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2014 Tours & Expeditions

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TYRE & TUBE REPORT for 2014 Commercial Trips

   Another four trips were completed during 2014. As usual one of these trips was an off-track expedition with specific tyre requirements to keep flat tyres to a minimum. Compared to last year we really didn’t have much trouble at all. However we had a few unusual things pop up that we don’t see often. The first two trips we completed on a new set of MRF Bias tyres, the second two trips were run on that same second-hand set of Bridgestone All Steel Radials. The Bridgestone’s are just about worn out after many many trips. They’ll be retired from service now.

   The following are from those four commercial trips;


2014 Season Tyre Troubles in Brief


Type of Travel Distance Vehicles Tyre Problems
Tour - Great Victoria Explorer 1763 kms 3 3
Expedition - Forrest, Carnegie & Hill 1397 kms 4 14
Tour - Desert Oaks, Red Sand & Ranges 2139 kms 8 5
Tour - Beadell Tracks Wanderer 2760 kms 5 5
TOTAL   27




TOUR - Great Victoria Explorer - 3 tyre problems

Various tracks in the south west of the Great Victoria Desert – 18 days

   This was a very interesting little trip with a good mixture of exploring on a number of forgotten tracks, some of which were very over grown & scrubby.


No. Type Size Position Problem Repair / Comment
1 SBR Tubeless 285/75R16 Front left Sidewall stake 10mm damage – 120TL patch & sealer
2 SBR Tubeless 285/75R16 Rear left Sidewall stake 40mm damage – 140TL patch & sealer
3 SBR Tubeless 285/75R16 Front left Sidewall stake 10mm damage – 120TL patch & sealer


    Nothing unusual with these three flat tyres, the typical sidewall stake problems with radial tyres in scrub country we have found over the years. They look dramatic, however dealing with sort of thing is pretty easy once you know how. All three were repaired and in service at the end of the trip.


Sidewall stake

Repaired and put back to work – no big deal –
(No, you don’t have to throw them away.)


Sidewall stake inside

Staked tyre on the inside
This is where you measure the size of the damage and decide what size repair patch to use
(The white bit showing in the hole is the sidewall cord of polyester or nylon)


EXPEDITION – Forrest, Carnegie & Hill - 14 tyre problems – 639 kms off-track

25 days spent off-track in sections of the north west Great Victorian Desert looking for Explorer sites

    Had a good time looking for sites visited by the explorers and used by the local Aboriginals for untold generations, these are always very interesting trips but by their nature cause a few tyre problems.

    The bulk of the flat tyres were the standard stakes from scrub, and a few tube issues for various reasons – nothing out of the ordinary really. All tyres were 7.50R16 All Steel Radial or 7.50-16 Bias fitted on split rims, so tubes had to be used, old fashioned stuff.....


No. Date Type Size Position Problem & Size Repair / Comment
1 10/6 ASR MRF 7.50R16 Front R Old tyre damage cut tube – 10mm
Small sidewall stake – 5mm
120TL tyre patch & #3 tube patch
120TL tyre patch & #2 tube patch
2 10/6 Bias MRF 7.50-16 Rear L Slow leak – tube pinhole No tyre damage - #3 tube patch
3 11/6 ASR 7.50R16 Rear L Slow leak – went down in camp No tyre damage - #4 tube patch
4 13/6 ASR 7.50R16 Rear L Sidewall stake - getting in to camp 122TL tyre patch - #2 tube patch
5 19/6 ASR MRF 7.50R16 Front R Slow leak 122TL tyre patch - #3 tube patch
6 20/6 ASR 7.50R16 Rear L Staked sidewall 122TL tyre patch – unsure what tube patch
7 21/6 ASR 7.50R16 Rear L Staked sidewall 122TL tyre patch - #4 tube patch
8 23/6 ASR 7.50R16 Front R Staked sidewall 120TL tyre patch – unsure what else was used
9 23/6 ASR 7.50R16 Rear R Staked sidewall 122TL tyre patch – unsure what tube patch
10 24/6 ASR 7.50R16 Front L Slow leak mystery Patched tube – no tyre patch required
11 25/6 ASR MRF 7.50R16 Rear R Large sidewall stake – 70mm damage 140TL & 7B tube patch
12 26/6 Bias MRF 7.50-16 Front L Small tread stake B8 combi plug - #3 tube patch
13 28/6 Bias MRF 7.50-16 Rear R Slow leak – tube pinhole No tyre damage - #3 tube patch
14 30/6 ASR 7.50R16 Rear R Sidewall stake 120TL tyre patch & #4 tube patch
There were several flat tyres after the trip but I don’t have details of these so can’t comment as to cause.


    As you can see in the table above the MRF Bias tyres had very little issue with the off-track work with only one stake between two vehicles. MRF Bias tyres are very thick and strong in the sidewall so only normally cop tiny tread punctures because they don’t have steel belts in the tread. Those small tread stakes are a small price to pay as you can see by the figures above.

    Radial tyres will always be prone to sidewall damage. By design they have trouble resisting sharp objects except in the tread area. All you can do is drive carefully and follow the wheel-tracks of the vehicle in front as best you can. Luck has a lot to do with it.


A good holiday

However bad it gets in the bush, it beats being at work


Fixing two flat tyres

Refer to the above caption


Tread stakeInside


    This was a tread stake in a Bias tyre as you can see in the image on the left. On the right is the inside of the tyre showing the stake that drove into the tyre and caused a small hole in the tube. The hardest thing about this problem is digging out the wood from the tyre. It’s a bugger of a job.

    The repair was simple, just a combi plug (mushroom) installed and a small patch on the tube. Tyre was put back into service straight away. Tubed tyres don’t have many hidden techniques, unlike tubeless tyres.


Tiny tube holeFixing flat


    The image on the left is the tiny hole in the tube from that small stake shown previously. The image on the right is of the owner fixing his tyre. Tyre repair is one of those jobs that you can never learn unless you do it yourself. It is simply a “hands on” job.

    During the expedition we had four slow leaks that on investigation were tiny pinholes in the tubes with no visible puncture of the tyre. This happens nearly every year and I have almost given up wondering about it....But, the holes in the tubes really look like a cut not a rub even as small as they are. I have become fanatical about cleanliness inside the tyre over the years as the tube quality these days does not allow for sand & grit to be present, they simply rub as the tyre flexes and a hole develops quite quickly. I’m inclined to think a sliver of wood has penetrated the tyre & tube but it’s so small that I can’t pick up the hole in the tyre even when flexing the area in strong light which is the normal way to find small holes in tyres. I have pondered this problem for many years and still don’t have an answer that satisfies me completely.

    Since we can no longer get the MRF Steel Muscle tyres which were extremely thick & heavy, many of our customers have chosen to use All Steel Radials from other manufacturers. On the whole these are good tyres and strong enough compared to the normal Belted Radials, but they are quite a bit thinner in the sidewall which can cause extra punctures while off-track. The above results should confirm this. The best tyre for off-track work is the old fashioned Bias tyre. Cheap, strong and easy to repair, for rough work they tick all the boxes.


TOUR - Desert Oaks, Red Sand & Ranges – 5 tyre problems

Kulgera Roadhouse, Gunbarrel Highway, Warakurna, Sandy Blight Jnc Road, Gary Jnc Road & Alice Springs – 14 days

    Nice little trip through scenic country well away from the "tourist routes". We had a few troubles as usual but thrown in were a couple of things that ran to the more unusual end of the scale.


No. Date Type & Size Position Problem Repair / Comment
1 20/8 Tubeless – 255/55R19 Rear L Tread puncture 5mm damage - 140TL patch fitted just in case
2 23/8 Tubeless – 225/75R16 Front L Slow leak overnight 120TL tyre patch & sealer – customer did repair
3 23/8 Tubeless – 235/85R16 Front R Tread stake, slow leak 6mm damage - B8 combi plug & sealer – OK
4 26/8 Tubeless – 255/55R19 Front L Slow leak???? Couldn’t find leak in tyre – put back on and watched it closely.
  27/8 Same tyre/rim as above     "     Leaking a bit more Found crack in alloy rim flange - bugger
5 29/8 Tubeless – 265/75R16 Front L Cut in sidewall - not flat 140TL patch fitted – preventative repair


Tread damageTyre Repair Demonstration

The above pictures show the first puncture for the trip
as a tread damage issue from a stone or something small.
Tyre repair demonstration for all of the travellers on the trip.


    We normally do a tyre repair demonstration with the first flat tyre of the trip. A full demo’ takes 2-3 hours as I go through both a tubeless tyre & a split rim in full while also explaining how your insurance company will be interested in your tyres if you have the bad luck to be involved in an accident. Obviously this raises many questions as knowledge of this work & the legalities of tyres are very limited, most of it being "urban myth" as the popular expression goes. Anyway folks seem to get a fair bit out of it but being armed with a bit more knowledge is a poor substitute for thinking you can physically work with tyres & rims, that takes a bit more effort.


Cracked Rim


    This was the crack in the rim flange we found on the second try. Admittedly the crack must have got bigger because the leak was getting worse the more the rim was used. Anyway not a problem we see often and also a problem you can do nothing about.

    This was a 19” rim & I could safely say that low profile rims/tyres are not the best combination for rough road work, simply not enough sidewall height to allow for deep potholes, corrugations & larger rocks.


Preventative Maintenance


    This tyre was removed at Sandy Blight Junction because of a deep cut in the sidewall but it wasn’t leaking. With these sorts of things I always put a reinforced patch on the inside to cover that cut area. The reason for this is quite simple. Radial tyres at lower pressures with a cut in the sidewall can eventually split and cause a leak. If the spot is "fixed" with a patch it won’t happen and the tyre can be used as normal. It’s a small thing but can save a tyre in the long run & tyres are expensive items in remote areas, if you can get the right size to start with......


TOUR - Beadell Tracks Wanderer – 5 tyre problems

Anne Beadell, Connie Sue & Gunbarrel Highways with the Hunt Oil Road & the David Carnegie Road - 24 days

    Once again a pretty standard trip with the normal amount of tyre issues, but there was one tubeless repair that just didn’t want to play the game. We won in the end though.


No. Date Type & Size Position Problem Repair / Comment
1 12/9 Tubeless – 285/75R16 Front L Tread stake – less than 10mm 120TL & Sealer - good
2 18/9 ASR tubed – 7.50R16 Rear L Shoulder stake – slow leak 2 damages – 2 x 140TL tyre patches &
3 tube patches
3 19/9 Tubeless – 285/75R16 Front L Slow leak – 2 x sidewall stakes Put in plugs for short term
142TL patch to cover both holes - leaked
4 23/9 ASR tubed – 7.50R16 Rear L Cut in sidewall – not flat 140TL patch fitted – preventative repair
5 30/9 Tubeless – 285/75R16   Still leaking (rare)
Tried again
Buffed off 142TL patch and bonded on No.5
Bias patch, unorthodox but better coverage
of the two holes in the tyre – Good result


Tread stakeTread stake

We don’t get many tread stakes as a general rule Typical stake in the tread & to get through those steel belts in
the tread the bit of wood is usually pretty tough –
means they are hard to dig out.....




    This was the tyre I had so much trouble with. Initially we bunged plugs in to get us up the road a bit further before doing a proper repair. The patch I put on to cover both holes leaked. I took it apart again and put on another larger patch. That seemed to work OK.


Leaky patch


    This was the first patch, the one that leaked. The easiest thing to do would have been to fit a tube, but I needed to work it out so we decided to buff that off and put another patch on. It worked then.


    Over the years I have repaired a great many tubeless tyres and I can’t recall many that leaked (they only leak a couple of lbs a day) but this one didn’t want to play the game at first. There are a few tricks to tubeless repairs but this one just didn’t take whatever the reason was. We won eventually but it took a bit of time & effort.


Observations from 2014

    As you can see we had a few out of the ordinary problems during the four trips. Below are a few thoughts about the tyre job in the remote areas of Australia, where help is a long way away or non-existent.

Pressure – the key to tyres & 4WDs

    The main thing folks don’t realise is that tyre pressures are not just for your tyres. If you have been responsible enough to learn how to repair tyres it’s not that hard to fix a tyre in the bush with a few tools & a bit of time. However it’s much harder to repair broken steel bits on your 4WD. It pays to remember you have spare tyres but you don’t have spare suspension mounts, spare shock absorber mounts or a spare chassis. Reduced tyre pressures make life easier for your vehicles in all respects. Think about it.....

    I have long since lost count of how many times we have been in the western deserts, our most remote areas and seen folks getting along with incorrect tyre pressures, almost always too high. I don’t need a gauge to read pressure, I can pretty much just look at a radial or Bias tyre and tell from how they look if they are too high, low or about right & I don’t care what the number on the pressure gauge says. Alternatively you can hear the vehicles coming along corrugations and have an idea how things are going, particularly with camper trailers.

     There is still a strong belief among some travellers that lowering pressures will cause flat tyres. The only way to break this attitude is for those people to do a lot of miles in remote country on all road conditions heavily loaded. Even then the lucky ones won’t have a problem and consider themselves justified. Often lessons have to be learnt directly or the hard way, people just seem to be that way.

    The best thing to do will be to make an article out of it for our website. It’ll be much easier for folk to find it then. (I hope to have that completed this summer.)



So how do you fit that jack under that wishbone to change a tyre?
Well you dig a hole, too bad if you are on a really hard surface.


Jacking Up Vehicles

    It is very noticeable these days that the skill of lifting something unstable & heavy with a jack of some description is becoming lost, like so many other manual skills. I’m regularly shocked to see the risks people are taking when jacking their vehicle. In fairness they don’t realise the danger or can’t see the problems that can happen, some of which can easily be fatal. In many cases the manufacturers are not helping by making vehicles that are by default hard to jack up and the supplied equipment is in most cases woeful or even useless in the bush or anywhere else, this has been going on for years however.

    Here are a few things I have noticed over the years with jacking vehicles;


Low Profile Tyres & Alloy Rims

    Low profile stuff looks sexy in town but they are not the best option in the bush. If you want a vehicle for long term long range touring then try and stay away from 18” & 19” rims & tyres. Do your best to get 16” & 17”, trust me you’ll be better off in the long run & so will your wallet. BUT the time is coming when the low profile stuff may be all we can get on late model vehicles. It’s almost that way already. All you can do is have a reliable set of pressure monitors, learn to use tyre pressure & speed correctly, carry a kit of suitable repair gear and go to the trouble of learning how to use it.......Of course these are things you should have done regardless of your tyre profile, but not many do.


Lessons Reinforced this Year;

  1. Don’t be in a rush doing jobs you are not familiar with; jacking up a vehicle is a good example for most folk.
  2. Be very careful with low profile tyres & alloy rims, they are not designed for rough work.
  3. Tyre Pressure Monitors are a great gadget, they should be on the top of your shopping list.
  4. If you do a tyre repair use a large reinforced patch. Patches should be 3 x the size of the damage; minimum.
  5. Leave tubeless tyre repairs overnight before inflating.


Mick Hutton
Copyright : June 2015





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