Don't have the correct spokes? Lets make them!
Last week a customer entered the shop with a severely untrue wheel. It was obvious how it became so crooked at first glance - he had 3 broken spokes. Easy fix? Sure. Just get 3 new spokes, insert them and true the wheel back up.... Not so fast.
The hub on this wheel is for "straight pull spokes" and has holes for the spokes to thread into. Being an older wheel and hub, this comes into issue since new straight pull hubs don't thread, instead they have a notch for modern straight pull spokes to insert a flanged head (think nail heads).
Since this wheel has threaded straight pull spokes with no flanged heads, we need double sided threaded spokes - or spokes with threads on both ends. Searching even the largest suppliers of bike parts I was unable to find the correct spokes.
What to do? Sell a new set of wheels? No. Some lesser shops may find that to be the customary way but not here. Instead we channel our inner Pilgrims and create what we need.
Start with a standard J-Bend spoke used on most wheels that have standard flanged hubs. I like Straight pull spokes better because naturally a J-Bend creates a point of stress on a standard spoke. All the tension in the spoke needs to transfer through the bend into the hole on the hub flange. This is the most common place for a spoke to break as all the stress and tension are placed on a unique point of the spoke. Straight Pull spokes transfer all the tension directly to the Hub with no place for the spoke to see added stress.
Now that you have your inferior J-Bend Spoke simply grind the J-Bend off. (See bench grinder in background of grainy out of focus picture). This leaves you with a nice Straight Spoke!
Hint: Measure twice and grind once. Grid the J-Bend off to the appropriate length to ensure that you have the correct length of spoke for your new Straight pull spokes. Grinding too long will frustrate you upon installation and grinding too short...you get the idea...
Next you will need a spoke threader. Why? Duh. To thread the unthreaded end left over from grinding the J-Bend off. A spoke threader is a nice tool to have. If your local shop doesn't have one I would consider finding a new shop for your wheel fixing needs. In my experience all good wheel techs have a Spoke Threader along with many other nifty tools of the trade all specifically used for wheel maintenance. They also come in handy for creating spokes of various lengths should the shop not have the absolute correct spoke on hand. The difference between a 260mm spoke and a 262mm spoke sounds negligible but shouldn't be.
After the spoke threads are created simply thread the spoke into the hub fully and then thread the spoke nipple on like any other spoke you would instal! Simple as that. Next time you break a spoke and need one replaced, remember no spokes should be unavailable. Most reputable shops have blank spokes of all kinds and colors (silver, Black, Flat Bladed, Round, Double Butted etc) on hand and ready to cut to length so they can create any spoke you need. Very few spokes should need to be ordered. In this case they can't be ordered so creating new ones is the only option.
And thats how you create a spoke when you need it!