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2010 Tours & Expeditions

Back to Season Tyre Reports



   This is a run down of what we encountered with tyres & tubes this year, both during the off-track work and standard off-road travel. Total mileage for the season was 22,000 kms. Some incredibly wet weather gave us a few problems and meant more bitumen travel than normal between commercial trips. Obviously the entire range of road & track surfaces were utilised during this period between May & October.

   We didn’t run a new set of tyres this year as we normally do. I tidied up tyres that had already completed a season and put them back into service. I have intended to do this for sometime as part of our "testing" of the MRF tyres we use. We do fit new tubes at the start of every season though, using old tubes is simply asking for trouble.

   Most things went according to plan, however we did have a few "funny" things happen and I will go over them and explain what happened, or what I think happened.


May - Nullarbor to Marble Bar - 3700 kms off-road

   Three flat tyres during the trip between four vehicles, all were repaired and serviceable.


Tyre Type Problem Repair / Comment
17" Tubeless - wide Nail in tread A6 mushroom plug & Innerliner Sealer - Good
16" Tubeless - wide Stake in sidewall 120TL patch & Innerliner Sealer - Good
Bias on Split Rim * Stake in tread B8 mushroom plug & No. 4 tube patch - Good


 * My small tread stake could have been a left-over from 2009, it is difficult to say. I went over those tyres with a "fine tooth comb" but as I found out later it is almost impossible to "see" and feel everything.


Mick fixing tyres

North of Forrest on the Nullarbor repairing a tubeless tyre


Mick watching a flat fix

Gibson’s Desert tubeless repairs – I like to watch someone else do the work sometimes


June / July Expedition - 1950 kms (734 kms off-track / 1200 kms off-road)

   This was a pretty tough trip on everything. Tyres copped a hiding as usual and for the first time we lost 2 tyres due to a run-flats. These were the first heavy duty tyres lost during six different off-track expeditions totalling approx 4200 kms off-track and about 8000 kms off-road.

   We have regular expedition participants, some of their tyres have now done 3 or 4 expeditions plus whatever other travel they have done. Anyway the major events are detailed in the following.

stake in MRF tyre

Sidewall stake in All Steel Radial – within limits, repaired and put back to work This set of "Steel Muscle" tyres have done 4 expeditions, you can see the amount of wear on the sidewall from off-track work, simply wonderful tyres. Pity we can’t get them anymore in Australia......


stake in tyrewood found inside tube

Shoulder stake in MRF Super Traction tyre & the pieces found inside the tube.
Repaired and put back into service.


Extreme Wet Weather (for the dry season)

   Late in the expedition while still off-track but nearing a remote road network it rained. In fact it rained quite a bit, enough so that within a couple of kms of the track we had 4 out of 6 vehicles bogged. I reduced tyre pressure drastically just to keep mobile and get the others out (which was successful). I’ll just explain how it was done. 2nd gear low range with a lot of throttle, the only way to move was with momentum and the saving grace was the odd small patch of sand country, often no bigger than the vehicle itself. I had to find a sand patch near enough to the bogged vehicles and not move off it while snatching them out, obviously that meant multiple snatches as I couldn’t move far. The whole afternoon was "touch n go" but after about three hours we all made it onto firm ground well after dark.

   The next morning I checked all my tyre pressures and both rears had 0psi. They didn’t look out of place as I expected to have about 6-8psi in them. One of the fronts had also spun on the rim which would require rotating before heading off again. Having a day off to dry out (the rain had stopped) I pulled all of them apart. The two rears I suspect hit various hard ground level termite nests (the mound is underground) while "chugging" around snatching 4WDs out of bogs. That would explain the pinches the tubes had received, both the location of the damage and the direction of the small cut.

   After a thorough inspection I repaired both tubes by rounding out the end of the cut and bonding on a large patch. Just the same as I always do.



Lovely afternoon for a drive…… the edge of almost bottomless Mulga country.


   Two days travel were had along the northern reaches of a remote road network, it was very corrugated and pretty slow going so I had my tyres at 20/30psi, not as low as I have them normally on the Anne Beadell Highway for corrugations.

   At the end of the second day's travel both rears had gone flat. Very annoying as I found both tube repairs I had done failed identically. Both cuts had continued and come out under the patch. This has happened before but not for a long time. I can’t think of a reason why it happened, perhaps the glue wasn’t 100% or doesn’t like the tube rubber or I did something wrong. But both repairs were carried out just the same as I do all the tube repairs, both mine and customers. My main theory was that they were both on the sidewall and I had low pressure for corrugations putting a huge amount of stress on both repairs, but this is common so I’m still puzzled. Fitted new tubes and got rid of the problem, however that doesn’t solve it.


* Damaged Tyres from Run-Flats *

   This is a problem we haven’t seen until this year and I’m hoping we don’t see it again for a while. The first one was while off-track, not much could be done so the tyre was racked and forgotten about. The fellow still had another spare so at the time I wasn’t concerned.

   The second run-flat was on the last day of the expedition during 16 kms of bitumen into Town. As bad luck would dictate the same fellow copped a nail in the shoulder of another tyre and a flat occurred. He said it went down pretty quickly and as it was pretty hot and humid the tyre didn’t fare well by the time he could pull up.


damage to inside of tyredamage to inside of tyre

Both tyres that were damaged beyond repair.


   So, we were in a remote small town in W.A. with a bloke with two cactus tyres for spares. It was a Saturday afternoon and we found the local tyre bloke had no tyres to sell and no tubes either. The truck hadn’t arrived and he was out of stock.

   Without much choice I helped the bloke "repair" the better of the two damaged tyres for an emergency only spare. After a careful inspection I found the tyre seemed to have only been damaged on the internal liner covering the first ply of cords. The sidewalls had no ripples or apparent weak points. An old tube was split and used as a sleeve for the real tube.

   This was done to get him to the nearest major centre where new gear could be purchased.


Changed Tyre Type - From Bias to All Steel Radial

   The last two trips were simply off-road jobs so off-track strength wasn’t required. I had patched up a set of old "Steel Muscle L" tyres and they were put back into service. Most of these "Steel Muscle L" tyres had been purchased back from customers after expeditions, so they had been around a bit already. I think a couple of them were Connie’s from the Callawa Expedition in 2004. All of them were around 50-60%.


August / September Tour - Central Ranges - 2300 kms off-road

   This was a pretty simple trip as most of the roads get a scrape with a grader every twelve months or two years, we had no tyre trouble apart from a slow leak in a 17" tubeless/alloy. The fellow concerned wanted to learn how to use his tyre tools that had cost him several hundred dollars, so with my help he went to work.


learning a repair

A bloke game enough to want to learn how to use his tyre gear, hurray!!


   The tyre had been purchased a year or so before in a remote area as a second-hand unit to replace a ruined tyre after a mishap. Turns out the tyre had been repaired and then sold (at a pretty stiff price). In this case the tubeless repair was leaking even though the patch and repair area had been painted with Innerliner Sealer. On inspection the patch looked fine and was still bonded, no sign of further structural damage to the tyre either, no broken cords etc. Normally I would have just fitted a tube, but the fellow didn’t have a tube, and obviously mine wouldn’t fit being TR75A (I refuse to carry gear that folk are meant to carry themselves).

   So to be sure I buffed off the old patch being as careful as I could with the delicate innerliner, inspected the tyre very carefully and bonded on a new larger patch. A new coat of Innerliner Sealer and we put the tyre back on the rim and had no trouble inflating it with the fellows standard (small) 4WD compressor. The new repair went well and I was confident that structurally the tyre was better than new however I was not confident that the new repair would hold air. Every tubeless repair we do I reinflate the tyre and check the repair by dribbling soapy water over the damaged spot. I have found, and I’ll be honest about it, 1 in 8 tubeless tyre repairs done in the bush will continue to leak a tiny tiny bit. All of our effort had only halved the volume of the leak (probably down to 5-10psi a week)!

   There wasn’t much more we could do so we put the wheel back on the vehicle. As long as the pressure was monitored it would be fine.

   Two lessons were reinforced once again;

1.  never trust tubeless tyre repairs in the bush
2. always carry tubes as a last resort for tubeless tyres when in the bush


September / October - Mapping Trip - Nullarbor - 2500 kms off-road

   No real trouble but a problem surfaced that we are beginning see regularly. That is when rubber-only tyre damage eventually breaks through and the small edges on the inside rubs the tube over time causing a slow leak. I’m guessing this will only be a problem with thick heavy duty tyres used for long periods at low pressure such as off-road & off-track work.

All Steel Radial on split rim Old damage rubbed tube 120TL tyre patch - No. 4 tube patch
All Steel Radial on split rim Old damage rubbed tube 120TL tyre patch - No. 3 tube patch
All Steel Radial on split rim Old damage rubbed tube 120TL tyre patch - fitted new tube


   The solution is simple, use vulcanisation (major repair) techniques on rubber-only damage instead of the A+B compounds. The cold cure compounds are not good enough. The tyre tends to crack around this stuff as it just doesn’t bond well enough. I began cooking them properly with the vulcaniser and have had good success so far. Now I just have to be very careful inspecting old tyres and pick up this rubber only damage and spend the time repairing them.

   Still plenty to learn, so we’ll see what happens next year.......


Regards, Mick Hutton
Copyright : November 2010





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