Wheel Building...

The Black Art?


Or is it just a Grey area?



A Famous front Wheel!


Or Just Getting "Two Cross"




After spending two weeks spoking, ( Lasing) up wheels there have been some good results and some bad.

And it took me back to a week I had in 2010 working on the "Otter" On The Cheap".

 And in the same sort of heatwave we have now the UK.


End of June 2010.

Left Brother with the wheels later in the day, on Saturday.

 Well when I arrived on Sunday, he said he had spent until ten thirty on Saturday evening building up the back wheel, but it did just, well, not look right. I scratched my head, and dashed from one bike to another with lengths of string, and pieces of cardboard with pencil marks on, trying to find a quick fix to the problem.

There was not one. I methodically checked gazed and checked again, counting three spokes between each pattern, before taking every spoke back out of the wheel.

Placing the spokes removed, out on the bench, I found that bruv had used three lengths of spoke, and two of these, were for both sides of the front wheel.

A work of art perhaps, but not a trials wheel.

Well you know there is a slot for two spokes on the flanged side of a Triumph Cub hub, and this one was widened and so made the job in hand worse.

Every time one was right, the next to it fell out.

I eventually used self tapping screws to stop the spokes popping out.

I struggled for five hours with this wheel before I finally got the thing laced up.

Now the front one fell together in under thirty minutes.

The moral of the tale is, if you have the time to wait for a busy wheel builder to put your wheels together, let them.

If not, keep calm and do everything slowly, then when adjusting the spokes to true the wheel, do not over tighten them, and make every adjustment a little at a time.


So about the same period in 2018 and again trying to get bikes ready for a show in August.

 And with a Triumph TR20 Tiger Cub, needing new rims for it's has out of the factory rebuild, and four BSA Otter's needing New rims fitted to hubs, I took on the task.

 If you remember a few weeks back I managed to purchase from an outlet of Central Wheels two very good  Chromed Steel rims, for two of the BSA Bantam back hubs for the "Otter's".

 One was the Foster Otter, in rebuild and the other was for the John Draper BSA Replica.

And with one set of spokes in stock for a standard wide 5" Bantam Hub the first wheel flew together, with two cross pattern on the hub side, and the three cross, on the keyhole flanged side.

 Another set of spokes arrived and the "has new" hub I got for the BSA fell together the same as the first wheel.

 So I was on a roll.

Then after a discussion about the Triumph Cub, it was suggested that we replace the slightly rusty rims on that bike.

Next-day brother came back with two alloy undrilled rims and two sets of stainless spokes from Central Wheels at Coleshill.

 'They can't drill the rims for at least a fortnight", he said, too busy.

 Oh dear I thought, because this really is a "Black Art".

 And although there were some little dot marks in the dimples there was no angle indicated. Or even size of drill.

But we will get back to this later.

Next morning I arrived at the workshop, and was informed that two more stainless rims had been ordered from the "Feked" Company, along with seat and other parts to finish the TR20 Triumph Cub.

 Days passed and still no rims , "short of the spokes" he was told.

Eventually after about a week the gear arrived, a very busy company trying to keep up with orders, so I am told.

So the next day the front wheel was removed and I undid the old spokes, as if they are not rusty and serviceable they always come in as spares.

What I should have done was taken a photo of the wheel first and done the same as Mike Waller on his wheel building video Episode Ten Part One and Two...

And taken notes as to where spokes cross and the pattern.

 And I should have done the same on the "Foster Otter", because this is what got me confused,.

 After looking at this front wheel that I had now fitted with a second hand alloy rim, and spoked it to the pattern that felt right. Some of the spokes still had thread showing, and these were the original spokes that I had removed and cleaned.

And the wheel had sat in my conservatory since before Christmas last year.

I had laced it "Three Cross" that I thought was the norm for these wheels.


Back to the Triumph Cub wheels...

I thought it would be a simple task of just sitting the front rim and hub onto the two chairs I use to lace up wheels, and the job would be done in no time.

Well it seemed to go together OK, but the off-set was not right and it was too far over to the left, away from the hub, and it should have been  covering a large part of the brake drum on that side...

  I said it probably only needed truing, and Rich said he would make a truing stand up, as the one I had bought some weeks ago could not be picked up as the bloke from Newcastle, was on holiday.

And Lee had his Bike wheel truing machine at home.

 The balancing stand we had bought was not up to doing the job for truing a wheel and needed the bearings replacing from new, as they were not true either.

 So I got on with the back wheel. This wheel was like the other rear wheels I had built, and went together without difficulty.

And was sat waiting to be trued on the New alloy truing rig.

What I did not realise at this time was, that Feked had sent the rims and spokes as they said cut to length, and ready to lace... But what they did not say, or list, was the spoke pattern the spokes had been cut for, and did not list the side either.

 This was the confusing part, because I took it for granted that the spoke pattern would be the same as the wheels I had already laced up with the spokes from Central Wheel, what I should have done was checked the length of these spokes against them, but the two wheels I had laced with the C-W spokes were at home, and this one was at the workshop and needed lacing Pronto..

 Big mistake. The Devon Wheel Company, or who ever had supplied Feked, did not lace their wheels to the pattern most other people used, and crossed three spokes on the side that everyone else crossed only twice...

 Confused? Well yes I was... One of those jobs where I should have straight away taken the wheel apart again, and saved time...


(More on that later).



 You need to know the length of the spokes you need for the job.



And the spoke pattern used on the wheel.

This is why you should if you are replacing a rim, always take notes and photos of the wheel before you strip it out.

 If like this wheel it was a hub and New rim. Just see if you can find another wheel to copy.



Just take a look at these two of Mike's Video, as these may help you get into the art...



Good information Mike long time since you made them two now.

And now it is me that is the Prat...

And you now know who Moreton was...



Just a start there is so much more to this Art.


16 hours to get a front wheel right, just not on...

 But I was that Prat...



Here a complicated single sided hub is made to look easy to build, and note it is "four cross" on the  conical side, and this people get wrong on these hubs, and try to use "three cross". Don't work mate.




16 hours on this build, to get it right, kept walking away, but was determined to get it right...









And as you see I still got the photo wrong on the first attempt.


But what threw me in the first place, and not lacing many Bantam front wheels, was this wheel, below.  That I confidently spoked "Three Cross" using the "Two Cross" spokes, well they are a lot shorter than Three Cross spokes?

I have the "Old Rim" and a Hub I can use along with the old spokes I took out so watch this space.


Much More later.



So I spoked up the old wheel to see what had been confusing me.

Ha you see, the drum side was laced up "Three Cross", and this is where I went wrong it should have been "Two".


These were the longer spokes, Or shorter as I was trying to use them for the other side.



And this is the "Two-Cross" with the longer spokes the same length as the ones used for "Three Cross", if you have used shorter spokes for "Two Cross" on the other side. Confusing Is it not...

I still find spoke-ing up like this wrong, and everyone seems to use the              reversed method now-a-days.


More Later as always. Just got to cure my headache.




Here is the "Back-to-Factory build Triumph TR20 Cub, and you can see I got there with the lasing eventually...



It is a good job one of the family can lace wheels anyway...




Got it right in the end again...


Well a bit of a total in house job on the BSA B44 front 8"hub that we are using in the BSA Catalina build...The hub came from my BSA B44 as it was the best of the three we had, so I said lets use it...

The chaps were sand blasting a narrow boat at the yard so I used that powerfull unit to take the enamel from the hub...

Brother had the electrician fit a thermostat  to his pottery kiln to get the temprature  right for powder coat... I then gave the hub two good coats of black gloss powder after firstly a coat of zinc-phosphate ... it turned out a super finish...

So then at home I set too with the task of lacing up the wheel with the new Borrani replica rim from Central Wheels along with stainless spokes... don't forget I had not spocked up one of these before.

So started with the hub side small spokes easy this I thought...but then I could not get the longer spokes into the hub because of the sloping angle, so the short ones were taped in two's and the nipples taken back off. The longer spokes were then all droped into their holes and looking at the photo I had to guide me it looked like the inside spokes went to the right and the outside to the left. After what seemed like knitting with spagetti, I got what I thought was a good job... but tightening the spokes the long ones were just that, too long. but it looked a good job... I sent a photo to brother saying got it done in three hours... But waking this morning I had it in my head it was not right ... so was thinking the hub may have been narrower... so had to check But Central Wheels had the spokes listed to fit Goldstar and BSA B44... So I was wrong so hovered the spare long spoke over the ones fitted...and I could see that the spokes should have been one hole along in the hub and then to the other way so it was looking from the bottom of the rim. as I was working on the bench the OUTSIDE spokes went to the RIGHT and the INSIDE to the left LEFT ...

A bit more knitting the spagetti and we got the job done... but will I ever lace up another BSA 8" halfsided hub ...I doubt it...



Wrong ...Can you tell the difference ...


I KNOW I should have read this page first... But I am Old...

and it was good fun... Video has been on for years...

More wheel building shenanigans later..



More Later.