Indicator backs

Indicators are sold with lug backs, flat backs or both. Lug backs are a good way to mount indicators on most truing stands. As an example they make for drop-in replacements on Park Tool TS-2/3/4 truing stands. Flat backs are an alternative if you plan to mount indicators by their stems and want to keep the rear tidy. Magnetic indicator mounts and most tensiometers use a stem clamp design.

iGaging indicators include both styles so you can switch back and forth. Mitutoyo indicators are sold as one style or the other, however you can purchase extra backs to convert a flat back to a lug back or vice versa. By Mitutoyo part numbering conventions, models numbers ending in the letter ‘B’ ship with flat backs. Model numbers not ending with ‘B’ ship with lug backs.

Going digital

Thinking about adding digital indicators to your truing stand but not ready to dive into visualization just yet? This post contains pointers to digital indicators you can add to your truing stand so visualization is an option when the time comes.

Islandix Wheel Analytics interfaces with digital indicators that conform to the Mitutoyo Digimatic SPC standard. Data is read using a special uplink cable (two included with Wheel Analytics). You can’t go wrong with Mitutoyo indicators but the market is served by compatible brands too.

The Mitutoyo 543 range is a great choice. 543-5XX and 543-7XX models are my preference. You’ll see lots of options with different feature combinations depending on your preferences. Say, for example, you want to replace your Park Tool analog indicators with Mitutoyo 543. Look for a model with #4-48 UNF threads, which lets you re-use the nice #4-48-threaded indicator tips from your Park Tool kit. The Park Tool truing stand attaches indicators using a lug back so pick a Mitutoyo model with this feature (all model numbers except those ending in ‘B’). Compatible indicators for this specification include 543-506, 543-507, 543-783, 543-792, 543-793 and 543-796 among others. All Mitutoyo products are premium quality and the least expensive are perfectly suitable for driving visualizations.

Other brands implement the same standard, which means there are options at difference prices. For example iGaging 35-705-10 has the same data interface. It uses #4-48 UNF threads and features a lug back, which makes it a drop in replacement for Park Tool analog indicators. Finding iGaging indicators below $100 USD is pretty easy, often as low as $70. Try iGagingStore or eBay.

Manufacturing quality

Wheel Analytics WA-1 controllers are checked with in-house testing tools including the one pictured, the Islandix Digimatic Signal Generator. It emulates a pair of Mitutoyo digital indicators, which allows each WA-1 to be tested with an external signal source. The tester generates readings at eight times the peak indicator data rate in order to expose tolerance problems (circuits are more sensitive when run faster). Both ports are bombarded with over a million samples, each decoded, processed and relayed over Wifi and USB simultaneously for a full-coverage test at impossibly high data rates. Software verifies no readings are lost and no transmission delays are experienced.

Holiday update

Happy holidays from Islandix.

A big thank you to everyone who pre-ordered Wheel Analytics tools. The next production batch has completely sold out. Parts to manufacture and fulfill these orders are now on hand or underway, which is great since we live in times of challenging supply chains. More Wheel Analytics tools will be available for shipping by April 2021.

A bit less black

Here’s few shots of sweet wheelset built earlier this month. This theme of black hubs, black rims, silver spokes and silver nipples is a new trend. Historically I haven’t see a lot of it but lately it’s more popular.

Truing stand beta

I’ve been developing my truing stand for quite a while now. The software has been stable for more than a year but recent changes make it the tool I really wanted. After a few hardware revisions, that part is rock solid too. For a peek at both check out the video below.

(For communication purposes the “wheels” in the screencast part of the video are simulations. I have a simulation driver for testing the user interface, which lets me try wheels far worse than I encounter in the workshop. No wheels were harmed in the design of this system.)

Checking rims

I have a prebuild ritual that involves quite a lot of inspection. It’s a simple process — I look over everything deliberately and see if anything stands out. Pay attention to the rim stickers and hub branding so their orientations can be chosen deliberately.

On alloy rims I like to visit every spoke hole with a chamfer tool or a handheld drill bit. This puts a subtle profile in the hole where the head of the nipple rests. Sometimes there can be a coil of drilling chaff attached to a spoke hole — a chamfering pass breaks them off and smooths any burrs. When I visit the joint I look at the internal sleeve, if any. Does it interfere with nipple fit?

Measuring is inspection

Measuring your own ERD can indicate a lot. Use the measuring step to test fit washers if using them. Do the washers sit nicely in the rim? Measuring will tell you if your rim is round or oval. All else being equal the rounder the rim, the better the expected result in terms of alignment and tension balance. If your rim is oval, take a deep breath and expect to spend a little longer at the bench if chasing perfection. Have you ever found a job difficult and doubted your skills? It could be the rim.

Morizumi mounting

Ric from Wheel Fanatyk visited recently and wrote about it on his blog. He was interested in my Morizumi setup and maybe others will be too. I’ll leave a few notes and build photos here.

I started with a King stand for big drills or small mills. A few considerations led to this choice: not too heavy to move alone but heavy enough to resist tilting under use; not too expensive; and available locally. The same stand is sold under different names in different markets so searching by keyword may be helpful if you’re looking.

The default option would be to mount a spoke machine directly to the stand but that would be low for me especially with my thick anti-fatigue mat in front of the tool. I took a sheet of leftover pine, chopped it on the table saw and laminated pieces together to create a top with my desired lift. I took advantage of the laminated construction to insert T-nuts between layers — I matched them to existing holes in the stand letting me attach the top with bolts from inside. Having no exterior hardware makes the top an uninterrupted flat surface, which is helpful in terms of oil containment.

By mounting my spoke machine to the wooden top I only needed to drill one hole in the metal stand — for the spoke offcut chute. If you’re a casual cutter this step might be unnecessary but it’s important for a production shop. I bolted my spoke machine in place and traced exactly where the chute would go. I cut the chute in the wooden top, mounted it, and used the top itself as a drilling guide. The result: spoke scraps fall through the chute landing in a bucket accessed through the main door.

Though oil is mandatory I didn’t want to fix a drip tray under the machine. To protect the wood I wrapped it with Formica countertop laminate. The process involves gluing pieces with contact cement and trimming the edges with a router. Formica is oil tolerant and lets me wipe away drips without hurting anything. In order to prevent oil from seeping beneath the spoke machine and draining through its bolt holes, I put a bead of sealant around the spoke machine on its final installation.

Building as always

Wheelbuilds continue to trickle through the shop. Here’s a few snaps of recent builds:

Paul track build

This wheelset uses Paul Component track hubs laced to Stan’s Alpha 400 tubeless rims with Sapim Laser spokes and alloy nipples. Total weight is 1545g. Additionally this wheelset is getting tamper-proof torx bolts for a little extra lockup security. The bolts are a Paul upgrade option.

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