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new spokes - old wheels, sizing?

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Further to my classic Gitane restoration, I am looking at restoring the wheels myself.  They seem pretty true and are Mavic rims with no signs of cracking.  The bearings feel dry but not rough.  The rim and hub both clean up and a quick polish of a small area looks good.

However the spokes do not clean up at all and would in the future make the wheels look unkempt.

I have never built a wheel before but these will be low mileage sunny day wheels so I am going to give it a try.  My plan is to probably rebuild in situ taking out a spoke and then replacing a spoke.

I do not think I will be able to get the spokes union as they look pretty set in place.

Can you point me to a resource to size new spokes and what should I be looking at for spokes for a 1975 wheel build?

Google Roger Musson's wheelbuilding book (it's a downloadable pdf - free iirc).  All you need to know is in there.  Very detailed and clear guide to how to measure up for required spoke lengths within.

[edit] - OK not free, but reasonable certainly.

I think you'll need to get a spoke out and measure it (you'll need a spoke from each side of the back wheel as it will probably be dished for the freewheel and have different length spokes each side).  There are a number of web sites which will calculate spoke lengths but these all rely on key data including the ERD of the rim, roughly the diameter of the rim across the nipple seats, the spoke hole diameter of the hub and the distance from the centre of the hub to the flanges.  I think, you'll struggle to get any of these with all the components in place (some sites use databases of dimensions but given the age of your wheels I wouldn't expect your components to feature, the other thing is that manufacterer dimensions are unreliable and it's best to measure yourself). In short you'll have to do a little dismantling to get a few spokes out or just strip it out, download the book that Caerau highlighted above and rebuild.
In terms of spokes - not sure because of the age but DT Swiss, Sapim and ACI (in order of cost) are all good (double butted are best).

Use 1.8/1.6/1.8 spokes (with the right 1.8 nipples!) if you can get them.  The usual 2.0/1.8/2.0 spokes look wrong on a vintage build if you are bothered about authenticity.

there will be up to three different lengths of spoke in a standard wheelset; front, rear NDS, rear DS.

If you are rebuilding the wheels using the extant rims you either

a) need to know the lengths of the extant spokes and that they are the correct lengths or
b) need to know the exact ERD of the rims

If you look at where the spoke ends finish in the nipples, choose a set that looks about right, measure those accurately (and the hubs of course)  and reverse calculate the ERD. If you take photos of how the spoke ends look you won't forget later.

If you really can't get a few nipples undone (tip; using a micro-blowtorch on them helps enormously) then cutting a few spokes using a shearing action (eg using the wire cutting jaws alongside the pivot in a pair of pliers) leaves pieces that can be reassembled and measured accurately.

This is all pretty simple stuff to do. But be warned, building with single-walled rims is unforgiving re spoke length.  BITD 10mm length nipples would be used and spokes 1mm too short would look utterly shit and 1mm too long would leave a lot of filing to do.  So you need to be accurate; no guessing, "no bloke on the internet used length X and his rims and hubs looked similar"; all those are paths to failure.



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