27 Nov 2018

ERD seriously

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Because spoke lengths depend on ERD, I always measure my rims. People tell me they’ve ordered spokes for use with XYZ rim and sometimes it leads to conversations like this:

Wheelbuilder: These spokes are for my build with XYZ rim.
SpokeService: Did you measure your XYZ rim?
Wheelbuilder: No I used the numbers from the website.
SpokeService: Sorry your spoke lengths are wrong — the site is confusing.

There are two ways ERD goes wrong.

First there are variances in rim manufacturing. Some manufacturers are better than others and to some extent you get what you pay for. But I always measure and frequently find rims out of spec or find differences between pairs of identical rims. If you know what you’re working with, variances are not a big deal. If you input correct dimensions, you’ll get correct spoke lengths.

The second issue is differing definitions of ERD. Typical definitions include penetration of the spoke into the nipple head, which is important for maximum strength. But how far the spoke extends beyond the nipple seat (into the rim) is unclear. It depends on nipple geometry and encodes some preference for how much penetration is ideal. In other words ERD is relative to an undisclosed nipple and opinions regarding its use.

Typically the magnitude of these errors is pretty small, maybe 0.5mm each. Additional error is introduced when you round spoke lengths to match availability (why buying spokes in 2mm increments is terrible). Maybe these errors add up to a problem and maybe they cancel each other out.

This sounds like a pain but it’s not at all. You simply make your own tools and take your own measurements. The parts cost next to nothing, assembly takes 10 minutes and you’re left with tools you can use forever. Maybe it seems like a pain because you want your spokes and rims to arrive at the same time. That’s fair but getting it right the first time is always fastest. SpokeService is here to help with spokes in 1mm increments, shipped daily from Canadian soil for only five bucks.

(If you like this idea but don’t have the time to put the parts together, I’ll do it for you. Click here to order the spokes and nipples for your measuring tool. They’ll ship completely assembled. Use the checkout comments box to indicate which nipple you intend to glorify with use on your wheels.)

18 Nov 2018

Postal strike and shipping

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The rotating postal strike has been negative for small businesses, particularly those that send lightweight packages like spokes and nipples. As a result please be aware of temporary changes to our normal shipping terms. These temporary changes affect sales in the online shop.

Canada Post

Due to delays all shipments must now carry tracking and insurance. This uniquely impacts orders under $60, which will pay an additional $5-10 for upgraded shipping. Orders over $60 see no change as tracking and insurance is subsidized. Orders over $120 still ship for free. No timelines are guaranteed for shipments with Canada Post however tracking will allow us to check progress.

Other shipping carriers

Other means of shipping are being implemented as quickly as possible. UPS and Purolator are now available at an additional cost reflecting their prices for lightweight shipments. Rates go down (i.e. shipping subsidies go up) at order thresholds of $60 and $120.

UPDATE: temporary changes to shipping have ended with the postal strike. In the short term, an extra day or two of transit time is expected as Canada Post recovers.

28 Oct 2018

Coaxial SON

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SON hubs and lights include normal spade connectors — trim wires to length, crimp on connectors and connect to your hub. Anyone can manage this system and it works well. As an upgrade, SON offers a coaxial version that I put together today. This system requires more effort to assemble (basic soldering required) but pays you back with a number of advantages.

The upgrade comes with an adapter that connects a coaxial plug to the hub spade connectors. The new plug interface is spring-retained, which is more refined than the friction fit of spade connectors. The coaxial plug is secure but can be fitted or removed with full-fingered gloves. As well a single plug presents no opportunity to reverse pins, which is an issue with dual connectors.

If you’d like the nitty gritty details, check out the manufacturer’s instructions seen on my workbench. If you’d like a SON dynamo hub/wheel with a SON light, get in touch for a quote.

25 Sep 2018

Universal nipple driver

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I prefer using a nipple driver specific to my chosen nipple but sometimes that’s not possible. Sometimes a tool doesn’t exist or isn’t available but you’d like to use one anyway — getting your nipples started evenly makes life a bit easier. In a pinch you can make one.

To make a universal nipple driver I trim a thin butted spoke and roll threads in such a way that the threads cross the butting boundary. This lets a nipple thread all the way through without bottoming out. Then I attach an inverted nipple — one with a round bottom and no screwdriver slot — leaving a bit of spoke thread protruding. How much protrudes depends on how far you want the driver to work. I use some Loctite so the nipple doesn’t move but a jam nut can be used if you want adjustment. In the following example I inserted the tool into a pin vise but you could glue it into a cork, dowel, etc.

To use the tool thread it onto the back of your nipple. Insert the loaded tool into the rim and thread onto a waiting spoke. Then sideload the spoke to hold the nipple and unthread the tool. This isn’t the fastest way to work but it gets the job done and costs very little. I keep a couple around for starting deep dish rims, where a longer reach is required and the risk of losing a nipple more acute. They’re a good solution for inverted nipples too.

06 Jul 2018

Truing stand explainer

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Here’s a more detailed video about my truing stand. To answer the number one FAQ: I didn’t build it for commercial purposes. Regardless summer days aren’t long enough to run SpokeService and crank out new products. Maybe something for the off season if there’s interest. What do you think?

If you like, future videos and updates can be found using this bookmark.