cycle tramp wrote:
... The rear wheel was spaced for a 7 or 8 speed freewheel, (rather than a freehub cassette) but was re-spaced for a 5 or 6 speed freewheel - although it meant I lost a couple of gears, it allowed for the rear hub to be more centrally placed along the axle, and allowed for a more equal spoke tension to be used, building a stronger wheel.
Hope this helps
The spacing for a 7s freewheel would be different from the spacing for an 8s freewheel. The correct spacing for a 7s freewheel is very similar to that of a 6s freewheel, because 7s sprockets are spaced more closely than 6s. As Ian points out above a 7s freewheel could give you more range etc; the reasons a 6s one was used in the Supercommuter included that more gears/range were not required and that 6s indexing should go longer between being fiddled with.
The scope for redishing the wheel whilst retaining the same axle is limited by the fact that the X-RD axle is shouldered (where the cartridge hearings fit to it) so it cannot be shuffled sideways as you would be able to do in (say) a typical hub with cup and cone bearings. In the 'Supercommuter' build the hub was redished to a narrower OLN by taking spacers out on the RHS and adding a smaller amount on the LHS. The latter wouldn't really have been possible had the frame had thicker aluminium dropouts. SA make different axles but IIRC the alternatives are not as long, so at 135mm OLN there isn't that much wriggle room.
IME when building one of these wheels there is nearly always more dish than you would like to have; this means the tension balance is worse than you would choose. The options here are to use higher than normal (probably excessive) DS tension or to use threadlock on the NDS spokes. I've seen one of these hubs break on the DS, presumably through excessive tension. In the Supercommuter the rear wheel was built with normal tension but without threadlock on the NDS, in the anticipation that it might have to be added later. It soon became evident that it wasn't optional; the NDS nipples started to back out in use so threadlock had to be added retrospectively; the wheel has been fine since then.
Re brake levers; SA recommend their S80 model levers for their drum brakes. These are optionally available with a parking button etc. These levers have the correct pull/MA for drum brakes, cantis, roller brakes, and older caliper brakes. A while back I refurbished a couple of pashleys and at some point they had both been fitted with the wrong brake levers; the brakes were absolutely feeble as a consequence. On one machine the (Dia Compe) levers were convertible between V and canti pull, so it was just a matter of reconfiguring them. On the other machine I had to pony up for replacement levers.
If you have V-brake compatible combined brake levers/shifters I suppose you could use travel agents but the brake will be spongier. Some V-levers are made so that the cable shackle could be put in one of two places in manufacture. This means that you can sometimes convert the levers, but this requires drilling holes and re-riveting the shackles; there are fairly obvious dangers if your workmanship isn't perfect here, so I don't recommend this route unless you are 100% confident about it.
One of my mad ideas is to make longer versions of the brake arms on the brake plate, thus making the drum brakes compatible with V-levers. The same dangers exist of course, but the brakes should also be improved because the cable tension is reduced.