Wheel Truing – from Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs

You can find the craziest bits of information in the strangest places.  There is no question that the late Sheldon Brown’s website is the go-to site for bicycle technical information on the internet.  However, clearly there are other repositories of cycling wisdom out there too.  What I didn’t expect was to find an extremely articulate article on wheel truing posted to – get this – the Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories website.  No kidding…  If the internet is great for only one thing, it is trails of breadcrumbs just like this.

The guy that wrote it – William S Yerazunis – is clearly a very intelligent guy.  His list of publications runs from information security, to computer science, to electro-mechanical and beyond:

Yerazunis, W.S.; Kato, M.; Kori, M.; Shibata, H.; Hackenberg, K., “Keeping the Good Stuff In: Confidential Information Firewalling with the CRM114 Spam Filter & Text Classifier”, Black Hat Technical Security Conference, July 2010 (Black Hat USA 2010, TR2010-064)

Shibata, H.; Kato, M.; Kori, M.; Yerazunis, W., “An Automatic Training Data Collection Method for Confidential E-mail Detection”, The Forum on Data Engineering and Information Management (DEIM), February 2010 (DEIM 2010, TR2010-065)

Slater, C.; Cleary, J.; McGraw, C.M.; Yerazunis, W.S.; Lau, K.T.; Diamond, D., “Autonomous Field-deployable Device for the Measurement of Phosphate in Natural Water”, SPIE Advanced Environmental, Chemical and Biological Sensing Technologies, Vol. 6755, September 2007 (SPIE Publications, TR2007-105)

McGuire, M.; Matusik, W.; Yerazunis, W., “Practical, Real-time Studio Matting using Dual Imagers”, Eurographics Symposium on Rendering (EGSR), June 2006 (EGSR 2006, TR2006-062)

Plus many many more

This technical background comes through in his writings on wheel truing.  Instead of a traditional truing stand, for example, he instead recommends much more precise instruments:

2) Invest $40 or so in the machinist’s tool called a “Test Indicator”.
This is a nifty little jeweled instrument that measures position/motion
between two very nearby objects with great accuracy. Mine is a Fowler,
cost $37, has two jewels, and can repeatedly measure motion of .0005 inch
(yes, one half of one thousandth of an inch, or .0127 mm for our metric
friends). The hitch is that it has a max range of only .060 (+- .030 inch)

To use the test indicator- clamp the indicator’s mounting bar to a
convenient place on the bicycle (the brake post is a good place) and
flex it around till the tip bears against the rim and the needle
indicates approximately center-scale. You will have to move the
indicator between the radial and lateral truing steps (see below).

2A) There’s another kind of indicator called a “dial indicator” that
measures to within a few thousandths, over a distance of about one inch.
Dial indicators are a little more expensive, but you may want to
get one of those instead.

(Incidentally, my dad has been a machinist for his whole life, and recommended the same type of devices when I talked to him about helping me build my own truing stand)

If you are the mechanically minded type – which I’m guessing you would be if you are interested in truing your own wheels – I really do recommend reading his write up on the subject.  If nothing else it will give a perspective on the mechanics of the wheel and help you to understand what is happening when you turn those spoke nipples.


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