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  1. #1
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    Wheelbuilding Q: oil on spoke nipples or no?

    I usually oil the nipples at the rim eyelet before tensioning a wheel. But putting together a wheel with Stans ZTR 355 rims and was thinking with the lower spoke tension it might be better to not to oil it up. Sort of like the theory of not putting oil on the non-drive side nipples on the rear wheel to keep them from loosening later. Any thoughts?

  2. #2
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    YES! Always.
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  3. #3
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    I prefer spoke prep.

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    Yep, linseed oil is also good

    Quote Originally Posted by lebikerboy
    I prefer spoke prep.
    in a pinch motor oil works
    but spoke prep and linseed oil lasts longer and makes for less spoke windup during building/tensioning and future truing.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by lebikerboy
    I prefer spoke prep.
    Between the nipple and rim?
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T.
    Whatever you prefer. Always use a lube.
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  8. #8
    I already rode that
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    The couple wheels I built up myself I never used any oil or anything to "prep" it.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuperNewb
    The couple wheels I built up myself I never used any oil or anything to "prep" it.
    Not a good idea. Lack of lube creates excess friction during tensioning/truing and allows corrosion making future truing more difficult.

    Missing this basic step could mean there are other important things that didn't get done either.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ratt
    I usually oil the nipples at the rim eyelet before tensioning a wheel. But putting together a wheel with Stans ZTR 355 rims and was thinking with the lower spoke tension it might be better to not to oil it up. Sort of like the theory of not putting oil on the non-drive side nipples on the rear wheel to keep them from loosening later. Any thoughts?

    I like to use sand...

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ratt
    I usually oil the nipples at the rim eyelet before tensioning a wheel. But putting together a wheel with Stans ZTR 355 rims and was thinking with the lower spoke tension it might be better to not to oil it up. Sort of like the theory of not putting oil on the non-drive side nipples on the rear wheel to keep them from loosening later. Any thoughts?


    Ratt....i believe it's even more important to oil the contacts on a rim like the ZTR to prevent galling between the two aluminum surfaces (rim and nipple). I also think your adjustments will come easier while you're building the wheel and while making the final corrections. Me...i use a cheap oil like tri-flow in the eyelet/nipple area, works great.


    good luck with your wheelbuild.



    later, chad

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T.
    Ooooh I can't resist! Antiseize!
    ]
    Works fine for me! I've been doing this on alloy-nippled wheels for the past couple years, and have had no problems with them. I've seens tons of seized nipples while repairing wheels for others, though.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by nwmtb
    Ratt....i believe it's even more important to oil the contacts on a rim like the ZTR to prevent galling between the two aluminum surfaces (rim and nipple). I also think your adjustments will come easier while you're building the wheel and while making the final corrections. Me...i use a cheap oil like tri-flow in the eyelet/nipple area, works great.


    good luck with your wheelbuild.



    later, chad
    I would stick to brass nips on any non-eyeletted rim, you are never going to get (and maintain) good spoke tension on a bare rim with alu nips, no matter how well lubed they are (while they might be acceptable for a lighter rider, generally low tension wheels are a PITA, shorter lived and less reliable.)

  14. #14
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    on sheldon brown's wheel building page it says that non-drive side spokes shouldn't be oiled/greased. the reasoning given makes sense, non-drive side spoke tension is much lower. having the non-drive side spokes loosen up over time because i put a dab of oil on there sounds bad.

    is spoke-prep like a wax lubricant for the threads?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by mechmann_mtb
    on sheldon brown's wheel building page it says that non-drive side spokes shouldn't be oiled/greased. the reasoning given makes sense, non-drive side spoke tension is much lower. having the non-drive side spokes loosen up over time because i put a dab of oil on there sounds bad.
    44 years of home wheelbuilding, all threads (including NDS) have been lubed and none ever loosened. Loosening is more a fault of insufficient tension in the first place.

    .......is spoke-prep like a wax lubricant for the threads?
    Wheelsmith's answer to me (and I quote) was "Mostly teflon".
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grumpy
    I would stick to brass nips on any non-eyeletted rim, you are never going to get (and maintain) good spoke tension on a bare rim with alu nips, no matter how well lubed they are (while they might be acceptable for a lighter rider, generally low tension wheels are a PITA, shorter lived and less reliable.)


    i would prefer the same also, but in all reality you can build a STANS's ZTR rim with alloy nipples and get the proper tension of the spokes. Allthough it should be noted that a rim like the ZTR only recieves 90-95kgf of tension. Short lived and less reliable, i suppose you could be right, but in the end it comes down to the quality of the build. Even tension and pre-stressing the wheel a number of times during the wheel build process and a person could get 2-3 years of good service, which when considering the weight and construction of these rims that's a pretty good timeframe.

    Personally i lube every nipple and use wheelsmith spoke prep on the threads.

    Sheldon Brown knows a thing or two about wheelbuilding, but you also have to remember that most of the folks that are using the MTBR forums are running mountain bikes with disc brakes...disc brakes produce far more torque than the driveside, and in order to build a strong wheel the disc side has to have high tensions too. Lubing the nipple/rim interface allows for smoother/easier adjustments and fights off long-term corrosion.




    later, Chad
    Last edited by nwmtb; 03-20-2006 at 02:08 PM.

  17. #17
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    Would regular old automotive wheel bearing grease be a bad idea in place of spoke prep/oil?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Khemical
    Would regular old automotive wheel bearing grease be a bad idea in place of spoke prep/oil?
    Any lube is better than no lube. Bicycle spoke/nipple threads and friction between nipple and seat is about as low tech as you can get in the world of machines. We're hardly talking turbocharger lubrication here. All that being said I use red Bullshot grease on nipple seats and anti-seize compound on spoke threads. Other people have results as acceptable as mine using other products. I'm going to experiment with bacon grease one of these days.
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  19. #19
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    Avoid bacon grease - too hard to keep dogs away.

    Seriously though, use lube on the rim/nipple interface and lube or prep on the threads - you wont regret it.

  20. #20
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    On the nipple to spoke connection, you want to use about the best quality lube you can as this will result in the least amount of spoke wind-up. Below are a couple of tables of how the friction factor changes with respect to lubricant and materials used. The best comparison would be the steel screw and brass nut. Typically, oil will reduce the Friction value only about 10%-15%, grease will reduce the friction value between 15%-35%, and anti-seize can reduce the friction factor by 50%.

    Also, the lower the friction value is between the nipple and rim, the more easily spoke wind-up will un-wind when you are stress relieving the wheel at the end of the build.

    I like to use anti-seize between the spoke and nipple and oil or grease between the nipple and rim (but I think I am going to switch to grease only between the nipple and rim).

    Friction Factors for Power Screws

    The following factors are typical friction factors for power screw torque and efficiency calculations..

    1) Screw Thread Friction values (μ<SUB>s</SUB>)

    <TABLE borderColor=red cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="50%" align=center border=2><TBODY><TR><TD class=w rowSpan=2>Screw Material </TD><TD class=x colSpan=4>Nut Material </TD></TR><TR><TD style="TEXT-ALIGN: center">Steel</TD><TD style="TEXT-ALIGN: center">Brass</TD><TD style="TEXT-ALIGN: center">Bronze</TD><TD style="TEXT-ALIGN: center">Cast Iron</TD></TR><TR><TD>Steel(Dry) </TD><TD style="TEXT-ALIGN: center">0,15-0,25</TD><TD style="TEXT-ALIGN: center">0,15-0,23</TD><TD style="TEXT-ALIGN: center">0,15-0,19</TD><TD style="TEXT-ALIGN: center">0,15-0,25</TD></TR><TR><TD>Steel (Lubricated) </TD><TD style="TEXT-ALIGN: center">0,11-0,17</TD><TD style="TEXT-ALIGN: center">0,10-0,16</TD><TD style="TEXT-ALIGN: center">0,10-0,15</TD><TD style="TEXT-ALIGN: center">0,11-0,17</TD></TR><TR><TD>Bronze </TD><TD style="TEXT-ALIGN: center">0,08-0,12</TD><TD style="TEXT-ALIGN: center">0,04-0,06</TD><TD style="TEXT-ALIGN: center">-</TD><TD style="TEXT-ALIGN: center">0,06-0,09</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

    Here is the link to the website which has a lot more useful info:

    http://www.roymech.co.uk/Useful_Tabl...o_of_frict.htm

    Take a look at the aluminum on steel friction values, about 2.5 times that of brass on steel.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T.
    44 years of home wheelbuilding, all threads (including NDS) have been lubed and none ever loosened. Loosening is more a fault of insufficient tension in the first place.


    Wheelsmith's answer to me (and I quote) was "Mostly teflon".
    Agree, absolutely! (I only have 30 years of wheel-building however;-)

    Always lube (waterproofgrease is even better than oil) and never use spoke thread locker, if the nipple needs locker, it's tension is too low. If you operate a wheel with low enough tension to unscrew nips (ie zero tension underload and weight) thread locking the nipple will prevent it from unscrewing but the zero tension cycling will soon fatigue the spoke and it will likely break at the bend.

  22. #22
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    No IMHO (after 30 years of wheel-building, and the in the opinion of most wheel-building scholars) you can't build a non-eyleted rim and alu nips with sufficient tension. Disc brakes are not the causal agent. Problem is you are limited by your max tension on your drive side. The non drive side is now so low (given the dish) that the ND pushing spokes are now so low that under load and torque (at the bottom while pedaling) the spoke is nearly de-tensioned. this results in a severe load cycling which can cause the ND nipples to unwind and fatigue the spokes.

    Yes a light rider that didn't pedal hard (spinner rather than stand and hammer) might be able to ride a low tension wheel for a year or two, but why build an inherently flawed wheel? there are numerous eyeleted rims available. if you want to use a non eyeleted rim use brass.

    A good reference to the physics of a bicycle wheel is (appropriately enough) The Bicycle Wheel by Jobst Brandt.
    Last edited by Grumpy; 03-20-2006 at 08:44 PM.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T.
    Not a good idea. Lack of lube creates excess friction during tensioning/truing and allows corrosion making future truing more difficult.

    Missing this basic step could mean there are other important things that didn't get done either.
    One wheel is 3 years old and I ride hard (so my friends say) with no issues when I give it minor true jobs which is once a season if need be.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grumpy
    No IMHO (after 30 years of wheel-building, and the in the opinion of most wheel-building scholars) you can't build a non-eyleted rim and alu nips with sufficient tension. Disc brakes are not the causal agent. Problem is you are limited by your max tension on your drive side. The non drive side is now so low (given the dish) that the ND pushing spokes are now so low that under load and torque (at the bottom while pedaling) the spoke is nearly de-tensioned. this results in a severe load cycling which can cause the ND nipples to unwind and fatigue the spokes.

    Yes a light rider that didn't pedal hard (spinner rather than stand and hammer) might be able to ride a low tension wheel for a year or two, but why build an inherently flawed wheel? there are numerous eyeleted rims available. if you want to use a non eyeleted rim use brass.

    A good reference to the physics of a bicycle wheel is (appropriately enough) The Bicycle Wheel by Jobst Brandt.
    Yep,

    I totally avoid Mavic XC rims( 217's, 517's single eyelit versions) because of this - they always crack. The I Beam in WTB rims does a good job of withstanding proper tension (if you go by DT's recomended tension - drive side should be something like 150 PPSI)

    I don't think alu nipple make much difference though - it's whether or not the eyelits rip out that is the issue.

    That being said, I am 180#'s running (32 hole rear, 28 hole front) 14/15 drive side-rear and disc-front and 14/17 revolutions nondrive-rear and drive side-front with the 22 mil lazer beams on a 4" trail bike and they're holding up great. I built them myself and literally woudln't trust any other mechanic to do my wheel builds. If you tensioned them too low they would prolly fold.
    Last edited by imridingmybike; 03-21-2006 at 09:17 AM.

  25. #25
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    2 cents

    I have always used linseed oil. It is the "old school" spoke prep. It starts very "oily" and you only need a tiny bit, but it drys to an almost hard finish that helps hold tension without binding like a loctite or spoke prep.

    Works great.

  26. #26
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    Yeah single eyelet mavics under heavy use can (eventually) crack out the pulling drive side spokes (but normally not before the rim is shot anyway.)
    If you are hard on rims (ie having problems with Mavic's cracking at the eyelets) I would suggest jumping up to 36 spoke rims. the weight of 4 spokes is fairly insignificant (in the big picture) and it builds a LOT stronger wheel and you can normall jump to a lighter spoke (at least on the ND side) and make up some of the difference (and it is easier to keep a 36 hole rim true). You wouldn't think it would make that much of a difference, but I have rarely seen 36 hole SUP's crack at the eyelets, (and have seen a fair amount of 28 and 32's) this goes all the way back to the 217 a dozen years ago)

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grumpy
    Yeah single eyelet mavics under heavy use can (eventually) crack out the pulling drive side spokes (but normally not before the rim is shot anyway.)
    If you are hard on rims (ie having problems with Mavic's cracking at the eyelets) I would suggest jumping up to 36 spoke rims. the weight of 4 spokes is fairly insignificant (in the big picture) and it builds a LOT stronger wheel and you can normall jump to a lighter spoke (at least on the ND side) and make up some of the difference (and it is easier to keep a 36 hole rim true). You wouldn't think it would make that much of a difference, but I have rarely seen 36 hole SUP's crack at the eyelets, (and have seen a fair amount of 28 and 32's) this goes all the way back to the 217 a dozen years ago)
    I'm not having trouble with rims - since I stopped using Mavics - and I won't be going 36 hole anytime soon!

    My 28 hole front and 32 hole rear built up with WTB lazer beams is holding up great!

    For the record - I use Park grease on my threads...

  28. #28
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    Wrong place in the thread hierarchy please Ignore

  29. #29
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    Had a little trouble getting this in the right place in the thread....

    Polylube is my grease of choice for spokes and nipples as well. Poly urea greases (particularly those with synthetic (rather than mineral oil) bases) have exceptional film strength and are really resistant to washout, which is exactly what you want on a nipple.

    Read Jobst's book if you haven't already, it just might change your thinking on high spoke count wheels. (that said I have 24 spoke wheels front and rear (x-max))

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grumpy
    Read Jobst's book if you haven't already, it just might change your thinking on high spoke count wheels. (that said I have 24 spoke wheels front and rear (x-max))
    I've read Jobt's book and I understand some prefer high spoke counts. When I worked with Charlie Cunningham he spoke of using 36 hole wheels - but with very light weight spokes to acheive his end.

    Of course there are those like Rolfe whateveryhisnameis who champions fewer spokes.

    I'm more inclined to determine spoke count/guage/type/etc based on the requirements and don't make blanket statements one way or the other.

    My DH bike has had 36 hole 4x -sometimes 32 hole 3x - sometime double butted, sometimes straight. My xc bike will some times be radial front, 2x3x rear - sometimes 3x front and rear 32 hole 3x- sometimes 28 hole front - it just depends.

    I've never taco'd a wheel or had one fail on me - the worst I ever had was a bunch of 15/17 guage spoke nipples strip on me - based on reduced surface area. Lesson learned.

    I do know that staying away from single eyelit Mavic XC rims is smart and I've had great success with I Beam rims.

    Thanks for the attempted tutelage!

  31. #31
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    I have been building wheels for 30 years and have taco'd many wheels and have pulled the nipples through more than a couple SUP's. However in all that time I have never stripped a nipple. Details... and do you mean thread stripped or rounding the wrench flats off?

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grumpy
    I have been building wheels for 30 years and have taco'd many wheels and have pulled the nipples through more than a couple SUP's. However in all that time I have never stripped a nipple. Details... and do you mean thread stripped or rounding the wrench flats off?
    Was running 15/17 guage non drive 264mm rear - don't remember if it was "pulling" or "pushing" but being a disc wheel, it wouldn't matter. Had 3 or so nipples strip out - the threads pulled out.

    I figured the slight difference in diameter between a 14 guage and a 15 guage would be enough to do this.

    It was the one and only wheel I've built using 15/17's and won't do it again!

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