Two Letters Re: Truck, Auto, ATV, Motorcycle, and Bicycle Tire Repair

I am no tire expert, but I always have a tire repair kit on hand with self vulcanizing plugs. I have put these in my radial tires and driven thousands of miles with them. They work with any tubeless tire (even small tractors, etc) and I have never had one fail on me yet. They work for punctures such as nails, thorns, etc. For tears or rips it’s either a new tire or a larger internal patch. These plugs will work on the side wall too, but tend to fail after a while. It is better to replace that tire but they can be used in a pinch.

There are three parts to the kit.
  1. A tool to debride the “injury”
  2. a tool to insert the plug
  3. The plug itself.

All you do is find the hole by inflating and running soapy water around the tire until bubbles appear around the injury. Remove the object that caused the hole if it is still there, noting the direction of entry. Then insert the debriding tool into the injury and push it in and out to clean the wound and remove any debris. Once that is done you load the plug into the insertion tool, push it into the opening until only about 1/2 inch or so remains and then twist the tool about 1/2 turn and slowly remove the tool. Cut off any excess patch protruding, then inflate the tire and use it as normal. As I said, I have used tires repaired in this manner for thousands of miles with no trouble at all. I have not noticed any balance issues afterwards either so that does no appear to be a big issue.
(This one is a bit pricey but the only image I could find right away. I got mine at the local auto supply place for something like $10-to-$15.) Regards, – Tim P.

Good Evening James,
I have been overwhelmed as of late with all of the valuable reads you and the following have provided. It must make you smile when you sit back and track the progress since August! On Tire Repair: I have been faced with several “less than desirable” locations to have a tire come off of a Garden Tractor, Skid Loader, One Ton Truck, or ATV or even your wheel barrel. If you are wanting to polish up on, or obtain the tricks of the trade in DIY tire repair, hang around a farm coop, or off road tire repair service. I have learned a few tricks, please understand dealing with tires can be very dangerous. Give them the maintenance they deserve!   If your tire becomes flat, or comes partially off the rim, (notorious with wheel type loaders/tractors), do your best to get the weight off of the tire with your jack, or build a ramp of some sort. Getting the tire “unstressed” ASAP will aid in the down time of your repair. The memory of the mold will soon kick in and as long as you have not driven a country mile with it flat, should result in quick repair.
Once past the problem of getting the tire back on the rim, you come to the obstacle of getting the tire to seal on the bead, or rim. If at all possible, clean the inside of the rim with rags, or even your clothing. Without a clean surface to seal to, your efforts and resources will triple in getting satisfactory results.
Now you have to weigh the available resources in attacking your repair. One would hope that an air compressor is available. If not, I hope that you have a can or three of Fix-a-Flat type repair. The small compressor and cigarette adaptor recently spoke of should be a staple in your trunk.
[JWR Adds:  I prefer the slightly larger ones, that come with a two gallon tank.] The problem is that most compressors do not deliver enough CFM to expand the tire onto the rim. There are three options hat I am aware of.
1). Have a modified “air pig” with a oversize outlet tube, (i.e.- 1″ or larger with a flat oblong end). Fill the tank up to as high as safe and flip the ball valve thus expending the contents of the tank in the matter of a split second. This, carefully aimed at the edge of the rim and tire will result in a freshly sealed/beaded tire.
2). Second option is to gather ratchet strap type ratchets and surround the tire making sure that the strap is in the same spot on the tire all the way around and is not twisted. Cinch up the slack and apply several “power strokes” to the ratchet to squish the tire to the bead/rim. Once done, proceed with filling it with air. Remember that once air is trapped and bead is sealed, release the straps. Skid Loader and Tractor Tires are very very tough. I have found that twin 2″ 10,000# tie down straps work best. They are supple and very strong. It takes one at each edge of the tire directly in line with the rim. The goal is not to smash the tire, it is to squish the tire–not making the surface convex, if possible.
[An unsafe method mentioned here was deleted, for liability reasons.]
I just had a flat on my ATV. It needed a bottle of Slime to get me back in business. However, Slime is useless if you do not have the valve stem removal tool that comes with it. Get a few spares, put them in the tool box! – The Wanderer

JWR Adds:  Readers should use extreme caution when working with split-rim type wheels! Do some web research first. Ignorance is a killer around high pressure.