Wheel building!

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Postby artemidorus » Fri Nov 21, 2008 4:11 pm

ajh_ausnzcf wrote:
Hotdog wrote:Well, according to this, mine should somewhere between the A sharp and the B above middle C. Not having a musical instrument or guitar tuner handy I'm going have to just use the spoke tensiometer instead though... ;)


That's the way, once you have one at the right tension you use it's pitch as a guide to tensioning the others.

Or perhaps I failed to note that this post was tongue in cheek?
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by BNA » Fri Nov 21, 2008 4:13 pm

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Postby ajh_ausnzcf » Fri Nov 21, 2008 4:13 pm

artemidorus wrote:
ajh_ausnzcf wrote:
artemidorus wrote:
ajh_ausnzcf wrote:That's the way, once you have one at the right tension you use it's pitch as a guide to tensioning the others.

This won't work, because you will alter the tension in your "reference" spoke as you tighten up the others. And how will you know that it is right to start with?
There's no substitute for a tensiometer.


You USE the tension meter, you don't tension a spoke once to set it, you have to work the spokes to the correct tension many times to achieve the desired result. It is not set and forget..

That is exactly my point and exactly why your proposal to use the first spoke for reference pitch would not have been helpful.


Unless you have perfect pitch?
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Postby Hotdog » Fri Nov 21, 2008 11:16 pm

Well, I've got the front wheel done :) Laced, tensioned and trued and it looks pretty good, but I've still got to install a brake rotor, rim tape, tyre and tube before I can try it out. I've also laced the rear wheel, and I'll tension and true it over the weekend.

So far at least (bearing in mind I haven't yet ridden on the results of my handiwork) it gone pretty smoothly. Sheldon's guide really is very good, if you follow it step by step there's nothing to fear. I've also been pleased with the truing stand, the design means you can simultaneously check lateral true, radial true and dish. With the front wheel I only took the wheel out of the truing stand once to check the dish using my dishing gauge, and it was fine.
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Postby ajh_ausnzcf » Fri Nov 21, 2008 11:35 pm

Hotdog wrote:Well, I've got the front wheel done :) Laced, tensioned and trued and it looks pretty good, but I've still got to install a brake rotor, rim tape, tyre and tube before I can try it out. I've also laced the rear wheel, and I'll tension and true it over the weekend.

So far at least (bearing in mind I haven't yet ridden on the results of my handiwork) it gone pretty smoothly. Sheldon's guide really is very good, if you follow it step by step there's nothing to fear. I've also been pleased with the truing stand, the design means you can simultaneously check lateral true, radial true and dish. With the front wheel I only took the wheel out of the truing stand once to check the dish using my dishing gauge, and it was fine.


You're a natural. Is the front wheel radial spoked?
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Postby mikeg » Fri Nov 21, 2008 11:51 pm

My understanding is you don't use radial spoke lacing with disks, and isn't a wheel stronger or more durable with 3 cross.
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Postby ajh_ausnzcf » Fri Nov 21, 2008 11:59 pm

mikeg wrote:My understanding is you don't use radial spoke lacing with disks, and isn't a wheel stronger or more durable with 3 cross.


That's what I thought also. 2 cross should be fine for the front wheel on the road.
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Postby Kid_Carbine » Sat Nov 22, 2008 2:15 am

After skimming through this thread I shake my head in absolute bewilderment at how it was possible for ill educated tradesmen [& women] to build literally tens of millions of strong, serviceable & long lasting wheels before the invention of the tension measuring device.

One just couldn't believe that a simple squeeze of parallel pairs of spokes would be enough to get a bloody good idea of just how tight spokes are & just how each pair compares with others in the wheel.

Gotta go now, can't type, hands are sore from squeezing too many spokes today.
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Postby Hotdog » Sat Nov 22, 2008 10:25 am

Yes, radial spoking gives low stiffness to torsional loads between the hub and rim, so isn't recommended for disk brakes (or rear wheels, especially drive side) as you'll get wind up between rim and hub. In this case I wanted to build a sturdy set of wheels anyway, so I've gone for standard 3-cross lacing with 32 spokes front and rear.

As for spoke tension meters, I'll concede that they're unnecessary for many experienced wheelbuilders but I still think they're useful for first time wheelbuilders teaching themselves who haven't yet learnt what good tension feels like.
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Postby John Lewis » Sat Nov 22, 2008 9:14 pm

I've built up a few wheelsets now. Started with the Sheldon Brown info.
I bought Roger Musson's PDF book from the link below. It seems comprehensive and has been a great help to me. Even shows how to make a you beaut truing stand, dishing tool etc simply.

I reckon it was worth the money.

http://www.wheelpro.co.uk/wheelbuilding/book.php

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Postby artemidorus » Mon Nov 24, 2008 8:51 am

Kid_Carbine wrote:After skimming through this thread I shake my head in absolute bewilderment at how it was possible for ill educated tradesmen [& women] to build literally tens of millions of strong, serviceable & long lasting wheels before the invention of the tension measuring device.

One just couldn't believe that a simple squeeze of parallel pairs of spokes would be enough to get a bloody good idea of just how tight spokes are & just how each pair compares with others in the wheel.

Gotta go now, can't type, hands are sore from squeezing too many spokes today.

A tensiometer makes up for a truckload of experience. Building good wheels once was an art, and now it is more of a science, meaning that someone with no experience but a good head on their shoulders can have good success the very first time without the close supervision of a craftsman.
I've found that pulling pairs of spokes together is about as useful as pinching a 23 mm tyre to check pressure, meaning that above 50 kgf/psi, it's bloody hard to tell exactly what the pressure/ tension is.
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Postby Kalgrm » Mon Nov 24, 2008 9:05 am

I'm with KC on this: tensiometers aren't really necessary for the casual builder. There are two main reasons I say this:

1/ If you're not sure if you have enough tension in the spokes, you can compare your wheel with one you have in the shed. If yours is not at least as tight as that, keep applying tension. The most common mistake is not applying enough tension: it's very difficult to put too much into each spoke.

2/ If you don't have even tension in all spokes, the wheel itself will tell you you've got it wrong - it won't be true.

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Postby artemidorus » Mon Nov 24, 2008 9:15 am

Kalgrm wrote:I'm with KC on this: tensiometers aren't really necessary for the casual builder. There are two main reasons I say this:

1/ If you're not sure if you have enough tension in the spokes, you can compare your wheel with one you have in the shed. If yours is not at least as tight as that, keep applying tension. The most common mistake is not applying enough tension: it's very difficult to put too much into each spoke.

2/ If you don't have even tension in all spokes, the wheel itself will tell you you've got it wrong - it won't be true.

Cheers,
Graeme

1 How do you compare the tension? (Before you tell me the pitch of the plucked spoke or the feel of the squeezed spokes, don't bother - I've been messing around with those techniques for a long time and was shocked, when I got a tensiometer, to see how grossly inaccurate my judgment was).

2. Not so, particularly with the non-drive side/ non-disc side spokes on a stiff rim. Try a Velocity Deep V - you can mess with the non-drive spokes quite a bit, especially if they are under-tensioned, without shifting the rim much at all. I have a Cosmic Carbone wheel (50 mm rim) that has 5 of the non-drive spokes at less than half the tension of the rest (they all started the same, plus or minus 10%). The rim is still perfectly true - I only knew that a problem had developed because the wheel became noisy under load as the spokes slowly loosened.
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Postby Kalgrm » Mon Nov 24, 2008 1:47 pm

artemidorus wrote:1 How do you compare the tension? ...

Squeezing the paired spokes of each wheel. The tension does not need to be perfect - just comparable.

2.<snip> I have a Cosmic Carbone wheel (50 mm rim) that has 5 of the non-drive spokes at less than half the tension of the rest (they all started the same, plus or minus 10%). The rim is still perfectly true - I only knew that a problem had developed because the wheel became noisy under load as the spokes slowly loosened.

So the wheel told you there was a problem, right? You didn't use a tensiometer to diagnose a problem developing in this case.

In any case, a properly constructed wheel (with greased spoke threads) will not have spokes "slowly loosening". (I bet you didn't build that wheel personally - you would not have allowed it to occur on your own build.) Periodic checking of the spoke tension is a good thing, especially soon after construction, but that can easily be done by squeezing the spokes - a loose one stands out immediately.

As far as I'm concerned, a tensiometer is nice but not needed for the casual wheel builder. I've only built 5 wheels myself, and none of them have ever broken a spoke. That's a much better record than I've had on my factory-built wheels on my Giant XtC MTB - I've broken 3 spokes on the rear wheel over three years (2 in the first 6 months), and I put that down to poor construction at their end. It won't happen again though - it's the wheel I rebuilt as my SS wheel.

Cheers,
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Postby artemidorus » Mon Nov 24, 2008 2:10 pm

Kalgrm wrote:
artemidorus wrote:1 How do you compare the tension? ...

Squeezing the paired spokes of each wheel. The tension does not need to be perfect - just comparable.

2.<snip> I have a Cosmic Carbone wheel (50 mm rim) that has 5 of the non-drive spokes at less than half the tension of the rest (they all started the same, plus or minus 10%). The rim is still perfectly true - I only knew that a problem had developed because the wheel became noisy under load as the spokes slowly loosened.

So the wheel told you there was a problem, right? You didn't use a tensiometer to diagnose a problem developing in this case.

In any case, a properly constructed wheel (with greased spoke threads) will not have spokes "slowly loosening". (I bet you didn't build that wheel personally - you would not have allowed it to occur on your own build.) Periodic checking of the spoke tension is a good thing, especially soon after construction, but that can easily be done by squeezing the spokes - a loose one stands out immediately.

As far as I'm concerned, a tensiometer is nice but not needed for the casual wheel builder. I've only built 5 wheels myself, and none of them have ever broken a spoke. That's a much better record than I've had on my factory-built wheels on my Giant XtC MTB - I've broken 3 spokes on the rear wheel over three years (2 in the first 6 months), and I put that down to poor construction at their end. It won't happen again though - it's the wheel I rebuilt as my SS wheel.

Cheers,
Graeme

A spoke above 50kgf feels tight, and as I've already said, I can't discriminate reliably above that level.

Diagnostic use of the tensiometer, before a problem was obvious, would be very helpful, but I'm too lazy.

"Properly" built wheels do loosen spokes over time, depending on the rider. Unfortunately, I have not yet found a 700C rear wheel that does not do it for me, and I have had a couple built by fellas that were supposed to be the best. The three wheels that I have built have not yet had enough use for me to know how they'll fare, but I don't presume to be a better builder than the fellas who built the two that I've broken.

As a matter of fact, my first wheel was built without a tensiometer, and I "compared" the spoke tension with an existing wheel, by feel. I used the wheel (a disc front wheel) on several long XC MTB rides without incident, and then used a tensiometer to check my build. I was chagrined to find that I had built the wheel to about 50% of recommended tension. Out came the spoke key.

Each to their own, but I wouldn't dream of building a wheel without a tensiometer, especially given that the excellent Parktool tensiometer can be picked up pretty cheaply.
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Postby ajh_ausnzcf » Mon Nov 24, 2008 3:22 pm

I think this discussion proves that wheels have large tolerances, behave differently when built differently and most of all people have different expectations on what a "good" wheel is. This firmly places wheel building into the realm of "craft", with empirical measurement to help explain and predict outcomes. One man's serviceable wheel is another's excellent wheel and vice versa.

I find factory built wheels skewed toward lower lifespan and higher ride quality. A very well hand built wheel will provide high lifespan with high ride quality and very low maintenance, something machine built wheels haven't met fully in either domain as they don't take into account the many little building variations the hand builder can implement ... yet.

I like to ride bicycles and don't particularly enjoy any of the mechanical work required, which I do only to discover "how it works". I find building wheels to be a complete PITA which bike mechanics probably love to hear.

Since this is Hotdogs wheel building thread I'm wondering if he completed the job and is riding the wheels?
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Postby Hotdog » Fri Nov 28, 2008 10:38 pm

ajh_ausnzcf wrote:Since this is Hotdogs wheel building thread I'm wondering if he completed the job and is riding the wheels?


Well it took me a while, mostly because I've been very busy with other things recently, but I did get there eventually. On Wednesday night I finished fiddling with true and tension, transferred the disc rotors and cassette from my other wheels, bunged in the veloplugs and mounted and inflated tyres and tubes.

On Thursday morning, after a bit more unrelated bike maintenance, I rode on them for the first time for my short 15 minute commute to work. I was taking it easy, partly because of the wheels but mostly because it was wet, but there were no problems and the wheels rode well. Since then I've used them for another 3 of my 15 minute commutes and the wheels have stayed true so far and feel good. I know no one here will believe they're real until I post photos however, I'll see if I can get some taken over the weekend... :wink: I think they look they look really good, but ultra deep section rims with coloured tyres might not not be everyone's cup of tea... 8)

One aspect of the build that I didn't expect, on my first go at truing up the wheels I got a good true but noticed I'd managed to do so despite having a few really loose spokes. I brought the loose spokes up to similar tension to the others and then had to spend a fair while getting the wheels trued again. Perhaps this is something that can happen with stiff rims.
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Postby Hotdog » Sun Nov 30, 2008 7:45 pm

Finally some photos of my new wheels, on my bike. Ignore the flat on the front, a big glass cut in my brand new GP4000 resulted in a puncture just as I was riding up my drive after a ride today :x

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Click on the photos to go to the corresponding flickr page if you want to see higher resolution versions.
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Postby ajh_ausnzcf » Sun Nov 30, 2008 7:53 pm

Good job, hope they give you a few years of enjoyment. Those tyres look awefully prone to damage.
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Postby Hotdog » Sun Nov 30, 2008 8:24 pm

ajh_ausnzcf wrote:Good job, hope they give you a few years of enjoyment.

Thanks :)
Those tyres look awefully prone to damage.

They do? They're just standard 23-622/700x23C road bike tyres, and they do have some puncture protection built in. Coincidentally I've just had a look at the puncture and it's actually a pinch flat. The glass cut is, luckily, reasonably superficial.
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