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Wheel Building

Old 06-29-11, 01:52 AM
  #1  
Digital_Cowboy
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Wheel Building

After reading a number of threads on wheel building, I have to ask how hard/easy is it to do? I have a pair of old "heavy as ****" steel wheels that I do not intend to ride.

The front wheel has several spokes that are either missing, broken, bent or very loose. The rear wheel all spokes are all "present and accounted for," and tensioned.

My LBS has a truing stand for about $80.00. Does one need a special rig/jig to lace a wheel? Is there any reason for just learning how to lace/build a wheel that one cannot use/reuse spokes?

I realize that the rear wheel being the drivetrain and thus taking most if not all of the stress has to be laced a certain way. But for the front wheel how much freedom does one have in lacing patterns?

What are the advantages to building one's own wheels vs. going into the LBS and buying a set of prelaced wheels? Other than of course the obvious of being able to choose the hubs/spokes/rims that are used.

When building/lacing a wheel, and than truing it how does one know how much tension to but on the spokes?

Does Park, or anyone else sell DVD's that show how to build/lace a wheel?
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Old 06-29-11, 02:00 AM
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For wheel building - you can get exactly what you want, it can be enjoyable, you learn a new skill

Against - if building with quailty parts will almost always be more expensive than a pre-built wheel, normally limited to 32/36 hole wheels.

You can use the bike frame / forks as a truing stand, but if building lots of wheels, it's easier to get a truing stand.

Lacing patterns, you can do what you want, but for a beginer stick with 3 cross, there are several good guides on how to around on websites.

For re-using spokes, if your wheel has a number already broken, would start with all new, there was a reason these were failing, no point in repeating it.
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Old 06-29-11, 02:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy
A Does one need a special rig/jig to lace a wheel?
Lacing a wheel does not require a truing stand; however, tensioning and truing the wheel will. You could do it at the bike co-op if you have one in the neighbourhood.

Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy
Is there any reason for just learning how to lace/build a wheel that one cannot use/reuse spokes?
I learned to build a wheel by re-lacing my front wheel with different/new spokes. Try to use a wheel that you might not necessary need with all the spokes and nipples attached in good condition.

Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy
I realize that the rear wheel being the drivetrain and thus taking most if not all of the stress has to be laced a certain way. But for the front wheel how much freedom does one have in lacing patterns?
You could do whatever you want for a front wheel as long as it isn't dished.

Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy
What are the advantages to building one's own wheels vs. going into the LBS and buying a set of prelaced wheels? Other than of course the obvious of being able to choose the hubs/spokes/rims that are used.
The sense of accomplishment of finally building a set of wheels, it just feels really good. Plus, you could take ALL the time that you need to perfect the wheel.

Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy
When building/lacing a wheel, and than truing it how does one know how much tension to but on the spokes?
Good question, one often uses a tension gauge but I just go by feel then have the senior mechanics at the co-op to check over my work.

Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy
Does Park, or anyone else sell DVD's that show how to build/lace a wheel?
https://www.youtube.com/user/thebiketube#p/u/21/qTb3x5VO69Y Their videos might not be the best but I found this useful when I rebuilt my wheel. Watch it along side with Sheldon's guide is really helpful.
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Old 06-29-11, 02:29 AM
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Originally Posted by jimc101
For wheel building - you can get exactly what you want, it can be enjoyable, you learn a new skill

Against - if building with quailty parts will almost always be more expensive than a pre-built wheel, normally limited to 32/36 hole wheels.

You can use the bike frame / forks as a truing stand, but if building lots of wheels, it's easier to get a truing stand.

Lacing patterns, you can do what you want, but for a beginer stick with 3 cross, there are several good guides on how to around on websites.

For re-using spokes, if your wheel has a number already broken, would start with all new, there was a reason these were failing, no point in repeating it.
As I said the set of wheels that I would be practicing on are heavy, rusted steel rims that I have no intention of riding on. I would just be using them to practice and get proficient at wheel building/lacing.

These wheels also came on a bike that I was given a number of years ago by the staff of one of the LBS' that I go to. It was left behind when someone came in to buy a better bike. They (the LBS) didn't want it told me that I could have it.

It's a Diamondback Ascent that I am in the process of rebuilding to give to my gf's daughter so she has something to ride.

Given that I have no plans on ever riding on these rims even if they weren't covered in rust the weight alone is enough to discourage one from using them. I figured that they'd be good to practice on. That way if I screwed up and ruined them I'm not out anything.

And I can "salvage" spokes from the rear wheel to fill in the front wheel. Than take apart the front wheel and use the spokes on the rear wheel. And just keep doing that until as I said I get proficient at building/lacing wheels.

I'm not sure how many wheels that I'll be building, as I only have the three bikes my Hardrock (which is now pretty much my utility/pickup truck bike), and my Seek 2 which is my everyday bike (pretty much my Corvette).

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Old 06-29-11, 02:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy
As I said the set of wheels that I would be practicing on are heavy, rusted steel rims that I have no intention of riding on. I would just be using them to practice and get proficient at wheel building/lacing.
Would say that this is the worst way to learn to build a wheel, you will be dealing with corrosion & poor quality materials which you won't get with a new wheel components, it will be more enjoyable using new parts, which can be sourced with the correct specs for each other


Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy
It's a Diamondback Ascent that I am in the process of rebuilding to give to my gf's daughter so she has something to ride.
should be a nice light bike


Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy
And I can "salvage" spokes from the rear wheel to fill in the front wheel. Than take apart the front wheel and use the spokes on the rear wheel. And just keep doing that until as I said I get proficient at building/lacing wheels.
probably not, as they will be different sizes, you will need to find the sizing to confirm this
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Old 06-29-11, 02:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Squirrelli
Lacing a wheel does not require a truing stand; however, tensioning and truing the wheel will. You could do it at the bike co-op if you have one in the neighbourhood.


I learned to build a wheel by re-lacing my front wheel with different/new spokes. Try to use a wheel that you might not necessary need with all the spokes and nipples attached in good condition.


You could do whatever you want for a front wheel as long as it isn't dished.


The sense of accomplishment of finally building a set of wheels, it just feels really good. Plus, you could take ALL the time that you need to perfect the wheel.


Good question, one often uses a tension gauge but I just go by feel then have the senior mechanics at the co-op to check over my work.


https://www.youtube.com/user/thebiketube#p/u/21/qTb3x5VO69Y Their videos might not be the best but I found this useful when I rebuilt my wheel. Watch it along side with Sheldon's guide is really helpful.
Thank you for the information, as well as the link. No disrespect to you or jmc101, but I'm guessing that you both missed where I had said this:

Originally Posted by Digital Cowboy
I have a pair of old "heavy as ****" steel wheels that I do not intend to ride.
These are wheels that I do not care about what happens to them. I just want to use them to practice on without ruining a good set of wheels. Once I've gotten the skills to build a wheel in under an hour (I think that's what the Sheldon Brown site said when I did a quick search on the 3 cross pattern. I would move up to rims that I care about. But until then I would be using, and reusing the existing rims and spokes to practice on.
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Old 06-29-11, 02:43 AM
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Originally Posted by jimc101
Would say that this is the worst way to learn to build a wheel, you will be dealing with corrosion & poor quality materials which you won't get with a new wheel components, it will be more enjoyable using new parts, which can be sourced with the correct specs for each other




should be a nice light bike




probably not, as they will be different sizes, you will need to find the sizing to confirm this
Okay, thank you. Where/how does one find out what the sizing is? Is it as easy as taking a spoke into the LBS and buying the right size or what?
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Old 06-29-11, 03:18 AM
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For spoke sizing, you need a spoke caculator, like this https://lenni.info/edd/, it also has instructions for caculating your hub size if it is not in their database
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Old 06-29-11, 06:58 AM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy
Thank you for the information, as well as the link. No disrespect to you or jmc101, but I'm guessing that you both missed where I had said this:

These are wheels that I do not care about what happens to them. I just want to use them to practice on without ruining a good set of wheels. Once I've gotten the skills to build a wheel in under an hour (I think that's what the Sheldon Brown site said when I did a quick search on the 3 cross pattern. I would move up to rims that I care about. But until then I would be using, and reusing the existing rims and spokes to practice on.
It's certainly possible to use junk wheelset components to teach yourself to lace the pattern. That's the easy part.

The real art to becoming a wheelbuilder is the tensioning and trueing process. A junk rim is likely to be neither true nor round. You can't teach yourself to build a wheel that is round and true and has relatively even tension using a crooked rim.
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Old 06-29-11, 07:24 AM
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First buy a new front wheel that I'd cheap. Take it apart and rebuild it this gives you new material that will go together easier and correct. Them practice truing and getting the wheel really in order. Then go thru some dealer, I used the Yellow Jersey in Wi. Order the rims and hubs you want, they will calc the spoke length and the build your own. You won't save a dime but if done correct you have pride of doing and knowing you have a great wheel. I did this for my Velocity wheels best thing I did on a bike ever. The wheels are perfect and I dropped over 1 pound on the bike. You should get the truing stand, good spoke wretch, buy a Park tension meter, then you are not relying on the LBS.
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Old 06-29-11, 11:00 AM
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"You could do whatever you want for a front wheel as long as it isn't dished."


Are wheels properly built are dished..

=8-)
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Old 06-29-11, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy
These are wheels that I do not care about what happens to them. I just want to use them to practice on without ruining a good set of wheels. Once I've gotten the skills to build a wheel in under an hour (I think that's what the Sheldon Brown site said when I did a quick search on the 3 cross pattern. I would move up to rims that I care about. But until then I would be using, and reusing the existing rims and spokes to practice on.
There's really no need to "practice" with materials other than what you'll eventually ride on.

There's also no requirement that rideable wheels be built in under an hour. You aren't auditioning for a mechanic job on a race team. It is perfectly OK if your wheel takes two, three, or ten hours to build.

And finally, the best test of a wheel build is to actually ride on the wheel.
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Old 06-29-11, 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy
After reading a number of threads on wheel building, I have to ask how hard/easy is it to do?
It's so easy that children can do it with just a book for instructions (Jobst Brandt tested The Bicycle Wheel by having each of his sons build a set with no other help).

It does take a few hours of patience (beer helps).

Technically I find it about as difficult as setting up a front derailleur although it takes a lot longer.


My LBS has a truing stand for about $80.00. Does one need a special rig/jig to lace a wheel?
No.

Is there any reason for just learning how to lace/build a wheel that one cannot use/reuse spokes?
No although the length required depends on hub and rim and there isn't a good reason to practice before building a wheel you plan to keep for a lifetime (with rim replacements).
I realize that the rear wheel being the drivetrain and thus taking most if not all of the stress has to be laced a certain way. But for the front wheel how much freedom does one have in lacing patterns?
Lots.

What are the advantages to building one's own wheels vs. going into the LBS and buying a set of prelaced wheels? Other than of course the obvious of being able to choose the hubs/spokes/rims that are used.
When you do a decent job the wheels stay true until you bend a rim on a road obstacle and no spokes break for the first few hundred thousand miles even when you're a Clydestale.

After bending a rim you get a new one for not a lot of money ($40 - $80 is typical, although you can spend more or less). That's a lot less expensive than buying a new wheel of the same quality or having a shop replace the rim (labor can run $90 in expensive places and they may not want to reuse the spokes). You can rebuild it before your next ride while a shop will have a back log.

When building/lacing a wheel, and than truing it how does one know how much tension to but on the spokes?
You can use a tension meter (at $50 Park's is affordable for the occasional builder ). For lightish box section rims with traditional spoke counts you can also alternately increase tension and stress relieve until the rim deforms in waves after which you back off half a turn and re-true. The last two wheels I built that way ended up at about the same tension (110kgf average without a tire on the front, 110kgf rear drive side with a tire) I would have gotten with the tension meter.
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Old 06-29-11, 02:19 PM
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Tip: If building a wheel to put on a bike for a girl friend's daughter ... I don't know about you, but it would be at least of some reasonable quality and have assurances of durability. Would hate to spoil a perfectly good relationship over bad equipment, especially for the daughter of a GF. The wheels one builds may not have the builder's name on them, but they carry the honour and reputation of that builder. So I make sure my wheels will perform before building for others. :-)
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Old 06-29-11, 02:26 PM
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I personally like radial laced front wheels and 3 cross on the rear. Depending on your weight and needs I happen to like 24 front 28 rear. Spokes do not weight much but heavy rims can add weight. Low spoke counts are not the answer I think. I would rather have spokes and getting good even tension and trueness. I am also a big fan of offset rear rims. This makes for a much easier dish and more even tension. On my offset rear I have the velocity rims very even. The NDS was all around 17 and the DS were all 22 almost each spoke. I don't think it was my skills I just took my time over 2 days have about 4 hrs total in the wheels. That is no speedy but I could do another in less than 2 hrs
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Old 06-29-11, 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted by deacon mark
I personally like radial laced front wheels and 3 cross on the rear. Depending on your weight and needs I happen to like 24 front 28 rear. Spokes do not weight much but heavy rims can add weight. Low spoke counts are not the answer I think. I would rather have spokes and getting good even tension and trueness. I am also a big fan of offset rear rims. This makes for a much easier dish and more even tension. On my offset rear I have the velocity rims very even. The NDS was all around 17 and the DS were all 22 almost each spoke. I don't think it was my skills I just took my time over 2 days have about 4 hrs total in the wheels. That is no speedy but I could do another in less than 2 hrs
17 and 22 are not tension readings. They are tensionmeter readings - and translate to different tensions depending upon the guage of spoke tested. It's better to discuss numbers in KGF - else you are going to mislead people when you fail to note the guage being used.

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4. I will provide information as I always have to others that I believe will help them protect themselves from unscrupulous mechanics.
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Kahane, Howard. Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric: The Use of Reason in Everyday Life
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Old 06-29-11, 05:13 PM
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Originally Posted by mrrabbit
17 and 22 are not tension readings. They are tensionmeter readings - and translate to different tensions depending upon the guage of spoke tested. It's better to discuss numbers in KGF - else you are going to mislead people when you fail to note the guage being used.

=8-)
Correct I missed explaining this, I used 1.6 DB spokes at 122 ds and 105 nds.
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Old 06-29-11, 06:25 PM
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Originally Posted by gyozadude
Tip: If building a wheel to put on a bike for a girl friend's daughter ... I don't know about you, but it would be at least of some reasonable quality and have assurances of durability. Would hate to spoil a perfectly good relationship over bad equipment, especially for the daughter of a GF. The wheels one builds may not have the builder's name on them, but they carry the honour and reputation of that builder. So I make sure my wheels will perform before building for others. :-)
Read again, he says he's building a bike for the gf's daughter and also says he wants to pratice building wheels with this build but never says the wheel is for the bike he is building. I thought the same as you until I re-read that.
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Old 06-29-11, 06:28 PM
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I agree with some of the replies that the practice should be best done on the rim you will keep, but there is some experience to gain from lacing and getting used to tensioning spokes regardless of which wheel is used. So,... go ahead, lace up the steel rim and practice and develop you skills.
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Old 06-29-11, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by laura*
There's really no need to "practice" with materials other than what you'll eventually ride on.

There's also no requirement that rideable wheels be built in under an hour. You aren't auditioning for a mechanic job on a race team. It is perfectly OK if your wheel takes two, three, or ten hours to build.

And finally, the best test of a wheel build is to actually ride on the wheel.
I understand what you're saying, but I'm one of those who does best when I've had a change to practice a new skill before actually putting it to use.
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Old 06-29-11, 09:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt
It's so easy that children can do it with just a book for instructions (Jobst Brandt tested The Bicycle Wheel by having each of his sons build a set with no other help).

It does take a few hours of patience (beer helps).

Technically I find it about as difficult as setting up a front derailleur although it takes a lot longer.


No.

No although the length required depends on hub and rim and there isn't a good reason to practice before building a wheel you plan to keep for a lifetime (with rim replacements).
Lots.

When you do a decent job the wheels stay true until you bend a rim on a road obstacle and no spokes break for the first few hundred thousand miles even when you're a Clydestale.

After bending a rim you get a new one for not a lot of money ($40 - $80 is typical, although you can spend more or less). That's a lot less expensive than buying a new wheel of the same quality or having a shop replace the rim (labor can run $90 in expensive places and they may not want to reuse the spokes). You can rebuild it before your next ride while a shop will have a back log.

You can use a tension meter (at $50 Park's is affordable for the occasional builder ). For lightish box section rims with traditional spoke counts you can also alternately increase tension and stress relieve until the rim deforms in waves after which you back off half a turn and re-true. The last two wheels I built that way ended up at about the same tension (110kgf average without a tire on the front, 110kgf rear drive side with a tire) I would have gotten with the tension meter.
Drew,

Thank you for the info and the link. I look forward to putting them to good use.

My summer weight is around 180lbs and my winter weight is around 210lbs. Does that make me a "Clydesdale?"

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Old 06-29-11, 09:30 PM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by gyozadude
Tip: If building a wheel to put on a bike for a girl friend's daughter ... I don't know about you, but it would be at least of some reasonable quality and have assurances of durability. Would hate to spoil a perfectly good relationship over bad equipment, especially for the daughter of a GF. The wheels one builds may not have the builder's name on them, but they carry the honour and reputation of that builder. So I make sure my wheels will perform before building for others. :-)
Sorry, I have no plans whatsoever to use these wheels on any bike, ever. They'd just be used for practice and honing my skills.
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Old 06-29-11, 09:45 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by ratdog
Read again, he says he's building a bike for the gf's daughter and also says he wants to practice building wheels with this build but never says the wheel is for the bike he is building. I thought the same as you until I re-read that.
Thank you, it is interesting how some can assume something that was never said.

Originally Posted by ratdog
I agree with some of the replies that the practice should be best done on the rim you will keep, but there is some experience to gain from lacing and getting used to tensioning spokes regardless of which wheel is used. So,... go ahead, lace up the steel rim and practice and develop you skills.
Thank you, As I said to "Laura*" I'm one of those who learns best by practicing first, and I know that I am likely to "royally" mess things up the first few times I true/lace/build a wheel. So I would much rather practice on something that it doesn't matter if I screw up on.

Or maybe I should say that I would rather practice on something that I can "screw up" and than fix. And repeat as often as needed without worrying about ruining a good set of rims. And than once I've become proficient, than I can move on to wheels that I plan on using as well as eventually mounting on the bike for my gfs daughter.
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Old 06-29-11, 10:31 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy
Thank you, As I said to "Laura*" I'm one of those who learns best by practicing first, and I know that I am likely to "royally" mess things up the first few times I true/lace/build a wheel. So I would much rather practice on something that it doesn't matter if I screw up on.
Then go buy a set of cheap pre-built wheels, a stand, a nice spoke wrench, and a tension meter. Take the front wheel apart, and then put it back together again. Repeat, if you feel the need. Then do the same thing on the rear, keeping track of which spokes belong to which side.

Building wheels from junk, which is what you've got, is *hard*. Much, much harder than building wheels with nice new components. You will get frustrated, and give up. A cheap set of wheels will be cheaper than their component parts, and have spokes that are likely to be the correct size, a rim that's not bent, and if you screw it up, you're not out much oney, but you're not terribly likely to screw up, because wheel building with new parts isn't terribly hard.
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Old 06-29-11, 11:15 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy
Thank you, it is interesting how some can assume something that was never said.
I could give you a treatise on why I assumed you were spending the effort to build wheels for GF's daughter and it will then appear to be very logical, though you didn't write it. But then it would be too much like blaming you for what you didn't write. Suffice it to say, no offense intended. My bad.
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