Jackyl the tandem Part 10: The rear wheel

Continuing on from my last post where I went through the decision process and preparation for the new rear wheel, this is where I get to put it all together.  I have now built about 6-8 wheelsets now and I feel reasonably confident doing so, having made a few mistakes before (not using enough tension) and learnt from this.  I'm a bit of a sucker for good tools, but the one thing I was missing was a wheel truing stand.  I could buy one off the shelf but a decent one is not cheap, and having just spent a tonne of money renovating my house I was a bit short on this front.  I did however have a spare bits of oak worktop lying around that I could use...

So I decided to make a truing stand out of oak.  The design is very simple, a heavy timber base with two arms sticking out of it, one arm has a sliding dropout to accommodate for differing axle widths.

All glued together, I was going to attach the feeler arm to one of these but haven't gotten around to it.  Instead I just used a square edge sitting on the base of the stand which worked somewhat.

The wheel has been laced up and needs to be tensioned, like the front wheel I built it 3 cross, there isn't really much point in 4 cross in my opinion .  Luckily now both the front and rear wheels use exactly the same spoke length so I don't have to worry about carrying more than one length of spare spoke, fingers crossed I won't break any.

I was a bit worried that the Velocity Atlas 650B rim had been damaged as it was sitting in storage for 9 months under lots of my random heavy things.  However it was perfectly fine and trued up nice and straight.  During tensioning you tend to true it as you go along, initially you true in the radial plane; that is to make sure that the rim is in as circular as you can get it.  I used to find this difficult but now I was able to get this rim nice and round, the side to side adjustment is reasonably straightforward.

The Shimano FH-HF08 hubs have nice thick flanges, and the DT Swiss Alpine III triple butted spokes have extra thick heads which fit nice and snug into them.  This needs to be a nice strong wheel, I want to be confident that it will support the tandem fully loaded with luggage and all, and it feels like it will fit the bill.

Out of curiosity I weighed these and they came out at 1360g for the rear wheel and 860g for the Arai drum.  Not a particularly lightweight wheel, but it is built to hold two people and their luggage!

I fitted the cassette and drum to the rear wheel and installed it.  The shifting on the back worked near perfectly straight out of the box, the front however was a different story. I had trouble getting it to shift into any of the chainrings, initially I thought that the chain was too narrow for the front derailleur cage and bent it a little bit to make it narrower.  However it turned out that I hadn't installed the caps on the gear cable outers that went into the bar end shifters, this caused the cable to come loose when tension was applied.  Once this was fixed it worked beautifully, I suspected it was something other than the cage width as the 10-speed chain is only 1.5mm narrower than the 7-speed one.

I had a quick ride around and certainly the 10-speed cassette has much wider range and smaller steps between each sprocket.  It's about as good as it can get now with the new middle ring too.   The indexed bar end shifters do make gear changes a doddle even though they don't quite have the vintage cool of the Suntour shifters.   The drum brake is also so far so good, although I haven't had a chance to really test it out, it is certainly much much smoother than the old one.  Sadly, this may be one of the last posts about the tandem build as it's almost all completely restored now.

Thanks for reading.


  1. If you ever decide to end it all and get married, i hope you'll leave the ceremony on this thing with your bride and some cans tied to the back.