Custom big wheel / Coker spokes [Re: Coker spoke upgrade?]

Cokerhead <> wrote:

>Has anyone checked into getting some custom (stainless) spokes made for
>a Coker? I really don’t want to build a new wheel with the existing
>spokes because they turn black within a few months. I got a quote for
>$800 US for a minimum order of 1000 spokes thru a LBS. Would they have
>to be as thick as the stock ones? Any comments?

About twenty years ago, I made 13 gauge stainless steel spokes for 36",
40", 51" and 56" big wheels (obviously none of them were Coker
unicycles). I used 3/32" x 36" stainless steel welding rods for the
spoke material, bent one end to a Z shape with right angle bends (see
more detailed ASCII shape below), cut them to the proper length, and
made threads on the other (nipple) end with a #3 56 (thread cutting)

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Flat steel that is about the thickness of the flange placed in a vice
with one or more spoke holes drilled about 1/4" from one edge can be
used to make the above illustrated bend in the flange end of the spoke.
A jig with a spoke hole on one end and a hefty wire cutter welded to the
other end can allow one to make uniform length spokes quite quickly by
hand. Mounting the #3 56 thread/inch die on a reversible electric drill
can make the threading process go very quick. (The wire cutter leaves a
V shaped end - leave it that way - if you need to file it down to avoid
puncture risk, the spokes were cut a bit to long and should be re-cut to
the proper length.)

BTW, 13 gauge (.092") nipples are hard to locate. Schwinn had this size
with a “14 gauge” outside that required a special 14 gauge spoke. This
resulted in rather thin nipple walls that required the tighter fitting
special 14 gauge spoke wrench, but even this wrench would round out the
square corners of the nipple. It would be better to use the Semcycle 13
gauge nipples that fit a 12 gauge spoke (thicker than normal walls!).

For 36" & 40" big wheels and Cokers, one 3/32" x 36" stainless steel
welding rod can be make into an L shaped “double” spoke. A double spoke
has the Z bend in the middle of the rod with the two ends threaded for
rim holes that are about 105 degrees apart. Making the bend come out at
90 degrees rather than the approximate 105 degrees works out fine.
However, these double spokes require flanges that have half the normal
number of spoke holes and more importantly the flange holes of each
flange must NOT be staggered evenly (1/2 the adjacent flange hole
length); they must be staggered at 1/4 (or 3/4 for the mirror image) the
adjacent flange hole with respect to each other around the axel axis.
Such hubs must be custom made or be antique hubs that were designed and
built for the L shaped hubs of probably about a century ago. (Many
penny farthing designs probably used such hubs and double spokes for the
“penny” [large] wheel.)

It should be easy to apply the above to a Coker with a nipple that fits
the rim you use properly.

The advantage of stainless steel welding rods is they are sold in
straight lengths. A disadvantage is much of 36" rod is wasted, but they
can be custom ordered to a specific shorter or even longer length if the
quantity is large enough. Huge rolls of stainless steel wire could be
used (I didn’t investigate this option), but then you have the extra
problem of making them straight enough to cut uniform (precise) and
accurate lengths. (Uniform lengths are useless if they are too short
[very bad] or too long [can be re-cut to the proper length, preferably
not after threading them].

Another option is 12 gauge (.105") rods or wire with regular 12 gauge
nipples. The 3/32" x 36" stainless steel welding rod is very common in
the USA. Please report what stainless steel welding rod sizes are
available in your respective countries. Someone, please report the
metric sizes that are equivalent or close to 13 gauge (.092") and 12
gauge (.105").

I learned almost all the above by visiting, working and talking with Tom
Miller of “The Unicycle Factory”. Tom may not have a strong presence on
the WWW, but he does create and sell wonderful and reliable unicycles &
has a good selection of parts as well. Call him at 765-452-2692 and he
may be happy to expand on the above discussion (and even sell you a
unicycle or a few parts).


Ken Fuchs <>