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Axle Diameter and Rear Dropouts
#1
I have recently sold a LeMond Tourmalet on eBay and I am in need of a second or third opinion. The bike was lightly used with all original components with no modifications and was sold because lack of use. The complete assembled bicycle was taken to a reputable local mechanic to be disassembled and boxed for shipping.

Upon receipt of the bicycle the buyer claimed that the bike was not functional because the rear wheel set was not compatible with the rear drop outs and requested that I purchase him a new wheel set to make the bike operational.

Seeing as to how the wheel was on the bike and was operational prior to taking it to the mechanic for shipping I was concerned that the wrong rear wheel set was accidentally put into the box for shipping. After a lengthy conversation with my local mechanic he said the only explanation for the axle no longer fitting into the drop out was if the frame was compressed during shipping. His opinion that a new rear wheel would have the same problem and that the solution would be to have the frame aligned with the proper tools. He demonstrated this to me by sliding various rear wheels on to a frame he was working on.

It is my understanding that having the improper distance between the inside of the drop outs (135mm for this bike) would make the wheel not operational. My buyer is not refuting that measurement. Is it possible to have the improper diameter and could someone please direct me to sample specifications that would demonstrate this?
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#2
First you need to be clear on what measurement you're talking about. Because you mention 135mm, I assume you mean the spacing between the inside surfaces of the rear dropouts. If the frame was compressed during shipping, it would become difficult to fit the wheel in. As the mechanic suggested, the proper fix for this is to have the frame aligned by a good shop. Changing wheels won't do anything and doesn't fix the problem. Note that if the bike had been packed correctly, this shouldn't have happened unless the box was pretty badly crushed. It is standard practice to put something in the dropouts of the frame and fork during shipping to prevent them being compressed because it is a common shipping damage. You may have a claim against the packer or the shipper, though tough to prove.

If the frame was just compressed a little, you could probably spread it by hand as you put in the wheel. This wouldn't affect how the wheel works, it just makes it a hassle to put the wheel in. If it was compressed badly, it would be very hard to get the wheel in. If the buyer is willing, the best thing may be to offer to pay for him to take it to a shop to have the rear alignment checked. But do NOT buy him new wheels.

The other possible problem is that the axle itself is now too thick to fit into the cut out of the dropout. This is what you imply by mentioning the <i>diameter</i> of the axle. If the wheel won't fit in now, it could be that the C shaped opening of the dropout was compressed so the axle is not too thick to fit it. But this is pretty unlikely on a modern, vertical dropout frame.
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#3
assuming that Davem is correct and you are talking about the OLD (over locknut dimension) and this is a nutted wheel rather than a QR one, is it remotely possible that the buyer is trying to fit the wheels with the track nuts on the axle and run up to the locknuts?

Can you also suggest to the buyer that he e-mails you some pics? or comes on here and posts ?
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