Friday, May 18, 2012

thoughts on amateur wheel building

It would be ridiculous (and presumptious) of me to write a 'how to' on wheel building after only 6 attempts.So here's a few thoughts from an amateur.
#: There's a bunch of good books out there. Find one that 'speaks to you' and then read it over and over. I always have Leonard Zinn's 'Zinn and the art of road bike maintenance' open when I'm building a wheel ,and follow his step by step instructions.
#: Take ownership of spoke length calculations.I don't think it's fair to ask the local shop mechanic to do it for you.Let's face it,you're doing him/her out of a job and there's really no come back if he/she fudges the calc.(I learned this the hard way)I've been working them out longhand via the formulae and then double checking with Spocalc.

#: Beware the double wall  rim! Drop a nipple down there and it's going to take some manual dexterity and a sore neck to get it out.
(I'm going to take the credit for this idea. Screw a spoke into the top of the nipple and then use this to poke it down into the rim spoke hole.Once you have screwed the other spoke in, you can remove this one.)
#: Take your time.Stop for a cup of tea and have a good think about where you've been and where you're going.
#: A cheap truing stand is better than no stand at all.I built my first couple of wheels using an upturned bike ,with the fork and my thumbs as feelers.This worked out OK but lets face it,you can't upturn a bike on the kitchen table!In the end I purchased a new truing stand on e bay.$29 including postage and packing and it works just fine.If I get serious about this whole thing,then I might just splurge on a 'serious' stand.
#: Practice on a couple of old wheels.I salvaged some from the lot next to my LBS then built them up with shiny new spokes.
#: Small wheels are easier than big wheels(I think).I've built a couple of 22" wheels and almost no truing, was required. Compare this with building a penny farthing wheel? Doesn't bear thinking about really,and just what would they use for a truing stand?
#: If you start to feel hot and bothered,stop what you are doing and have another nice cup of tea and a sit down.