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From: (Jobst Brandt)
Subject: Re: Fixing rounded nipple (Was: Re: Hub broke while building wheel)
Date: Tue, 18 Jun 1996 20:54:03 GMT

Jim Frost writes:

> How should I handle a rounded-out nipple when the wheel has been
> (almost) fully tensioned.  I removed it and replaced it without
> touching the other spokes, and brought it back up to tension.  This
> of course resulted in sigificant distortion of the rim during the
> removal process.  Was this an acceptable approach, or should I have
> detensioned the whole wheel to replace the nipple?

There should be no permanent distortion in the rim from this failure,
that is no different from a spoke failure in use on the road.  The
spokes should not be so tight that this relatively small overload
causes the rim to exceed its yield stress.  The correct way to replace
the nipple is as you did, but the right way to avoid the problem is
to lubricate the nipple sockets with 90W gear oil to prevent galling
and excess friction that leads to the problem.  90W gear oil is
pretty good stuff for both the spoke threads and the rim sockets.

Jobst Brandt      <> 

From: (Jobst Brandt)
Subject: Re: Spoke Lube During Building - Help
Date: Fri, 14 Jun 1996 00:51:25 GMT

Eric Topp writes:

>> Production wheels are made to work.  If they had to rely on glue to
>> keep the wheel ion true there would soon be a change in design.  This
>> is not the way production wheels are made.

> I don't know what you mean by "production wheel", but generally I
> wouldn't hold up a mass produced wheel as an example of a quality.
> They typically use cheap spokes and are under-tensioned.  Wheelsmith
> produces quality machine-made and hand made wheels, all of them use
> prep. The prep on machine-made wheels does not to "glue" the spokes
> in place, rather spoke prep's excellent lubrication qualities lets
> their truing robot gauge spoke tension more accurately (via the
> torque applied at the nipple).

Production refers to people who put thousands of bicycles on the
market with similar hubs and wheel design.  If they come apart the
company packs up and goes out of business.  For this reason, these 
wheels are conservatively designed.  It does not mean they are
well built or tensioned, but they work enough to outlast warranties.

>>> I know, I used to build them for myself and other racers when I
>>> worked for Wheelsmith.  The fact is that if you rock the bike while
>>> riding certain of these wheels, some spokes can be become entirely
>>> slack in the deformation zone.

>> As I said, you can construct a useless wheel, one that in normal
>> riding has spokes that go entirely slack without even hitting a bump.
>> Such a wheel is out of luck from the start.  If you look at its
>> lateral strength, you'll see that it is foolish to ride such a wheel,
>> and you want to use this as a standard to advise people on wheels.

> What gets raced in time trials and what's suitable for every-day use
> are two different things.  Will we see you swaggering around the
> pits of the Olympic velodrome this Summer pronouncing judgments on
> everyone's wheels, shaking your head and offering a set of trusty 36
> spoke high-flange wheels from behind your back? (you know, the ones
> so ubiquitous in THE BOOK).  I don't think you'll get many takers
> amongst the pursuit riders.

You have a vivid imagination.  What's all this 36 high flange.  In my
book it states that high flange hubs are shown to make the pictures
clearer and are not to be taken as the preferred hub type.  In fact it
is made clear, that high flange hubs have no other purpose than to
replace spokes on track bikes in the days of yore.

I have built plenty of 24 spoke TT wheels for the road and track.  I
used no special elixirs on the spoke threads and the wheels held up.

>>> Without some kind of thread locking, the whole wheel can unwind
>>> entirely in the course of riding it.

>> So?  And this is the sort of wheel we get from Wheelsmith?  Things
>> are worse than I thought.  I also hear Ritchey is making an
>> asymmetric rim to go with his 9-speed hubs.  Who needs this stuff?

> "You should ride equipment just like mine."

Oh, what do you ride?

>>> This causes some otherwise sensible mechanics to try some truly
>>> horrid things to lock the nipples, usually at the expense of any
>>> easy subsequent truing of the wheel.  Spoke prep does double duty as
>>> lubricant and thread locker.  It's a viscous goop that comes in a
>>> jar and is applied to the spoke threads and allowed to dry before
>>> building.

>> As I said, I have built and rebuilt wheels for all sorts of people
>> and never used the stuff.  I have never had a complaint of a wheel
>> getting loose spokes.  In fact these people have often mentioned
>> that the wheels worked better than any they had tried.

> Building durable wheels with 32 or 36 spokes is something that just 
> about anyone can do with proper instruction.  There's no real point 
> in chest thumping.

Why is your chest thumping.  You shouldn't sniff that ammonia in the
smoke prep.  Whether anyone can build wheels or not is not the subject
here but rather your insistence that without glue, wheels will fail.

> When I worked at Wheelsmith, the stuff I found challenging was
> repairing damaged wheels.  I got pretty good at it and salvaged many
> wheels that other builders would have opted for rebuilds.  I don't
> do so much of that work any more, but occasionally I'll have to fix
> a damaged wheel on a ride with a minimum of tools.  I appreciate
> having spoke prepped wheels that don't self-destruct when ridden,
> even if spokes are missing or the rim is damaged.  This is
> particularly important in off-road riding.

Now its "repaired wheels".  This is a moving target.  Of course your
suggestion is that I never repair wheels and don't understand the
nuances.  Well my dad can beat up your dad... etc, and the rest of the
threats one might hear on the grade school yard.  There is a whole
section in "the Bicycle Wheel" on repairing pretzled wheels.  I didn't
invent that part from theoretical first principles either.

>>> For many wheels, with components thoughtfully chosen and carefully
>>> built, spoke prep is not essential to crafting a strong wheel that
>>> remains true.  We can agree that some kind of lubricant on the
>>> spoke threads and between the nipple and the rim is essential to
>>> properly tighten the spokes.

>> I propose that none of these wheels, need the stuff and wheels that
>> routinely have spokes that are loose with every turn are not ones
>> under discussion.

> You cite everything I wrote, except this:

> Look for something without sulphur, which corrodes brass in the
> nipples. Spoke prep is a super lubricant, so it's easy to bring the
> spokes to high tension.  It's inert, so it's going to stay a good
> lubricant for any future truing.  It also has a mild thread locking
> action that keeps spokes from unwinding if the rim should deform
> (whether by inherent weakness, broken spoke or bent rim).  This
> gives the wheel a certain robustness-- a damaged wheel can continue
> to be ridden and not self destruct as non-prepped wheels might.

You say that as if sulphur were a lurking threat, omnipresent and
ready to ruin the unwary rider's wheels.  I use 90W hypoid gear oil
now and then and have never had any problem with corrosion.  Hypoid
oil has substantial sulphur compounds in it and even smells like it.
How about stopping the BS now.  This is so much fear mongering.

> Is it not relevant to the discussion?  I think it's the central
> point. Many wheels may not need a thread lock to be stable under
> typical use, BUT, if the wheel looses spokes or the rim is damaged,
> what then?  Start walking?

I'm afraid.  If I don't throw smoke prep over my left shoulder, I'm
sure to crash with a collapsed wheel.

>>> What if there were self locking nipples -- like an aircraft
>>> fastener.  Would you be willing to pay 5 cents/nipple extra for a
>>> bit of insurance?  I think you would say no, spokes unwinding is not
>>> a problem on my bike as I ride the thoughtfully-chosen, well-built
>>> wheels. That's OK.  But don't begrudge that people who say yes, I
>>> want that insurance.  Spoke prep gives that insurance for much less
>>> per spoke.  I take my riding and my equipment seriously and I prize
>>> durability and robustness whether for around town riding or some
>>> place remote.

>> You keep trying to support the notion that most wheels or even some
>> reasonably constructed wheels need a thread lock.  They don't.  The
>> reason they don't is that a durable wheel must operate with all its
>> spokes substantially tighter than the slackening point at all times.
>> In that condition there is no possibility for nipples to unscrew.  The
>> exception is when the bicycle hits an obstacle.  These are singular
>> events that often damage the rim.  Your admonitions bring the term
>> "fear mongering" to mind where there is no problem.

> I'm not fear mongering, nor did I invent the need for thread locking.
> One can remain blissfully inside the domain where spokes stay tight,
> or circumstances may thrust you outside that cushy envelope.  I like
> to use spoke prep on my wheels.  To each his own.

I'll tell you who started thread locking juice.  It was Rick and Jon
Hjertberg with their wheel building machine.  Before they could get
tight spokes with the early Holland Mechanics machine because it
couldn't handle spike twist, they invented the stuff to be able to
ship loose wheels.  I was there and observed the problem.  In fact the
machine could not true a 1.8mm swaged spoke wheel.  It just twisted
the nipples back and fourth an 1/8 of a turn and got nowhere.

That wheels built on the margin of durability could last a little
time was achieved by using linseed oil a long time ago.  Using a dry
powdered wax in paste form is what WS markets.  Bad wheels need lots
of help to survive.

>>> Your only advice to people is, in effect, "You should ride equipment
>>> just like mine."  For many people that's not feasible, and there is
>>> still the issue of spokes loosening when riding with a broken spoke
>>> or a damaged rim.  Check around and you'll find that just about
>>> every professional team mechanic uses spokeprep on every wheel.
>>> They're busy people, but they take the time and trouble to use spoke
>>> prep so that the riders have the very best.

>> Oh get off it.  I never said that and you saying it doesn't make it
>> true.  What is your axe that gets so much grinding here.  Do you
>> make smoke prep, and what are you spoking in your pipe anyway?
>> This whole thing sounds a lot like the "DON'T GREASE YOUR CRANK
>> SPINDLES" story.  The way you say that, I suspect these guys ought
>> to teach engineering courses, unless they are remnants of the red
>> guard and still burn books.

> Is this a gratuitous rant?  

No, it is closer to the facts than you seem to believe.  It is bike
mechanics in general who don't read much and wouldn't consult the
library for bike information if it killed them.  There are exceptions
but they are few.  I still hear from the "leading wheel builders" that
they "pre-stress" their wheels by bending them (pushing down on the
rim).  That's about as unclear on the concept of stress relieving as
you can get.

Jobst Brandt      <> 

From: (Jobst Brandt)
Subject: Re: Jobst: penetrating oil?
Date: 28 Jun 2001 20:43:47 GMT

John Bigboote writes:

> Prior to truing, I read/heard/recall that a drop of penetrating oil on
> the nipple is a good idea. Any suggestion what I should look for (brand
> names, etc.)? It's probably in your book, but a friend borrowed it, and
> I haven't seen it since...  >:-(

I use 90w gear lube for eyelets and threads for new wheels, where I
can apply the oil to all the spokes at once by oiling the threaded end
of the bundle and working them around until it is on all spokes.  For
re-truing, I use 10w motor oil or the like with a fine tipped oil can
where I can put a drop on the spoke-nipple and nipple-eyelet
interface.  It isn't as good as gear lube but it gets in there where
it's needed while thicker oil would not, at least not in the time I
care to wait.

Jobst Brandt    <>

Subject: Re: Spoke Prep - cheap replacement
Message-ID: <2B2ud.10517$>
Date: Thu, 09 Dec 2004 20:29:50 GMT

Joshua Lee writes:

> Got it.  Any oil, boiled to personal thickness with a pinch of salt
> and a touch of beeswax.  Sounds like a hearty breakfast.  You guys
> are good.

> So do spokes ever seize on the nipples at all (over time) or am I
> just being paranoid?  I thought water could cause the two to seize.

If you use brass spoke nipples and stainless spokes the only seizing
possible would be with carefully degreased parts, something not easily
accomplished.  Just the same, oiling the threads before building is
useful in two ways.  It assists in tensioning for minimal spoke twist
and it prevents fine grit from washing into the interface on wet
roads.  Fine grit is the only thing that might make the threads bind
for subsequent reuse or truing.

As I have mentioned, I was there when Wheelsmith invented SpokePrep
when they produced their first machine built wheels.  Since high
tension could not be achieved, wheels were often returned for losing
trueness (tension) and being aware that the wheels did not have enough
tension to prevent spokes from becoming intermittently slack, they
produced a glue that would not interfere with tensioning but would
prevent unscrewing.  Unlike linseed oil, SpokePrep does not change
once applied to spokes so you can batch treat spokes, leave them lying
around and use them any time.  Linseed oil and other glues do not give
that option.

On the other hand, the need for SpokePrep indicates insufficient
tension or too few spokes, aka poor wheels.  Currently the rave is to
have fewer spokes than your neighbor, or a spoke pattern that is at
least a conversation piece.  Let's get back to useful and durable

Jobst Brandt

Subject: Re: Spoke Prep - cheap replacement
Message-ID: <Zznud.10715$>
Date: Fri, 10 Dec 2004 20:22:17 GMT

Mark Hickey writes:

>> If you use brass spoke nipples and stainless spokes the only
>> seizing possible would be with carefully degreased parts, something
>> not easily accomplished.  Just the same, oiling the threads before
>> building is useful in two ways.  It assists in tensioning for
>> minimal spoke twist and it prevents fine grit from washing into the
>> interface on wet roads.  Fine grit is the only thing that might
>> make the threads bind for subsequent reuse or truing.

> This (to me) is the best "feature" of spoke prep (though I use
> linseed oil for my own wheels).  I have always assumed that the
> tacky final state of the "prep" will be better than oil at
> preventing the ingestion of grit into the spoke/nipple threads,
> simply because it takes up much of the space between the two
> surfaces.

> Is this a bad assumption on my part?

I don't think it merits the use of an extra preparation to achieve
what motor oil will do, considering that motor oil or a substitute is
needed to lubricate the spoke nipple to rim interface anyway.  Oil
works well in preventing grit intrusion because it cakes up with road
dust in a few miles to fill any gap.

Jobst Brandt

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