Well, I have a confession to make. After I loudly swore off wheelbuilding in a previous colum, I broke down and built another one.
I got home from work and my wheel was wobbling badly. Broken spoke I surmised. I was wrong. The good news was that there wasn't a broken spoke. The bad news was that the spoke had pulled through the rim leaving a gaping hole which the tube was poking through. Oh, well, new wheel, I thought. But then I looked around and saw all sorts of old rims laying around and my workbench full of brand new spokes. How could I in good conscience buy a new wheel when I could fashion one, Zeus-like, from the elements.
So I got out my spokes and a promising looking rim and began to lace. Things were actually going pretty well. I usually get about 90% through the lacing stage before discovering the spokes I chose were either too long or too short. I of course screwed up the location of the valve hole, but in the grander scheme of things this didn't bother me too much. There I was with a wheel that was approximately round (I think the best description is "rideable"). So I proceeded to mount the tire. Then I noticed that the rim has a valve hole for a Shrader valve. It was probably a rim I bought from Nashbar with a Presta valve that I drilled out back in the days when I was into Shrader. What to do? For a fleeting instant I considered going back to my hybrid Presta/Schrader configuration, which of course means carrying two kinds of tubes. Then I remembered that I had bought a bunch of grommets that did the Shrader->Presta conversion for you. The only trick was finding them.
My workshop has been deteriorating over the last couple of years. I basically pile stuff up on the bench until there is no surface left to work on. Then I go off and do something else. I had to find these famous grommets amidst this chaos. The grommets are little rubber doughnuts about 3/8" in diameter. Pretty analagous to the needle in a haystack. I realized late in life that very small things have a large vapor pressure, and almost ineluctable desire to become lost. So I've taken to putting very small things inside merely small things, like film cannisters, and then losing them. Anyway, inside of a half hour, I did manage to find the tiny grommets. Now the grommets are meant to be inserted into the Shrader valve hole, thus forming a smaller opening the size of a Presta valve. Unfortunately, the grommet is about four times the size of the hole it is meant to occupy. With a lot of cussing and a big screwdriver, I managed to insert said grommet in said hole. Unfortunately, now there was no room for the Presta valve. By judiciously trimming the grommet, I fimally managed to get rim, grommet and valve stem to live in peaceful harmony, and life was sweet again. Then I noticed that the rim was a 27" one. The way I noticed this was that the tire cleared the brakes by about a millimeter, and there was no way I could arrange a meeting of the brake pads and the rim. Previous rim was a 700c, just enough smaller to be annoying and not compatible with a 27" one.
So my fine new 27" converted Schrader valve wheel was pretty much useless to me. I ended up using an extra wheel from my Cannondale, which had a cassette hub and was much better than a rainy day commuting bike deserved, but there you are.
Anyway, if anyone has a good home for a 27" freewheel hub rear wheel that can chameleon-like become presta or schrader, let me know.