This was a job to salvage nice hubs and rebuild with fresh rims and spokes. Normally I would lace the rear wheel in a mirror image pattern but I follow the previous builder’s decision for rebuilds. This extends hub life. With renewed rims and spokes, these hubs are ready to roll again.
It’s true that you don’t need a lot of equipment to work on wheels — you can eyeball alignment, feel tension with your hands, hear tension from plucking spokes, etc. I want to do better anyway.
I’ve incorporated three digital tools in my process. First, I use a Park Tool truing stand with Mitutoyo digital gauges. The roller tip on the lateral truing gauge is made of teflon to prevent scratches. Second, I use a Park dishing tool with a digital gauge attached so dish is known quantitatively. The next best alternative is using feeler gauges but digital is much faster. Last, and just recently, I’ve been using the Wheel Fanatyk digital tensiometer. The Wheel Fanatyk people are cool cats and I’ve updated my spoke tension utility to support their tool. Check it out!
This post is to announce two new tools I’ve built in tandem with launching SpokeService.ca. These are my runout tabulator and spoke tension visualizer found in the utilities section at top right. I offer them 100% free for enthusiasts, industry professionals and shop customers alike.
The runout tabulator is more a thought experiment than a problem solver. The idea is uncomplicated — simply measure the runout at different points on a wheel and note the measurements of smallest and largest magnitude. The difference is a measure of alignment. But should every point on the wheel be examined or should we sample deviation at each spoke? Should any special consideration be given to the join area? How much do decals and paint finishes distort readings? And so on.
The more important tool, my spoke tension visualizer, is pretty neat. It does two jobs: it converts tensiometer deflection readings to tension values and shows a graphical view of the same. For now it only supports the Park Tool TM-1 but I can add support for other tensiometers in the future. I’ve coded an option to insert dummy values in the data collection screen so you can see how it works without faking anything (this will likely go away in the future).
I hope these tools stimulate the wheelbuilding part of your brain. I enjoyed creating them.
I developed my own spoke length calculator, online in the utilities section. During validation I determined its output is identical to the popular DT Swiss calculator — to 0.1mm resolution. The intent was build a calculator with a simple interface suitable for rendering on mobile devices.
These are the books I own about wheels and wheelbuilding. If you know of others, let me know.
- Barnett, John. Barnett’s Manual. Colorado Springs, Colorado. 8th edition 2012.
- Brandt, Jobst. The Bicycle Wheel. Palo Alto, California: Avocet. 3rd edition 1993.
- Musson, Roger. Professional Guide to Wheelbuilding. Preston, UK. 5th edition 2005.
- Schraner, Gerd. The Art of Wheelbuilding. Denver, Colorado: Buonpane Publications. 1999.
Brandt is canon but may be too scientific for introductory purposes. If you’re new to wheelbuilding, I recommend Musson as a first resource — inexpensive, approachable and remarkably complete. I built my first wheels using written guides so I think it’s practical and realistic.
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