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 How To - Repair leaking spoke nipples

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mark111
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PostSubject: How To - Repair leaking spoke nipples   Tue Jan 19, 2016 2:09 am

As I haven’t seen a “How To” for this subject and have had a slow leak from my front tyre for some time now, I thought I would have a go at resolving the problem and document it.

If you have an ongoing air leak check the basics before you start, i.e. confirm the tyre valve is not leaking, check the tyre for any punctures causing a slow leak and last but not least check the tension of your spokes.
If your spokes are loose ensure you tension them correctly (I am advised thecorrect tension is 6 to 7 Nm) and then retest the wheel/tyre for air leaks. This last point may have the affect of improving or deteriorating the seal at the leaking nipple, I have experienced both outcomes.

You can establish that you have a leaky spoke nipple by inflating the tyre to 50 psi and then submerging the bottom section of the tyre/wheel in a tray of water so that it is above the level of the lower spoke nipples. This is probably most easily done with the wheel removed from the bike.

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NOTE: using a soapy water spray will not do the job like it might on a tyre leak, as often the spoke leak is very small and will require the wheel to be under the water for some time before the minor bubbles are evident. In my recent experience where I identified 10 of my front wheel spokes leaking, a couple were only evident after I observed the submerged spoke nipple for at least a minute.

Once you determine which spokes are leaking make sure you mark the individual ones that need to be repaired. I used zip ties or twisted wire to note the problem ones but anything will do.
Depending on the number and your skills, you are either going to dismantle the wheel and start again or just do the defective ones.
I choose to only do the spoke nipples I identified as defective as this allows me to do them one at a time and once re-tensioned correctly, avoids the chance of the rim being misaligned or distorted.

As they were spread around the wheel I started with one and then went to the other side of the wheel working in a clockwise direction. By alternatively working on spokes on the opposite side it reduces the risk of misalignment or rim distortion, if done one at a time the adjacent spokes when tensioned correctly will maintain the rim position.

Parts required: available from your Guzzi parts dealer
ß Spare rubber O rings (a few extra is sensible as you will see later).
ß Spare spoke nipple locking clips.
ß You might also want a few spare Spoke nipples (in case any are damaged).
also
ß Suitable lubricant grease to apply to rubber spoke seal O rings.

1. If doing more than a couple of spokes it is dramatically easier to remove the disc rotors especially on the front wheel but not as critical on the rear. Before removing the disc rotor, ensure you mark the wheel hub and rotor with aligning marks so they are re-installed in the original position, (I used paint dots for the marking). Also clean the wheel with warm soapy water or similar to make the process easier and reduce dirt from being caught in the sealing area.

2. Next remove the tyre valve insert to deflate the tyre and then break the bead on both sides of the rim (if you mark the tyre side wall next to the valve stem you can realign the tyre in its original position which will reduce the chance of the balance being altered). You can remove the tyre fully (if removed mark the rim for the direction of rotation) or as in the photos, remove one side which will give you enough room to remove the spoke nipple.

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3. As you have already tensioned all of the spokes correctly select your first spoke nipple to be repaired. Remove the nipple safety clip, I would do this with the rim lying on the ground so the clip doesn’t fly away in to the magical place where missing parts go to hide, these clips are easy to loose. It can be dislodged by tapping on the end with a small screwdriver.

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4. Loosen the spoke nipple tension with a suitable spoke spanner, make sure the tool you use is the correct size so you don’t round off the nipple head.

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5. Once loosened you can use an 8mm socket on the hex head to undo the nipple from the spoke and then remove the spoke nipple from the wheel rim.

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6. If the spoke can be removed from the hub (this is not always possible depending on their position) this will allow you to clean the spoke and thread before reassembly. This should also and can be done, if the spoke has to stay in the hub.

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7. When the nipple is removed from the rim lift off the O ring and be careful not to scratch the O ring recess, then clean the nipple with some alcohol based cleaner or similar, which will not leave a residue which could compromise the rubber O ring.
8. Also clean the hole in the rim with the same material and a clean coth so there is no residue left behind, this can compromise the sealing surface.

9. Once the parts are clean lubricate the nipple surface to allow the new O ring to be mounted (put the old one somewhere so that it isn’t mixed up with the new ones).

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10. I used some electrical tape around the nipple to provide a smooth surface on which the O ring can slide to reduce the chance of any damage. (Obviously remove the tape after the tape O ring is installed).

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11. Then ensure the inner surface of the rim around the hole is clean before applying the lubricant grease around the surface and inside the sealing hole where the O ring seats.

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12. Clean the spoke thread and check that the nipple screws on to the spoke easily.

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13. Once this is confirmed you can reassemble the pieces by centralising the nipple and gently pushing it through the hole so it is seated in the rim and start it on the spoke thread. Ensure the spoke is fully seated in the hub. Then slowly screw the nipple on to the spoke so it pulls gently through the rim until it is firmly seated.

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14. Once this is done it is simply a matter of using a spoke wrench to fully tension the spoke, (between 6 to 7 Nm, do not over tension the spoke).
15. Finally install the securing clip to the nipple and then you can move on to the next one or refit and inflate the tyre.

16. Retest the tyre for any leaks before reinstalling the disc rotors and fitting the wheel to the bike.

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Points to note:

• In my instance I replaced 10 seals, some of these involved fitting new nipples that I had as spares with O ring seals already fitted. (I will clean the old nipples and fit new O rings for future usage).

When I retested the wheel for leaks, 4 were defective and these were all new nipples I had installed. When I removed the tyre and checked them I found that 2 of the new seals had split and the other 2 had small sections missing, these were all new rubber O rings. I replaced the 4 with new replacement O rings, reassembled the wheel and when I rechecked for leaks, all was ok (Inspect each O ring before installation to ensure they are in a sound condition).

Moral of the story, when the spokes are repaired retest for leaks before any further reassembly and make sure you have sufficient spare O rings for this type of situation.

• I would suggest you borrow or obtain a spoke tension wrench for the job. These are not especially cheap but it is fairly likely you will use it more than once.
• Cleanliness is critical because the sealing surface is quite small so it would only require a small bit of grit to affect the seal.
• This is not an overly complex job if you take your time and have the right tools but it can be tedious, so be patient.
• Use a suitable industrial lubricant grease which is compatible with the rubber O rings. The one I used was Molykote 55 O ring Grease, recommended by Uzidzit.
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Steak
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PostSubject: Re: How To - Repair leaking spoke nipples   Tue Jan 19, 2016 9:20 pm

Thanks for posting. I edited your post to show the photos embedded in the post which makes for an easier read.

You've figured out how to upload the photos to the forum server, and inserting them inline with your post is just one simple step away. Just enclose the direct link to the image between the [img][/img] tags.

You can review the process about half way down the "How To" thread [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
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2012 MOTO GUZZI GRiSO 1200SE

2013 MOTO GUZZI STELVIO 1200NTX - Orange Blossom Special
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Ralf z
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PostSubject: Re: How To - Repair leaking spoke nipples   Wed Jan 20, 2016 12:20 am

Great reading there mark.

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mark111
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PostSubject: Re: How To - Repair leaking spoke nipples   Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:25 am

Thanks Steak hadn't previously checked the instructions on how to add photos.
What is the male mantra, "when all else fails read the instructions".

Should be ok from now on.
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Pete Roper
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PostSubject: Re: How To - Repair leaking spoke nipples   Wed Jan 20, 2016 2:06 am

Great tutorial Mark. Much appreciated.

Pete
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Conor W
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PostSubject: Re: How To - Repair leaking spoke nipples   Wed Jan 20, 2016 5:04 am

Very timely Mark - thanks. Have slowly leaking rear (tyre) to contend with.
Conor
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ghezzi
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PostSubject: Re: How To - Repair leaking spoke nipples   Wed Jan 20, 2016 5:20 am

I love spoked wheels, especially with polished alloy rims.
Cleaning is a bitch and the stock chromed spokes on the Bellagio eventually showed signs of corrosion.

Punctures were the worst because I had no option of plug and play, well until Alpina invented the GRiSO wheels. But it seems they are another high maintenance product.

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NorthernProducer
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PostSubject: Re: How To - Repair leaking spoke nipples   Wed Jan 20, 2016 7:06 am

Well done Mark!
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opc
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PostSubject: Re: How To - Repair leaking spoke nipples   Wed Jan 20, 2016 7:18 am

Great tutorial! Thanks, Mark!
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keenerkeen07
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PostSubject: Re: How To - Repair leaking spoke nipples   Wed Jan 20, 2016 5:53 pm

great write up
I wonder as this looks fairly tedious , for those with these wheels and issues could you run a tube in them ? if in fact they were available as to size .....
i love the way a spoke wheel looks and have them on another old bike but its old school and tubes work just fine ...
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mark111
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PostSubject: Re: How To - Repair leaking spoke nipples   Thu Jan 21, 2016 3:07 am

Keener,
Don't know if you can fit a tube, personally I wouldn't bother as I would rather have a slow leak from a spoke O ring or a nail in my tubeless tyre than a compete leak from a tube. There is also the added weight to consider.
When I say tedious I mean it is not a 5 minute job but I would happily do it again if there was a need.
In real terms if you do the job properly it shouldn't need to be a regular maintenance item.
To put it in perspective my bike is 5 years old and has done 60,000km so it is not like you have to do it frequently and having done it once it will be easier the second time.
There is also this as an alternative if don't want to have to deal with leaky spoke O rings.
I have no experience with this but it does look interesting.
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keenerkeen07
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PostSubject: Re: How To - Repair leaking spoke nipples   Thu Jan 21, 2016 6:29 am

mark111 wrote:
Keener,
Don't know if you can fit a tube, personally I wouldn't bother as I would rather have a slow leak from a spoke O ring or a nail in my tubeless tyre than a compete leak from a tube. There is also the added weight to consider.
When I say tedious I mean it is not a 5 minute job but I would happily do it again if there was a need.
In real terms if you do the job properly it shouldn't need to be a regular maintenance item.
To put it in perspective my bike is 5 years old and has done 60,000km so it is not like you have to do it frequently and having done it once it will be easier the second time.
There is also this as an alternative if don't want to have to deal with leaky spoke O rings.
I have no experience with this but it does look interesting.
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

the above looks to be well though out and should work , I sell adhesives and the technology behind tapes is extraordinary ..
Looks like a VHB tape to me their life span can be 15 years plus ...
I may go this way for my old Z1 in the near future ...
thank you
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MalG
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PostSubject: Re: How To - Repair leaking spoke nipples   Thu Jan 21, 2016 11:30 am

Or the Kineo ones  -   [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

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PostSubject: Re: How To - Repair leaking spoke nipples   Tue Jan 26, 2016 1:22 pm

Nice write up, but is it really practical to run tubeless tyres on wire spoked wheels? One thong that puts me off 'modern' Grisos are these wheels; they are just bound to leak after a while.

I had a BMW GS with spoked wheels. BMW were a bit more savvy, though. Their spokes fasten to the rim at its outer edge, outside the tyre bead, so you can run tubeless with wire spokes and no leaks!
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blue thunder
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PostSubject: Re: How To - Repair leaking spoke nipples   Fri May 05, 2017 10:28 am

Got rather bad news today from my dealer. 17 of the front wheel spokes are leaking a very tiny bit. Only 48.000km on the clock. But hey... it's a Guzzi albino
So, I'll need to do this lovely job soon.

Since we leave on holidays next week and I won't have the time to do this before, I wonder if a can of tire repair gel could give me some credit. Any thoughts or experience on that?
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Karman
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PostSubject: Re: How To - Repair leaking spoke nipples   Sat May 27, 2017 10:32 am

This is really useful info. I recently replaced the tyres on my 2012 SE, and went over to friends workshop to do this; previous changes were managed by the Rocket Centre in Blackburn where I bought the bike. When the tyres came off I recieved a lot of complaint about the Ultraseal compound I had in the last set - it makes changing tyres a messy proposition. The purpose of Ultraseal is to seal any punctures without losing the tyre and it does work. Once the Ultraseal was washed off there was another unexpected result of the presence of Ultrasealm it was rotting any bare bare metal from the inside - so be warned! I think (hope) I caught iot in time, and we carefully ground the corrosion then applied epoxy resin to seal it.

That was a month ago. In the intervening period I've been away for three weeks, and was looking forward to riding the bike when I got back yesterday. Front and back tyre deflated. Recharged the air and went out. Today both tyres had lost around 5lb/i overnight. I prayed each wheel with a washing-up liquid/water mix and found one nipple leaking on each wheel, so I'll be following Mark's advice shortly. I think the Ultraseal had effectively masked the problem, but once but was was taken out of the equation.....

Does anyone have any advice on where to find a good spoke spanner/wrench? I think it's 7mm. Am I right in thinking that measuring the torque will require a "crows foot" socket?

Andy
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wyno
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PostSubject: Re: How To - Repair leaking spoke nipples   Sat May 27, 2017 3:24 pm

Thanks Mark. I had this problem with mine and because Pete was overseas with the missus, I took my bike to John at Motociclio for its 10,000 km service and He fixed it then. No problems since.
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mark111
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PostSubject: Re: How To - Repair leaking spoke nipples   Sun May 28, 2017 5:20 am

Karman,
A spoke tension wrench whilst making the job more precise is not essential especially if you are only doing a couple.
If you use a standard spoke wrench and compare it with the other spokes the tension should be pretty close.
Cleanliness and a suitable lubricant are the critical components.


Last edited by mark111 on Thu Jun 08, 2017 4:17 pm; edited 1 time in total
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GR1064
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PostSubject: Re: How To - Repair leaking spoke nipples   Sun May 28, 2017 1:45 pm

Karmen, there is also the 'old school' method for checking spoke tension by ear.

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Brian
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Karman
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PostSubject: Re: How To - Repair leaking spoke nipples   Tue May 30, 2017 7:41 am

I've spent some time looking into this and the first and immediate hurdle is a 4-5 week lead-in time to delivery of replacement nipples. Not good. Has anyone put an inner tube into these wheels? I realise this will add to the wieght of the wheels but it's better than prospect of being off the road for the summer.

I emailed Ronin about the Outex solution, but haven't had a response, and the last posts are from 2013 so they may nut be trading anymore.
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PostSubject: Re: How To - Repair leaking spoke nipples   Tue May 30, 2017 11:22 am

TLM has nipples in stock, I just ordered ten. It takes about four days for them to get to Oz where they will end up in customs for two or three weeks, Grrrrrrrrr! Being in England I'd imagine you could have them overnight pretty much.

Pete
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Karman
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PostSubject: Re: How To - Repair leaking spoke nipples   Sat Jun 03, 2017 12:29 am

I've managed to find a second hand Norge cast wheel that needs new pwder coating, and a NOS GRiSO cast GRiSO wheel from the US (at the bargain price of £54! (the shipping cost is more than the the wheel).

Meanwhile, to keep me on the road, I have inner tubes in the spoked wheels. I'm not conviced the rims are capable of being saved by new nipples/seals as there seems to be a fair bit of corrosion. I took some pics hastily between the tyre coming off and going back on. when the new wheels are ready to go I'll spend more time getting detail. Have to say I'm disappointed in the Behr wheels - they trade on being excellent, tough and resilant, and they are clearly not.

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PostSubject: Re: How To - Repair leaking spoke nipples   Sun Jun 04, 2017 10:13 am

When you put inner tube in, did you wrap rubber collar around the top of the spoke nuts ? look like could be sharp bits there?; and (just asking as haven't even looked at them) do you just rip or unscrew the inflation 'hole' ? Would be good to hear as I have 8 year old SE that is starting to show very slow leaks
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Karman
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PostSubject: Re: How To - Repair leaking spoke nipples   Sun Jun 04, 2017 10:27 am

Hi Paul,

Yes I I installed a single rubber "tape" on the front and the rear needed the tape with additional gaffer tape as the rubber wasn't wide enough for the 5.50 wheel. The valves screw out and will be reinstalled if needed. My immediate plan is to run with the tubes in, get the alloys and mabe powedercoat them black and put those on the bike while, giving me the luxury of being able to assess and repair each nipple. either that or sell them as is. The spokes look nice but persally I prefer something I don't have top worry about and if a complete new set is needed with regular maintenence I prefer the cast alloys.
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blue thunder
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PostSubject: Re: How To - Repair leaking spoke nipples   Thu Jun 08, 2017 1:07 am

Just ordered the Outex Tubeless kit. Not cheap but defenitely worth a try. Getting them repaired by the dealer wouldn't be cheap either. Anyway, I'll post my findings when the kit has arrived.
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