So I've just finally recovered from all the sweat and tears that went in to my Lemond Paris-Roubaix build. Totally knocked the bike geek out of me for a few days. I'm back now, though, and raring to go on new projects!
First, though, some things I learned/relearned when working on this latest project.
I've mentioned them before, but there are some incredibly valuable websites out there for anyone research about team bikes. I leaned on them while documenting Merckx team bikes, and I continued that trend while working on the Lemond. My usual tactic is to look up a team, load up the picture pages for each of the riders on that team, and see what turns up for pictures. Here's the list:
cyclingarchives.com is particularly awesome - its got an english interface, and their search facilities are really excellent.
Google searches won't help find a picture of a specific bike unless its captioned. So get creative. If you're looking for pictures of a bike from a specific year, search for events that bike would have been used in - in this case, "Paris-Roubaix 1994" and the like.
Period magazines are key! I had a whole slew of 1993/1994 magazines already, but eBay is a great place to keep an eye on as well. There's bound to be pictures of the bike you're looking for if you look hard enough.
Here's a trick I recently started employing. When you DO find pictures of the bike you're looking for, or even pictures of events you think will have pics of your bike, Google the photographers name. This will usually show up on the side or bottom of any picture - both the photog's name, and the agency they were working for. I found a picture in a magazine by Stefano Serotti. Googling him turned up his website, and a ton of pictures of riders on the frame in question at the Ronde van Vlaanderen.
About 10 years ago, I used to build wheels regularly, but hadn't built any since maybe 2004. This build called for a somewhat special wheel set, and I decided I'd do it myself.
First - tensiometers are awesome. I had never built with one before, but I'm older and wiser these days. I highly recommend using one. It took a lot of guesswork out of building my wheels. Recommended tensions are available from most vendors. Keep all of your spokes in the same ballpark, and you'll end up with strong, straight wheels that can stand up to anything - including the horrible cobbles of Brooklyn. My 571/2 wheelset stayed straight and properly tensioned. They may even be straighter now than before they were ridden!
While I'm older and wiser, I still like to save some money when I get a chance. I've used Wheelsmith Spoke Prep in the past to good results. This go around, though, I really didn't want to buy a $20 jar that'd end up going dry before I used it again. So I did a little research, and made a little bet with myself that PTFE plumber's pipe thread compound isn't radically different than the Wheelsmith stuff. Same general design goals - lubricate the threads, act as a quasi-thread locker, without hardening. The PTFE versions contain teflon, just like the Wheelsmith stuff. Regardless of whether its EXACTLY the same, it works great, can be obtained at a decent hardware store, and is dirt cheap - I paid $3 for a tube that'll last me through at least a dozen pairs of wheels. Don't use too much though, it can be a little messy.
Finally, the Wheel Fanatyk blog is awesome, and this tip of theirs is brilliant. In a nutshell, you build and partially tension the drive side of the rear wheel first, adjust for roundness, and then tension the non-drive side to bring the wheel in to dish and trueness. Done correctly, the spoke tension will be perfect on the drive side just as the wheel becomes properly dished. Touch up trueness, make sure its still round, and you're done - in less time that it takes to build a front wheel. I found myself needing to lower the tension on the drive side as I was pulling the rim to the center, and would probably initially tension the drive side to 60% when building an 8 speed whel in the future (at least, that same hub + rim combo). Even still, it was a far, far easier method for building a rear wheel than I had ever employed before.
None of my pictures show them off, but I made custom Mavic team-style decals for my rims, like you'd see on a set of Paris-Roubaix tubulars. You know, the individual letter decals M A V I C that show up just over to the right of the valve stem. There are tons of custom vinyl decal cutters on the Internet. I used this guy, and they came out great. I think it was a nice little touch on my part, that I entirely managed to not photograph. Oops!