Stevan Thomas' points are all good ones. It is considerably more difficult to build a wheel up "dry". Not only can't one feel the spoke tension through the torque necessary to turn the nipple, but the spokes "wind up" way more and must be frequently unwound during the tensioning up. If one uses stainless spokes and chrome plated brass nipples, I've found they really don't seize over at least a five year or so span (on either my '71 Cinelli or my '70 Bartali). OK I just went out and checked the wheels I built on my off-topic ATB using Al nips about 8 or 9 years ago and the couple I tried seem OK. And I live in a rain forest only two miles from the salt water.
I'll reiterate that I don't recommend others to follow my example here, it is far easier to build a wheel up using spoke prep or plain oil. I'm just saying the ones I've built dry seem to hold up better for me. In general I recommend ignoring anecdotal reports anyway. <wink>
Kurt "it works in practice, but does does it work in theory?" Sperry Under the Doug Firs, in B'ham WA
Stevan Thomas wrote:
This depends entirely on how you define "best". One of the big advantages of using some kind of lube, is that in 10 or 20 years, the nipple doesn't seize to the spoke. If you never, ever get your wheels wet, it may not be an issue, but back when I worked in shops, I ran across way too many wheels that would not true because the nipple was frozen to the spoke. Also, if you lube the thread and the nipple seat, the "feel" that I get with the spoke wrench allows me to more easily equalize tension. Threads need lubrication. Brian's "More Masi Tales" indicated that Faliero wanted every single thread on the bicycle lubricated on initial assembly.
Brian, did that include spoke nipples?
I've been using grease on the threads and either grease or a pinpoint oiler on the nipple seat for many years. Stevan Thomas Alameda, CA