View Full Version : Spoke Head Washers

Tony T
11-15-2016, 01:48 PM
Are Spoke Head Washers used anymore? I rarely see them on wheel builds.

11-15-2016, 02:17 PM
They can serve a couple purposes. First, if the spoke holes are slightly oversized, they help give a better fit. They also help if the holes have seen a lot of prior usage and have developed a bit of a groove from prior lacings.

Second, spoke elbows were lengthened by most manufacturers a few years ago to make it easier to machine-lace them. But that detracted from the stability of the flange to spoke connection, and the elbow could bend somewhat, there was an opportunity for stretching at the elbow, and it was harder on the hub. One of the hubs that immediately comes to mind is the Dura Ace 7600 track hub. Some hubs were made thicker at the same time to accommodate radial lacing and to decrease stretching so close to the bearings (which could sometimes cause a bearing cartridge to become loose in the hub shell), so it isn't as much of a problem.

This latter is the main reason for using them.

11-15-2016, 02:36 PM
I still use them when necessary. Depends on the hub/spoke interface. I think it's a nice little detail and helps with spoke longevity. Of course I still tie and solder if you ask nicely so....

Tony T
11-15-2016, 02:49 PM
Thanks. I should have also asked about nipple washers -- still used?

11-15-2016, 05:31 PM
Nipple washers are typically structural -- they reinforce the spoke hole and date back to when rims didn't use ferrules and had to have reinforcement around the spoke hole where the nipple seated.

Nipple washers are a fussy issue. Some rims need them. Others are actually damaged by them. A rim that comes with them usually has washers that are designed for the rim. The ones you can buy on their own come in different sizes, shapes, thicknesses, and so on. They aren't necessarily that helpful because they can apply stresses to the rim that are greater than what the nipple itself would do. Except for when the rim manufacturer spec's them, I'm reluctant to use them. Get good brass nipples and you shouldn't have a problem. For any kind of recent rim like a HED Belgium, Pacenti, H+Son, and the like, the rims are extruded to provide enough support at the spoke holes and because the rim is often strongly concave where the nipple wants to sit, most washers just create a problem and don't solve one.

11-16-2016, 06:41 AM
Are Spoke Head Washers used anymore? I rarely see them on wheel builds.

I use them all the time on either hubs that have ginorous spoke holes or on hubs that have been built a few times. Brass, form to hole, great tool, cheap.

Tony T
11-16-2016, 07:44 AM
So, for a new Hub w/2.4mm holes they're not necessary?

11-16-2016, 07:56 AM
So, for a new Hub w/2.4mm holes they're not necessary?

I would say no. Some low $ hubs, Powertap hubs, some others. What makes it interesting is calculating spoke length. BIG spoke holes says subtract, spoke washers says to add(1mm is my rule of thumb)...

I use these..

Mark McM
11-16-2016, 10:26 AM
Ditto the above. Spokes are most durable when the elbows and heads are well supported, which means that they should be held snuggly against the flange. Spoke head washers act largely like shims, and take up extra space to tighten the fit between spoke and flange. And just like shims, their use is dependent on individual geometry and fit requirements. I've built many wheels, and much of the time they have not been required, sometimes they are required, and on a few rarely occasions (extra long spoke elbows and thin flanges) two washers per spoke have been required.

11-16-2016, 08:41 PM
I just built a front wheel for an old Schwinn Speedster. I reused the original steel Schwinn hub mostly because I was lazy and didn't want to fuss around spreading the fork blades to fit a modern hub. The holes are larger and the flanges thinner than typical on modern alloy hubs.

It seemed the situation called for spoke head washers. Having never purchased them before, I of course first bought spoke nipple washers. I now have plenty of washers for both ends of the spoke. :)

11-17-2016, 01:21 PM
Agree with the above - I only use them when rebuilding a prelaced wheel or with oversized holes. Then I use a hammer and punch to help seat the spoke head. Helps maintain the tension when building up.