It sounds as though you have a serious problem with rust and wheel failures. If you are presently a service organization, moving to industrial production (especially as a collective) creates a variety of hurdles related to capital and organizational structure. The Mondrian collectives in Spain have been successful as collectives engaged in industrial production, but they have strong government and societal support. You may look to them for structural inspiration.
With regard to the underlying problem: (mostly) cheap wheels that are not serviceable, perhaps there are other alternatives? Here are a few I came up with:
Partner with a bicycle co-op/collective in the (south) western US where rust is not an issue. In the past, there have been postings to this list of collectives with excess bikes and parts. I’d imagine that you might be able to get a container or rental truck full of just wheels, if you put the word out and were patient.
Buy unthreaded blank spokes in bulk. DT and China/Taiwan manufacturers have these available and with a $130 Hozan spoke threader you can make serviceable spokes. (Don’t forget that even nicer spoke threaders will take some time for the cutting and threading)
Buy lots of different sizes of cheap straight gauge spokes. For less than $1000, you could go on Ali Baba and buy a stock of nipples and every 14g spoke length available. Restock as needed.
Visit the DT facility in Grand Junction, Colorado where they make spokes. You will see the spatial and equipment requirements for spoke making and be better equipped an nd informed as to the requirements for such a project.
Best of luck in your project! Eager to hear about your solutions!
Kevin Dwyer Salt Lake City, UT
On Feb 16, 2023, at 4:06 AM, MARK via Thethinktank email@example.com wrote:
Personally, I think trying to become a spoke manufacturer is a bit over ambitious unless you had a metal working factory. If you could by full-length spokes to thread to length, a Phil Wood machine was over $3K last I knew.
It seems to me your biggest hurdle is getting a wholesale account. Most distributors want to see a picture of a brick and mortar storefront and some credential and or web-presence.
We use J&B importers for our "bread and butter" supplies, but also have accounts with QPB and recently Shimano.
Yeah, wheels are the Achilles' heal of used bikes, especially rears. I usually start any wheel work with hitting each nipple with Tri-flow. It also helps to have an adjustable spoke wrench, often an antique tool in my experience, although we have a Hozan, so they might be still available.
We also has some spoke wrenches that grip three sides of the nipple, sort of, that work well on stubborn spokes. Hope this helps.
Mark Hoffman BikeNB.org New Britain, CT USA
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