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Haloween Horror Story - Tale of the Cursed Wheel

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Haloween Horror Story - Tale of the Cursed Wheel

Old 10-23-22, 05:58 PM
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USAZorro
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Haloween Horror Story - Tale of the Cursed Wheel

I typically have great success with tires and tubes holding up. With the exception of the wheel in question, I am hard pressed to think of any other experiences with flats for a good bit over 5 years... this discounting the mile zero blowout after overinflating my Clunker entrant that was rolling on 15 year old tires and a 50 year old tube on equally old non-hooked rims.

No. This was on hapless old Gimpy, the 1971 Raleigh Super Course conscripted to duty as a repainted (it came to me recognizable, but even more obviously having an affinity to oxidation) steed that St. Sheldon (I say this with reverence) inspired me to build up taking his famous 72-speed a step farther. I was not looking to build a racehorse here, but rather as an exercise in gearing math to give as many usable, distinct gearing combinations within a rideable range as possible. My gearing chart tells me there are 77 distinct combinations, the extremities of which I utilized this very day.

This gleaming silver-grey steed was built using some NOS 700c Rigida rims - 36 hole, drilled for Schraeder. I built them myself without incident, using a Sturmey Archer RSC-3 as the rear. I bought this new, as I did the spokes, and then, I mounted some very nice-riding 38mm Panaracer Pasela Pro Tite tires.

While this created three minor annoyances (you have to mount the wheels with the tires very underinflated, the rear axle is secured by standard nuts, rather than quick releases, and the 3-speed indicator needs to be checked after mounting), nothing seemed to be a red flag.

As appealing as this bicycle is for general riding, I have put unconscienably few miles on it due to the evident curse that lies upon it. There have been four flats in the course of three tides on this accursed wheel. The history follows.

Ride one: This was a horrible way to provide this bicycle with its inaugural ride, but my wife's daughter, and her husband had come to visit us, and as my wife does, she encouraged a group bicycle ride. Now Gimpy is a 21-1/2" frame, and SSIL is about 6' 4" and 260. Yes, it's too small for him, but hell will freeze over before I let an inexperienced rider on the largest bike in the fleet - Shadowfax, the 1970 Mk I Professional that has tubulars and Campagnolo Look-style pedals which are a pearlescent white color that I had the bicycle custom painted to match - so, he gets what's least likely to give him bruises on his knees when he pedals - which is Gimpy. This greenway starts off with a screaming downhill. I am bringing up the rear of the group, because I used to look out for strays on group rides. Anyways, as he nears the bottom of the descent, I hear profuse swearing. He has flatted. I figure, very large person on a bike, wheel possibly slipped or a pinch flat, or he ran over something... these things can happen. Fortunately, I ride prepared, and was able to get it changed and aired up - at which point, my wife, who may be the only person on earth who despises riding uphill more than I do volunteers to walk the bike back and wait for us at the car.

Ride two: Several months have passed since ride one. Tire on cursed wheel seems to be holding air just fine when I test it a few days in advance of anticipated ride. I'm going to a different greenway this time - relatively flat where I'm going. Things go great for about 5 miles and then poof - something happens and it quickly flats. I change it and then discover that the Schraeder side of my pump doesn't work. No biggie, there's a "tool station" about 300 yards back, so I go to fill it up with that. Find that pump probably hasn't worked for a few years, but fortunately, there's a guy sitting under a big canopy nearby who has a pump and is kind enough to let me use it. I manage to make it back to the car, but when I take the bike out of the car... the cursed wheel has a flat tire.

A couple weeks ago, I decide, I'm done screwing around. I will leave NOTHING to chance. I order a pair of new tubes (which came with rim strips and a pair of the best tire levers I've ever used), and I pull the old one off. I inflate it and put it in the bucket of water and find a small puncture where it would contact the tire (ie not a pinch flat). Regardless, I pull the tire, give it a thorough going-over and find nothing. Do the same around the rim - just because. I am going to end this nonsense once and for all. I mount the new tube and air it up. I give it a few days and it shows no signs of any issues. I am confident, "Problem solved"

Ride three (today): All is prepped. I air up tires to proper inflation just before I place the bike in the SUV. I go to the far end of the greenway because there's a considerably steep hill to climb and I want to test gearing. It goes pretty well, but I haven't been riding like I want to and I get winded and have to walk the bike about 250 yards while my heartrate and breathing return to acceptable. I ride up the last bit, then over the top, down and onto the connection with the "usual" stretch of greenway. It's going well and I'm testing gearing combinations like crazy trying to find what feels best. I actually hit a stretch where I'm in the max gear, then I have to adjust gears to easier for a gentle uphill with some small upheavals in the pavement. I've had a smile on my face the entire time since I made it over that hill and have gotten a bunch of nods and acknowledgements from joggers and cyclists, and just after a female jogger (with really nice legs) passed me with a smile and wave, it happens.




Now I have packed tools and I have a good frame pump and an fresh new tube, but I decide,about 6 miles from where I started, that I am NOT going to have two flats on the same ride again. So I walk the bike back down the trail. I may or may not have cursed a time or two, but I have daylight and a plan. I have a lot of folks pass me. One of them asks if I need help. I give him the 15 second version of "the history of the curse", and he says he doesn't blame me. A mile and a half down the trail there's a Domino's. I politely ask the lady inside if I can leave the bike inside while I walk the remaining 3.5 miles or so back to my car. She agrees to keep it in back, and I get a pretty good workout making it back to the car and then back to Domino's in about 75 minutes - receiving advice from a shoeless teen-ager to never lose a shoe in the creek that he had just come out of along the way.

Gimpy remains in the back of the SUV while I contemplate what might have brought this curse upon me. At some point this week, I intend to perform an autopsy on this tube, but at this point, I may still pose a danger to myself.
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Old 10-23-22, 08:46 PM
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I don't have any advice, but I can tell you I go through streaks like that. Even aside from goathead season (goatheads are a kind of thorn here in the SW US that I don't recall encountering in the east).
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Old 10-23-22, 09:13 PM
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Check the inside of the rim; run a cloth over it if need be to find anything that might snag. Sand out any such imperfections.

Re-check your rim strip. Is it holding in place or will it shift if coaxed to the left or right? Does it sit edge-to-edge or is there a gap between the sidewall and the tape where the tube just might get pinched? The side of Velox tape can be sharper than one thinks if it sits at just the right angle against a tube that's folded a bit on itself.

If all else fails, coat the inside of the tire and the entire tube in talcum powder when mounting. Could be that the tube is binding up when being installed leading to some sort of pinch.

-Kurt
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Old 10-24-22, 05:44 AM
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Once you pull the latest tube off and test it, is the new hole in the approximate same spot as the hole in the first tube? If so, I ran across this situation that might give you an answer. I flatted on a ride, went through the motions of running a finger around the rim and inside of the tire for snag, and finding nothing remounted the spare tube. A few miles down the road, flatted again. Being out of tubes, I had to call for a ride. The post-mortem autopsy at first didn't produce a reason for the flats. Stumped, I completely inverted the tire inside out and started checking the inside lining of the tire and found the slightest bit of steel belted wiring from a car tire sticking up. When the tire was in its original orientation, I figured the wire was completely imbedded inside the bike tire and only when the contact of the road lined up with the wire just right did the wire get forced out of the tread and into the tube.

I haven't had a problem with the wheel, tire, tube since then (knock on wood!). You mentioned that these rides were on a "greenway", so the lack of car traffic / trash on the greenway might not support this theory.
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Old 10-24-22, 06:04 AM
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Originally Posted by albrt View Post
I don't have any advice, but I can tell you I go through streaks like that. Even aside from goathead season (goatheads are a kind of thorn here in the SW US that I don't recall encountering in the east).
The last experience I had with flats occurring in bunches was on a long-ago vacation with ill-fated rides in Pagosa Springs and Sedona. At least goatheads leave no mystery as to what happened.

One of several reasons why I live in Virginia and not the Southwest.
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Old 10-24-22, 06:21 AM
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USAZorro - I can emphasize. When I commuted on from Alexandria to downtown DC on the Pinarello, I had 7 flats in three weeks. One time I gave up trying to fix with patches and pumped the tire up every couple of miles just to get to work on time. Did the inverted tire thing along with careful inspection with a loop at home.
Went to the extreme and ordered


Bought the wrong ones just to be in the spirit of the whole experience and ordered the yellow ones. Installed them and no more flats.


This is a story for I hate flat tires... - Page 11 - Bike Forums
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Old 10-24-22, 07:44 AM
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I'm going to guess something tiny embedded in the tire. I have a Grand Bois Hectre the same way. Even zero-ing in on where the flats keep happening, I can not find the wire/thorn/glass that keeps doing it.
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Old 10-24-22, 08:32 AM
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I hate flat tires...
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Old 10-24-22, 09:07 AM
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My rule is always find out what caused the flat. Previous posters have already shared best practices on how and also how it can still be a stumper.

I also had a super course with a wheel that gave me multiple flats over several months. Despite isolating the location on the tubes and looking forever at that location on both the tire and rim I FINALLY SAW a weld blemish or roughness on the inside side of the rim weld. Eureka. I tried smoothing it but my final solution was to cover it (like a tire boot) with something like gorilla tape.

No more flats!!!
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Old 10-24-22, 11:55 AM
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I once had a Bontrager H3 puncture several tubes with a wire from the bead before I figured out what was going on. If you don't find the cause, maybe switch the front/rear tires and see if the curse follows the tire or the rim?
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Old 10-24-22, 05:48 PM
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Anyway my guess is it’s in the tire fwiw.

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Old 10-25-22, 03:35 AM
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I have had “runs” of flat tires. This year has been the worst in my fifty years of riding . It seemed as though someone was planting goat head thorns on my route! My lunch rides and my weekend rides were both plagued with these nasty things . I am now four or five rides without incident but afraid to get too confident. We just had our first Santa Ana wind which is known for blowing a whole new batch of thorns onto the roadways. I have had years where I can’t remember fixing a flat , this year has made up for those years….many times over.
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Old 10-25-22, 06:44 AM
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My vitals have returned to normal and I can look at the wheel without feeling anger. I expect to lay the wheel on the big slab at some point today. Report to follow.
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Old 10-25-22, 08:30 PM
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The post-mortem has been completed. This one was a variety of "pinch flat". After ascertaining this, I removed the tire and rim strip as well and narrowed in on the nipples and rim strip.

I had built the wheel myself (because it's a breeze to locate a 700c wheel built with a Sturmey Archer RS-CF3 hub), and unlike any other builds I've done, I used washers under the nipples. The thing is, as it's a single-walled rim, they not only distribute the forces of spoke tension and compression, but they also serve to elevate the spoke heads about an additional mm. Also, an apparent culprit was the cheap, narrow Origin8 rim strip - which provides approximately zero cushion and very minimal rigidity in smoothing the "bump" over the spoke heads.

After thoroughly cleaning the tires (them being folders helped), I put an old, rubber, 1/2" rim strip on, then the 1/2" origin8 over it, and a new 5/8" cushiony rim strip over them - giving me three layers of protection. I then remounted the tube and tire, inflated, and made certain the tire beads are seated. It's going to sit for a day or two before I re-mount the wheel and give it a test ride, but I am pretty sure I found the persistent part of the problem, and I HOPE my remedy works - as I certainly would rather not have to re-do the entire wheel.

Now - who can recommend a good patch kit and give some pointers on patching? I have two otherwise very lightly used tubes that I need to put back into the rotation.
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Old 10-25-22, 09:21 PM
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Originally Posted by USAZorro View Post
The post-mortem has been completed. This one was a variety of "pinch flat". After ascertaining this, I removed the tire and rim strip as well and narrowed in on the nipples and rim strip.

I had built the wheel myself (because it's a breeze to locate a 700c wheel built with a Sturmey Archer RS-CF3 hub), and unlike any other builds I've done, I used washers under the nipples. The thing is, as it's a single-walled rim, they not only distribute the forces of spoke tension and compression, but they also serve to elevate the spoke heads about an additional mm. Also, an apparent culprit was the cheap, narrow Origin8 rim strip - which provides approximately zero cushion and very minimal rigidity in smoothing the "bump" over the spoke heads.

After thoroughly cleaning the tires (them being folders helped), I put an old, rubber, 1/2" rim strip on, then the 1/2" origin8 over it, and a new 5/8" cushiony rim strip over them - giving me three layers of protection. I then remounted the tube and tire, inflated, and made certain the tire beads are seated. It's going to sit for a day or two before I re-mount the wheel and give it a test ride, but I am pretty sure I found the persistent part of the problem, and I HOPE my remedy works - as I certainly would rather not have to re-do the entire wheel.

Now - who can recommend a good patch kit and give some pointers on patching? I have two otherwise very lightly used tubes that I need to put back into the rotation.
lol rema and only rema,

sand around the hole and beyond,

put the glue on, wait......no not yet wait some more......

is it dry....nope wait some more....

now put the patch on....remember to wait some more before pulling the clear patch backing off

then look at the other wheel and make sure it is not flat
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Old 10-26-22, 06:48 AM
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Originally Posted by USAZorro View Post
After thoroughly cleaning the tires (them being folders helped), I put an old, rubber, 1/2" rim strip on, then the 1/2" origin8 over it, and a new 5/8" cushiony rim strip over them - giving me three layers of protection. I then remounted the tube and tire, inflated, and made certain the tire beads are seated. It's going to sit for a day or two before I re-mount the wheel and give it a test ride, but I am pretty sure I found the persistent part of the problem, and I HOPE my remedy works - as I certainly would rather not have to re-do the entire wheel.
Next time you're in there, measure the valley that the spoke nipple heads sit in and order a properly-sized Velox cloth rim strip for it. It'll solve the problem with a single thick strip.

-Kurt
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Old 10-26-22, 07:24 AM
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I just finished cleaning up a set of Super Champion rims and noticed that two of the drive side spokes on the rear wheel protruded into the tube path! I wonder how long it had been ridden this way. The bike it came on was kind of a mess and the rear tire was flat. The rim strip was decomposed rubber. I ground down a few of the spoke ends with a Dremel tool. I think the wheel builder should have caught that but ya never know.
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Old 10-26-22, 07:25 AM
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
Next time you're in there, measure the valley that the spoke nipple heads sit in and order a properly-sized Velox cloth rim strip for it. It'll solve the problem with a single thick strip.

-Kurt
I hear what you're saying. I have an assortment of rim strips from derelict wheels sitting around (none of them Velox) - as well as the quite nice strips that I received along with the tubes and the awesome tire levers. I feel quite good about the result, but the ultimate proof lies 6 miles down the greenway trail.
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Old 10-26-22, 07:29 AM
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Originally Posted by squirtdad View Post
lol rema and only rema,

sand around the hole and beyond,

put the glue on, wait......no not yet wait some more......

is it dry....nope wait some more....

now put the patch on....remember to wait some more before pulling the clear patch backing off

then look at the other wheel and make sure it is not flat
Ordered. Thank you.
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Old 11-08-22, 05:26 PM
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Epilogue (Part I)

Where I currently work, Election Day is not a work day. It was also a sunny, seasonable day, and I was confident that I had my problem addressed. I got my new, Remy patch kit and patched up a couple tubes last night in anticipation.

After voting, I persuaded my wife that I needed to go for a ride, so off I went after bumping the PSI in both tires a bit, and rode the "usual" route on the greenway. I made it 6.6 miles to the turnaround, and decided I'd pop into a bike shop on the route on the way back. I had a phone appointment to keep at 1:00 and I pulled off into the grass to check the time. I had 12 minutes... cool. Figured a stop spot that I thought I could make in 10 minutes, and remounted the bike and... front flat.

I really should have seen this one coming and taken care of it, but I figured that if it hadn't happened yet, it wasn't going to. Anyway, I had a spare tube and had put a rim strip in the bag too, so about two minutes before 1:00, I had it all changed. My Zefal frame pump wasn't getting quite the pressure I was hoping for, but after my short call, I made it back without further incident. (as I was in a bit of a rush, I neglected to take a picture... sorry.)

I will have to hit that shop another day... or just not be lazy and research whether there's a chain that would work with an 11-speed cassette AND 5-7 speed era chainrings.
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Old 11-08-22, 07:16 PM
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I shouldn't have opened this thread. It's catching.

Wound up with one of these myself a few days ago with the 1980 Sports. Tube clearly dead at the valve, replaced, powdered the tube and soaped the hell out of the bead seat it to make the Michelin World Tour tire actually seat on the aluminum EA3 rim.

Three hours later, I'm a couple of rooms away and hear an unmistakable "PSHHHFFFFFTTT..." sound. Pull the wheel, undo the tire, and find a perfect single puncture oriented straight down, oriented between two of the spoke nipple heads, made evident by the clear witness marks made by the powder. There wasn't anything, anywhere that could have caused that area to puncture on the perfectly-fitted Zefal tape, nor was there anything rolling around in the rim or tire.

Debated about it for a few days and decided to throw a Tip-Top patch on it to see what would happen. Soaped it up, got it seated at 72psi (If you came from Google: Don't do this on a straight-sided Raleigh rim; I'm working with a hooked-bead aluminum rim), and so far, no issues...

...YET.

-Kurt
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