Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Project 1X1: The Wheels Part 2

Nipples and spokes. Time to prep!
Okay, the last update was about the why and the what of the components. This post will focus on the how. Now, I'm not going to actually teach you how to build a wheel in a simple blog post, but I will go over some of the things I do to build up a wheel set.

Now that you have the parts, the next step is to prep the spokes. Those threads will allow for the nipples to back off after riding some if you do not use some sort of thread locking compound. There are a lot of semi-religious, fanatical things wheel builders do that don't always make sense, but putting a thread locking compound on there is usually one thing most builders agree upon. It is the type of thread preparation one uses that gets everyone going! I use, and have always used, "Wheelsmith Spoke Prep". It has never let me down, and when it comes to wheels, I don't fix what ain't broke.

I apply this goop by hand with the tip of my finger, just like I always have. (You'll begin to see that I am pretty stuck in my ways when it comes to building wheels.) Just enough on the spoke threads to fill 'em up, then that's it. Let those sit a while, then you can start building your wheels. Now I've always been a fan of Jobst Brandt's book, but there is another good one I've read by Gerd Schraner. I've read through both of them and I ended up with a hybrid technique based on a little bit from each of these wheel books. Again- I do it like I have learned it and have been doing it since the mid-90's. I probably could go back and re-read these books and pick up some more stuff, but I suppose I know enough to be dangerous and well, I've built some solid, long lasting wheels over the years. Yep-it ain't broke, so.......

An adult beverage of your choice is optional.
I usually pile up my spokes, dump the nipples in a small bowl, and start out. There are tricksy-tricks one can use to do special, secret handshake stuff that doesn't mean a thing, but is "the art of wheel building", so you do it any way. Things like lining up the hub label/stamping with the valve hole, having the rim label just so, and so on and so forth. The only thing you really should do is to build the wheel correctly. The rest is fru-fru. That said, I do the fru-fru. I just wanted everyone to know that might be starting out, or wanting to give this a shot, that the esoteric wheel builder aesthetic BS isn't necessary to build a great wheel.

So, I don't go in for all of the modern day motorized nipple drills, or what have you that speed up the process and make you save time, and allow you to push more wheels out the door. No- I don't build that many wheels, and I have probably built more wheels for myself than I have for anyone else. So, this is pretty much as slow as you can go, but I enjoy it, so why rush a good thing? In fact, I almost never lace and tension a wheel set the same night. I usually spread that over two days, unless it is at work for a customer. Just a bad habit I have, I suppose. But again, it has always worked that way for me so....... Heck, when I started out building wheels I would take forever to tension them up because I was so unsure of myself and I would fanatically check every spoke with a tensionometer as I went around tensioning them up.

That's one laced up......
For these wheels I decided on 36 hole hubs and rims and to lace them up in the 3 cross pattern, which is par for the course for a decent, strong wheel build. I read in those books I referenced earlier about "other" patterns, but after thinking it all over, I usually just do a three cross with an occasional two cross build thrown in to keep it interesting. Anyway, this came out really nice, I think.

Now, I used a straight gauge spoke, a big, beefy rim, and the hubs were "okay" weight, and the alloy nipples saved a couple grams, but make no mistake, these wheels are heavy. That was okay with me. I wanted durability and toughness above all else, and these components should give that to me. By the way, all the spokes were the same length. That means no wheel dish, which, theoretically makes for a stronger wheel. The spokes were short for a 26" wheel as well, at 258mm, which again- should make for stronger wheels. Another side benefit is that I only have to carry one spoke length with me in case of an emergency on any longer trip I might decide to do with the bike these end up on.

So anyway.....there ya go! I tensioned these up the following day and then I will go about putting the blue, Velocity tubeless tape on the rims. I'll go over that in my next post, and I will also have the "place holder" tires mounted up. Then I'll move along to other elements of Project 1X1.

Stay tuned...

11 comments:

Derek Teed said...

I always find when building something cycling related it is important to pair it with a fine brew, Lagunitas should help make a fine wheelset!

Tyler Loewens said...

One of these days I will build my own wheelset...I just don't know if I have enough patience just yet :).

Doug Mayer said...

I picked up wheel building for a few personal projects last winter, and gosh it's relaxing and highly enjoyable! A great & useful hobby.

Guitar Ted said...

@Tyler Loewens: You should do it! Take your time, (days even!), and it'll come out okay, I bet.

@Doug Mayer: We joke about it and say that wheel building is "Basket weaving for men"!

Ari said...

For all the salt we get in Chicago I have been using Anti-Seize compound and Brass Nipples since about 1989. I found that salt breaks down the allow nipples and causes them to crack. But that's here where they throw a million tons of salt for a dusting of Snow.
Ari

BluesDawg said...

Looks like a good, solid wheelset. I do find it interesting that you would choose alloy nipples on an already heavyish wheel when "durability and toughness above all else" is the goal.

Guitar Ted said...

@ BluesDawg: In my previous post, I predicted responses such as yours and stated, "One has to know the proper method for lacing with alloy nipples, and the troubles tend to go away then if you do it right."

I've had loaded touring bikes with alloy nips, commuter rigs, countless mtb's, and all with zero issues related to alloy nipples, (unless they were crashed, when I did break one once in Texas).

It should also be noted, (again), that brass nipples are not immune to breakage or freezing up.

Finally, you gotta just go with what you believe in. I have had no problems with alloy nipples, I like the added color, and so I use them. If you cannot believe that they will survive severe usage, then you go with brass nipples. No big deal. Use what you believe in, and ride.

Greg Strickhausen said...

I would be interested to know which program you use to determine your spoke lengths, if you use one?

Guitar Ted said...

@Greg Strickhausen- I use United Bicycle Institute of Technology's Spoke Calculator. It hasn't let me down yet. I used to use a Wheelsmith calculator, which actually WAS a calculator! That was back in the 90's. I still use those Wheelsmith "sticks" to determine ERD.

BluesDawg said...

@GT, Not being critical about the alloy spokes. Just noting that it was an interesting choice given the priorities. Nothing wrong with going against the grain, especially when you have the experience to back it up.

recyclist said...

I also run anti seize instead of thread locking compound. Alloy nipples can be tricky so I also grease the contact point in the rim, although I also hear good things about nipple washers. The only nipples I've had back out were on the spokes I had used spoke prep. I believe this is caused by inadequate tensioning rather than preparing spokes.

I consider myself a skilled amateur.