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Replacing all spokes (rebuilding wheel)?

Old 01-19-20, 11:05 AM
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ts99
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Replacing all spokes (rebuilding wheel)?

Got my 1977 Trek stripped down to paint the frame, clean everything, and put together. Was planning on getting a newer bike this spring to have something more reliable to ride. But am now leaning toward just doing all riding on the old one. The thing I'm most worried about is spokes. I broke a spoke last summer. I want to do all maintenance myself, but didn't have time to fix it before a planned big ride the coming weekend, so I had a bike shop do it. The shop told me if another one breaks, just get new wheels, it's not worth it to keep replacing them and there are 27" wheels out there. Then another one broke, but I looked at it and it had just popped out of the nipple thread. I replaced the nipple and it's been fine since. The one the shop replaced was on the rear wheel. Don't recall which the stripped nipple was on, but I suspect the rear since there's more stress there.

So my spokes are ticking time bombs. But I don't want to replace my cool hubs and rims. I like them. Part of what I'm doing is keeping all original components that are still at all usable. What if I just replaced all spokes?

I googled around and the consensus seems to be to get new wheels, but there are some who have rebuilt wheels. A shop would charge at least $100 a wheel it seems, although I may call and ask.

Anyone have experience? I'd replace one spoke at a time rather than unlace the whole thing. Yes, it would be very tedious. Worth it?

Or should I just ride the snot out of it and replace them as they break and hope that I've already replaced the risky ones by the time an important ride comes along?
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Old 01-19-20, 11:36 AM
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Bike shop is charging for spokes and charging for labor. For shops that build only a few wheels and/or have high overhead $100 is reasonable. Sure you can get it done for less. Yellow Jersey still builds for $25 and charges $30 for a wheel of butted spokes. In your case there would be shipping both ways. YJ can build a wheel in 20 minutes while taking care of other customers on phone. Most can't do that.

The spokes will keep breaking. A fresh and good build will ride much better, enough different you will notice. Only real question is should the original rims be saved. Originality is nice but how used or used up are they? Were they good rims in first place? Some 70s is wonderful, other is just old parts. New 700 rims would give far better tire choice if you care about that.
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Old 01-19-20, 11:50 AM
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If you got a truing stand, do it yourself. Measure your spokes , get new ones with nipples ,,do some research Online and do it.

Do one spoke at a time and you'll be fine.
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Old 01-19-20, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
Bike shop is charging for spokes and charging for labor. For shops that build only a few wheels and/or have high overhead $100 is reasonable. Sure you can get it done for less. Yellow Jersey still builds for $25 and charges $30 for a wheel of butted spokes. In your case there would be shipping both ways. YJ can build a wheel in 20 minutes while taking care of other customers on phone. Most can't do that.

The spokes will keep breaking. A fresh and good build will ride much better, enough different you will notice. Only real question is should the original rims be saved. Originality is nice but how used or used up are they? Were they good rims in first place? Some 70s is wonderful, other is just old parts. New 700 rims would give far better tire choice if you care about that.
Thanks. I'll look into Yellow Jersey.

The rims are good shape. I remember riding hours just about every day back then, but I think that was on my previous bike. I may have not actually put that many miles on this bike before I got my drivers license and a girlfriend and ... the bike fell down the priority list. Plus, they're Weinmann concave rims, which are quirky and different enough that I kinda want to keep them just because. Kinda the same with the hubs. They're Dura Ace high-flange hubs. I remember spending hours when I was 14 pondering over components and these are what I chose and it wouldn't quite be the same bike without them.
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Old 01-19-20, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Manny66 View Post
If you got a truing stand, do it yourself. Measure your spokes , get new ones with nipples ,,do some research Online and do it.

Do one spoke at a time and you'll be fine.
There's a truing stand in our shop at work (college engineering department) that I've borrowed. There's also a spoke tension meter or something. Does that help, or will it matter if I'm doing them one at a time? Took me a long time to true my wheels after resurrecting the bike last summer, so I'm thinking it will take really long to do all spokes, but maybe I'll get quicker at it as I go.
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Old 01-19-20, 12:44 PM
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Don't do the single spoke thing. It is annoying to lace/unlace single spokes. And, you'll put some good scratches in your rim.

Keep one wheel built as a pattern.

Read about lacing, and the valve hole.

How many spokes? 36? 32?

Expect the first wheel to be tedious and not perfect. But, with some patience, you'll do fine.
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Old 01-19-20, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Manny66 View Post
If you got a truing stand, do it yourself. Measure your spokes , get new ones with nipples ,,do some research Online and do it.

Do one spoke at a time and you'll be fine.
Yes, measure your spokes. But ... before you do anything, look at the nipples from the tire side. Do your existing spokes come all the way to the tops of the nipples. (Well, to the bottoms of the screwdriver slots, but, importantly, all the way through the fat part of the nipple head.)

IF your spokes are lulling out because they were too short and not engaging enough threads, you don't want to spend the money and time to have the same issue in the future.

Edit: Remember that the right rear wheel spokes are going to be shorter on a dished wheel. Measure those spokes also or simply deduct 2 mm from the spokes you are using the left rear.

Ben

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Old 01-19-20, 01:01 PM
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You will need a rudimentary truing stand. A spoke tension gage helps if you are new to this but it is not necessary.

Cut the old spokes out (preserve one from each side of the rear and one from the front to gage the size but cut the others out.

Lace the new spokes into the wheel.

Do everything uniformly and you will save yourself some headaches.
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Old 01-19-20, 01:09 PM
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Save a few old spokes to make things, especially if they're stainless.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/1149347...-tree-ornament
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Old 01-19-20, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by ts99 View Post
There's a truing stand in our shop at work (college engineering department) that I've borrowed. There's also a spoke tension meter or something. Does that help, or will it matter if I'm doing them one at a time? Took me a long time to true my wheels after resurrecting the bike last summer, so I'm thinking it will take really long to do all spokes, but maybe I'll get quicker at it as I go.
Tension meter is a great help for arriving at a good overall tension, tight enough to not have them loosen and the nipples unscrew in use or un-neccesarily fatigue the spokes at the J-bends. But a far faster way to even out individual spoke tensions to make a uniform wheel is to pluck them (or tap with the spoke wrench) and listen to the pitch. (Assuming you can hear pitch. Most of us can but not all.)

A trick in starting the wheel build. Adjust every spoke to exactly the same length first. I screw each nipple on exactly 4 turns With DT or Wheelsmith (or any other reputable brand) spokes fresh out of the box, this works really well. (Be aware the the two or 4 spokes around the butt opposite the valve hole may be much tighter since there is excess material inside the rim there often.) Next, true this still very loose wheel for roundness. Get side to side close. Even the spoke tensions by sound as best you can. Do all of this several times until you hae a good, super loose wheel, round. even, and true in that order of importance. Now tighten every spoke exactly two turns and repeat. As you get tighter, use the tension meter once per sequence to close into the tension you want. For rear wheels, put in too much dish early and pull the rim out to the proper dish with your final truing.

All of us have slightly different routines. This is not an exact science. More like basket weaving. And a good wheel is a lot like a good basket. Satisfying to make, to use and holds up really well.

Ben
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Old 01-19-20, 01:16 PM
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https://www.sheldonbrown.com/wheelbuild.html

All you need to know. Sheldon's still teaching after all these years.

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Old 01-19-20, 01:20 PM
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One thing about nipples pulling out.

There are a couple of spoke sizes. Typically 1.8mm or 2.0mm. Sometimes straight, single, or double butted.

A larger nipple may seem to screw onto a smaller spoke, but won't hold securely.

If you get too big of a mess, just tear down and replace all the spokes with quality 2.0/1.8/2.0 double butted spokes and all new nipples.



I suppose also verify that your spoke isn't really really short.

At minimum, the spoke should reach the bottom of the nipple slot, and preferably will be flush with the top of the slot.
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Old 01-19-20, 01:21 PM
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A stand might make things easier, but you can also use your upside-down bike frame to build wheels. I've done this a dozen times. Works great. Sheldon's wheel building page can tell you all about it. He'll also show you how easy it is. Trying to follow some cooking recipes in the kitchen are far more difficult...

I'd fully disassemble the wheels so you can clean and polish them, measure the hubs, lookup the rim ERD online, and order Sapim Race spokes from danscomp.com.
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Old 01-19-20, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by SurferRosa View Post
I'd fully disassemble the wheels so you can clean and polish them, measure the hubs, lookup the rim ERD online, and order Sapim Race spokes from danscomp.com.
Measure the ERD by measuring your nipples. Then pulling 2 opposite spokes together, and measuring between the nipples. Add the nipple length.

Buy a digital calliper from Harbor Freight and measure the hub the best you can.

Get within a half mm or so, and you'll be fine.

Assuming you're replacing spokes, if the old ones are the right length (flush with end of nipple), then you can simply measure the old spokes, and buy new.

Keep in mind, the right/left spokes on the rear are generally different lengths.
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Old 01-19-20, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Measure the ERD by measuring your nipples. Then pulling 2 opposite spokes together, and measuring between the nipples. Add the nipple length.
I prefer to rely on published ERD. It's always been readily available for the rims I've used.

And I've always been able to measure my hubs with a simple metric ruler.

Hub measurement
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Old 01-19-20, 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by ts99 View Post
Got my 1977 Trek stripped down to paint the frame, clean everything, and put together. Was planning on getting a newer bike this spring to have something more reliable to ride. But am now leaning toward just doing all riding on the old one. The thing I'm most worried about is spokes. I broke a spoke last summer. I want to do all maintenance myself, but didn't have time to fix it before a planned big ride the coming weekend, so I had a bike shop do it. The shop told me if another one breaks, just get new wheels, it's not worth it to keep replacing them and there are 27" wheels out there. Then another one broke, but I looked at it and it had just popped out of the nipple thread. I replaced the nipple and it's been fine since. The one the shop replaced was on the rear wheel. Don't recall which the stripped nipple was on, but I suspect the rear since there's more stress there.

So my spokes are ticking time bombs. But I don't want to replace my cool hubs and rims. I like them. Part of what I'm doing is keeping all original components that are still at all usable. What if I just replaced all spokes?

I googled around and the consensus seems to be to get new wheels, but there are some who have rebuilt wheels. A shop would charge at least $100 a wheel it seems, although I may call and ask.

Anyone have experience? I'd replace one spoke at a time rather than unlace the whole thing. Yes, it would be very tedious. Worth it?

Or should I just ride the snot out of it and replace them as they break and hope that I've already replaced the risky ones by the time an important ride comes along?
I've done this and used the technique you mentioned. A few tips.
1. I took 1 of each spoke I wanted replaced to the shop for accurate measurement. Straight guage 2.0 should be about $.75 - $1.00 each. As has been mentioned, the rear wheel is different lengths on each side.
2. Get new brass nipples. I use brass rather than aluminum. I used anti-sieze on the spokes and a drop of oil on the outside of the nipple.
3. It takes a lot more tension than you think. First time I did not have enough and the wheel went out of true. Once I tensioned them well all has been good.

Good luck!
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Old 01-19-20, 02:58 PM
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This is worth so much more than 12 bucks.
https://www.wheelpro.co.uk/wheelbuilding/book.php

Since you can borrow a Turing stand and tensionometer, for for a rebuild with all new DT Comp spokes and brass nipples. Measure your rims and hubs like Roger suggests. I just built a wheelset using one of the spoke calculator sites that had my hubs listed and the hub diameter was dyslexitized to 54 instead of 45 and my first attempt on the rear wheel had the spokes too short. Measure twice.
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Old 01-19-20, 03:20 PM
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Wow. So much information. Thanks y'all!

I'm strongly tempted to do it myself. I can borrow any type of calipers or measuring device from our shop, so I can measure stuff accurately.

Haven't even started on the paint, so maybe I should do that first.

There's an early 80s Trek in my size for sale for $200 locally. Tempted to get that to have a backup bike if I don't get mine done by the time the weather gets rideable or have backup wheels if I'm still working on those.
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Old 01-19-20, 04:07 PM
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Question:

I'll look at those sites and probably buy that book, so maybe the answer is in there, but are there extra sturdy spokes or lacing patterns or tensions? I'm a very big guy and when I'm out of the saddle and wagging back and forth, that's a lot of force.
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Old 01-19-20, 04:28 PM
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A few points.

First, once a wheel has broken 2 or 3 spokes, it's usually a good indicator that it's at the end of it's life.

In a way the bike shop is right, time for new wheels. However they are living in the 21st century replace the whole 'wheelset' world. The correct thing is to simply relace the hubs. You don't throw out dura ace hubs because you broke some spokes...

I'm going to disagree with most of the people on this forum with this, but, generally it's a bad idea to reuse an old rim. In this case, since the spokes are definitely toast, I recommend that you take the rim once the spokes have been cut, and lay it on a flat surface to check the true. If it's pretty much dead flat, and there are no signs of cracking or fatigue around the spoke holes, you can probably reuse. Also try to check the roundness as best you can before cutting off the spokes.

That said I generally will always recommend a new rim and new spokes if rebuilding a wheel. This was the rule during the C&V days and IMHO it still applies today. Rims are essentially consumables.

Don't forget to remove the freewheel before cutting spokes.
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Old 01-19-20, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by ts99 View Post
Thanks. I'll look into Yellow Jersey.

The rims are good shape. I remember riding hours just about every day back then, but I think that was on my previous bike. I may have not actually put that many miles on this bike before I got my drivers license and a girlfriend and ... the bike fell down the priority list. Plus, they're Weinmann concave rims, which are quirky and different enough that I kinda want to keep them just because. Kinda the same with the hubs. They're Dura Ace high-flange hubs. I remember spending hours when I was 14 pondering over components and these are what I chose and it wouldn't quite be the same bike without them.
Weinmann rims still have fans and most here will disagree with what I am about to say. I had a pair back in the day and never much liked them. They felt slow and dead and collected dirt. Recently another set came through the door with a 1977 date stamp. The welds were plain rough and had been crudely filed. Filed at factory before anodise. The weld was not straight. Huge flat spot plus side to side brake grab. No possibility of getting the rim true and very uneven tension to get them half-true. Both rims were that way. Those rims were not re-used by me. A friend wanted them, really wanted them. When he built them up he had to admit they were as bad as he'd been told. Those were pure creampuff rims, no visible sign a brake pad had been nearby. If you want originality keep them. If you want rims that ride well look elsewhere.

When spoke tension is uneven some spokes work harder than others. Or some spokes work not at all while others are overstressed. The chances of getting even spoke tension without a meter are vanishingly small. Not impossible and I have had demonstrations that proved it. But the guys who can do the trick have built thousands of wheels and started out as naturals. Most who claim they can get even tension with subjective methods are dreaming. Getting even tension on an old rim with built-in defects is entirely not possible. Some old rims are better than others. IMO if you get Weinmann concaves that will build well that is pure dumb luck.
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Old 01-19-20, 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by ts99 View Post
are there extra sturdy spokes or lacing patterns or tensions? I'm a very big guy and when I'm out of the saddle and wagging back and forth, that's a lot of force.
I'd strongly recommend that you shell out the extra cash for double butted spokes. They will make a wheel that holds up much better than straight gauge. 14/15/14 is fine. It's what I use.

3x symmetrical is fine. I sometimes prefer 4x for the back wheel. It'll hold up a little better IME. (and please no one quote Jobst at me)

Really the primary thing is the rim itself.
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Old 01-19-20, 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
A few points.

First, once a wheel has broken 2 or 3 spokes, it's usually a good indicator that it's at the end of it's life.

In a way the bike shop is right, time for new wheels. However they are living in the 21st century replace the whole 'wheelset' world. The correct thing is to simply relace the hubs. You don't throw out dura ace hubs because you broke some spokes...

I'm going to disagree with most of the people on this forum with this, but, generally it's a bad idea to reuse an old rim. In this case, since the spokes are definitely toast, I recommend that you take the rim once the spokes have been cut, and lay it on a flat surface to check the true. If it's pretty much dead flat, and there are no signs of cracking or fatigue around the spoke holes, you can probably reuse. Also try to check the roundness as best you can before cutting off the spokes.

That said I generally will always recommend a new rim and new spokes if rebuilding a wheel. This was the rule during the C&V days and IMHO it still applies today. Rims are essentially consumables.

Don't forget to remove the freewheel before cutting spokes.
100%, rims are consumables and reusing 40 year old rims when the spokes are also going is not the best practice. The rim is just waiting to start cracking.
Originally Posted by ts99 View Post
Question:

I'll look at those sites and probably buy that book, so maybe the answer is in there, but are there extra sturdy spokes or lacing patterns or tensions? I'm a very big guy and when I'm out of the saddle and wagging back and forth, that's a lot of force.
Yes, but don't go nuts with special spokes or builds. Ebay is your friend here, spend time watching for a NOS set of rims that will keep the character of the bike. I also buy my spokes there since I can get a pack of wheelsmith butted spokes for 30.00 in the exact size I need. You'll find for the hubs you have that dish isn't that much of an issue, once you have rims measure them and plug the numbers into an online spoke calculator. Buy 2 packs of wheelsmigh butted DB14 which are still one of the best general use spokes out there, might have to buy nipples separately. Duplicate the spoke pattern you have, its more then strong enough. Upside is that it will also guide you in how to exactly lace the hub and make it easier to build the wheel.
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Old 01-19-20, 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Don't do the single spoke thing. It is annoying to lace/unlace single spokes. And, you'll put some good scratches in your rim.

Keep one wheel built as a pattern.

Read about lacing, and the valve hole.

How many spokes? 36? 32?

Expect the first wheel to be tedious and not perfect. But, with some patience, you'll do fine.

Its His first wheel build , gotta crawl before you can run. Besides , its good experience .
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Old 01-19-20, 07:59 PM
  #25  
Bad Lag
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Originally Posted by dedhed View Post
Save a few old spokes to make things, especially if they're stainless.
I cut mine at the nipple to maximize residual length. They make fantastic tie down stakes for drip irrigation lines. They will be rust-free and last forever - reuse and reusable.

Fold them in half and push the two "legs" into ground, trapping the hose at the top of the "U" shape.

Honestly, you can cut them in half and use a "J" shape instead of a full "U" for most drip hoses.
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