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 Making stainless steel spokes for highwheel
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Rambler

USA
377 Posts

Posted - 12/28/2017 :  07:55:32  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I would appreciate advice from people that have made stainless steel spokes for highwheels. Specifically for a Columbia Light Roadster.

I plan is to begin with 3/32" dia stainless steel tig welding filler rod. (unless there is a better material that you can recommend)?

3/32" dia stainless steel tig welding filler rod commonly comes in ER308L and ER316L and a few less common types. From what I understand the ER316L is higher temp and more chemical resistant which do not seem like important properties when it comes to bicycle spokes. So I believe the less expensive ER308L would work unless someone has experience as to why it is not a good choice and has a better recommended material to use?

As for spoke thread, I plan to use 3-48 unless someone has experience as to why a different thread is better to use for this purpose?

Thank you in advance for any information/recommendations. Please post your answers here on the Wheelmen blog as they may be useful for someone else in the future. If you wish to message me privately you may do that through the blog as well.

Tyson

Craig Allen

1054 Posts

Posted - 12/30/2017 :  10:26:07  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Tyson, I would steer clear of 308 s.s., as it tends to be brittle after forming the spoke head. 316 would be a better grade. You can even use 416 stainless which has a higher carbon content and makes machining so much easier. It actually cuts like a 1018 grade.
Incidentally, 410 or 416 s.s. can also be used for making coil springs as it is heat treatable. 400 series stainless is available through ERA Wire Inc. in West Haven, Connecticut. Some would argue that rolling threads is a better choice as it is stronger than cut threads. Well, yes it is, but only marginally. (About 15%-20%) The point is there is no such thing as an unbreakable spoke. A cut thread has more than adequate strength for fulfilling the purposes of a bicycle spoke. As for spoke count, Light Roadsters were originally 3-54, so a 3-56 will also work. If you prefer 3-48, there is nothing wrong with it. For the spoke head, it helps to make up a block with a spoke hole diameter drilled through and bevelled at the top and then sawn in half with a jewellers saw so that the spoke can be placed inside and clamped in a vise. It helps to have a pin (3/32" dia) running through the block so it lines up each time.
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DeLombardR

USA
1727 Posts

Posted - 12/30/2017 :  20:49:02  Show Profile  Visit DeLombardR's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Craig,

With the wire in that block, the process to make a head is then to torch-heat the end sticking up, then smush (an EE's word for it) the hot end into that bevel? The trick being after some tests to determine how much wire to protrude above the block?

Richard

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Craig Allen

1054 Posts

Posted - 12/31/2017 :  04:56:35  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Richard, Yes that is correct. About 3/16" or 7/32" protruding works good. The trick is not to get the point of the torch flame too close to the work as the spoke can quickly get too hot. If it becomes white it is on the verge of melting. An orange color is about right. I use a small smushing tool (ball peen hammer) and work it around. Practice makes perfect. I also have a small collet lathe to give the spoke head its' final shape. Great care must be taken when turning the head as it can easily whip around. On the earlier Columbia Light Roadsters with hub caps, the hub itself can be used as a guide by simply inserting the straight spoke through one of the spoke holes and bending it around the radius.
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