Thomas L. Hayes wrote:
> In reading auction descriptions on Ebay and elsewhere phrasing such as "hand
> built" or "custom-built" wheels is used repeatedly.
> Are there such things as machine built wheels?
Certainly. Trek bought a Holland Mechanics (Sturmey-Archer was the
importer) wheel building robot back around 1981 or 82, and it didn't
seem like it was anything particularly new at the time.
> If such machines exist, are they capable of building a decent wheels?
Yes, for a sufficiently broad definition of "decent." Trek did a fair amount of hand touch-up on the machine-built wheels, and every shop I've worked for has always touched up the wheels on production bikes as they're assembled.
It is entirely likely that the technology has improved since the early 80s as well.
Appleton WI USA