2015 Tours & Expeditions
Back to Season Tyre Reports
This year we did all of our work on MRF Bias tyres, not for any particular reason just that I had two sets mounted on rims that were ready to go. Bias handle things really well but just cost you a little more in fuel as they have a higher rolling resistance when at lower pressures, on the highway it is hard to tell the difference if you have them pumped up enough. As they are about half the price of a flash 4WD tyre in reality there is no cost difference at all........
Four trips were completed as has been the case the last few years and we really didn’t have anything out of the ordinary occur. The following report will show that almost all of the tyre & tube problems were kept under control and all of the vehicles kept on motoring.
The following are from those four commercial trips;
|Type of Travel||Distance||Vehicles||Tyre Problems|
|Tour - Sandy Blight to Emu||3,036 kms||8||6|
|Tour - Series in the Scrub||1,117 kms||8||2|
|Expedition - Lost Waters of the South West||1,565 kms||4||23|
|Tour - Beadell Tracks Wanderer||2,386 kms||4||2|
|A tyre repair demo’ while camped at Warburton Roadhouse W.A. May 2015|
I wrote this bit for last year’s report but it still applies so I have included it this year;
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.
Gary Junction Road, Sandy Blight Junction Road, Gunbarrel Highway, Connie Sue Highway & Anne Beadell Highway – 26 days
Quite a long trip using the famous bomb roads made by Connie’s father in the 1950s & 60s.
|No.||Type||Size||Position||Problem||Repair / Comment|
|1||TSBR||Tubeless 245/70R16||Rear left||Sidewall stake||6mm damage – 120TL patch & sealer|
|2||TSBR||Tubeless 265/70R17||Front right||Sidewall stake||5mm damage – 120TL patch & sealer|
|3||-||False alarm||-||Slow leak||Pressure monitor not sealed|
|4||-||False alarm||-||Slow leak||Pressure monitor not sealed|
|5||-||False alarm||-||Slow leak||Pressure monitor not sealed|
|6||TSBR||Tubeless 245/70R16||Front right||Staked & run flat||Innerliner ruined – fitted spare tyre|
The first couple of staked tyres were repaired as usual with proper major repair patches & innerliner sealer. Both tyres were put back on the vehicles and finished the trip without issue. The third staked tyre was run flat and the carcass was damaged and could not be used any further. It is exactly this problem that pressure monitors are for. They can pay for themselves very quickly in very remote areas.
The three false alarms were interesting. A customer obtained a set of tyre pressure monitors as part of a promotion or free gift with another purchase. I can’t remember the exact circumstances. Anyway the fellow fitted them and I believe they were working OK albeit with a few blips. A couple of weeks into the trip he had three flat tyres overnight in the space of a couple of days. The first we pulled the wheel off and I went through the motions of finding a sneaky tubeless leak but I couldn’t find anything. As a final test I overinflated the static tyre and left it for an hour or so before checking the pressure. It lost nothing. So we put it back on and suspected that the monitor had leaked on the valve stem. The second we also checked just to be sure, again nothing, by the third slow leak the fellow pulled the monitors off and had no further trouble for the rest of the trip.
Over the last few years we have had a great many customer vehicles fitted with various tyre pressure monitoring sets. From memory we have had a few that have leaked, but given a tweak they have been fine. Obviously the set mentioned above were of very poor quality, or at least the sealing material was poor or the wrong thickness for the valves. I guess all you can say is beware of cheap gear.
So far our experience suggests that the best system is the valve stem screw on transmitters. You’ll read & hear that they are no go for rough conditions & corrugations as they come loose and fall off. Well, we have yet to see that happen. A quick glance around all the tyres will show you that they are still there, but obviously if they are coming loose then the tyre will lose pressure and you should hear the alarm........I say this because loose ones leak.
|Small sidewall stake picked up during normal off-road travel on the Connie Sue Highway. Easily repaired and well within damage limits.|
|Fixing two tubeless tyres at Pt Sandercock on the Connie Sue Highway – May 2015|
|2 x tubeless tyres repaired then inflated the next morning to check for leaks.
Over the years I have found giving the repair time to bond overnight is the most
reliable way to repair tubeless tyres.
Eastern Nullarbor Area – Coorabie, Ooldea & Eucla – 14 days
A nice little trip in very quiet country, we saw two vehicles in the bush during the 14 days. This trip was designed for the early model Land Rovers and we had five 1950s Series 1 vehicles on the trip. Only a couple of tyre problems surfaced and both were easily dealt with.
|No.||Type & Size||Position||Problem||Repair / Comment|
|1||Tubed – 205/80R16||Front left||Tube/fitting problem||Debris in tyre rubbed tube – small tube patch|
|2||Tubed – 205/80R16||Front right||Tube/fitting problem||Debris in tyre rubbed tube – small tube patch|
With tubeless tyres being used for almost every 4WD these days the "art" of using tubes is quickly being lost. So few people deal with tubes now that you can nearly always expect a problem from a tyre fitted with a tube, not so much if you’re belting up & down the highway but especially if you are off-road and have lowered your tyre pressures. At lower pressures with a bit of a bulge in your sidewalls the tube inside will move a tiny bit every time the tyre rotates. So if there is sand or dirt or rubbish of any kind inside that tyre against the tube you can guess what will happen given a little time. (This is the main complaint with Split Rims, "they always have slow leaks".)
As with nearly all problems there are solutions. Humans are a pretty smart bunch (well they should be....) and we have figured out that if you clean the inside of the tyre out so it is spotlessly clean, give the rim a wipe down with a rag and brush any dust off the tube & rust flap/band (if fitted) before putting them together those annoying little tube leaks pretty much disappear. Of course your work area needs to be spotless, which can be difficult when working way out in the scrub somewhere, much easier at home where you can just sweep the concrete clean.
So far I haven’t mentioned tube quality, but I will now. These days tubes in general are very poor compared to their heyday when all tyres had a tube fitted. The older generations will remember that a tube could be cut into strips and used to make a shangai, particularly bicycle tubes, they were perfect. I urge you now to try the same thing with a tube, it won’t work. There is no "spring" in the rubber, it is next to useless. So these days tubes are not very rubbery & are very thin. This makes them very easy to damage with grit inside the tyre and they also seem to cut quite easily. Word of warning, if you are forced to use a tube please treat them very gently. I haven’t mention talcum powder either but there is enough about all of this on our website in the tyre section.
Remember, both professional fitters in workshops & the amateur on the side of the road will make the same mistakes with tubes. I see it time & time again in the bush when I pull customer tyres apart.
|Slow leak due to grit and rubbish being in the tyre when the tube was fitted – always problems when the pressures are reduced off-road|
27 days spent off-track in the south west Great Victorian Desert looking for explorer sites
As usual a very interesting trip for many reasons, we found or rediscovered more than 100 sites visited by the explorers and used by the local Aboriginals for untold generations. These off-track trips by their very nature cause a few tyre problems. The bulk of the flat tyres were the standard stakes from scrub, nothing out of the ordinary really. Three vehicles had MRF Bias tyres fitted on split rims, the fourth vehicle had All Steel Radials fitted.
|No.||Date||Type||Size||Position||Problem & Size||Repair / Comment|
|1||28/7||T ASR||305/70R19.5||Front left||Large sidewall stake||142TL & sealer - OK|
|2||29/7||T ASR||305/70R19.5||Front left||Sidewall stake||140TL & sealer – OK|
|3||29/7||T ASR||305/70R19.5||Front right||Sidewall stake||140TL & sealer – OK|
|4||1/8||T ASR||305/70R19.5||Front right||Sidewall stake||140TL & sealer – OK|
|5||3/8||T ASR||305/70R19.5||Front right||Good sidewall stake||140TL & sealer - leaked|
|6||3/8||T ASR||305/70R19.5||Front left||Small sidewall stake||120TL & sealer - OK|
|7||4/8||T ASR||305/70R19.5||Front right||Small sidewall stake||120TL & sealer – OK|
|8||5/8||T ASR||305/70R19.5||Front right||Leaking patch||Buffed off patch put on 140TL & sealer - OK|
|9||6/8||T ASR||305/70R19.5||Front right||Sidewall stake||120TL & sealer – OK|
|10||6/8||T ASR||305/70R19.5||Rear left||Sidewall stake||120TL & sealer – OK|
|11||6/8||T ASR||305/70R19.5||Front left||Tread/shoulder stake||142TL & sealer – leaking slowly|
|12||8/8||T ASR||305/70R19.5||Rear left||Sidewall stake||Hole near 120TL – buffed off put on 142TL & sealer - OK|
|13||9/8||T ASR||305/70R19.5||Rear left||Sidewall stake||Hole near 120TL – buffed off put on 142TL & sealer|
|14||11/8||T ASR||305/70R19.5||Front left||Leaking patch (142TL)||Buffed off 142TL – put on another 142TL & sealer|
|15||11/8||T ASR||305/70R19.5||Front right||Slow leak – sidewall stake||UP6 & sealer (less than 6mm) – OK|
|16||11/8||Bias||7.50-16||Front left||Slow leak – tread stake||UP6 & No.3 tube patch|
|17||12/8||T ASR||305/70R19.5||Front left||Sidewall stake||Very old tyre – didn’t bother to repair|
|18||12/8||T ASR||305/70R19.5||Rear right||Sidewall stake||140TL & sealer – put on & inflated – seems OK|
|19||12/8||T ASR||305/70R19.5||Front left||Sidewall stake near patch||Buffed off 120TL – put on 142TL & sealer - OK|
|20||13/8||T ASR||305/70R19.5||Front left||Slow leak – sidewall stake||UP6 & sealer - OK|
|21||15/8||Bias||7.50-16||Rear left||Slow leak – tread stake||UP6 & No.3 tube patch (used liquid buffer only)|
|22||17/8||Bias||7.50-16||Rear left||Tread stake – 2 holes||No.4 Bias patch – customer repaired tube|
|23||17/8||Bias||7.50-16||Rear right||Slow leak||Pinhole in tube – No.4 tube patch (used liquid buffer only)|
It is very obvious that one vehicle had the vast bulk of the tyre trouble. We have covered more than 6000 kms off-track during the last 15 years and during that time we have learnt a few things. I’ll discuss the two main reasons for the high count from that one vehicle;
The ideal situation for a group of vehicles pushing through scrub, ("off-track" as we call it) is to have all the vehicles with the same track width. That means that all of the tyres follow the wheel tracks of the vehicle up the front. So what happens is that the lead vehicle breaks a track and every one coming along behind can sit in those wheel tracks and avoid smashing the vegetation putting their tyres at a much lower risk of staking. If you can’t stay on those wheel tracks then you will have one tyre that has to break its own track, that will normally be the front left tyre that cops it the most (you will naturally sit on the driver’s side wheel track).
|Track width of this vehicle is a great deal wider than the other vehicles. This normally causes problems.|
This year we were in the south west of the Great Victoria Desert, anyone who has travelled all of the deserts and is familiar with them will know that this area is a bit different to the desert country further north & east. In a nutshell it has a great deal of heavy scrub and not so much open spinifex country like the other western deserts. So if you have thicker stronger scrub then you will have more trouble bashing a way through it. Tyres will take more than the usual amount of damage. The following image should illustrate what it can be like.
|This is what we call "ugly"|
The above image is Mulga country that had been burnt some years ago. So you have young Mulga coming up as well as the old burnt Mulga that has fallen over and is now hidden in the young stuff – bit like a lottery driving through this nightmare......This sort of scrub is very hard on tyres and if you can’t sit in the lead vehicle's wheel tracks then it is even harder on your rubber.
|This damage was near the allowable upper limit – we repaired it and put it back on the vehicle|
|One of the many stakes collected in our tyres during this year’s expedition|
All you can do is be prepared for the worst. If you insist in bush bashing then flat tyres will be something you have to deal with. Learn how to repair tyres, carry the right repair gear and the best thing to do is not worry about it too much, which is easier said than done. You are better off expecting trouble, because given enough time you’ll stake a tyre. Even normal off-road touring will eventually have the same result, just not as many all at once!!
Gunbarrel Highway, Gary Highway, Gary Junction Road, Sandy Blight Jnc Road & Great Central Road – 18 days
This was a standard tour along a number of the famous Beadell Roads. We didn’t have much trouble at all.
|No.||Date||Type & Size||Position||Problem||Repair / Comment|
|1||8/9||TSBR – 275/70R17||Rear right||Slow leak - Tread puncture||5mm damage - 125TL patch & sealer - OK|
|2||15/9||TSBR – 275/70R17||Rear left||Slow leak – Tek screw||B6 combi plug & sealer - OK|
Over the years repairing wide tyres I have tended to put an oversize patch on tread star fractures.
I have a couple of reasons for this;
Tread damage is very difficult to accurately inspect. You can measure up the damage on the inside of the tyre and work out what patch to use but it is very hard to tell if what you are seeing is all of the damage. There are a lot of high tensile wires in that tread and you can’t really see if they are all OK or some are stretched or even broken. You can normally get a good idea about the size of damage just by using thumb pressure around the damage and feeling for soft spots, but you still can’t be sure. It is easier to just bond on a larger stiffer patch. I also don’t know what the customer will be doing after they finish the trip with us & head off.......
Wide Steel Belted Radial tyres have quite a narrow inflation range, by that I mean that it doesn’t take much extra pressure to overinflate a wide tyre and "balloon" the tread area so on the highway the centre of the tread will wear much quicker because it is carrying most of the weight. If the damage is larger than what is indicated (read the above) then a larger stiffer patch will hold the tyre in shape better and reduce the risk of the damaged area wearing faster or worse, failing altogether. The larger patch is a "better safe than sorry" sort of thing from my perspective.
|The ever useful Tek Screw, except when they are in your tyres.......
This sort of thing will not normally need a large patch. The screw will get between the steel wires not break lots of them
|That same Tek Screw on the inside – Sandy Blight Junction Road - September 2015|
|Beaten up old Land Rovers make quite good work benches –
Great Victoria Desert - August 2015
A pretty quiet year for tyres really, only the expedition stood out in the flat tyre department. I’ll just go through a few things.
I’m talking about the pressure that builds up on a person when they have a lot of flat tyres on an expedition off-track. Very few people experience this amount of anxiety, frustration & dread while 4WDing. Connie & I have seen it simply because we do trips where it can happen, and it does. This pressure will slowly accumulate as the trip progresses and the flat tyre tally climbs. Most folks hide it pretty well but eventually it becomes very hard to bear and the cracks will begin to show in small ways, usually not apparent to the other travellers. Everyone is different so no two cases are ever the same but the symptoms remain the same.
These are a few things that seem to contribute to the pressure;
All we can do as trip leaders is help as much as we can and be honest about what is going on. Pressure on the mind & body is a very difficult thing to manage when you can’t change the circumstances. Everyone handles pressure differently so it is hard to predict what will happen. Good preparation & discussion is the key and once the trip is on we can only hope that conditions allow folk to enjoy off-track travel which is a unique perspective on country that the population will never see & never appreciate or understand.
I mentioned this problem in last year’s report and it makes another appearance this year. Once again I have been amazed at how folks go about jacking up a vehicle to change a flat tyre. Usually I see that the jack isn’t well anchored on the axle housing, wishbone or chassis. The jack plate is skewed or sinking under the weight. Anytime you have to dig out under the tyre to get it off there is something wrong with the jacking set-up, no ifs, no buts & no maybes.
I’ll get an article written for the website about this but below I have included the list of points I wrote last year.
If you read through the table above with all of the expedition data you’ll have noticed that two repairs leaked, and I had a similar problem last year which caused me a fair bit of work. (If a patch leaks I buff it off and do it again.) All three of these problems were with very large patches. Having given it a bit of thought I can only come up with one answer to the problem, I didn’t wait long enough for the glue to become "touch dry", so I have to say it was operator error, I can’t think of anything else as the routine I go through is the same regardless of patch size. So I think what happened was that as the buffed area is so large, by the time I finish with the glue, where you have started has "dried" and where you finished is just becoming tacky. I know I added a bit of extra glue here & there in the thin spots but you are trying to do it quickly because the weather is usually warm & dry and the glue goes off much quicker than the directions indicate.
After the two leaking repairs & possibly figuring out the problem I was more careful on the next repairs and things seemed to go well. During next year I’ll keep an eye on it and see if I can develop a better technique with the glue for larger patches.
Copyright : November 2015
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