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Amateur Wheel builder needs tools(20 posts)

Amateur Wheel builder needs toolspitt83
Oct 9, 2003 11:30 AM
OK, I'm getting the Jobst Brandt book and going to learn the fine, black magic of wheel building. No longer will I be at the mercy of what I can find pre-built or held ransom for specing what I want.

What tools will I need?

I normally use the work stand mounted truing adapter from Park; I know that won't do to build.

Which is the best value for a dedicated truing stand?
Which dish tool is easiest?
Do I need or merely suggest / want the tensiometer?
Should I buy a dedicated spoke wrench or is the combo triangle good enough?
What else will I need?

Thanks. This'll be fun!
I just got the economy Performance stand ...Humma Hah
Oct 9, 2003 11:42 AM
... about $50 on sale, so it pays for itself the first time you build a wheel with it. Seems to get the job done, and packs up out of the way afterwards. It has a centering scale that probably tells you what you need to know for dishing.

My spoke wrench is an irritating little piece of junk, and I may get the nicer Park for the next wheel.

I didn't use a tensiometer, and just go by feel. If you don't hear from me, maybe I should have. Frankly, I suspect most wheels are built without a tensiometer, just plucking the spokes to see if they feel like spokes on a new wheel. Then again, experienced wheel-builders are better equipped to go by feel than us 3-wheels-built amateurs.
re: Amateur Wheel builder needs toolsMike Prince
Oct 9, 2003 11:56 AM
What you need and what you list are two different things. At a minimum you need a spoke wrench and a bike. It is possible to build a good wheel using the bike as a stand and the brake pads or a zip tie on the chainstay as a guide. Your workstand attachment would work fine also if you want to use what you have.

What I have accumulated over the years -

Stand - Park TS-2. Bought off of ebay. I think it's the best value, $150 or so new.

Dish tool - none, I don't think it's a requirement. You can flip the wheel in the bike/stand and it works just as well. If you feel the need to get one, I'd get a cheap one.

Tensionometer - Many fine wheels have been built without one. I would start by comparing the feel of your new wheels spokes to a known good wheel and go from there (book will help with this). A meter will not yield an absolute accurate tension reading, but will help you to compare the tension of the spokes on the wheel. It's the next tool I want to buy that I don't really need.

Wrench - the triangle works well, there are others that work well too. I would spend the 4-5 bucks on a few and see which is most comfortable to you. As long as it's the right size for the nipple (spoke, not yours! :))you are OK.

You will need something to put on the spoke threads as a lubricant. Some use SpokePrep (expensive), others use linseed oil and yet others use grease. Personally I usually use grease as I have lots of it around and it's cheap.

Hope this helps. You will have fun. Build the front wheel first as they are usually a bit easier (all spokes same length, no dish) and will build your confidence for the rear build. Good luck!

I built my first two wheels on the bike ...Humma Hah
Oct 9, 2003 11:59 AM
... and my third with the stand. The third one came out significantly rounder, with a lot less fuss.
re: Amateur Wheel builder needs toolsHillRepeater
Oct 9, 2003 12:02 PM
What you've got will work just fine. The lacing takes place off the stand - bringing the tension up is no worse than truing a wheel. As Mike said, you don't need a dish tool as you can just flip the wheel in the stand.

A seperate wheel truing stand is nice because you can bring it inside and work at the table. Problem with that is your wife will end up yelling at you about having wheelbuilding stuff all over the kitchen. I haven't found a solution to that, yet! The Minora/Performance "Spin Doctor" truing stand will work just fine for occasional builds and costs about $30. Get a nice spoke wrench (I like the 'spokey') and you're set to go.
re: Amateur Wheel builder needs toolseddie m
Oct 9, 2003 12:14 PM
Since I've only built a few wheels and I don't have an expert's feel for it yet, I would spend most of my money on measurement tools. I made a stand from an old fork, but I added a couple of dial indicators that I got from a used tool store for $20. I rest the wheel on a couple of blocks on a table and measure the height of the locknut with a vernier caliper to measure the dish. The next thing I will get is a tension guage, now that they are available for less than $100.
My stuff takes a little longer to set up, but it's as accurate as any professional equipment you can buy. All the wheels I've made have been trouble free and completely stable.
One more thing...eddie m
Oct 9, 2003 12:21 PM
If you want to continue to use a one-sided stand, try turning it on its side so that the wheel is horizontal. The wheel will balance on the stand and might be more stable. I made one like that (again, with dial indicators) and sometimes I prefer that to a traditional stand.
re: Amateur Wheel builder needs toolsjw25
Oct 9, 2003 12:18 PM
I'm not an expert, but I've built around 10 wheelsets, replaced a few rims, and trued a bunch of wheels.
I use a Minoura Workman stand, which is the same one Performance sells, just not rebadged. It works well enough, and is quite nice for the money. I think you're right, the Park add-on won't be optimal for a total build, though for truing it seems nice.
I use the Park premium spoke wrenches - you probably only need the black and red handled ones, though I bought the green as well. For building, since you're turning each nipple many times, a snug fit is best. I always try the wrenches on new nipples, and use the one that fits best.
I don't bother with a dishing tool, but just use the stand, and flip the wheel around once it's trued. I also only use one of the lateral indicators, as I don't quite trust the "self-centering" feature. It works, but isn't that precise.
For tensioning, Jobst recommends tensioning until stress-relieving results in a sine-wave shape to the rim, then backing tension off half a turn on each nipple. This works, butI prefer not to reach this point, so I use the "tone" method, and compare tones with a similar wheel. However, with new tensionmeters becoming more affordable, it's very tempting to invest in one.
Other than that, I use a good grease on the nipple seats and spoke threads, though you could invest in a tub of anti-seize if you like. Some sort of lubrication is a must.
Work slowly, stress-relieve well, and enjoy the fruits of your labors. There's nothing quite like riding your first set of wheels - once you realize just how little goes into them, and the forces they can withstand.
Good for you!Chicago_Steve
Oct 9, 2003 12:19 PM
Here's my kit:

Performance SpinDoctor Stand
Park Spoke Wrench (I use the triangle design)
Old broken spoke (helps to put nipples into the rim prior to initially threading them to the spoke)
Stanley Screwdriver (to turn the nipples)
Permatex Antisieze (lube)

Here's some good links
Wheelbuilding forum on MTBr

Mike T's wheelbuilding FAQ

Sheldon (of course)

Also, I've used a chapter from the Barnett manual which I found helpful...

Here's my last project! TAKE YOUR TIME and enjoy your new skill!

Who makes that rim? Where do you get it? (nm)Roundabout
Oct 10, 2003 6:51 AM
Velocity FusionChicago_Steve
Oct 10, 2003 1:41 PM
Great rim! A little heavier then Open Pro's but lighter then V style rims. Check them out here

I bought them from Mike Garcia at Mike's great to deal with if you are looking for wheelbuilding stuff (rims, spokes, nipples, etc.)
Ahh... Can't resist...Chicago_Steve
Oct 10, 2003 1:47 PM
If you look at that picture you'll notice different butting on the spokes. On that build I went with 14/15 spokes on the drive side of the rear wheel and 14/17 on the non-driveside. This gives me stronger spokes where I need it (Driveside takes more stress) and saves a little weight on the build by going with lighter spokes on the non-driveside.

That's the cool part about building your own wheels... You can truly customize your build for the application...

More here
re: Amateur Wheel builder needs toolsweatherx
Oct 9, 2003 12:29 PM
truing stand--OLDER performance stands with screw-type touchers. minoura workman.

i'd say a dishing gauge will help, especially when you are using lower end truing stands that flexes a bit when you put the wheel on/off. you can homemake one easily.

no need for tensiometer. true before you tension, and do things slowly and in small increments

if you are going to build more wheels or you will be truing your own wheels, get a good spokewrench like the pedros. they grip on 4 sides and are less likely to round off the nipples.

spoke prep or linseed oil. grease (or anti seize) the inside of the eyelets before you lace. patience, patience, patience.
Here is one more that no one's mentioned......Len J
Oct 9, 2003 12:56 PM
a nipple driver.

It helps drive the nipple onto the end of the spoke when starting a wheel. Saves much time. My wiffe bought me one after I started building wheels. I thought it was a joke. Tried it on a wheel & never build one now without it.

Good luck.


PS. The two most important things about wheel building are even spoke tension & stress relief.

Even Spoke tension: Some can get it by feel, or sound, Not me. A tensionometer is the only way I can. It's slower & more expensive but for me it's worth it.

Stress Relief: The more you do it while you are building a wheel, the more true it will stay. Nuff said.
What the heck is "stress relief?" How to do? nmBowWow
Oct 9, 2003 10:10 PM
Per Sheldon Brown....Len J
Oct 10, 2003 3:26 AM
"Seating and Stress Relieving the Spokes

Before a wheel is ready for the road it must be stress relieved, because the bend in the spoke has to accommodate itself to the shape of the hub flange and vice versa, and a similar process may go on where the nipple sits in the rim. Some wheelbuilders do this by flexing the whole wheel, others by grabbing the spokes in groups of 4 and squeezing them together. My preferred technique is to use a lever to bend the spokes around each other where they cross. My favorite lever for this is an old left crank:

This particular technique has the added advantage of bending the spokes neatly around each other at the crossing, so they run straight from the crossing in both directions. As you go around the wheel this way you will probably hear creaks and pinging sounds as the parts come into more intimate terms with each other.
After you do this, you will probably have to do some touch-up truing, then repeat the stressing process until it stops making noise and the wheel stops going out of true.

Jobst Brandt, author of the excellent book The Bicycle Wheel points out a less obvious benefit of this stressing of the spokes:

"...After cold forming, steel always springs back a certain amount (spokes are entirely cold formed from wire). Spring-back occurs because part of the material exceeded its elastic limit and part did not. The disparate parts fight each other in tension and compression, so that when the spoke is tensioned, it adds to the tensile stress that can be, and often is, at yield.
"...When spokes are bent into place, they yield locally and addition of tension guarantees that these places remain at yield. Because metal, at or near the yield stress has a short fatigue life, these stresses must be relieved to make spokes durable.

"...These peak stresses can be relieved by momentarily increasing spoke tension (and stress), so that the high stress points of the spoke yield and plastically deform with a permanent set. When the stress relief force is relaxed these areas cannot spring back having, in effect, lost their memory, and drop to the average stress of the spoke."

If you have done this, you will wind up with a wheel that is true and round, and will stay that way better than most machine made wheels. In addition, you will have learned a lot about truing wheels, and you will feel more like a real professional mechanic."

In addition to the methods Sheldon suggests, the builder I learned from suggested grasping the wheel by the rim and pushing down against the hub using a corner of your work bench. Do this on both sides of the wheel grasping at different places around the rim.

Hope this helps.

my favoritesgtx
Oct 9, 2003 3:01 PM
Park professional stand (stable enough to handle heavy mtb wheels with tires mounted), Var dishing tool (very purdy), black Park spoke wrench (also the only tool I take on rides). And that's it.
re: Wheel builder needs toolsAl1943
Oct 9, 2003 5:02 PM
The Park tension meter (tensiometer) has been out less than a year and I think it's great. I wouldn't be without it. It's well worth the ~$55 .
The only stand I've used is my TS-2, I think it is essential but I don't have anything to compare it to. I don't use a dishing gauge, just reverse the wheel on the stand. The caliper arm can be adjusted laterally as needed. I find this rim centering to be the frustrating part of wheel building and I spend more time centering and truing than on lacing spokes. Having said that I still find wheel building to be one of the more enjoyable and satisfying parts of this sport.
Thanks Allpitt83
Oct 10, 2003 4:21 AM
Chicago: Those are nice looking wheels. Thanks for the advice. I'll get the nipple driver, the dedicated spoke wrenches and shop for a truing stand and tensiometer as optional, but nice to have.
Nipple Driver alternativeB2
Oct 10, 2003 5:22 AM
I've used a cordless screwgun; even to bring all the spokes up to maybe 20% or so with good results.