Sunday, 3 May 2009

Another spoke

I rebuilt the back wheel of my commuting bike in its partial restoration at the end of last year. When I say rebuilt, I didn't replace all the spokes, just the ones that were broken, damaged or with seized nipples. That was about twelve, still leaving 24 old tired spokes in the wheel. I followed the excellent wheel building article by the late Sheldon Brown. I was surprised to find that although the lacing pattern was 3-cross, the spokes did not go over or under each other, shown in the picture above, before the wheel was cleaned up and re-laced. Sheldon's article explains what happens to spokes under tension and explains the possibility of the derailleur cage getting caught in spokes due to incorrect lacing and crossing. I stripped all the spokes out and laced them correctly before truing and tensioning it. After the exercise of truing it, I was pleased with myself for being able to get the wheel into better shape than it had been before I started.

Although the wheel is old, it gave it a new lease of life. Until Friday that was. That's 600 miles of shoddy roads, steep climbs and 5 months of daily commuting that it survived. I'd decided to pop into town after work and, after crashing into pothole after pothole along Whalley Old Road (another road in need of a complete resurface), I straightened out my eyeballs back on smooth tarmac at Larkhill to discover the bike shimmying around. I looked down to see the back wheel wobbling. Another drive side spoke had broken. It wasn't bad enough that I couldn't get home on it and I had it repaired in just over an hour. With hindsight, I should have bought 36 spokes and done a complete restoration. If only I'd known I could rebuild it successfully, but I wasn't that confident
at the time.

Strangely that very morning there had been a piece on the radio about the state of the local roads and the amount the council spends paying out claims due to damage from potholes. It did cross my mind that maybe I should claim. Maybe I will. Time and materials and all that.

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