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2012 Tours & Expeditions

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(Click here for Major Repair detailed below)

   Only four trips were carried out this year for a total of 22,600 kms. Three off-road tours of the normal variety and a single off-track expedition made up our travelling season. We had a pretty good run with tyres this year with only a few things that raised my eyebrows. A couple of the old problems cropped up and were dealt with, once again indicating that only the best preparation can be relied upon for long periods of time & travel trouble-free.

   Connie & I had some extra time between trips while up north so our poor old tyres had to put up with the Gibb River Road as well as a few other spots. Temperatures were quite high and humid as well with shade temperatures registering on the 40oC mark fairly often. It was a good opportunity to get a feel for pressures and travelling speeds with thick heavy tyres in real hot weather, something we don’t normally have to deal with in the cooler months. I was pleasantly surprised at how the old Bias tyres we had fitted handled the conditions; we had no trouble at all.

   As indicated above we ran older tyres for our commercial season, by older I mean they had about 60% tread remaining and had completed off-track expeditions and a number of off-road tours in previous years. The reason for doing this is quite simple. We see no need for new tyres every time you head off into the desert. The folks who spout that are usually the ones who sell the maths. Running older tyres in harsh conditions can lead to problems, there is no doubt about this at all. However if you have developed the skills to repair tyres and have the common sense to run them carefully (which you should do with new tyres anyway) then the "veteran" tyres can save a great deal of money (better spent on fuel & spares). Now here’s the kicker; environmentally, older tyres are better. How many folks have you heard push the green angle??? Have a long hard think about it.

   We ran that same second-hand set of Bridgestone All Steel Radials again for the first two tours then changed onto Bias for the expedition and the last tour. As well we ran different tubes this year and feel that our lack of trouble was very much helped by this.

   During our travelling between May & September we and our customers had in total more than 40 tyre problems.


2012 Season Tyre Troubles in Brief


Travelling Type of Trip * Odometer * Vehicles Problems Mick's Flats
50th Anniversary Tour Tour 3333 kms 6 8 0
History & Hidden Ranges Tour 1381 kms 3 2 0
Kulgera to Adelaide Going home 1250 kms  - 1 1
Carnegie 1896 Expedition Expedition 2218 kms 7 23 0
Forrest 1874 by Track Tour 2487 kms 8 10 1


Adelaide to Coober Pedy - before trip travel

   The usual run up the Highways, no great excitement really.


50thAnniversary of the Anne Beadell & Connie Sue Highways - 8 tyre problems

Anne Beadell Highway, Great Central Road, Connie Sue Highway with many detours

   Quite a busy tour for punctures & problems with two tyres being destroyed from run flats, a problem we don’t actually have that often. Once again there were enough tubeless repairs to continue testing the "leaking repair" problem. It looks like leaving the repair overnight to cure solves that problem. It makes me wonder what the tyre joints in town do with their tubeless jobs.

Below are the problems with as much detail as I recorded at the time.


No. Tyre & Rim etc Position Problem Repair / Comment
1 Split Rim – 7.50R16 Left front Run flat - problem unknown Tyre, tube & rust band damaged beyond repair
2 Split Rim – 7.50R16 Left front Slow leak – tiny sidewall stake 120TL tyre patch &
No.3 tube patch
3 Tubeless – 275/65R17 Left front Slow leak – small sidewall stake 120TL tyre patch & innerliner sealer
  Replace damaged tyre spare Laverton rubbish dump –
worn tyre with sound carcass fitted as 2nd spare
4 Tubeless - 255/60R18  - Sidewall stake 33mm 140TL tyre patch & innerliner sealer
5 Tubeless – 275/ R16 Left rear Run flat - suspect small stake Tyre damaged beyond repair
6 Tubeless - 255/60R18 Left rear Sidewall cut from sharp stone 140TL tyre patch & innerliner sealer
7 Split rim – 7.50R16 Left rear Slow leak – tube hole,
poor fitting
Tube in bad condition,
new tube fitted
8 Tubeless - 255/60R18 Left rear Slow leak – unable to locate slow leak in tyre using 75psi


Tyre run flatInside of run flat tyre

Run flat, see the ripple effect around the sidewall.
This normally means that the tyre has internal
structural damage
The inside of that same tyre,
you can see the exposed cords of the sidewall –
not a good outcome and can’t be repaired


Cocklebiddy to Adelaide – between trips travel

   Once again no trouble along the highways.


History & Hidden Ranges - 2 tyre problems

Yulara Resort to Kulgera Roadhouse via the central ranges and Gunbarrel Highway

   Just a short 10 day trip in a loop around the little known central ranges in the N.T., W.A. & S.A. There were only three of us and we had little real trouble. The two flat tyres happened on the same vehicle and it is funny how that very often happens, much to the chagrin of the owners! Anyway the split rims on this vehicle suffered from the very common problem that tube type systems have these days, namely muck, dirt and rubbish inside the tyre with the tube. This is not the fault of the rims, tyres & tubes. It seems to me to be a fitting mistake made at the tyre shop where these were put together!!! Think about it, the vast bulk of tyres these days are tubeless, how can you expect a young bloke fitting tyres to know about the requirements of tubes?


No. Tyre & Rim etc Position Problem Repair / Comment
1 Split Rim – 7.50R16 Left rear Small shoulder stake UP6 & No.3 patch – dirty in tyre, tube cleaned, talc’d & refitted
2 Split Rim – 7.50R16 Right rear Slow leak – tube hole Again dirty inside tyre – repaired tube, cleaned, talc’d & refitted


Mick tyre repair demo

Another tyre repair demonstration
Walyina Bore W.A. – June 19th 2012


Kulgera Roadhouse to Adelaide - between trips travel - 1 tyre problem

   This was a run flat just after dark between Pt Augusta & Adelaide, almost got home!

   We had exactly the same problem last year with the same second-hand tyres when a tyre patch failed, or had been failing for some time, which rubbed & cut the tube over time and eventually caused a hole.

   Read the observations section at the end of the report for more information about this problem.


Tyre patch failure

Tyre patch failed; exactly mirrored on the tube surface
and eventually lead to failure


Changed Tyres @ 230,200 kms

Bridgestone All Steel Radial to MRF Bias 12 Ply

   We needed heavy duty tyres for the expedition which was the next trip so the lighter duty Bridgestone tyres were removed and shelved. I fitted up an older set of MRF Super Miler 12 ply tyres. The reason for this is an ongoing experiment with older tyres. We have been trying to see how reliable tyres are that have been used off-track & off-road for long periods, or to explain it differently tyres that have suffered damage & wear from hard use.

   For interest sake the Bridgestone tyres had completed 10,700 kms & the MRF Bias went on to complete 11,900 kms.


Another flat tyre

One of the expedition vehicles with a flat tyre – 25th July 2012


Carnegie 1896 Expedition – 21 flat tyres & problems - Great Sandy Desert

   Another exploratory off-track trip; David Carnegie from 1896 was the theme for this year. We had an average run for punctured tyres in truth with the only real surprises coming from two tyres destroyed by run flats in the first couple of days. It is impossible to say what happened as there was not much left to examine for the cause. Reading the table below it will be obvious that of the three vehicles with Bias tyres (seven in total) only one Bias puncture occurred. That should be a full meal in the "food for thought" category......


No. Tyre & Rim etc Position Problem Repair / Comment
1 Split Rim – 7.50R16 rear Run flat - problem unknown Tyre destroyed
2 Split Rim – 7.50R16 rear Run flat - problem unknown Tyre destroyed
3 Split Rim – 7.50R16 Left rear Damaged patch from run flat New 120TL tyre patch &
No.4 tube patch – good
4 Split Rim – 7.50R16 Left rear Small sidewall stake 120TL tyre patch &
new tube fitted
5 Tubeless – 305/70R19.5 Left front Small sidewall stake 120TL tyre patch &
innerliner sealer – good
6 Tubeless – 305/70R19.5 Left front Small sidewall stake 120TL tyre patch &
innerliner sealer – good
7 Tubeless – 305/70R19.5 Right rear Small sidewall stake 120TL tyre patch &
innerliner sealer – good
8 Split Rim – 7.50R16 Front? Small shoulder stake 120TL tyre patch &
No.4 tube patch
9 Tubeless – 305/70R19.5 Left front Slow leak - Tiny sidewall stake UP6 tyre patch &
innerliner sealer
10 Split Rim – 7.50R16 Right front Small sidewall stake 120TL tyre patch &
No.4 tube patch
11 Split Rim – 7.50R16 Right rear 10mm shoulder stake – tube ruined 122TL tyre patch &
new tube
12 Split Rim – 7.50R16 ? Tube patch failed & then staked 122TL tyre patch &
new tube (split under patch)
13 Split Rim – 7.50-16 Bias Right front ?? I wasn’t involved with repair
at all
14 Split Rim – 7.50R16 ? Tube patch failed Fitted new tube
15 Tubeless – 306/70R19.5 ? Tread stake &
2 damaged patches
3 patches applied &
innerliner sealer – good
16 Split Rim – 7.50R16 Left front Sidewall stake 122TL tyre patch &
No.4 tube patch
17 Tubeless – 305/70R19.5 Left front Sidewall stake 120TL & sealer – didn’t hold,
done again next day
18 Split Rim – 7.50R16 Right rear ? ? – No.7B tube patch
19 Tubeless – 305/70R19.5 Right rear Small sidewall stake – run flat? Previous repairs destroyed –
didn’t repair
20 Split Rim – 7.50R16 Right rear 60mm sidewall stake – ouch!! 140TL tyre patch &
2 x No.4 patches overlapped
21 Tubeless – 305/70R19.5 Right rear Slow leak – valve & tread stake New valve & 120TL tyre patch
& innerliner sealer



Fixing OKA flat tyres

John & Mick refining the tubeless repair production line
in the Great Sandy Desert – 29th July 2012


Tyre repairingFlat tyre

Stuart & Meg passing a pleasant afternoon...... Bugger, not again......


Halls Creek to Wiluna - no tyre trouble

Duncan Highway, Gibb River Road & various other roads

   Connie & I had a bit of time off up north in the Kimberley. Quite simply it was pretty warm, nearing & hitting 40oC in the shade most days, and in some spots the roads were pretty ordinary, loose surfaces with sharp stones and corrugations. For heavy thick tyres carrying some weight these are not ideal conditions. Keeping the pressures down for the rougher roads and managing speed and tyre heat was not as bad as I thought it might be. They were still very hot, but didn’t chip on the sharp bits and we had no trouble at all.

   I found it quite an interesting couple of weeks.


John Forrest’s 1874 Route by Track – 10 tyre problems

Canning Stock Route, Gunbarrel Highway, David Carnegie Road, Hunt Oil Road, Blackstone Road & APY Gunbarrel Highway

   Another off-road trip with a few tyre problems but nothing I would consider as being out of the ordinary. With a reasonable amount of tubeless punctures we were able to continue the "leave it overnight to cure" technique. I’m happy that’s the solution to the leaking tubeless repair problem we’ve noticed over the last few years.

   During the tyre repairs on this trip it was good to see a few folk having a go at tyres. I must admit I had a few giggles watching on, but what struck me most was, in general, how little people are actually able to do with tyres, I mean the physical work. It’s fine to watch a few tyre repairs and understand what happens but things get sorted out fast when the sweat starts to run.


No. Tyre & Rim etc Position Problem Repair / Comment
1 Tubeless - 265/75R16 Left rear Small tread stake – 2mm 120TL tyre patch &
innerliner sealer – good
2 Tubeless – 265/70R16 Left front Tiny sidewall stake – 1mm 120TL tyre patch &
innerliner sealer – good
3 Tubeless - 265/75R16 Camper - left Small tread &
tiny sidewall stakes
Tread – 120TL & sealer/
sidewall – UP6 & sealer
4 Tubeless – 265/70R16 Left front Shoulder stake – 11mm 140TL & innerliner sealer – good
5 Split rim – 7.50-16 Bias Left rear Old damage rubbed tube #5 Bias patch &
No.5 tube patch
6 Tubeless – 265/70R16 Left rear Stone in tread – 8mm 120TL tyre patch &
innerliner sealer
7 Tubeless – 265/70R16  - Stone in tread – 7mm 120TL tyre patch &
innerliner sealer
8 Split rim – 7.50R16 Left rear Slow tube leak –
very hard to find
No.4 tube patch – tyre OK
9 Split rim – 7.50R16 Left rear Another slow tube leak –
same one
No.4 tube patch on second hole
10 Tubeless – 265/70R16 Camper - left Valve leaking Installed new valve – simple job


   Two of the vehicles on the trip had pressure monitoring gadgets, as it happened both of these vehicles had flat tyres and it was very noticeable that they knew there was a problem very quickly and were able to pull up and change the tyre with little drama. By that I mean that the damaged tyres were not run flat and destroyed. A very sensible and clever arrangement and confirms an opinion that I have been forming for a number of years. "Pressure monitoring devices" are quite simply a gadget that most folks should invest in. They will save time, anxiety & money, all very important things to travellers in very remote country.



Dismounting tubless tyres

Dismounting tubeless tyres is now a two man job!
It’s good to see blokes having a go.


Observations from 2012

Failed "Rubber Only" Tyre Patch

   "Rubber only" patches are not strong enough to stop the tyre damage growing in size due to the stretching of the sidewall & shoulder as the tyre rotates, particularly over a long period of time or extensive amounts of work. This particularly relates to the lower pressures needed for off-road travel. Rubber only patches can stretch and distort more than the tyre so they don’t help to hold the tyre firmly to stop the damaged portion from splitting further. Size is the other problem. They are simply not big enough.

   Small rubber only patches are for temporary repairs over pinhole damages and should not be used for anything larger than about 6 millimetres in 4WD size tyres. The larger reinforced patches used as part of major repairs are what should be used if you want to use the tyre long term. The solution to this failure is to do the proper major repair as soon as you get home or to the nearest tyre repair facility. If you can’t get that done then the easiest thing is to use a reinforced patch to begin with.

   Ultimately this was my fault as I didn’t bother to do a major repair before heading off into the desert again. I can’t remember whether I forgot about it, or just thought it should be OK. In any case it was a bad move.

   If you have to do a repair why not use the best patch to give you the safest result?


Failed patchOutside of same tyre

Failed patch Same tyre from the outside


Buffed up

Patch area buffed off to show damage



Leaking Tubeless Repairs

   Last year we started leaving tubeless tyre repairs overnight to let the glue cure and try to eliminate the tiny leaks we had noticed with some of the tubeless repairs (I doubt many blokes bother to test tubeless tyres after doing a patch so nobody would think of doing something to solve it). Anyway it seems to work.


Tyre Pressure/Heat Monitoring Devices – Very Good Gadgets

   Airbags & Tyre Monitors to me are the best gadgets for long range touring. Airbags are elsewhere on our website, so this is just about tyre monitors. It has taken me a number of years to notice just how effective these monitors are but this year it was very obvious that the travellers with monitors fitted had no trouble with losing a tyre due to a run flat. The three destroyed tyres all came from vehicles without monitoring devices.

   From what I can see the benefits are as follows;

   If you’re busting to spend your hard-earned $$$ on gadgets, please spend it on something worthwhile.


Damage in Older Bias Tyres Causing Trouble

   For the last couple of years you will have noticed in the reports (if you actually have read them) that I have been having trouble with "veteran" tyres. What has been happening is pretty simple. The various cuts that the tyres have received in the past gradually work through becoming a split in the tyre which then works on the tube when at lower pressures, in time causing a slow leak. This has happened only 2 or 3 times now with our Bias tyres, so immediately you’re thinking what’s to complain about.......

   Bias tyres are difficult to inspect for internal damage because of the number of plies in the tyre and the general thickness of the sidewalls, shoulders and tread. I went over the used set I fitted for the expedition this year in great detail but still I had one of the "old damage" problems occur. To be fair it may not have been an old damage at all, it may have happened on the expedition while off-track and didn’t show up as a flat tyre until halfway through the next tour. I had those tyres apart to inspect them twice, once after the expedition in Halls Creek and again in Wiluna before starting our last tour.

   I’m not sure what I can do about it!!!!!


Damage hole in bias tyreresult of same tyre damage on tube

Damage hole in Bias tyre Result of same tyre damage on tube


Bridgestone Tubes Fitted This Year – good results

   The craft of tube fitting has been largely ignored for a few decades because of the widespread use of tubeless tyres, so the "tricks of the trade" have fallen by the wayside. As I mentioned last year we would be trying a different brand of tubes in 2012. We have learnt how to use the cheaper heavy duty tubes, but it has taken time and quite an amount of effort on my part. I was curious to see how another brand would handle the conditions we generate.

   I fitted a brand new set of Bridgestone 16G tubes which are quite thick & heavy (I take them to be heavy duty tubes). After two trips the tyres were changed as mentioned but I used the same tubes. As usual the tyres were spotlessly cleaned and talc powdered on the sidewall before being fitted. That is the best I can do for tubes. Tubes were checked twice while out for the last two trips (Halls Creek & Wiluna) and they all looked good with no issues and the problem of sidewall thinning due to long term low pressure work seemed minimal. This main reason for trying different tubes was to get away from that thinning (see previous year report).

   During the year we had no tube problems as such, both flat tyres we had were from the tyres, nothing to do with the tubes directly. Right now I am very impressed with the Bridgestone product and to continue the test I’ll use the same tubes for next year and see how they go.


Bridgestone tube

Markings on current production Bridgestone tubes


   I had often wondered if there had ever been any real differences between a radial & a bias tube. I was surprised to see that the Bridgestone’s had both tyre types stencilled on the tube. The other surprise was the "Made in Korea". I thought they were Japanese made but obviously not these days.


Fixing slow leak

Happy campers!


More Lessons learnt or reinforced this year:

  1. If you do a tyre repair use a reinforced patch to give you the safest, strongest result.
  2. Long term use of Bias in very harsh conditions can cause problems with some tyre damages expanding.
  3. Leave tubeless repairs overnight before inflating.
  4. Tyre pressure monitors are a great thing – money very well spent.
  5. Be wary of old repairs to tyres.




Major Repair Bridgestone All Steel Radial

   So before fitting the Bridgestone M857 tyres again for more desert tour work I carried out a major repair on the above damage and also a few other temporary repairs that those tyres had collected over a number of desert trips.

   Major repairs explained simply are a process that fills the hole in the tyre with new rubber and a large reinforced patch is bonded onto the inside of the tyre over the repaired damage. The whole job takes about 3 hours and if completed properly the tyre is once again roadworthy. Over the years I have turned out dozens of these repairs and they are extremely durable and have saved us thousands of dollars (by the fact we haven’t needed to buy a new tyre after every puncture, such as some of the "experts" will tell you.)


Before the major repair

Inside the tyre before major repair – ruler used for size reference


Outside buffed ready for major repair

Outside of tyre buffed ready for major repair – ruler used for size reference


   In both of the above images you can see the steel sidewall cords exposed. You can also see that the cords are intact, not broken & cut from the puncture. This is the advantage of All Steel Radials, the rubber may be damaged but the construction is still sound. This is the reason we find these types of tyres the best for long term desert touring. Good footprint and very repairable which means good in the desert and saves money.


New patch bonded over major repair

New 140TL reinforced patch bonded over the major repair of the damage – ruler still in view


   Apologies for the poor image, but these things are hard to photograph. These large patches are quite thick and very flexible and the use of them adds strength to the damaged area to allow the tyre to be put back into service.


Rubber filling on the outside

The rubber filling on the outside of the tyre, this protects the cords & plies of the construction from wear & weather


   This tyre and the others of the set of four are now fitted back onto our vehicle and will head out shortly for another desert off-road tour for a couple of weeks.

So we'll see what happens in 2013.
Regards, Mick Hutton
Copyright : April 2013





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