Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Assisted Perpetual Motion
Tubular Glue Removal Machine

Before he left for New Zealand Colin handed me an old pair of Jonathan Page's Mavic Tubulars and told me a vague, confused tale of an alleged method for removing tubular cement from rims. It involved a tub of tasty, refreshing Acetone, a (clean) truing stand, and a fan. I realized that with the Cross season fast approaching (some crackheads have already been racing. Have you heard of a little sport called "Mountain Biking"? It's what you do in the summer before real Cross season begins. Or you can road race. Or you can chop off your own leg, pick it up and use it to kick yourself in the nuts) and Sir Colin imminently returning from the land down the street from the land down under, I should probably get on with it.

Time was not in abundance and I chose not to scour the internets for information regarding this silliness and go it a-blind. First off we needed the wheel to spin. Wheel in stand, fan on! Wheel no spin. Wheel aerodynamic...that makes sense. Change angle of fan to hit flat blade of spokes, still...wicked aerodynamic, no spin. So I decided to turn the thing into a god damn pin wheel, as envisioned by a class of disgruntled, possibly drunk special ed students. Spin you mother- oh you are spinning, sort of. Good enough.

Then we had to make a vessel for the aromatic and skin soothing acetone. A take out container from fresh city was not long enough. Eventually I hacked a long zip-tie container into a working solvent troth. It had to be long enough for the arc of the rim to pass through without hitting the sides and deep enough to hold at least a half inch or so of the volatile, awful crap from hell...that is lovely in its way. Apparently zip tie containers are made of the the type of plastic which Acetone doesn't eat alive.

Colin had said something about leaving it for hours, or even overnight. That was not the case. I came back in a couple minutes to find a ring around my troth and no liquid. The fan next to the open door had aided the Acetone with its flight into the atmosphere. I added more and walked away again. Next time I came back there was base tape and all sorts of slimy crud hanging all over the whole wheel, down to the hub. Oh joy. It was working - in a sense.

After quite a bit of time, many pairs of rubber gloves, ample swearing, and a huge amount of post fan/acetone/bath/demented perpetual motion machine business wiping and scrubbing we had an almost new-like rim which looked liked it had never been glued at all. Was it worth it?


The second wheel I mounted in the truing stand, this time with the knowledge that under the gobs of gnarly Tufo cement there was also Tufo tape. This is a great system. If you're Jonathan Page and you can ride a pair of wheels for a short amount of time and then sell them to someone who can then give them to someone else who provides him with free labor because he's a superstar to remove the gobs and gobs of disgusting glue. I put the troth in place, spinning the wheel toward me, scraping with my perfect scraper made from a ground down cone wrench, first pulling off the base tape with a lot of the glue. Then going around with a rag, using the excess Acetone to wipe the rest of the rim clean. This version of the process took one tenth of the time and made one tenth of the mess. It really wasn't so bad.

My gluing method I won't bother sharing. People get awful worked up about that sort of thing. Suffice it to say it involves a lot of time and a lot of glue and stresses safety over cleanliness.

Oh yes, I did just find this when I googled something like "Tubular acetone removal cement fan".

Next up: Farm Bike


Colin R said...

Oh man. I guess I owe you yet another six pack.

Had I tried to do this myself I would have left it running in my bedroom overnight and I'd be dead now, so thanks for not letting that happen.

mkr said...

I've started using a heat gun with some success. Just have to be careful as to how much heat you apply.

JD said...

Holy Jesus man. Acetone??? Just because you are working on tubulars doesn't mean you have to be all old school and shit.
This fan/solvent method actually works, and works really f'n well- you just need the right setup.
Use Goo Gone. It's waaaaay less toxic and doesn't evaporate as quickly. Go find an old 700c fender, flip it upside down and use that as the trough. It's the right shape and lets you use a minimum of Goo Gone.
Change the fluid regularly as it will become saturated with glue and lose it's effectiveness. I usually use one fender worth to get off the tape, then use another to get the glue below the tape. That usually is enough, then I do a quick wipe down on the sidewalls, to cut down on the brake squeal from leftover glue.
Very simple very easy. If only putting the tires on was that way...

Big Bikes said...

JD, now that's what I'm talking about! That is a much more awesome version of this madness. You should post that up on your blog for all to adopt. Fender...brilliant.



RMM said...


The problem with Goo Gone is that while it removes the Goo, the Goo Gone itself has a tendency to linger.
Especially on tubular rims, which offer plenty of hiding spots for GG.

Later, when water gets in the rim during a race, it reactivates the GG, which is not gone. This not gone Goo Gone compromised the bond between the tire and the rim by degrading the glue at the spoke nipple holes, which is a weak spot to begin with.

Trust me on this, I have been down this road. Only vigilance kept me from rolling a tire.

Colin R said...

This fan/solvent method actually works, and works really f'n well- you just need the right setup.

The fact that my method is JD-approved makes me feel WAY better.

zencycle said...

I know the grief I'll get for this, but I use a wire brush on a drill with no solvent (well just a little).

Run the drill speed low enough so that it doesn't fling bits of glue around the room at supersonic speeds (wear safety glasses!). Hold it at an angle to the rim so that the rotating brush drives the rim slowly. Apply hard enough pressure to remove the glue to bare metal. Once it looks like you're getting diminishing returns, switch the brush angle by 90 degrees and repeat. It takes about ten minutes to clean a rim. It doesn't get all the glue off, but anything that's left has pretty much chemically bonded itself to the metal anyways. Here's where I'll use solvent - on a rag just to remove the left over debris. My rims end up way cleaner than most people have patience for using solvents.

You shouldn't really use this method if the rim is not anodized as the brush can score the rim. I never seen any scoring from the brush on an anodized rim.

I've been using this method since....the early 90's? (fuck, I'm old!). I've only rolled a tire once. It was at the nashua crit somewhere around '94, and it was because I glued the tire night before a fast technical crit on a hot august day, and I had skimped on the glue because I had run out. It wasn't due to the cleaning method. Trust me when I tell you I remember the circumstances, I had a few weeks worth of road rash to remind me. I started making sure I used at least one full tube of glue per wheel applied in layers and haven't had a problem since.

Layers are the key.
Apply glue on rim and tire, let them dry for 24hrs.
Apply a third layer then mount the tire. If you don't see glue squeezing its way out all the way around, you didn't use enough. This another time I'll use a solvent, just applied to a rag to wipe off the excess glue.

I know, you're all saying to yourselves 'remind me not to get behind you in a crit'. Well, Q.E.D. (the proof is in the pudding). I haven't rolled a tire since that fateful day in nashua 15 years ago.

P.s. - 'not gone goo gone'...HAH!!!

G-ride said...

I use the bench mounted 8" brass wire wheel in my shop. Takes the glue off pretty effing well. Hand drills...pfft.

megA said...

hmmmm i've never rolled a tire that jd has glued, i don't think powers has either, but you're right thomP, people get all weird about THE way to do tubular stuff.

colin, you owe him dinner AND a six pack. . .