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Loose Spokes. How to Prevent?(6 posts)

Loose Spokes. How to Prevent?brains
Aug 27, 2002 5:46 PM
Recently had my wheelset rebuilt. Hugi Hubs laced to aerohead rims. Used the same DT swiss spokes and replaced the spoke nipples. Wheels were perfect true when got them back from shop. Began creeking and making noise on first ride. Then began noticing loose spokes. Tighten them up then find another and so on down the road until today approx. 2 weeks later the wheel is way out of true.

Why are the spokes coming loose? What can be done to fix? The wheels were originally built up with lock-tite. Is that the solution?

spokes slack, shop was slackingoff roadie
Aug 27, 2002 6:28 PM
That's pretty obviously a bad wheelbuild. The noises you heard on your first ride were due to spoke windup and lack of stress relieving. A new wheel should not make ANY "creeking" or "pinging" noise on its first ride if propperly built. Simply put, the spokes had stress (twisting and bending) on them that a wheel in use can't support. Eliminarting those stresses is part of building a wheel, and its plain lazy and unskilled not to do it.

Windup alone can result in loose spokes, as can lack of stress reliving. Maybe your tightening re-introduced the windup, and the spokes never took to thier propper bends, but I don't think that's really the problem.

More likely is that all the spokes are too loose, tension wise. Insufciently tensioned spokes are the most common problem encountered with poorly built wheels. They spokes should make a good, high musical tone when plucked (all the propper ones I've seen are a falsetto for most men, but it can vary a fair bit)- and all should make the SAME tone if the wheel is propperly built and true.

Lock-Tite is NOT a solution to loose spokes. Its not even a good "fix" to stop nipples from turning. As you found, it doesn't always stop them coming loose, and it makes truing the wheels (and getting propper tension) much harder down the line.

When a spoke is tight enough, the nipple will always be pulled against the rim so snug it can't turn and come loose, even under hard riding. Getting a nipple that tight usually requires LUBRICATING the threads and nipple, not lock-tite!

Check Sheldon Brown's or Mike T's wheelbuilding web pages for info on what should have been done. If you tighten the spokes up and stress relieve them, you may end up with a decent wheel. If you leave them, as is, you can expect many broken spokes after a couple hundred miles.

Idealy you should get the wheel re-built with new spokes and nipples- if the shop won't admit they did an incompetant job, You can probably win in small claims court simply by citing any published source on wheelbuilding...
So what did they really use as spoke prep?Spoke Wrench
Aug 28, 2002 5:28 AM
Among guys who build wheels, the biggest area of disagreement is the best way to prep spokes. Linseed oil, various lock tite products, oil and even nothing all have their adherents. I personally use Wheelsmith Spoke Prep because it is marketed as a product specifically designed for that purpose and because I've been impressed with the Wheelsmith built wheels that have come through my shop.

Reusing old spokes is a false economy. First, the wheel has to be disassembled rather than just cutting the spokes, then I think that each spoke should be hand cleaned to get the old spoke prep residue off of the threads.

If you brought those wheels to me, assuming the rims are still straight and round, I'd want to completely rebuild them using brand new spokes and nipples.
re: Loose Spokes. How to Prevent?spc15
Aug 28, 2002 7:54 AM
I bought a wheel build by my LBS some time ago and experienced the same problems, albeit this was a MTB wheel.

After numerous trips back and forth to the shop for them to re-true the wheel and tighten the spokes, only for the spokes to come loose again, I decided to use Loctite 242 Threadlocker on them. Since that time the spokes have stayed tight and the wheel true.

The wheel was originally built up with linseed oil to lock the spokes.

I know there are different approaches/solutions to this problem, but this solution did the trick for me...ymmv
I used to use linseed oil.Spoke Wrench
Aug 28, 2002 10:37 AM
What I found out was that you had to let the wheels "age" awhile for the linseed oil to set up before you rode on them. Otherwise, they loosen up just as you found.
Classic case of insufficient wheel tension (nm)Kerry
Aug 29, 2002 5:08 PM