September 16, 2012

Gravel Bike - Part 7

There are some great step-by-step wheelbuilding guides on the web so I'm going to only hit the high points with this post.  All the details to wheelbuilding can be found here and here.

There are not a lot of tools needed, spoke wrench, screwdriver, punch, old broken spoke (donated by SuperKate and Matson Hill), wheel truing stand, and a tube of grease.

Gathered up all my parts (spokes, nipples, etc) and leaned a 32 spoke wheel from my mountain bike up against my workstand to use an example for the lacing.

I used SuperKate's broken spoke to help with dropping the nipples into the rim holes.  The Stan's Iron Cross  rims are double wall so it would be way too easy to lose a nipple down inside the rim.  You don't want to do that - the little nipples are a real PITA to shake and rattle back out  (Yeah, I know this from personal experience).  I put a little spot of grease on each nipple to make sure it wouldn't get seized up during tensioning.  

Then I lubed the threads of each spoke end

Armed (and dangerous) from reading internet instructions and looking carefully at my mtn bike wheel, I started lacing spokes into the hub, rim and nipples.

I did the inward spokes first.  Doing the outward spokes first would make threading the others in later more difficult.

Installing the spokes gets confusing, be sure to find a quiet spot to do this.  292mm spokes on the drive side, 294mm spokes on the brake side.  You skip one hole between spokes on the hub, then skip three holes on the rim.  I ended up replacing a 294 with a 292 later on during tensioning that got mixed up.  Also caught myself with a 2 hole gap on the rim in one place.  Once you get to this stage (8 spokes on each side) you have to start lacing.  I was doing a 3 cross pattern so I kept repeating to myself as put another spoke in:  skip one-over-over-under-skip three.  Then put about 4 turns on each nipple to hold them in place.

And eventually they were all installed.  In this picture the nipples and spokes are all lose and rattling around, some even have long bends in them.
I followed the internet instructions for tensioning and stress relieving.  The only thing to really watch out for is to keep exact count of the number of rotations you make with each nipple.  The nipples ALL have to have the same number of turns or the wheel will not come out round.

The other thing to watch is spoke thread protrusion in the nipple.  You are supposed to aim for the threaded end of your spokes to stop right at the bottom of the nipple screw slot.  Mine came out just right.

With all the tensioning done i took the wheel over to the truing stand and straightened it out.  I got it almost perfect, like tenths of a millimeter.

So I had to see how the wheels looked on the bike:

One last check to make.  The internet experts say that its easy to tell when wheels are built by a 'good' wheelbuilder if the Presta valve hole in the rim will line up exactly with the name on the hub.  I must've gotten lucky cause I nailed it:

I couldn't be happier with how these wheels turned out.  I really like the black spoke / red nipple combination.  Being a first-time wheelbuilder I had to potential to scrap a lot of parts.  I was afraid I bought all the wrong length spokes, or I would overtension one and pull it through the rim, or tear a hub hole.  But everything really went great.  If you've ever thought about building a set - Do It!  

I can't wait to ride these wheels.  Hope they don't blow up on a big descent and kill me.

Next up in Part 8 will be brakes.

Part 6                                                                                Part 8

1 comment:

  1. Glad I could help out with your wheels! That's what friends are for.