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Alloy nipple question

Old 09-22-08, 03:30 AM
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giantcfr1
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Alloy nipple question

I'm in the process of getting some wheels built. The guy who is supposed to build them has recommended twice that I shouldn't use alloy nipples as he has heard that they crack. He has never seen this happen by the way. What do you people think? Have you heard this? Have you seen this? I do most of my riding in the mountains.
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Old 09-22-08, 03:55 AM
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Dunno about crack, but I've seen them shear off at the flange. Otherwise they're also known to seize more badly onto the spokes than brass nipples do, and also to round off while tightening. I haven't had any problems with them though, although I haven't used them for the DS spokes.
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Old 09-22-08, 04:18 AM
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Originally Posted by giantcfr1 View Post
I'm in the process of getting some wheels built. The guy who is supposed to build them has recommended twice that I shouldn't use alloy nipples as he has heard that they crack. He has never seen this happen by the way. What do you people think? Have you heard this? Have you seen this? I do most of my riding in the mountains.
If you talk of alloy I guess you mean aluminium alloy, since also brass (the other material used for nipples) is an alloy.

That said, as far as I know aand experienced alu-nipples are not really problematic.
It would just be safer to avoid using them at the DS (rear right) because of the higher tension.

If weight is not a major issue, brass nipple are anyway the safer choice.
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Old 09-22-08, 04:43 AM
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Brass nipples are stronger than aluminium. Unless you have some hardcore racing need, you will have more problems with the aluminium. Sometimes they shear off the head, sometimes they split down the middle and they are prone to corrosion if exposed to too much water or salt (if ridden in the winter). Having said that, aluminium nipples used by a competent wheel builder will work well if you have a need for a lightweight racing wheel and are willing to check them and maintain them. (replace as necessary)
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Old 09-22-08, 04:45 AM
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thanks for the info so far. Sorry about the alloy oversight. You are correct, I meant aluminium.
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Old 09-22-08, 10:43 AM
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Aluminum nipples can fail if the spoke isn't threaded far enough in and leaves the head unsupported so proper spoke length can avoid that problem.

Also, Al nipples are corrosion prone in wet and, particularly in salty conditions, so if the bike is ridden in all weather and in an area where road salt is used or near the ocean, they are best avoided.
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Old 09-22-08, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by dabac View Post
Dunno about crack, but I've seen them shear off at the flange.
Me too. I only use brass nipples.
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Old 09-22-08, 11:14 AM
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stainles steel nips................ db swiss shiney and new-- proper length, even tension, ya.......
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Old 09-22-08, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by G piny parnas View Post
stainles steel nips................ db swiss shiney and new-- proper length, even tension, ya.......
First, I assume you meant to type DTSwiss, not db, and second, DT makes only Aluminum and brass nipples. Your meds must be wearing off again.
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Old 09-22-08, 01:02 PM
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double butted swiss spokes
stainless steel nipples
glazed Dunkin' doughnuts..... urp.....
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Old 09-22-08, 01:05 PM
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I have several bikes with aluminum nipples, anodized in colors to match/clash with the frame.

4 of those wheels are 20+ years old. NO problems and haven't needed trueing since being built.
I use linseed oil on the spoke threads, prior to building the wheel.

My feeling is similar to that about painting...
If you're going to all the trouble of wheel building, why not make it TRICK??!!???

(I'm going to use red, blue & black nipples on the Merlin wheels, as soon as I save enough pennies for the spokes)
note; on the 40 spoke rear, my 3 color pattern gets a glitch. I finally figured that I will have red nipples on either side of the valve hole, but the rest of the pattern remains intact.
For consistency, I'll use a blue anodized valve cap between the 2 red nipples.
 
Old 09-22-08, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Banzai View Post
Me too. I only use brass nipples.
Apparently we only get one quote at a time. Banzai's response was to someone saying "alu nips shear off at the flange."

DT (edco) brass can shear off at the flange as well. DT spokes have come with at least two styles of brass nips over the years. In 2.0mm, the old style was #14077, and the flange had a sharp outer edge, and a sharp radius at the transition. The newer style is #65163, and has improved radius at the transition. The edge is also observedly rounder. 1.8 had a similar change, but I'm not freaky enough to remember the part numbers.

The older style has sheared off in my experience. Of course, it took an exceptional bit of force (wife planting a foot through my front wheel when we weren't clear about which way we were turning) and was fixed with a quick replacement of the 4 affected nipples (we were just a block from home/shop) and the wheel is still fine today 18 years later.

Now they (DT) made this transition sometime in the 80s, so you may think this is a big "Yeah, but so what?" moment BUT spokes and nipples can be some of the slowest moving parts at your LBS and even at the wholesale distributors. I was still getting #14077 nipples from the distributors into the late 90s with certain size spokes. Because so many of my customers went for alloy nips, I was able to bury the #14077s in my deep stock where it would be unlikely that I'd ever need them.

Anyway, check your LBS purchased nips and try to get the round edged ones, whether brass or alu.
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Old 09-22-08, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
Aluminum nipples can fail if the spoke isn't threaded far enough in and leaves the head unsupported so proper spoke length can avoid that problem.

Also, Al nipples are corrosion prone in wet and, particularly in salty conditions, so if the bike is ridden in all weather and in an area where road salt is used or near the ocean, they are best avoided.
Both problems can afflict brass nipples, too. Broken and corroded nipples are a daily feature of my life.

Personally, I get great results with alloy nipples and have no reason to avoid building with them. Forged 7075 T6 aluminum works fine for me. I suggest people use a spoke-thread treatment, regardless of nipple type, and one fairly cheap easy-to-get one is the teflon goop-in-a-tube used for home plumbing. I happen to like linseed oil too, if the wheels are sufficiently special to put up with the smell
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Old 09-22-08, 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted by mechBgon View Post
Both problems can afflict brass nipples, too. Broken and corroded nipples are a daily feature of my life.
True enough but brass is less likely to have these problems than aluminum. Not immune, just less frequent.
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Old 09-22-08, 06:24 PM
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I use DT swiss aluminum alloy nipples on all of my wheels. I like the black ones. No problems.
To avoid rounding off nipples use a snug fitting spoke wrench that holds all fours sides of the nipples.
I like Spokey wrenches. The red wrench fits best.

Al
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Old 09-22-08, 06:27 PM
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I found for mountain biking the aluminum alloy nipples will break before the spokes. For me out on the trail the nipples are easier to replace. I don't need to carry spokes and have to remove the cassette. So if you know how to build you own wheels just replace them every couple of years.

It's an odd reason but when out on a long trek I just carry spoke nipples.

THe flange will usually break first and if you use spoke prep they won't seize.
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Old 09-23-08, 08:15 PM
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Originally Posted by giantcfr1 View Post
I'm in the process of getting some wheels built. The guy who is supposed to build them has recommended twice that I shouldn't use alloy nipples as he has heard that they crack. He has never seen this happen by the way. What do you people think? Have you heard this? Have you seen this? I do most of my riding in the mountains.
sounds like an inexperienced wheel builder

mx
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Old 09-24-08, 11:28 AM
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Alloy nips

I have seen problems with both alloy (as they are conventionally called, so you were not wrong) and brass nipples alike. However, alloy nipples are much, much worse. They do crack, strip easier, and seize. I have seen all of these multiple times. Really, on a weekly basis where I work.

I have also had alloy nipples turn to powder when a spoke wrench was put on them!

That said, if you must, then get good ones. Pretreat the spokes with prep or even linseed oil or something like that.

Worst case is you get new wheels next year after a year of joyous riding!
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Old 09-24-08, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by mx_599 View Post
sounds like an inexperienced wheel builder

mx
+1
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Old 09-24-08, 02:06 PM
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Nothing against new aluminium alloy nipples, but I did have to replace every single one on a pair of used Bontrager Race lite wheels - most were split, some turned to powder when I threatened them with a spoke wrench and others were siezed solid. Only one nipple on a pair of wheels worked - and that one was corroded. My guess is that they had been used in winter (I bought them from a guy in the North of England) and the rock salt spread on the road had caused them to quietly rot away. I replaced the lot with brass nipples and the wheels have been fine ever since. So I'd say if you are likely to get your wheels wet & salty, stick with brass.
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