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 rough). 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 five bucks.

18 Nov 2018

Postal strike and shipping

Webmaster

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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It’s ideal to use a depth-setting nipple driver specific to your nipple but sometimes you can’t. Sometimes a tool doesn’t exist or isn’t available but you can still do better than eyeballing. In a pinch you can make a tool for starting your nipples an equal number of turns all around.

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. 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. Sideload the spoke to hold the nipple, unthread the tool and repeat. This isn’t the fastest way to work but it gets the job done and costs very little. With all your nipples preloaded the same amount, you’re off to a clean start.

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. If you’d like a spoke specially prepared like the one above, buy a Sapim Race from the shop and use the checkout comments to ask for the cut and thread treatment described above (no charge).

20 Aug 2018

Tensio support policy

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Did you ask about tensiometer support in the spoke tension utility? This post is for you.

For background it helps to understand there are little adaptations in the software specific to each tensiometer. For example you can enter 25 and it autocorrects to 0.25 if you’re using the Wheel Fanatyk but it doesn’t with the Park Tool. If a tensio includes a USB cable for direct digital input, little tricks may be needed to interpret the data correctly/consistently. And so on.

I purchased the Park Tool and Wheel Fanatyk tools myself, the former to build my own wheels and the latter when I wanted to up my professionalism. But with the workshop fully equipped, I’m unlikely to purchase others. (Disclosure: Wheel Fanatyk subsequently donated multiple tools when they found the software popular with their customers.)

So if you’d like to see another tensiometer supported in the software, it’s easy and not easy: ask your manufacturer to send one here. They pay no fees, neither for initial support nor for ongoing maintenance. That said users have reached out to DT Swiss, Sapim and Unior but none of these companies could muster any interest. If you plan to engage one of them, you may have better luck asking the rep for your geographical area or a friend on the inside.

If you’re in the market for a new tensiometer — whether a basic tool or a premium one — this information may help you choose. Park Tool and Wheel Fanatyk are recommended.