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Lace the hub first: Fast wheel building

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  • #16
    Pierrox, Thanks for reformatting it for the forum.
    "A properly ridden unicycle is like an object in orbit: constantly falling but never landing." -Diogenes

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    • #17
      Sheldon Brown:
      People who build wheels all day long start by putting all of the spokes into the hub, then connecting them to the rim one after another. This approach is slightly faster on a production basis, but the occasional builder runs a higher risk of lacing errors this way.
      So it sounds like your method is a way to get through this faster and more error-prone option mentioned by Sheldon. Is that right?

      Not having to bend the spokes sounds good, though when you install them in four sections on a new wheel that hasn't yet been tensioned, you don't really have to bend them that much either, as I recall. It's just replacing them one by one that requires a lot of bending, and the bends don't really go away afterwards, it seemed to me.

      Your explanation also makes it very clear what left-handed and right-handed rims are. My KH20FL is left-handed, at least if I am looking down on it from above where the tire was.

      I don't completely understand Step 4 of the "Building" section. Which spokes are in the "pushing" direction and the "pulling" direction? Some photos or diagrams might be good here if you wanted to make this tutorial really complete- either that or an explanation of how this tutorial differs from Sheldon Brown's, so that people can use his diagrams while following this tutorial. I hope my questions aren't too dumb, I'm just hoping to avoid a repeat of what happened after my last build: a spoke breaking every few weeks. Thanks for all your help.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by song View Post
        Sheldon Brown: So it sounds like your method is a way to get through this faster and more error-prone option mentioned by Sheldon. Is that right?

        Not having to bend the spokes sounds good, though when you install them in four sections on a new wheel that hasn't yet been tensioned, you don't really have to bend them that much either, as I recall. It's just replacing them one by one that requires a lot of bending, and the bends don't really go away afterwards, it seemed to me.

        Your explanation also makes it very clear what left-handed and right-handed rims are. My KH20FL is left-handed, at least if I am looking down on it from above where the tire was.

        I don't completely understand Step 4 of the "Building" section. Which spokes are in the "pushing" direction and the "pulling" direction? Some photos or diagrams might be good here if you wanted to make this tutorial really complete- either that or an explanation of how this tutorial differs from Sheldon Brown's, so that people can use his diagrams while following this tutorial. I hope my questions aren't too dumb, I'm just hoping to avoid a repeat of what happened after my last build: a spoke breaking every few weeks. Thanks for all your help.
        I didn't intend for this to be a comprehensive tutorial from the beginning. More of a tutorial for people who have a basic understanding of how to build a wheel, and want to be able to do it faster. I will add the body of this post to the tutorial, and of course let me know if there is anything else that could use clarification.

        I'll try to answer your post in order.

        1. I think the way I build wheels must be what Sheldon is referring to, but I don't know why it has a higher potential for error. My guess would be that you're as likely to lace it wrong either way, but that you may not realize it until you have the whole wheel laced. If you are lacing it via Sheldon's method you will have at most half the wheel built before you realize the error. This is why it is very important that you take a moment to get the rim handedness correct, and to decide if you are lacing symmetric/asymmetric. If you understand enough to make these decisions then the method I use will be much faster (not slightly faster as Sheldon says).

        2. Whenever you add spokes to one side after the other side has spokes in it you run into the problem of bending the outside spokes just to lace the hub. This becomes more of a problem as the opposite flange is populated with more spokes. I don't think subtle bending of the spokes is a real problem, but for the strongest wheel possible you want to establish a "set" to the spokes that gives each spoke the truest run from the hub to the nipple. Any bend that resists the "set" introduces a potential problem for proper tension later.

        3. Pulling/Pushing=Trailing/Leading. You need to know which direction the hub will turn once it is installed on the cycle. When you look at the hub some spokes will be trailing, or pointing to the back, these are "Pulling" spokes. The spokes that are leading, or pointing to the front are "Pushing" spokes. To be honest the terms are probably not correct from an engineering perspective, but those are the terms I learned when I started building wheels.
        "A properly ridden unicycle is like an object in orbit: constantly falling but never landing." -Diogenes

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        • #19
          Originally posted by jtrops View Post
          Pierrox, Thanks for reformatting it for the forum.
          No problem, happy to help!
          If you want to update the explanations, quote my previous post, and just remove the (QUOTE) marks between brackets.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by pierrox View Post
            No problem, happy to help!
            If you want to update the explanations, quote my previous post, and just remove the (QUOTE) marks between brackets.
            Right now I think I'll just add posts from the forum to the tutorial. If I end up rewriting it at some point to include the updates, then I will probably do as you say, and update here. I can then paste from here to the gDoc without formatting problems. It's strange that it doesn't go both directions like that.
            "A properly ridden unicycle is like an object in orbit: constantly falling but never landing." -Diogenes

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            • #21
              So your method is much faster than Sheldon's, AND requires no spoke bending? I'm sold!

              Having read a bit about linseed oil on the bike forums, though, I think I will use grease or Vaseline as a spoke prep instead. One day, when I become more confident in my wheel building and feel I can do everything right on the first try, with minimal truing afterwards, then I will definitely head to the art supply store and get a little bottle of linseed oil (paint stores and hardware stores only sell linseed oil by the quart or gallon).

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              • #22
                Sorry for all the questions, but when your tutorial says to look down at the valve stem hole and see if the rim is right- or left-handed, you meant from this perspective? So this KH20FL rim is left-handed?
                Attached Files

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                • #23
                  Yes, that is right. So in this case you would put your "key" spoke into the second hole from the valve. When you put your "key" through the hub the spoke to the left of it on the opposite flange will be the one that goes next to the valve hole.
                  "A properly ridden unicycle is like an object in orbit: constantly falling but never landing." -Diogenes

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by jtrops View Post
                    I learned it since even Sheldon didn't explain it further than to say it exists.
                    While he even pointed to patterns like the scare-crow.
                    Now a 404, but I think this is a copy of what was linked to.

                    Originally posted by song View Post
                    Hey Leo, do you use any spoke prep?
                    Nipples that come loose are usually because of unequal tention and/or being too loose already.
                    If I want things to sit tight I usually don't use grease.

                    But to answer in full: I use nothing other than the oil that's already on new spokes.
                    That's being added for that purpose!

                    Secondly I almost always mill my spokes myself, and so they have a minor bit of cutting oil left on it.

                    Originally posted by jtrops View Post
                    3. Pulling/Pushing=Trailing/Leading. ... To be honest the terms are probably not correct from an engineering perspective
                    Actually anybody I know who can build use one of the two combinations.
                    Even the engineers of Sapim (though I talk in our native language with them).
                    This year they helped me designing a special unicycle hub (that's not ready for production yet, but perfectly fitting their default head).

                    Originally posted by song View Post
                    So your method is much faster than Sheldon's
                    Now he's even postume honored with a spoking method name. While the method is at least double the age of his grandfather...

                    Originally posted by jtrops View Post
                    So in this case you would put your "key" spoke into the second hole from the valve.
                    Except when you have a rim meant for X-spoking, well, I think; I'm always confused when doing X-spoking.

                    Someone here told X-spoking was not effective - arguing there was some mathematical proof or scientific research - but lacking linking to it. So I'm still curious to learn anything about that (maybe in a seperate thread if desired). Personally I think for freestyle, street, flat, trial it's benefitial for sideways impact, which in for example racing and long distance is irrelevant.
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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by leo View Post
                      Nipples that come loose are usually because of unequal tention and/or being too loose already.
                      If I want things to sit tight I usually don't use grease.

                      But to answer in full: I use nothing other than the oil that's already on new spokes.
                      That's being added for that purpose!

                      Secondly I almost always mill my spokes myself, and so they have a minor bit of cutting oil left on it.
                      Do you do much hopping? The bicycle world seems to be very divided about spoke prep, but most bicyclists don't hop or drop very often. I still don't really have a strong opinion about spoke prep either way, though, and I am pretty sure my spokes came loose and/or broke after my first wheelbuild because I didn't tighten them enough and because I reused a pile of unlabelled old spokes from my previous wheel and had to bend some of them to get them in. What you say about just using a tiny amount of oil makes sense to me, though.

                      Originally posted by leo View Post
                      Now he's even postume honored with a spoking method name. While the method is at least double the age of his grandfather...
                      Well, if being mentioned by me, a semi-anonymous unicyclist on the Internet, is an honor, then I guess Sheldon Brown has been honored! He does deserve some credit, though, for having taught me (posthumously and online) to build a wheel. Several people on this forum and a BMX woman on You Tube also helped.

                      I appreciate your bringing up historical context. Right now there are more NATO troops massed on the Russian border than at any time since Operation Barbarossa (except that those troops weren't from NATO), and almost no one says a word about it. This problem of ignoring historical context is especially widespread when discussing technical issues such as wheelbuilding.

                      The suggestion in jtrops' tutorial that spokes should all be thrown on at once has allowed me to build what appears to be a much better wheel. For me, this method is not much faster than Brown's because this is only my second build, so I am slow, but it does yield a wheel with straighter spokes. It also seems to make it more feasible to copy the spoke pattern seen on another wheel.

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                      • #26
                        Wow this video made by the bmx girl is the clearest tutorial video i've seen on youtube so far.
                        Thanks for this.

                        Do you guys think there is something wrong or missing in this video or a reason why it shouldn't be used for building a unicycle wheel? (without disk brake)

                        Is this a left handed rim or a rh on the video?
                        - Geared kh36 + Nightrider Lite + Kh Tbar + HS33
                        - Qu-ax 36" + nightrider +Q-handle+ cable rim brake
                        - kh 29" + knard 29x3+ kh Tbar + HS33
                        - Qu-ax trial 19"
                        -24"&26" wheels and forks and spare stuffs.

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by UniDreamerFR View Post
                          Wow this video made by the bmx girl is the clearest tutorial video i've seen on youtube so far.
                          Thanks for this.

                          Do you guys think there is something wrong or missing in this video or a reason why it shouldn't be used for building a unicycle wheel? (without disk brake)

                          Is this a left handed rim or a rh on the video?
                          It is a LH rim by my definition. I didn't watch the whole video, just the beginning, but there is nothing special about any tangentially laced wheel. Well, really they are all special for their strength to weight ratio, but lacing them is the same for any purpose.

                          As in any wheel build getting the correct spoke length is critical. If you are building a wheel with asymmetric dish, like a disc wheel, you will need two different spoke lengths. Symmetrically dished wheels, like most uni wheels, will use the same spoke length on both sides.
                          "A properly ridden unicycle is like an object in orbit: constantly falling but never landing." -Diogenes

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by UniDreamerFR View Post
                            Do you guys think there is something wrong or missing in this video or a reason why it shouldn't be used for building a unicycle wheel? (without disk brake)
                            That video shows how to put the spokes on in sections, which is part of why it's so clear, but putting them all into the hub at once, as Leo and Jtrops recommend, will give you a wheel with straighter spokes. This method is also apparently much faster once you get used to it, and, as I mentioned, it allows you to use another wheel as a reference. If you put the spokes on in sections, as in the video, looking at a fully-laced wheel will only confuse you!

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by song View Post
                              I reused a pile of unlabelled old spokes
                              And if those are different brands then often the thread may be slightly off.
                              Although fancy alloy colors may look nice, for strength I prefer to original nipples by the same manufacturer.

                              Another reason why nipples may move is when the hole doesn't give much grip, as it's to edgy. Then I sometimes give them a bit of bevel by a special tool I have, such that the nipples will hold better.

                              Last but not least - why I think I suffer it less; I usually spoke my wheels cross-1 and sometimes cross-4, but I avoid cross-3 as it's not carrieng nice. I believe it's the cause why loose nipples is happening more often at cross-3.

                              Originally posted by song View Post
                              What you say about just using a tiny amount of oil makes sense to me, though.
                              I doubt oil will make them sit more tight. It's only less squeeky.

                              Originally posted by song View Post
                              then I guess Sheldon Brown has been honored! He does deserve some credit, though
                              But also I think he wouldn't have liked it to be such an serious authority.
                              I guess that's why he wore a ridiculous helmet. But heck, that's something I also do.

                              Originally posted by song View Post
                              This problem of ignoring historical context is especially widespread when discussing technical issues such as wheelbuilding.
                              Yes, and even huge brand make stupid mistakes because of that!
                              I have a friend in the bicycle industry that could for 2 hours just about the threading of pedals.
                              So when I see last month a engineering student discussing a virtual CNC project here, then I rather don't bother to try to even explain why whatever you do you'll always will be wrong. Though it's useful to understand.

                              Originally posted by song View Post
                              but it does yield a wheel with straighter spokes.
                              Yes. Why to me it feels better.

                              Originally posted by UniDreamerFR View Post
                              Do you guys think there is something wrong
                              It's not wrong. But simply not clever. Or better said: it's overcomplicated.
                              unicycle.show
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                              +1 866 UNI-CYCL

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by leo View Post
                                Last but not least - why I think I suffer it less; I usually spoke my wheels cross-1 and sometimes cross-4, but I avoid cross-3 as it's not carrieng nice. I believe it's the cause why loose nipples is happening more often at cross-3.
                                Is cross-1 strong enough for a fat guy riding down the stairs? Cross-4 is, I think. Josh at Unicycle dot com said cross-4 would be "overkill" on the reinforced rims of today, so I have stuck with cross-3 so far.

                                Originally posted by leo View Post
                                I doubt oil will make them sit more tight. It's only less squeeky.
                                My point was that a little oil (as you described) seems like it would serve the essential purpose of preventing the spokes from rusting or galvanizing to the nipples and that it would also make the nipples easy to turn when truing, but not too easy, as grease perhaps would. Jobst Brandt also just recommends a bit of motor oil. I used chain oil, which seems to have a similar viscosity.

                                Oh well, in any case, I appear to have turned a slightly damaged wheel with crooked spokes that broke all the time into one that is stronger than when I bought it!

                                Most of this success is thanks to advice from jtrops in this and other threads, even though I didn't really follow his tutorial. Just to recap:

                                1. To fix both damaged and undamaged rim eyelets (or make them redundant, really), I used rim washers.

                                2. As a result of the main recommendation of this tutorial -that all spokes be put into the hub before beginning the wheelbuild- I was able to use my 29, which has the same hub as my 20, as a reference. I just sat down and copied its spoke pattern exactly.

                                3. Tightening every adjacent spoke on my wheel sequentially (as most wheelbuilding tutorials recommend) was how I had damaged my rim eyelets to begin with. Following the instructions in this post allowed me to bring my wheel up to tension fully and fearlessly.

                                Time will tell whether all this worked, but right now it seems that it did. Thank you!

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