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Old 03-31-14, 09:14 AM   #1
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Wheel truing ergonomics

Yesterday I made my first attempt at truing my wheels using the Park Tool truing stand at the local community bike workshop. I found that I was doing a lot of bending my head sideways and squinting with one eye closed at the gap between the caliper and the rim. This left me with a stiff neck and back after a couple hours of it.

So to all you folks who true wheels all day long, what are your tips for proper ergonomic posture when using a truing stand? Do you stand straight and sight straight down the side of the rim at the caliper? Do you close one eye or just keep both open and learn to ignore the image from one side (like how I was taught to use a microscope)? Thanks for any tips.
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Old 03-31-14, 09:29 AM   #2
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The point of the caliper is to be able to true by sound as well as sight. The main reason to look is to judge how long the out of true portion is. But if you are looking there's not reason to bend your head sideways - as you said, just sight straight down the side of the rim. I've never found a need to close one eye.
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Old 03-31-14, 09:49 AM   #3
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Both eyes open and as said above, listen more than look. Sight comes in right at the end for the last milli-smidgen of adjustment.

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Old 03-31-14, 09:53 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Chesterton View Post
.... This left me with a stiff neck and back after a couple hours of it.
Few of us spend anywhere near hours at a time working on wheels. Even when we do, there's not much strain since as CNY said, much of the work s by sound, not sight.

Otherwise, the key is to have the stand at a comfortable working height for both eyes and hands. If the stand is too low, you'll be bending over to look below to check for hop (radial true).

Here's a trick for close aligning for wobble (LT 1mm). Place a light source behind and to the side of the stand, aimed at the rim as it passes the caliper. When you spin the wheel wobble will appear as changes in brightness of the light passing under the caliper making even tiny changes obvious.

Another thing you can do is to attach a dry marker to the caliper. Adjust so it just touches the rim leaving a mark on the high areas. That ensures that you know exactly where to work. Alcohol on a rag wipes the rim clean between passes.

BTW- here's a trick for w
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Old 03-31-14, 10:20 AM   #5
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Lighting ..
In the LB shop, they moved the benches around to where the daylight,

From the the windows backlit the truing stand, to see the gap easier

seems in pictures Iv seen of wheel building boiler rooms they were like a cubicle worker

Adjustable office chair & a desk.. doing it 40 hours a week ? Dial indicators are easier to see .

Last edited by fietsbob; 03-31-14 at 10:25 AM.
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Old 03-31-14, 10:57 AM   #6
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One more safety detail. Don't have your face inline with the spoke when you tighten it. I have never had one break, but if it does it could be a sharp projectile.
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Old 03-31-14, 11:15 AM   #7
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I normally sit in a hydraulic lift chair with my head about even with the top of the wheel. Not sure why you are squinting... Maybe you need to have an eye examination?
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Old 03-31-14, 12:13 PM   #8
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Thanks for all of the advice. I'm sure it doesn't normally take two hours to true a wheel. As I said, this was my first time truing a wheel, and I'm sure the process will speed up as I learn more and get more experience with it. I did notice that by the end, I was definitely becoming more comfortable with just listening for the scraping rather than trying to eyeball the gap. I guess some of this works itself out over time, as one moves past the stage of wanting to see what the wheel looks like all the time.

I am continually amused and enlightened by FBinNY's continuing series of "1001 Bike Shop Uses for a Dry Marker".

bike_forever - I don't think my eyes necessarily need an exam (though I do wear glasses), but one thing that can complicate this kind of thing is that I am right-handed but "left-eyed". In other words, the image from my left-eye is dominant. It is more typical for this to match handedness, though not enormously unusual to diverge, I think. But it makes it harder to line up a viewpoint down the right side of something. I first discovered this when trying archery.
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Old 03-31-14, 03:24 PM   #9
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I have my truing stand set up so that I stand in front of it with the calipers at somewhat above chest-height. This wasn't intentional at first -- when I first got it, the only available flat surface in my cramped basement was on top of an old coffee table stacked on another old table. But it's actually quite comfortable even for 1-2 hours, and I don't get neck cramps from being hunched over the calipers. A few years later, I began to see "standing desks" starting to show up in people's offices at my workplace (this is trend in ergonomics, sitting all day is bad for you), so I guess I'm not a complete nutjob on this topic.
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Old 04-01-14, 10:49 PM   #10
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1. Stool - no back support - height adjustable.
2. Good lighting with a solid consistent backdrop - preferably white.
3. A very fine edge as a dial indicator such as pieces of electrical tape - don't need the actual thing.
4. One eye - two eyes...I switch between the two.
5. I'll true side looking down the side, true vertical looking from left side, stress relief from rear - this constant alternation keeps me from getting stuck in one position.
6. Plus I have a computer off to one side for browsing, etc...

It's kinds like classic road drop bars - with multiple positions to alternate over time - keeps strain, numbness and pain away.

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Old 04-02-14, 03:06 PM   #11
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the kind of truing stand I have used had screw-in calipers, so I would gradually screw them in as the wheel got truer, turning them tiny amounts at a time (like 5deg) until they first scrape the turning wheel -- but don't even come close to stopping it. I would not bother to look, but just listen for the scrape -- I guess that's what others mean by 'by sound'?

I would judge my truing to be done when calipers on both sides can be screwed in sufficiently and tiny scraping occurs sporadically around the entire rim on both sides. If it is isolated/strong, then that's a localized runout that can be tuned out better.
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Old 04-03-14, 07:33 AM   #12
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I sit to lace and stand to true. While standing, I move around and relax. It should be a casual meditative activity and not stressful. Of course I don't do many wheels per day or do it day in and day out.
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