(Legally acquired) milk crates work ok for storing parts. They are cheap, but small parts will fall out of the holes. Lining the bottom with cardboard helps this issue, and the milk crates make it easy to zip tie an example part to the outside of the crate.
Large Parts Bins
This is the easiest to deal with because they take longer to fill. However it is hard to get to the parts at the bottom, the bins become heavy, are harder to put back on shelves, and one mis-placed part turns the entire bin into an "everything" bin if not corrected quickly.
Small Parts Bins
It's important for people to be able to find the right part, even when they don't know the name of the part they're looking for. To help with this, Free Ride has volunteers draw pictures of the small parts to go next to the names to go on the front of each small parts drawer. Similarly, Bike Pirates glues an example of the contained part to each drawer.
The downside of most small parts bins/drawers is that they constantly need restocking.
Card catalogues make fantastic parts bins, if you can get ahold of one.
Clear bins seem like a good idea, but has anyone found one that is made out of a non-breakable plastic?
Old filing cabinets are another way to store parts (and tools) as they are very sturdy, stay in place, and look clean when they are closed. Thin parts like gears are especially easy to store this way, but filing cabinets work well for derailleurs, brakes and other parts as well.
At Free Ride, the face of each drawer has an example of the contents bolted or wired to the front of it. This makes it easy for people to spot they thing they need, even if they're not sure of the name or location. The drawers also have the name of the part in vinyl lettering so that people can learn the names on their own.
Large parts filing cabinets at Bike Pirates
SECURE THEM TO THE WALL. A filing cabinet that has held heavy parts for years will spontaneously fall (this has happened) and could seriously injure or kill a person.
Pick Rack Systems
Pick rack systems have parts that are organized and are ready for easy, instant selection. Using a pick rack system keeps small parts safely stored. Rugged steel construction of the pick rack systems supports heavy loads. Angled shelves keep small parts in the front of the pick rack systems bins for easy viewing and picking.
Shelves with Holes
Using a combination of several different hole saws, you can create a shelf for various things like bearings, grease, chain lube and wd-40.
- 1/4" bearings (2 1/4" hole)
- 3/16" bearings (1 3/4" hole)
- Progold Grease (3 5/8" hole)
- 5.5oz WD-40 (2 1/8" hole)
- 16oz ProLink Chain Lube (3 1/16" hole)
- PPL-2 Park Polylube 1000 (4 1/16" hole)
Wheels and rims can easily be hung from hooks in the ceiling. If you place them the hooks far enough apart, it is easy to see what size/type of wheel it is. (Photo from the Bikerowave)
Rims can also be placed on shelves. Placing a steel rod along the front of the shelf can help cradle upright rims so they don't roll out.
If you have overhead space -- use it! Hang wheels and tires from the ceiling using bicycle hooks. Use a adjustable high reach hook if necessary to get them down.
Free Ride stores wheels on hooks made of bent suicide levers. They are threaded onto high tension steel cable and spaced by short sections of PVC pipe. We need to rebuild ours using slightly more space between wheels to prevent entanglement.
The Ohio City Bicycle Co-op keeps their spokes in "the spoke motel", a wall of open spoke drawers.
Free Ride has a big pile of unsorted tubes, many of which need patches. We have volunteers sort the tubes by size, check them for holes, squeeze out the air, fold the tubes up, then bind them individually with 'rubber bands' made from cut up tubes. These bundled tubes are sorted into smaller bins that are marked by the size and valve type of the tube they contain.
Much like wheels, new and used tires can be sorted according to size and hung on racks.