I think I've read every post here about V-brake squeal, as well as the popular ones on the Sheldon Brown site, the Park Tools guide and so forth - but I seem to have a brake squeal that just won't abate, and I'd like a 2nd (and 3rd and 4th opinion) before I replace the last few components I haven't yet replaced.
I've a Trek 7.3 hybrid bike, around 2009 vintage - it has a 700C Bontrager alloy rim and Avid Single Digit 3 v-brakes (which I believe are OEM only). About 9 months after owning it and riding about 8 kilometres a day 4 days a week it developed a brake squeal at the front - strangely the back brakes have never been a problem and they work really well. "No problem," I thought, and I cleaned the rim (using a steelo/600grit sandpaper) and toed in the brakes slightly - which fixed it adequately, although temporarily. This process is something I've repeated over the last few years - eventually replacing the worn down pads with a few different styles of cartridge pad.
But the squeal has been steadily growing to the point where the I needed stupid amount of toe to stop it - which really just gave me brakes with questionable efficacy. I eventually swapped to a Kool Stop pads - though again this fix was temporary.
Being a 700C wheel, I toyed with going to the style of brakes most road bikes have - but I lack the appropriate mounting hole in the front forks - and the tools with which to make one.
Noting that there was a reasonable amount of play in the bushes on each brake arm (they're integral to the arm), I bit the bullet and ordered a set of Avid Single Digit 7 brakes, to replace the brakes on the bike. Pulling the old brakes off I noticed the brake bosses on the frame appeared to be bent - so I replaced those too. I cleaned the daylights out of the rim, again with steelo, a quick run over with 600grit sandpaper and an application of automotive brake cleaner to remove any oil (it seems to be a lot cheaper than isopropyl alcohol here and appears to work well - also, I had some close at hand). I also make sure I clean the surface of the pads removing any grit and give them a with once-over with a clean bit of sandpaper.
Following a number of guides, I installed and set up the new brakes and they are excellent for the most part; the arms are meatier and have far less flex in them and the return adjustment, and adjustment in general, seems to be easier setup and control.
But they still squeal, loudly - in the dry, in the wet, night and day. And granted, terrifying j-walking pedestrians with the noise can be fun - but I don't think it's doing me any favours.
So given that I've replaced the brake bosses, the brake arms, the brake pads and removed cleaned, re-greased and refitted the forks - that really only leaves the rim.
Do I replace the rim, or do I just deal with the squeaking? Or have I missed something really obvious?
An update on my progress.
Replaced the front wheel with a 2nd hand one in excellent condition (having been recently respoked and trued) - some sort of lightweight Ritchey thing. The wheel had been used by a chap who'd commuted a decent distance on it every day and had had no problems with squeal.
I cleaned the rim with 600 grit glasspaper, then automotive brake cleaner and a steelo, wiped clean with paper towel. I then cleaned it with methylated spirits and again wiped it clean with a paper towel. This removed all the old traces of brake pad grit and oil and let me check that the surface of the rim was flat.
I took off the Avid cartridge pads supplied with the Single Digit 5 brakes and, after cleaning them up with sand paper and a wipe of methylated spirits, put the Koolstop single compound 'orange' pads back on.
Adjusted the brakes to make sure they sat on the rim properly (they're slightly thicker than the Avid pads).
And still it squeals!
Sadly, I'm thinking I just have one of those very resonant frames.
The next step is the replace the forks - but I'm in no rush to that anytime soon give the cost.
I'm still wondering if I've missed something obvious!