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 Post subject: wheel building
PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 10:29 pm 
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Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:39 pm
Posts: 1181
Location: wales
this is something i'm increasingly thinking about , i've read books on it but i am aware that with my bilateralism i tend to get a bit lost, so practical experience what, where and whom would you recommend , course or go for it using an old wheel and working it backwards to a pile of bits then rebuilding? oh and jigs can i have recomendations.

let the floodgates open... :D


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 11:15 pm 
Retro Guru

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2010 7:07 pm
Posts: 1321
Location: Cotswolds
As probably the most experienced on here of 1950/60's wheel building, jigs are not essential, just sensitive fingers, and a bit of experience helps.
If you are ever my side of the severn I can show you in a few minutes.
Americans can pad out the instruction to about a week and still get it painfully wrong. You may be able to search here for various comments I have made, but there was a time when I bought spokes in over 100 gross lots and built most myself.
Inserting the spokes is just the start, tensioning the rims we had was simply trial and error, done in fairly gentle stages. Also I normally sat down to tension and true wheels, if you see someone standing up then they don't know.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 9:53 am 
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Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:39 pm
Posts: 1181
Location: wales
i'll take up that offer when i'm brave enough to cross the channel :D
looked at your profile notes and i'm wondering do you have any pictures of a bsa norman conquest circa55>60/ it was my dad's first bike and i'd like to at least find him a picture of one.. i must dig out the bike i keep at my dad's it's a coalman's bike the only one i've ever seen and i know for a fact that it happily holds 6 bags of coal and you can still pedall it !!


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 10:39 am 
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Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2008 12:31 am
Posts: 585
Location: London
I think wheel building is one of those things which is both quite straightforward to do and to learn if someone shows you how to do it, but seems really complicated if explained in writing.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 2:42 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2009 4:22 pm
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I've built a number of wheels now. It's much simpler than I thought it would be.

You will need to follow a spoke lacing guide at first to make sure you get the spokes in the right holes, such as the one on Sheldon Brown's site. If you don't know what length spokes you need then use one of the spoke length calculators too.

Then once it's loosely laced it's just a matter of sitting down with the bike upside down tightening and tweaking as you go. I usually do it in front of me on the sofa while watching telly.

My top tip is to not re-use spokes. Always use new ones or getting the wheel true is a nightmare.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 3:25 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 11, 2010 6:20 pm
Posts: 136
Location: Bristol
Wheel building is addictive, its also a lot simpler than it looks providing you follow the instructions. Sheldon Brown has a good section on his web site for it, print the instructions and follow them to the letter. Jigs are nice to have things but aren't essential, you can do it with a pair of forks, some bluetack and a sharp pencil.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 9:14 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2011 8:30 pm
Posts: 5
Location: Oxfordshire
Roger Musson (I think that's his name) has written a really simple book (Google it). I've built quite a few wheels with pretty good success & yes, you don't need any special tools apart from a spoke key.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 11:24 pm 
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Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2010 7:07 pm
Posts: 1321
Location: Cotswolds
Sheldon is a great resource, but not for building wheels. The European way was always to have the inside spokes going in opposite directions, so that you don't have to weave any in. For a 32 hole: Pick up 8 spokes in the same direction and fan them out between thumb and fingers. Drop the first 8 through alternate holes downwards through the top flange and loose fit the spoke nipples, obviously every 4th hole in the rim, starting next to the valve hole. Turn the wheel over and drop the next eight so that they are laced from the inside of the flange. By twisting the hub in the direction the first spokes should go, and looking down through the spoke holes you can decide which hole to use (choice of 2). THe first spokes from the inside of the flanges are now in opposite directions.
The rest should be obvious.
I went round the old BSA works when they were in full production about 1954, and 2 women were lacing all the wheels, with one man tightening and truing. I also saw 2 ladies from Hercules about the same time, and they were loose lacing 40 hole cheap wheels (the hubs had massive clearance on the spoke holes) in 2.5 minutes, my best was about 3 mins.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 11:42 pm 
Gold Trader
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Joined: Sat Aug 29, 2009 12:15 pm
Posts: 659
Location: Aberdeenshire
I would agree, you don't need jigs or anything fancy for wheelbuilding.

I taught myself when I was 14 just using an existing wheel as a template and took it from there. No idea how many wheels I've done in the last 23 years; lots anyway - for myself, friends, and for shops when I was in the trade.

I certainly wouldn't dismiss any literature on it though, its not going to do you any harm to read it.

It really is a simple process though and can be quite a relaxing thing to do. I've never used books or guides, but I do use the DT Swiss spoke calculator and found it to be fine.

I don't particularly like folk who make it sound like a black art, its a simple thing.

Here's a few things I fine which make life easier for me:
Take your time, make sure everything is clean, oil the nipple threads and nipple seats in the rims, make sure the hubs and rims are properly de-burred. When truing, the main thing is to do it in small stages. The inclination is to try and do it fast and adjust the nipples too much; a very small adjustment can make a big difference, so just take your time.

Hope that might help you a little bit.


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