deflection on the spokes. Measuring it at the nipple would introduce the potential for corrosion to affect the torque, plus you can't put a socket on a spoke nipple. They're tiny, and you need an open sided wrench anyway (a spoke key), or a sort of screwdriver for driving the end of the nipple. And that's why!
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Old 10-27-07, 06:55 AM
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Originally Posted by waterrockets View Post
Plucking is great for relative tension, but absolute tension needs to be measured. Some people measure one spoke, pluck it for reference, and level tension from there. I actually use the TM-1 on every spoke because it's so easy to use, and if multiple adjustments are made, I don't have to worry about my reference spoke changing at all.

My last 5 wheels have ended up better than +/- 5% of target and average tension on every spoke, and that's a good feeling.
+30 billion

Originally Posted by Sammyboy View Post
I suspect this is the same deal......
Yes, you'd be right.
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Old 10-27-07, 09:30 AM
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If you have fairly good mechanical ability, you might want to try making your own version of a tension meter. Park has an exploded diagram of theirs for ordering parts. It is not very complicated. There are two posts connected to a frame, an "L" shaped lever on a pivot with a third post, a stiff spring, and a dial. Calibrate it by reading a spoke properly tensioned. It is tempting to make one. I have not tried it. yet. I do not build wheels and the wheels on my bikes do not need a lot of truing.

I did make my own torque wrench, chain whip, and cone wrench (adjustable). Those all worked well, were a lot of fun, and saved a bunch of money.
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Old 10-27-07, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by twobikes View Post
I did make my own torque wrench, chain whip, and cone wrench (adjustable). Those all worked well, were a lot of fun, and saved a bunch of money.
Opportunity cost 4tw
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Old 10-27-07, 02:25 PM
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Got to admit I use a DT Tensiometer daily in my work now but had loads of fun with a cheap keyboard, relating spoke tension to notes on the keyboard. F# on the drive side of an average MTB wheel does it for me. This gives a tension of about 1300Nm with DT Comp DB spokes. It created a stir in the workshop with me plonking in a tiny keyboard every now and again!!
In the days before tensiometers were available or horrrrrribly expensive (Hosan), I used to tension a wheel to the point of it turning into a potato crisp shape, then backing off the tension by a half turn. That gave a perfect wheel tension for that rim/spoke type. I then related this tension to pitch and used a kids xylophone (found in jumble sale) to match the note given by my spoke to the tension of the spoke
( drive side only on rear). This worked well for years.
Buy a Park tensiometer if you like but have a go with the kids keyboard first, you will learn a lot about relative spoke tension and amuse all and sundry!!!
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Old 10-28-07, 04:06 AM
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Hmmmm. I certainly have plenty of ways of finding F# about my person. I could do it with a keyboard one day, a flute the next, and perhaps my electronic tuner at the weekends!
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Old 10-28-07, 07:25 AM
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Common, the US dollar is in the dumps, you should be able to find a decent deal
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Old 10-28-07, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Sammyboy View Post
Hmmmm. I certainly have plenty of ways of finding F# about my person. I could do it with a keyboard one day, a flute the next, and perhaps my electronic tuner at the weekends!
Great idea to use an electronic guitar tuner! Mine has both aural mode as well as plugged in mode. If it works on a classical guitar it can work on a wheel. Gonna ditch my tensiometer tomorrow and build the Rohloff hub/Notubes tubeless rim combo I've got to build using the guitar tuner. Should create a laugh in the workshop!!! I wonder what 935kgf equates to on my guitar tuner????
Maybe not - as the customer is having a 900 wheel built I think the Tensiometer will have to come out of its case after all. No sense in using him as an experimental test bed.

Last edited by wrench; 10-28-07 at 04:20 PM. Reason: spelling mistake
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Old 10-28-07, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by waterrockets View Post
Nope, that's the cheapest one currently on the market. I would say to get the cheapest truing stand you can find or use your frame. The TM-1 is worth every penny.
Agree 100%!!!!! I have both and make very fine wheels.
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Old 10-28-07, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Booger1 View Post
Why can't you use a torque wrench?
Because a true wheel is a true wheel and the tension measured by a Tensiometer can be different...so exactly tensioning every spoke won't give a wheel perfect wheel.
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Old 10-28-07, 04:53 PM
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Also at the tensions used, torque at the nipple has a significant of thread-friction. As a result, the true stretch of the spoke (tension) can't be accurately measured using torque.
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Old 10-28-07, 05:54 PM
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Originally Posted by DannoXYZ View Post
Also at the tensions used, torque at the nipple has a significant of thread-friction. As a result, the true stretch of the spoke (tension) can't be accurately measured using torque.
I wonder how well a cylinder head-like torquing sequence would work on a wheel. You'd need a very low-torque torque wrench to use so "set" the nipple, then add a specific number of turns to each nipple (you'd need to do some calculations using the recommend tension to figure this out) to load the spokes, adding turns in small increments while going in a star shaped pattern on the wheel. It would be an interesting experiment at least.
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Old 10-28-07, 07:40 PM
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Would it be possible for you to paypal a BF member in the US the money so he could but it and then ship it to you? It might take alot of time but could possibly save you $40US or so.
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Old 10-28-07, 07:43 PM
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Originally Posted by joejack951 View Post
I wonder how well a cylinder head-like torquing sequence would work on a wheel. You'd need a very low-torque torque wrench to use so "set" the nipple, then add a specific number of turns to each nipple (you'd need to do some calculations using the recommend tension to figure this out) to load the spokes, adding turns in small increments while going in a star shaped pattern on the wheel. It would be an interesting experiment at least.
There's just too much variation in nipple/rim-hole contact. Too much oil, not enough oil, a bur on the hole, etc. Even the fact that spoke nipples take different amounts of overturn to break free would affect it.

Personally, I never thought a torque wrench on an engine was going to produce outstanding results. I'd like to see a pressure gauge in a washer under the bolt heads sometime...
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Old 10-28-07, 11:45 PM
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Originally Posted by MyBikeGotStolen View Post
Would it be possible for you to paypal a BF member in the US the money so he could but it and then ship it to you? It might take alot of time but could possibly save you $40US or so.
I've done similar things for people over there, and I'm sure I could find someone to help, yes.
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Old 10-29-07, 10:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Sammyboy View Post
I've been searching both here and online generally, and the only tension meter I'm finding is the Park TM-1. People here refer to it as a $50 tool, but in the UK, it's a 50 tool, more like $100. I'm already going to have to spring 65 for a Minoura wheelbuilding rig, is there a cheaper option for a tension meter?
If anyone is selling them for $50 or $55 they aren't making much profit.

https://harriscyclery.net/page.cfm?PageID=49&action=list&Category=339&Brand=291&type=T

Mine's worth every penny to me, but I build a lot of wheels. If you're building a 48h 406, balancing tension isn't too important. Awfully easy to make a truing stand. I made one with 2 dial indicators for $20. With Sun rims it's not hard to build a wheel to +/- 0.004".
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