New Spokes in a 19" Wheel

If 19" wheels have sound, but rusty, rims they can be restored except for the spokes that have rusted away and have been reduced in their thickness and strength.  It is possible to re-spoke some of the wheels keeping any spokes which are still useable and replacing the others. 

wheel 1
Before I took the wheels apart I made an assembly board from a section of 38 mm kitchen work-top and some wooden blocks.  I laid a wheel on the work-top and screwed three or foul blocks tightly against the rim and the centre.  I also marked around the outside of centre with a pen.  This will help locate it.




I used heat to free off the nipples and gripped them with mole-grips, tightening before loosening, in order to reduce the damage to the nipples.  A nipple key would have just slipped around and damaged the nipples. 

Once the wheel had been taken apart I de-rusted the rim and centre and any spokes which could be reused.

wheel 2
In the centre of the wheel there are two rows of 12 spoke holes set slightly apart around the larger diameter and two rows of 6 spoke holes also set slightly apart around the small diameter of the centre.  This allows the spokes to cross over without bending. 



wheel 3
The rim has 12 groups of three holes consisting of the outer holes in each group set slightly offset from the inner hole.  More on this later.



wheel 4
Now it is time to set up the spokes.  Thread the shorter spokes, 24 in total, through the holes in the large diameter of the centre, filling all the holes.  Lay the rim on the assembly board making sure the inner-tube valve hole is directly away from you at the 12 o'clock position, and the middle holes in the group of three holes are uppermost.  Make sure the rim is held firmly by the blocks.  Now place the centre into the middle of the rim you need not locate it in its blocks yet.  Make sure that one of the wheel stud holes, not the locating stud holes, is directly in line with the valve hole in the rim. 



Now take the spoke closest to the 12 o'clock position in the lower row of holes in the centre and place in the hole in the rim on the right of the group of three holes at approximately 1 o'clock.  Screw on a nipple a few turns, just to prevent the spoke from coming out.  Repeat this process until all 12 spokes in the lower row are in place.  You now do the opposite.  Take the spoke nearest the 12 o'clock position and place it into the hole on the left of the group of three in the 11 o'clock position, screw on a nipple as before and repeat until all are in place.

Now is the time to press the centre into the blocks so that it is positively held in place. Make sure it is firmly down flat on the board, also the outer rim. 

Take the longer spokes and thread the first one into the lower row of holes in the small diameter centre which should be almost in the 12 o'clock position.  Take this spoke to the middle hole in the group in the rim in the 10 o'clock position.  Again screw on a nipple as before.  Repeat this process until 6 long spokes are in place.  The spokes should now look like the following picture.  The last step is to place in the last 6 spokes in turn taking them the opposite way to fill the remaining holes.  Before you start to tighten the spokes just check the pattern with an existing wheel.  It is easier to correct any mistakes now than later.  Also check that the spokes do not lie across the wheel stud holes.  If you set the rim and centre up with the valve hole and any of the wheel fixing stud hole in the 12 o'clock position all should be well.

wheel 5
Tighten all the nipples, by hand, a bit at a time making sure that both the rim and centre remain firmly on the assembly board.  Keep working around the wheel until they begin to grip the rim.  If the centre lifts from the board the top spokes are too tight and need to be slackened If the rim lifts off of the board then the lower spokes are too tight and need to be slackened.  Any adjustments must be slight and the rim or centre pressed home after each adjustment until it sits firmly on the board. 



Eventually the time comes to tighten the spokes using a spoke key, or home made spanner.  Keep checking the rim and centre all the time until the spokes ring sharply when hit with the spanner and all spokes of similar length ring at approximately the same note.

Having built the wheel with care there will be little need to carry out any final trimming.  This is done by spinning the wheel on a hub and noting any sideways or up and down movement of the rim. 

To correct sideways movement tighten the short spokes and slacken the long spokes, or vice versa depending on direction, a very little and do several on either side of the worst position on the rim.  To correct up and down movement tighten both long and short equally where the rim is at its lowest when spun and slacken both sets of spokes diametrically opposite, again do a group of spokes either side of the place being adjusted and a little at a time. 

When finished, grind off any spoke projecting above the head of the nipple into the tube space.  It is definitely easier to do than to describe. 

When ordering spokes do make sure that you provide an accurate measurement of the length and where your measurements are taken from as the spoke length can be quoted as an overall length or the length of the straight part of the spoke as in the 'Austin Seven Source Book' by Brian Purves.

This article, written by Malcolm Watts, originally appeared in CA7C Seven Focus in Jan 2003 pp23-25.

See also:

 'Wheels Follow Up' and 'Wheel Spaying Made Easier' in Quick Tips

Repairing Wire Wheels