Park TS-8 truing stand review

When I started working on wheels, the first thing that I looked for was a decent truing stand. If I had it all to do over again, I would probably end up with the same equipment, but I would have brought it in a different order. For a truing stand to use in occasional repairs, the bicycle provides all the stand you need. The only benefit from a dedicated truing stand is that you can work on the wheel when it’s not attached to the bike. For the most part it’s been an ok purchase, but one problem surfaced when I started dealing with the dish of the wheel that I’ve not seen discussed anywhere. From Park’s website:

Dishing (centering) is performed by simply flipping the wheel in the stand. Constructed from heavy gauge steel to resist flexing,…

Caveats in the statement above from personal experience: The chrome piece slides in the frame to adjust for wheels of different width. There’s enough play in the mechanism that it rocks back and forth. On my first truing projects, I tried to tighten the wheel down in the stand with the skewer. This is a HUGE mistake and should be avoided because when you tighten the skewer the tension will cause the chrome piece to twist in the truing stand frame changing the angle of the rim in the base and making it impossible to dish properly. The whole experience was made even more difficult for me by my own inexperience. I was still learning, so it was easy for me to do something stupid like measure and then accidentally dish the wheel the wrong way and double my error.

Park put a small set screw on the back of the adjusting arm to lock it into place, but in my experience I’ve never been able to adjust it so there’s no movement in the arm while you’re flipping the wheel one way or the other. The best solution I found is using some chunks of business cards or one of those fake credit cards you get in the mail. I adjust the arm for the wheel I’m truing and then lock it into place by jamming cards in the slot so flipping the wheel to adjust for dish doesn’t knock it out of alignment. (see below) I never tighten the skewer to lock the wheel in the stand, but rather just let gravity hold it in place.

As far as low to mid priced truing stands go this one seems pretty par for the course from reviews I’ve read. Some of them have self-centering dish gauges, but for the most part, even the expensive ones have play in them to some degree. I’d rather have to flip the wheel to read a positive measurement than rely on an imprecise gauge to give me faulty information. I finally decided to spend my money where I should have spent BEFORE I got the stand..

1. The Bicycle Wheel by Jobst Brandt. There’s a great deal of recycled content from his theory I’ve read on the internet already, but it is interesting to read it all in one place. I’m attacking some truing and rebuild projects after I’ve finished reading and re-reading.

2. Park dish gauge. This to me is a FAR more useful tool for the casual mechanic than a truing stand. If you trued the wheel in the frame of the bike, you could use the brake pads as a reference to get the wheel radially/laterally true, then use the dishing gauge to inspect and make sure your wheel is dished properly.

3. Tension meter. I’ve been lucky that I have several wheels which were correctly built in the first place, and are good examples for me to work from. All the truing and lace-overs I’ve done to this point have been done by plucking the spokes of the pro-built wheels and emulating the tones in my work. I followed the advice of others and tried to get the tone as even across the wheel as possible. Its worked well, but I know I’ve gone a little loose from what I’ve read so far because I’ve had a few spokes break, but never had a rim fail. For builds and trues moving forward I’m going the precise route – getting the max tension from the rim manufacturer and building to within 10-20% of it on each spoke.

If you have a little extra cash to spend and want something that’ll make your life REALLY easy, pick up a dial indicator with a magnetic base like the one shown on the right side of the picture below. You can just clamp it to the base, align it with the rim, and you’ll get instant feedback as to which way the wheel needs to move to align perfectly. It’s also useful because you can set it up for other measuring tasks (like checking disc brake rotor alignment, etc…)

Here are a few good starter links on wheel buildin and fixin:

Myra VanInwegen’s Bike Articles – quite a few good articles on Wheel building and truing in there…

How To True a Wobbly Wheel – Ken Kifer’s pages have lots of good basic info…

Truing Bicycle Wheels – this was the article that gave me the best ‘across the board’ advice I saw on the internets so far.

Jobst Brandt on Sheldon Brown’s Pages

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8 thoughts on “Park TS-8 truing stand review

  1. Did you get the Park WAG-4 Dishing Tool or the WAG-3? I’ve seen plenty of reviews of the WAG-4, but would like to save $15 and get the WAG-3 unless there is a significant performance difference.

    • Had a problem with the blog a few weeks back, so sorry the images are gone. Have to fix that asap….

      I got the WAG-4 gauge. The main differences between the 2 are ease of measurement issues. On the ‘4’, the feeler gauge in the center adjusts a little easier, and there are sliding blocks at the point where the gauge contacts the rim so you can measure dish without removing the tire. For occasional use the ‘3’ would probably be fine. I’ve even seen a few homebrewed gauges that you can make for less than $10, but I wanted to keep moving on wheelbuilding so I went with park.

  2. So, Do you still use the TS-8?
    If you were starting again which stand would you buy?
    I keep looking at the TS-8 but have a nagging doubt about that accuracy and ease of use that may aggravate me.

    Rick.

    • Hey Rick, Yeah, I would buy the same thing again if I had it to do all over again. The accuracy problems I mentioned above disappeared once I braced the arms as described above and quit clamping the wheel in the stand with a skewer. I read reviews on a bunch of truing stands – including some self centering ones, and didn’t see any consumer level models that didn’t have some problems with accuracy. I took the time to overcome the quirks in the ts-8 design and feel like I’d probably have to do the same for any stand that I purchased aside from an expensive professional model.

      — For the money and my usage (truing my wheels and 1 or 2 builds a year) a ts-8, wag-4 dishing gauge, a copy of Jobst Brandt’s book and cheap dial indicator (optional but really nice) was the way to go. I can’t stress the book enough. Learning how a wheel works has gone a long way towards making my builds reliable enough that I don’t find myself back in front of the stand every 6 months.

      — If I just wanted to true the occasional wheel and had no intention of building, I’d probably start with the dishing gauge to make sure my wheels are centered correctly and do my truing projects with the bike in the frame using the brake pads as a frame of reference for lateral/radial true. Centering the wheel on all my first truing projects caused more pain than anything else.

      — If I built a lot of wheels, and I mean a LOT – I would consider the $200+ Cadillac Park Truing stand because then having a self-centering gauge would save me enough time to make the extra $100+ dollars worth it.

      your mileage may vary… 🙂

      Let me know if you have any other questions, and good luck!

      • addendum: forgot the Park Tension meter in my toolkit — which when added to all the other measuring tools admittedly puts you in the same price range as the professional truing stand, but with all the above you can build a FAR more precise wheel build than with any stand alone.

  3. Where’d you get the magnetic guage? I have a ts-8 and I’m looking for an attachment to true my rotors. How is it on the rotors?

    • I got mine from Sears, but there’s tons of places online (amazon, harbor freight, grainger, etc…) just google ‘dial indicator’ and lots of stuff will come up. There’s a HUGE price range, but truing wheels and rotors is not so precise that you need to spend a ton of cash. Some of the indicators are accurate to 1/10,000 of an inch which is total overkill. If you can find one that has a strong magnet or a good clamp go for that. Mine slips around a bit if I’m not careful. Rotors are a little bit of a pain because most of them have lots of vents so if your indicator has a small contact point (the tip which touches the part you’re measuring) then it will fall into the vents on the rotor when you rotate it. The solution is to buy a slightly wider contact point, or just lift the indicator off the rotor as you turn it. (Sorry if that doesn’t make sense, but it’s the best I can explain it off the top of my head.) The dial indicator works well to identify the high and low spots as you true the rotor.

  4. Pingback: tools to keep 4: wheels « bikesncoffee

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