Restoring old wheels /spokes?

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12/15/2017 11:40 AM

Got about 3 bikes here, 2 old Crossers and an old 1970's BMW road bike. Wanting to start restoring all of them.

All the wheels are in a poor condition and spokes, think the alloy wheels may however still be strong and good though, by the look of it and will inspect further.

Is it possible to restore rusty spokes? How is the best way to remove them if they are somewhat corroded? Obviously maybe soak in WD40 before but any other tips on removing them and also if possible to restore them, can you buff them with a wheel etc? Or get new ones?

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Always was an excellent rider ...... at crashing usually

Moto Aspes, you know you want one

12/15/2017 2:37 PM

A22, soaking with a good penetrant definitely is a good start. Patience is as big a part of the puzzle. I have used a small propane torch to help on the stubborn soldiers. Be sure you have an excellent fit on the spoke wrench to start with. Just keep at it and you can get them eventually. Typically, you come down to one of two which just are so stubborn and difficult.

If they are plated, chances are they can not be restored to shiny new. Some bikes did come with stainless spokes and those can be polished. Unfortunately, they did not always use stainless nipples.....

I have re-plated spokes and nipples in the past. Extreme care in the removal process to keep the nipples in good shape.

Here in the states, you can get a set of spokes for between $100-$150 a wheel. If you are going for a rider, no big deal. If you want a concurs restoration maybe not the solution. Give it a try to salvage those you have, you can always order new ones later!

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12/15/2017 3:57 PM

^^
Thanks alot Hasletjoe- that really is superb information and also things I did not think of, i.e, the Heat/ Torch.

For some strange reason, I am sort of trying to save the original spokes on all the bikes wheels, I like the idea of it being old and original.

The information and help on restoring stuff on this 'Old School Moto Vital' is great and I love reading it and following threads as well as the Tech sections(and trying to learn things).. I sort of understand some stuff but the work some people do is incredible and inspiring. ... thats sort of what has made me dig these old bikes out!

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Always was an excellent rider ...... at crashing usually

Moto Aspes, you know you want one

12/15/2017 10:16 PM
Edited Date/Time: 12/15/2017 10:17 PM

Try and use the least amount of any aggressive form of cleaning. Meaning easy on any steel wool, scotch brite, etc. Once you cut through the original plating on spokes, they tend to rust up easily. A coat of WD40 or silicone spray every now and then will keep the rust from growing back .

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12/16/2017 5:59 AM

Is this the same for the wheels? I have my original 89 wheels for my Honda and hit the rims with some wd and green scotch Brite. They came up pretty good but was thinking of putting some mother’s aluminum polish on them. Anyone know if wheels this old had a coating on them like clear anodizing that would make the polish ineffective? Also have a few small “waves” in the lip, still holds a bead good are those a problem?

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12/16/2017 9:26 AM

Honestly, it's really not worth it.

Just measure and note down the offset, grab the bolts cutters/grinder (whatever is you weapon of choice!) and cut the hubs out. Powder coat them, then have them rebuilt with new rims and stainless spokes. It will save you whole load of time and effort that you can put into much more worthwhile parts of the rebuild. Having rims properly refurbished to "as new" is hugely expensive and labour intensive.

Secondly, Japanese rims have a very high magnesium content, meaning 1) They corrode from the inside out, which you can't see. 2) They become brittle and highly likely to break/crack/snap.

Taking that risk really isn't worth it!!

Cut 'em out, throw them in the trash and have a nice shiny new set built up. They will look WAY better, It will have saved you whole load of time/effort/money and you can safely ride em with out risking serous injury

The ONLY time it is worth restoring the spokes/rims is when the bike is incredibly rare and/or incredibly valuable and is going to be a museum piece. And even then, the rims and spoke need to be in reasonable condition to start with.

Stevie

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12/16/2017 11:22 AM
Edited Date/Time: 12/16/2017 11:26 AM

project racer wrote:

Try and use the least amount of any aggressive form of cleaning. Meaning easy on any steel wool, scotch brite, etc. Once you cut through the original plating on spokes, they tend to rust up easily. A coat of WD40 or silicone spray every now and then will keep the rust from growing back .

Thanks Project Racer- yes I have in the past used 'gentle cleaning' methods- actually used to soak rusty tools and components in vinegar for a few days- used to come up sparkling and see what you are saying, i.e about ripping them too agressively.

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Always was an excellent rider ...... at crashing usually

Moto Aspes, you know you want one

12/16/2017 11:26 AM
Edited Date/Time: 12/16/2017 11:29 AM

StevieD113 wrote:

Honestly, it's really not worth it.

Just measure and note down the offset, grab the bolts cutters/grinder (whatever is you weapon of choice!) and cut the hubs out. Powder coat them, then have them rebuilt with new rims and stainless spokes. It will save you whole load of time and effort that you can put into much more worthwhile parts of the rebuild. Having rims properly refurbished to "as new" is hugely expensive and labour intensive.

Secondly, Japanese rims have a very high magnesium content, meaning 1) They corrode from the inside out, which you can't see. 2) They become brittle and highly likely to break/crack/snap.

Taking that risk really isn't worth it!!

Cut 'em out, throw them in the trash and have a nice shiny new set built up. They will look WAY better, It will have saved you whole load of time/effort/money and you can safely ride em with out risking serous injury

The ONLY time it is worth restoring the spokes/rims is when the bike is incredibly rare and/or incredibly valuable and is going to be a museum piece. And even then, the rims and spoke need to be in reasonable condition to start with.

Stevie

Thanks Stevie- yes always appreciate your advice as I know you are a serious expert. Beginning to agree- for the time I would spend I may as well spend the money- probably would take longer in time and end up with still a 'weakened compromised' result, i.e intergrety/ strength- opposed to brand new wheels etc...

Also the time to do all this may take ages to only arrive at a wheel that looks better but maybe already weakened etc. Thanks mate and look forward to seeing more of your incredible work and bikes!

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Always was an excellent rider ...... at crashing usually

Moto Aspes, you know you want one

12/17/2017 2:54 AM

You can get them coated again in either zinc or gal I’ve done several in oz

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12/17/2017 5:30 PM

Find the thread size on your spokes and order a tap & die to match. Chasing the threads is about the best way to get the thread quality and surface back. You will be amazed how much better they re-assemble after you chase both the nipple and spoke and a light coating of anti-seize.

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12/18/2017 7:29 AM
Edited Date/Time: 12/18/2017 7:31 AM

If you can remove the spokes you can get the replated in zinc. If you snap a few and decide to buy a few spoke a-la-carte, send the new ones to be replated so they are all the same color and tone.

Aluminum rims can be stripped and clear anodized for the factory finish.

Hand polishing rims and spokes is cheap but it's a never ending process as the spokes will quickly rust and the bare aluminum will quickly oxidize.

As others said, f you decide to replace the spokes go with stainless.

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04 KX125
94 KX250SM
75 Z1-900

12/18/2017 8:46 AM

StevieD113 wrote:

Honestly, it's really not worth it.

Just measure and note down the offset, grab the bolts cutters/grinder (whatever is you weapon of choice!) and cut the hubs out. Powder coat them, then have them rebuilt with new rims and stainless spokes. It will save you whole load of time and effort that you can put into much more worthwhile parts of the rebuild. Having rims properly refurbished to "as new" is hugely expensive and labour intensive.

Secondly, Japanese rims have a very high magnesium content, meaning 1) They corrode from the inside out, which you can't see. 2) They become brittle and highly likely to break/crack/snap.

Taking that risk really isn't worth it!!

Cut 'em out, throw them in the trash and have a nice shiny new set built up. They will look WAY better, It will have saved you whole load of time/effort/money and you can safely ride em with out risking serous injury

The ONLY time it is worth restoring the spokes/rims is when the bike is incredibly rare and/or incredibly valuable and is going to be a museum piece. And even then, the rims and spoke need to be in reasonable condition to start with.

Stevie

I agree with StevieD113. I started the process of restoring the rims and spokes on a 78 RM125 by spraying each nipple and spoke with WD40. Once removed, I hit them with 0000 steel wool, Mother's aluminum polish and a bench mounted polishing wheel. They cleaned up pretty well but it was a lot of labor, probably 10 minutes per spoke/nipple @ 36 per rim. While working on the spokes and hub, one of the rims completely broke/cracked/snapped as mentioned above. Although I was not planning on re-using the rims, and had new replacements already, the cleaned up spokes and nipples were shelved and I had my new rims laced with new spokes at Dubya.

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12/18/2017 12:25 PM
Edited Date/Time: 12/18/2017 12:42 PM

Mr. Sandman wrote:

I agree with StevieD113. I started the process of restoring the rims and spokes on a 78 RM125 by spraying each nipple and spoke with WD40. Once removed, I hit them with 0000 steel wool, Mother's aluminum polish and a bench mounted polishing wheel. They cleaned up pretty well but it was a lot of labor, probably 10 minutes per spoke/nipple @ 36 per rim. While working on the spokes and hub, one of the rims completely broke/cracked/snapped as mentioned above. Although I was not planning on re-using the rims, and had new replacements already, the cleaned up spokes and nipples were shelved and I had my new rims laced with new spokes at Dubya.

Yes, thats kind of how I imagined it may go after what StevieD113 said, i.e strength/ integrety rims etc as well as the spokes.. also the damn time it would take with the labour and possibly for something then to fail after all that work.

Also though some useful things others have posted, i.e, retapping/threading / replating etc.

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Always was an excellent rider ...... at crashing usually

Moto Aspes, you know you want one

12/20/2017 7:00 AM

Mine were in terrible shape, 1985 Yamaha YZ125-N "Z" spokes . I media blasted each one and then polished with a dremel. I just have to keep them clean and WD40 on them. I also used modern aluminum nipples on front and rear.

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Yeah, I have no clue !!!