Buying wheels online is a non issue.
That is, you buy wheels off eBay, and you pay the shipping costs associated with the purchase*.
Once shipping costs have been paid, and delivery is scheduled, then it’s smooth sailing.
Unless if, on the other side of the transaction, you don’t know how to pack wheels…
I have tried and failed many times at it.
I once used too big a cardboard box and not enough cushioning material. All seven (!) wheels in one shipment. It was cheap but my final customer wasn’t so happy.
The other time I did the opposite and used individual packages for an intercontinental shipment! That was way too costly, although the buyer was pleased.
By researching and through trial and error, I came up with this technique.
It’s not the most high tech and it doesn’t have much of a « woo factor ».
It’s simple, can be up to 100% cardboard based (expect for adhesive) and is easy to replicate.
It consists of 4 steps: cutting holes, pairing wheels, cutting the perimeter and final assembly.
Tool and supplies necessary : a very sharp knife or cutter, lots of adhesive and packing brown tape, lots of used cardboard like the ones for TV’s and/or big kitchen appliances. Most stores will be happy to get rid of them for free*.
And wheels, of course. For the purpose of this tutorial we will pack a fresh set of Gullideckels up.
- Cutting holes
Lay your cardboard flat on your work table / bench or any flat surface comfortable for you to work on. Put one wheel on top of it. Draw (pre-cut) the shape of the wheel on the cardboard. Then repeat.
You need at least 6 circles as a bare minimum (3 per package) , but I recommend using 10 for added protection (5 per package) , and ease of final assembly. But that will come later.
Then follow through those cuts and starts ripping some circles.
Lay one-wheel upside down. Stick a cardboard circle on it, secure it with 3 tape points, Mercedes 3-pointed star style.
Return the wheel. Repeat the same process. Remember you can’t damage the paint with cardboard. If you still find it too rough, place a sheet of bubble wrapper in between.
Once you’ve done this you have covered both sides of the first wheel.
Put a second wheel, face-down, on top of the first wheel (face-up)
It should look like this :
On that note, we can see here with the « clearcoat free » backside, the cost cutting method used for making those Gullideckel wheels, more on that here (only in FR for now).
Secure the pair with tape and put a third cardboard circle on top. Secure it too. The pair is complete, you can repeat the same process for the other pair.
I choose face up face down layout as the danger for the wheels comes from the outside, not from within. Hence i put the less valuable part facing outwards.
I suppose that someone could make a very convincing case explaining that i should be doing the opposite (the comments section is yours, guys) but for now i will stick with that line of thinking.
- Cutting the Perimeter
This is where a very sharp knife comes in handy. And your extra cardboard too.
Draw and cut an amount of cardboard sufficient for packing the girth or perimeter of the pair of wheels. You can use the lines grooved into the cardboard at the factory to help you keep a straight cut :
- Final Assembly
Roll the cardboard around the pair. Fresh cardboard is brash and restless, you’ll need tape to make it stay in place.
A good method to use it to lay the package on its side and roll it around while taping it tight. You dont need to go to crazy at this point as you might need some leeway later.
Put it back up :
Now’s the moment to get creative. See those cardboard scraps you have made ripping those neat circles ? Use them as padding for the sharp angles created by the cardboard’s perimeter. Alternately it is also a good time to use more conventional padding.
The 4 extra circles can now spring into action. Most likely the cardboard perimeter is overshooting the content by a few centimeters. The additional circle will help reduce the gap and tape will then seal the deal (pun intended).
For the other side just proceed the same way.
At that point both extremities are tight and well in place. Now it is time to tighten the perimeter as hard as you can, no prisoners there. The Rolling and Taping is again a good enough method. Now the final and last touch : the overlapping taping that connects all of the aforementioned areas.
It should look like something this :
That’s about it. Note that this particular cardboard couldn’t be entirely bent to my absolute desire, so i stopped when i reached an acceptable middle ground. If you deem it necessary you can roll & tape some more.
I highly encourage to manhandle the package to see how it reacts. Let’s face it: in its tiny transit tenure the package will be thrown around an alarming number of times.
Let’s see if it all checks out for peace of mind.
Let it gently fall on your work bench, see if a grinding noise can be heard.
If a distant metallic thud is heard then it is entirely normal.
Another useful trick is to shake the package to check if the content is well in place in the package.
When done the package is cleared through inspection.
Now the transaction really starts.
*Please note that, on ebay at least, the seller evaluates himself the shipping costs, that is he is contractually obligated to pay for the shipping with this amount. If he undercharged you, you then that’s his loss. If he overcharged you, he may give those gains back to the customer using faster delivery or keep it for himself. Just keep in mind that there is no point in asking « how much for shipping to? » It’s either “yes” and “how much?” is answered on the listing, or it’s “no” and that’s the end of it.
*On that note, kudos to Connexion Etoile Sur Rhone, a store that provided me for years with high quality German refrigerators cardboard, they are the best !