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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-19-2017, 11:37 AM Thread Starter
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Main Motorcycle: 76 Bonneville
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Location: Norwell MA
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Rusted Spokes, Replace or Clean and Go?

Continuing my work to bring this 76 Bonneville back to safe riding condition I am replacing the rear wheel bearings and tire. Here is a picture of the rust found, mostly on the nipples. How do I decide if the whole wheel is shot, just replace the spokes or simply clean, reassemble of go? The outside of the rim looks fine, minor surface rust, some light rust on nipples, no cracks or bent areas.
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-19-2017, 12:34 PM
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if you are not going for "as new" -as long as the pic is representative of the general condition of the wheel i woul say it looks sound and safe - if you wire brush the inside of the rim and treat it with some form of rust treatment then you should be good to go -- be sure to neutralise the rust treatment if its instructions call for it
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-19-2017, 03:20 PM
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Hi Rick, That amount of rust is common. I personally would not use rust stripper. I would just wire brush & paint with any of the rust preventing paints from hardware store. Some rims are very rusty & strength may be compromised. I don't see that on yours.

Last one I did I used Rustolum cold galvanizing compound spray paint. However I sprayed paint into butter tub, then brushed it on. That way I don't have to mask. This paint doesn't have a hard surface though.

I then let it dry a few days & paint over that with normal Rustoleum spray paint. I like machinery grey color. Let that dry a week or so if possible.

Some paint may wick by the nipples & show on top of rim. I then wipe the unwanted paint off with Berryman's carb cleaner & a cotton cloth.

After 3 years it seems to be holding up ok. That's when I did tire change.

I don't wash bike with water hose if possible but will if it gets too muddy. I usually just use a wet sponge & pail of water. I seldom ride in rain, but occasionally get stuck in rain while on a ride.
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-19-2017, 11:30 PM Thread Starter
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Great input here as usual. I thank you both. I'm not going for a "like new" restoration. I want safe, I want clean but its a 40 year old machine and that's ok with me.

Thanks again.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-20-2017, 01:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Rick Lyons View Post
Great input here as usual. I thank you both. I'm not going for a "like new" restoration. I want safe, I want clean but its a 40 year old machine and that's ok with me.

Thanks again.
Hi Rick.

My Tyre Guys ran the inside of my rims against a brass wire wheel mounted on an electric grinder.

This is the quickest way to remove most of the rust.

You can also get wire wheels which mount on a drill.

Also, if original, your spokes will be cad plated steel.

My spokes looked pretty shabby with lots of rust, so I spent a lot of time cleaning them with wire brushes mounted on a drill and dremel tool.

It will remove any remaining cad plating along with the rust, but that wasn't a great finish anyway.

The spokes now shine like chrome.

Yes, the spokes will eventually rust again, but I'm trying Clear Guard made by White Knight (Metal finish specialists) which will lock and preserve the spokes.

Or spray them with Eastwoods Diamond Clear.

A clear finish designed to be sprayed directly to metal.
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Last edited by Rod Rocket; 10-20-2017 at 02:09 AM.
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-23-2017, 12:53 PM
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I would clean it up as well. Donít forget that after you are done with cleaning, there is some adhesive tape (or rubber cover, Iím not sure) that goes on top of the spokes to protect the tube. If not protected, the spokes could puncture the tube.
I had no choice but to replace my spokes and regret it so much. If you dismantle your wheel you will have to do the following:
- Find the appropriate spoke size. It took me almost 3 months to find the proper ones.
- Re-lace your wheels using the proper offset numbers. This can be really tricky and you might have to pay someone to do it. To my knowledge, every bike has its own offset which could be different than the standard;
- Balance the tires again

Iím still going through the pain of doing all the steps above. It can be very time consuming. But I had no choice
Just my 2cÖ
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-23-2017, 02:25 PM
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The spokes should be easy to obtain if you go to the right place
Most reputable wheel builders will have a book of the correct offsets- they are not unique to each bike.

You have the option of galvanised or stainless. Stainless can be blasted before building to look like galvanised.

My bikes always get stainless rims and spokes.
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-23-2017, 06:53 PM
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Building a wheel,build a box first that the rim can sit on,then,build a platform that the centre sits on.It will look like a bottomless box with another inside it.Use on a flat surface. That is with the wheel before you cut out the spokes.You will then be able to build it to the existing offset.
I still have good original spokes in both wheels as i like to preserve most original parts.If you want a good finish on plated spokes,wheel silver spray looks good and can be dulled down a little by coating over with clear after the silver.

Now,where did that bit fall off ?
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-24-2017, 02:43 AM
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Mine were like that, too. As people have suggested, I cleaned the rust off with a wire wheel on a portable drill, then applied a rust treatment. New rim strips. What annoys me most is that there are some rust flakes rattling inside the closed part of the rim, I can hear them when the wheel is off (hard to listen to a wheel when the bike is in motion!). After treatment, I keep ACF-50 on the spokes and outer rims to keep the rust off.
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-24-2017, 08:08 AM
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Before cleaning the rim I always spent time making sure all the spoke nipples are free to turn. This may require a bit of heat but no where near red hot...Then I check the tension on the spokes and have to true the rim slightly in most situations

Buchanan's in California can supply any spoke for any wheel in plain steel or stainless for reasonable money.You may not be able to get the exact original style however...You may need to know actual spoke length , thickness and shape for some applications.
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