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Old 11-04-00, 03:39 AM   #1
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Wheel building

Does anyone know of an easier way to build wheels than this?

I've been building wheels for 20 years, and have had tips and instruction from some of the best in the business, including a former 7-11 team mechanic. The site mentioned in the "How to replace a spoke" forum has a confusing (with unnessary steps),(to me), technique with for wheelbuilding . Jobst Brandt's book had easier technique than that and his isn't the easiest.
It's far easier to put the all of the spokes that come out of the inside of the hub and whose heads seat on the outside on both flanges before trying to lace the other spokes into them, there's nothing in the way to lace around.
When you rebuild a wheel, take care to seat the spokes the same way as was done originally or you will negate the warranty, most quality built wheels have a "mirror image pattern" where the driving spokes will come out of the outside of the hub and point the same direction and the following spokes out of the inside or vice-versa. Some buliders prefer to mount the "drivers" on the inside to prevent damage from chains when overshifting occurs. Each spoke will wear a groove into the hub on the side it "comes out". If yours is different than adjust accordingly or e-mail me for help.
I build my wheels with the driving spokes, those that take the torque from your power to the chain etc., on the outside of the hub, I've found the "trueness" lasts longer this way, almost every good wheel bulider I've met does the same. (The spokes for the drive side will normally be about 1 to 2 mm. shorter than the other, non-drive (left side) as the rim is offset in regard to the hub flanges. I also normally use a "three-cross pattern" on bike wheels, four cross on pedi-Cab wheels.
On a "fresh" unbuilt hub:
Start with the "drive" or freewheel/cogset side up
1.)Drop a spoke from the top outside into the center on any hole, on a mavic rim this will match the spoke hole directly to the right,(anti-clockwise from the valve hole),and on most others. Hang this first spoke as straight down as possible and it will bisect the holes on the left/lower flange( where the holes are), the hole to the right, anti-clockwise, gets the next spoke
2.Put a spoke into that hole from the bottom into the center, the hole on the rim to right of the first matches this spoke. Both holes should be offset in the direction of the flange for each spoke.If you want your driving spokes on the inside of the flanges insert the first 2 spokes to the left (clockwise) of the valve hole, in this case the top spoke will go one hole away from the valve hole and the bottom/second spoke will go into the hole next to the valve hole, and twist clockwise in step 7)
3.) Insert the first two spokes into the rim next to the valve hole the first spoke should be in the hole next to the valve hole, the second spoke one hole to the right Attach nipples to these 2 spokes about 3 or 4 turns, just enough to hold 'em.
4.) drop in rest of spokes on right side of hub leaving an empty hole between each one.
5.) insert spoke next to first on flange into spoke hole on rim 4 holes from first, be sure it's in the hole offset upwards. Next spoke 4 spaces from last and so on...
6.) turn wheel over and repeat steps 5 and 6 on left side.
7.) drop remaining drive side spoke from center of hub into flange spoke holes so the spokes are hanging outside of the hub
7.) turn wheel over again so drive side is up, the loose spokes should be laying on top, and twist the hub anti-clockwise , so the starting spoke next to the valve hole is pointing away from it.
8.) from the "start" spoke next to the valve hole, take a loose spoke 3 spokes the left and cross it over 2 spokes and lace it underneath the start spoke and into the hole 2 holes away to the right ( the next open hole)
9.) lace the next loose spoke in like manner and work around the rim.
10.)drop the rest of the spokes in and repeat 8 and 9
11.) tighten all spokes until the threads are covered
12.) gradually tighten spokes on one side and then the other
1 or 2 turns, 1/2turn etc until a fair amount of slack is gone
13.) I prefer to true for side to side, then for roundness
14.) if you don't have a dishing tool to center the rim between the dropouts/axle ends, you can "eyeball-it" quite accuratly. Spin the wheel and look at it "edge on" the front side of the rim will be seen "double", the back "single". Center the back side between the front "sides" and close one eye then the other the resulting single images should be equidistant from the dropout/axle ends, if not adjust accordingly by tightenin and/or loosening one side or the other. I've seen guys get a perfect dish adjustment this way.
15.) When you have the wheel nice and round and true and tight, with just a little "give" on the drive side, don't forget to pre-stress the spokes by going around the wheel squeezing alternate pairs of spokes, to release the tension so they'll seat properly, usually they'll need to be re-trued after. It's a good idea to put the wheel on the floor ( parallel to it) and push down, somewhat gently, several times working around the rim, with hand on either side, turn it over and repeat, then re-true if needed. You'll probablt ned to retention after the first couple of rides as the spokes "stretch".

If you treat/coat the spoke threads with some type of "spoke prep", your wheels will stay much truer than if you put them togehter "dry". Both Wheelsmith and DT Spoke makers have their own products available. A softer setting "Locktite" solution will work, don't use a hard set or you won't be able to adjust your spokes, and there's the traditional linseed oil, found in any hardware store.

Pat Stowe

[Edited by pat5319 on 11-24-2000 at 07:30 AM]
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Old 07-17-05, 06:26 AM   #2
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great job!!
excellent info!
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Old 07-17-05, 10:14 AM   #3
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Nice writeup, Pat, our "spokesperson" from "Spoke-ane." At least in the 1960s and 1970s, presumably to facilitate fast assembly, most factory-built mass-produced wheels were laced with an antisymmetric pattern (clockwise spokes on the inside of one flange and the outside of the other), rather than the symmetrical system you (and I) advocate. Having been burned once when I changed from "torque spokes heads in" to "torque spokes heads out," I do strongly concur that a used hub should always be relaced with the same pattern. I also dislike today's trend toward front radial spoking, which puts too much stress on the hub flange. (Left-side radials on the rear are probably more defensible, and, as Sheldon notes, do date back to the Model T's dished wire wheels.)

The choice between "heads out" and "heads in" for the torque spokes is a bit controversial, although I doubt it really matters in practice. Heads out provides a shorter, more direct pull, with the force well lined up along the shaft of the spoke. In theory, this implies less spoke stress for a given amount of drive torque applied at the cogset. However, heads in probably makes for less wiggling or movement at the hub flange, which is, of course, the most common spoke failure point.

The best advice I can give anyone building a wheel is to be patient and to build the spoke tension evenly and gradually. Get the rim true and properly dished while the spokes are still a bit loose, then work your way around the wheel, 1/4 turn at a time, correcting high spots and lateral abberations as you go.
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Old 07-17-05, 11:09 AM   #4
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The way I learned from Bicycling Magazine's Manual( a good read btw) was this:

1. All wheels can be broken up into 4 even groups of spokes.(24,28,32,36) Do so.
2. With the hub vertical, drop group 1 into the top flange, every other hole. Starting with the valve hole on the hoop, fasten them in by a few turns, skipping 3 holes. Should still match. Flip the wheel over.
3. Take group 2 spokes and repeat step 2 but on the opposite side. The flange holes are offset from eachother, so pick the hole clockwise from the other group. Connect it to the next clockwise hole on the rim. Now take the hub and rotate it in realation to the rim (I usually do clockwise.)
4. Take spoke group 3 and insert it from the inside of the hub flange outward through the holes remaining on the top flange. This is where it gets critical. For the 3-cross(standard) pattern, take the spoke over the first one(which is hardly a cross, just a head) then over one and under the other, ending up in the hole. This part is easiest with a representative wheel on hand. Rule of thumb is all spokes must be every other side on the rim. If not, check why.
5. Group 4 should be identical in application. All spokes should readily tighten up to 3 threads exposed with little effort. If there is an imbalance, ask why.
6. Truing. It is not hard if you take it slowly. If you pull all spokes at 1/4 turn at a time, it will end up straight for the most part.
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