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2018 Tours & Expeditions

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    This year was our 14th commercial season. Suffice to say both Connie & I are well versed in carrying out tag-a-long trips in remote country. We have seen some funny things during this time in regard to customer tyres and no doubt in the future there will be a few things come along that will be a surprise, at least I hope so. Variety is the spice of life as the old saying goes. Once again another four commercial trips with the usual running around between trips, the following is what happened during our touring season.

    The tube repair experiment continued this season with some solid results early on, albeit not what I was expecting! The website report about this will be updated, so please have a read of the entire job.

    Our 2018 tyre mishaps are below, see what you think.


2018 Season Tyre Troubles in Brief


Type of Travel Month Distance Vehicles Total Problems Mick's Tyres
Home to Kulgera Roadhouse N.T. ------ 2230 kms ------ ------ ------
Tour – Gunbarrel 60th Anniversary May 2960 kms 6 9 1
Carnegie W.A. to Perth to Nullagine W.A. ------ 2400 kms ------ ------ ------
Tour – Beadell Tracks Wanderer June / July 3557 kms 8 2 1
Coober Pedy S.A. to Home to Carnegie W.A. ------ 5850 kms ------ ------ ------
Expedition – Secrets of the South West August / Sept' 2259 kms 3 5 2
Laverton W.A. to Alice Springs N.T. to Coober Pedy S.A. ------ 2300 kms ------ 3 3
Tour – Atoms, Mallee & Mulga September 2307 kms 8 11 ------
Kingoonya S.A. to home ------ 1598 kms ------ ------ ------
    25,461 kms 25 30 7



TRIP #1 – "Gunbarrel 60th Anniversary" - 11 Tyre Problems

    May - Off-Road Tour of 2960 kms for 19 days


Vehicle & Tyre types Problems Cause
Land Rover Defender 130 – ASR – Split Rims/tubed 1 Failed experiment
Toyota Hilux & camper trailer – SBR - Split Rims/tubed 2 Poor fitting of tubes
Nissan Patrol GU wagon – SBR - tubeless 2 Small punctures
Toyota troopy & camper trailer – SBR - tubeless 1 Carcass failed?
Land Rover Perentie – SBR - tubed 5 Poor fitting of tubes
Toyota 200 Series – SBR - tubeless 0 ------


    The number of tyre problems was bumped up by the fact that two vehicles had tubed tyres which had been poorly fitted as well as poorly maintained. As you can see above this contributed 7 tyre problems out of the total of 11, I find this very frustrating given the amount of time I have spent learning how to make tubes exceptionally reliable in the hardest conditions imaginable. All of this is explained in our paperwork and our website has heaps of articles & pictures demonstrating the correct things to do. I talk to people about it but it makes very little difference.......very annoying as it causes me a great deal of work when in the bush, work that can be avoided with some preparation before the trip.

    Most of the other flat tyres were pretty normal except for the "experimental" tube repair in my tyre. In this case I have been trying to solve a tube repair problem that has dogged us over the years, particularly when off-track at low pressure for long periods. This season I was continuing to try Bias tyre patches on tubes. I got a result, just not quite what I expected. I have written a full article about this for the website so please if you are interested have a look in the tyre information pages.

    Anyway, there are some images below to show what went on.


Bias patch damage

Part of my ongoing tube repair experiment – in this case I was trying a
Bias tyre patch on a tube. Turns out that the patches are designed to flex only
one way, bending them the other way causes them to fail and damage the tube.
Back to the drawing board!!!
Yulara – May 2018



Pretty standard small shoulder stake in a Steel Belted Radial tyre,
typically these are 10mm or less and can be well repaired with a
120TL Radial repair patch. In this case the tyre was repaired and put
back into service.
Gunbarrel Highway May 2018



This was a repair patch that failed to bond. When the tyre leaked I took it
off the rim and did the repair all over again, which is the correct approach.
I have talked to many blokes in the tyre industry and they all say every now & then
a repair will fail. Nobody knows why, some just do.
(On the bright side, no 2nd attempt has failed yet, at least in my experience).
Warakurna – May 2018


TRIP #2 – "Beadell Tracks Wanderer" - 2 Tyre Problems

   June/July - Off-Road Tour of 3557 kms for 25 days


Vehicle & Tyres Flats Cause Action taken
Land Rover Defender 130 - ASR – split rims 1 Failed experiment New tube fitted
Toyota Hilux – SBR - tubeless 1 Puncture by sharp object Repaired correctly – 120TL & sealer
Toyota 200 – SBR - tubeless 0    
Toyota 78 ute – SBR – split rims 0    
Land Rover Discovery 2 - SBR – tubeless 0    
Toyota 75 troopy – Bias – split rims 0 Maintenance undertaken 6 x tyres, tubes - strip, clean & talc
Toyota Hilux – SBR - tubeless 0    
Toyota 100 Series & camper trailer – SBR - tubeless 0    


    Not a lot out of the ordinary with this trip, in fact we did pretty well for 8 vehicles over that distance. My failed experiment wasn’t a surprise as we had the same thing happen during the first trip. It was only a matter of time before the second test did the same thing.

    You’ll notice that once again I did quite an amount of work on a customer’s spit rims. In this case I knew the history of the wheels & tyres and also knew that the owner would be doing much more remote area work in the future. As this particular customer wasn’t able to do the work themselves and seeing as they travel with us regularly I offered my assistance during this tour as it would save me work later on during a future expedition. I guess it pays to think ahead........


Sidewall stake in SBR

Standard sidewall puncture in a Steel Belted Radial.
Gary Highway June 2018


Tyre repair demo

Tyre repair demonstration during the June/July Tour.
Mungkili Claypan Nature Reserve


Second tube experiment failure

The second tube repair experiment to fail (took much longer than the first).
You can see how the Bias tyre patch has "broken" at the ply layers.
The reason can only be that the patches are designed to flex the
other way as they would when bonded to a tyre. Putting them on a tube
flexing the opposite way causes them to fatigue & fail, then cut the tube.
Check my tube experiment article on our website for more information.
Anne Beadell Highway – July 2018


Tube pitting

During the latter stages of the trip I stripped, cleaned & talced 6 split rim
wheels & tyres from a customer’s vehicle. (One of our small services we offer......).
Split rims require a bit of TLC and as you can see by the above image it
was needed. The pitting you can see on the tube is from a poorly fitted tube,
the tyre wasn’t cleaned out & also not having the "gaps" in the split rims siliconed
to stop the sand & grit getting into damage the tube, particularly when at
lower pressures. It pays to check them regularly, say every 12 months.
Anne Beadell Highway – July 2018


TRIP #3 – "Secrets of the South West" Expedition

   August/September - Off-Track Expedition of 2260 kms for 26 days
   5 flats - 3 vehicles

Off-road distance = 1637 kms
Off-track distance = 622 kms (no road or track at all)


Vehicle & Tyres Flats Cause Fuel Consumption
Land Rover Defender 130 – 7.50-16 Bias 2 Tread stake & carcass failure 16.11 Lts/100
Toyota 78 ute – 7.50-16 Bias 2 Tread stakes  ? 
Toyota V8 ute – 7.50-16 Bias 1 Tread stake  ? 


    Pretty quiet expedition in regard to tyres, not much to raise the eyebrows..... I will include some images of the carcass failure for interest however.

    As you may know I have been experimenting with using thicker stronger patches on tubes while in the desert. This stems from the rash of problems we had in 2016 during the expedition when many times the tube repairs failed because the tube split under the repair patch at very low pressure. Please read the 2016 Tyre & Tube Report - Expedition and the 2016-18 Tube Problems & Repair Experiments to bring you up to speed if you are interested.

    Earlier in the year I had been trying Bias tyre patches on tubes. This works really well until the Bias patch "breaks" because they are flexing the wrong way. The patch breaks along the cord edges and they chew at the tube giving you a slow leak after some time off-road with lower pressures than on the bitumen. So, continuing the experiment I decided to try a different brand of patch & glue to see if a final solution could be found. I was supplied by a mate in Perth some "Tech" glue & patches of various sizes. During the expedition I used this gear to repair tubes to see if they might offer a solution to the "tube splitting" problem. At the moment the jury is out as we need to cover more miles in the bush before some sort of result can be obtained. I’ll keep you posted.


Tech brand tube glue

Tech brand tube glue & multi-purpose tyre patch being used on a tube during our
off-track expedition this year. Part of the ongoing search for a solution to the
"splitting under the repair patch" problem & we should have some results during
next year’s trips. We’ll keep you posted on this experiment.
Great Victoria Desert – August 2018


Carcass failure

This is the inside of the tyre that the carcass failed, you can see
how the damage is aligned with the cords and you can also see the "soft"
delamination near the right hand arrow. The left arrow is showing the
screwdriver pushed through from the outside. This seems to be the main
drawback with Bias tyres, over time with exceptionally rough treatment
from stakes the carcass plies will snap around a larger damage and ultimately
break right through the tyre to cut the tube. There is not much you can do about this
except check for "soft spots" on the inside of the tyre now & again. In defence of the
Bias tyre you must remember that you would destroy multiple Radials tyres in the time
it would take for a single Bias to fail, we have proved this time & time again.
It’s worth keeping that in mind if you intend doing off-track work.
Laverton – September 2018


Tube damage from above carcass damage

This is the corresponding damage to the tube from the above carcass failure,
nothing we haven’t seen before but interesting all the same.
I did repair the tyre with a large patch but upon inflating the tyre/tube
there was a large bulge in the tyre. Because of this I racked the tyre as
a spare hoping I wouldn’t need to use it. We didn’t get a photo of this
unfortunately, but did get an internal photo about a week later (see below).

Laverton – September 2018


Between Trips - Laverton to Alice Springs

    September – Great Central Road, Lasseter Highway & Stuart Highway - 1598 kms for 3.5 days
    3 flat tyres


Vehicle & Tyres Flats Cause Fuel Consumption
Land Rover Defender 130 - 7.50-16 Bias – split rim 3 Carcass failure
Shoulder stake
Unbelievable puncture on bitumen
10.97 Lts/100


    Thought I had better include this as it carries on from the images above and a fair bit happened;

    After completing the expedition we had to get to Coober Pedy to start the final trip of the year. We went via Alice Springs so we could restock the tucker boxes, do some maintenance and catch up with a few of our desert friends. Straight up the Central Road (AKA the short-cut by the old timers) to the Rock then into Alice on the bitumen, what could possibly go wrong, such an easy run......

    A couple of hours out of Laverton we had a slow leak in the rear right tyre. Pulled up & changed it, putting the bulgy spare on. Being close to a spot we knew of off the road we went in and I stripped the flat tyre, finding the carcass had failed, much the same as the one above. With no choice I fitted our 6th spare which we carry as a carcass. I condemned the most recent damaged tyre and it went on the rack as a carcass. The bulgy spare went back on the rack. I hoped that would be the end of it...... no way, the rubber gods had decided to give us a bit of a caning. Guess we deserved it?

    Pulled up to camp near a good rockhole for the night, woke up the next morning with a flat tyre, the one I had only just put together! I was really hoping it wasn’t another carcass failure, if it was we were getting very short on sound tyres. Pulled it apart to see what had happened and found a tiny piece of wire had punctured the shoulder. Good news, the tyre was sound. No doubt the wire had come from an old burnt radial tyre along the track we used to get to camp, bad luck. Fixed it all up and away we went.

    At Warburton with phone service I organised a new set of tyres in Alice, with another trip to complete we couldn’t go on with what we had.

    All went well until the last few hours coming into Alice on the Stuart Highway. Near the Owen Springs road we had a slow leak once again in the rear right, the one I had repaired in the bush before Warburton. Pulled up and again fitted the bulgy spare, fun times! Left wondering what had happened....... as we limped into Alice hoping the bulgy spare held.

    A couple of days later I started putting the new tyres on and had the time to investigate that final slow leak. Looking at the puncture in the tyre I first thought the carcass had failed as the damage was through a repair patch, the one I had just put on from the wire puncture. I got a shock not long after when I was throwing out the old damaged tubes & I felt something inside the tube from the most recent slow leak. Bugger me if it wasn’t a 12” long lump of steel rod inside the tube completely. I’ve seen quite a few things inside tubes from punctures but never anything like this. So the carcass hadn’t failed, on the bitumen I had driven over this steel rod and punched it so hard that it went right through the tyre, repair patch & ended up inside the tube. No wonder the poor thing went flat. Images are below, see what you think.


Wire in shoulder

Small wire found in shoulder of Bias tyre.
Great Central Road – September 2018


Found inside tube

How’s that for unlucky!
Alice Springs – September 2018


Hole in bias patch from rod

That is the Bias patch I bonded on after the wire puncture in the bush, the
screwdriver is pushed through the hole that lump of steel rod made in the
tyre coming up the bitumen south of Alice Springs, honestly what are the
odds? It looks a bit like carcass failure but isn’t, pays to check everything.
Alice Springs – September 2018


Soft spot

There a few things to explain here, please see below.

    Firstly the arrow is showing a "soft spot" in the tyre, the carcass has continued to break even with the patch holding well. Running on this tyre you are relying solely on the strength of the patch to hold the tyre together, not the best outcome but in the bush sometimes you have to make do until you can get to civilisation.

    Secondly as you can see I have two very large patches overlapping, normally this is a no-no. In this case I was trying to fortify a tyre to get us out of trouble as we had few alternatives in regard to getting any other tyres. We were on our own with no back-up, something that we are quite comfortable doing in very remote areas. In the above case I had repaired this first problem with a heavy large No.5 Bias patch. When the second problem occurred I didn’t have any No.5s left so decided to use a Radial 135TL patch designed for tread areas in Radial tyres. These tread patches are even heavier & thicker than normal radial patches so I felt sure that the patch even though used "incorrectly" would hold the tyre together long enough to get us through, I was right.

    Now remember all of this repairing falls into the Temporary category, there are very few written rules with this unlike workshop repairs which do have well written guidelines and damage repair schemes with damage dimensions etc. No doubt our insurance company might have something to say but my defence is simple, it is in the interest of our welfare I did these repairs. With little hope of assistance you are allowed to do your best to ensure your safety. It is a large grey area and every case would be different but that is the intent as it has been explained to me by folks in the know. On the bright side it all worked and we made it to town without having to annoy the authorities in any way. Necessity is the mother of invention as the old saying goes.

    A day or so later we headed south to start the last trip of the season on new tyres, I felt much better!


TRIP #4 – "Atoms, Mallee & Mulga"

   September - Off-Road Tour of 2310 kms over 18 days
   11 tyre problems – 8 vehicles


Vehicle & Tyres Problems Cause Fuel Consumption
Land Rover Defender 130 – SBR 235/85R16 Bias – split rim 0   12.17 Lts/100
Toyota FJ – SBR 265/70R17 – tubeless alloy 0    
Land Rover Defender 110 – SBR 235/85R16 - tubeless alloy 0    
Toyota Land Cruiser 200 Series – SBR 285/70R17 – tubeless steel 0    
Land Rover Defender 110 – SBR 235/85R16 – tubeless alloy 0    
Land Rover Discovery D3 – SBR 255/60R18 – tubeless alloy 4 Various – see below  
Toyota Land Cruiser 100 Series – SBR 285/75R16 – tubeless alloy 2 Tread punctures  
Land Rover Defender 130 – SBR 7.50R16 – tubed steel 5 Slow leaks & maintenance  


    Little bit of everything in this batch, a few pictures below show & explain the most interesting things that happened.

    You’ll notice once again the word maintenance in the above table. Almost without fail these days I see tyres & tubes fitted poorly/woefully from professional tyre shops, quite frankly it is bordering on criminal in my opinion. What this means is pretty simple, one day down the road somewhere there will be quite a number of slow leaks which obviously cause flat tyres and (without pressure monitors) run flats which are dangerous at speed on the highway and destroy tyres completely.

    Over and over again on our trips I have to deal with this problem so that during the trip I end up doing not just one or two slow leaks but all of those vehicles tyres so they can drive home in safety. I have to say I’m getting a bit sick of it, but there is little I can do about it as I have no control over folks rims & tyres unless they are travelling with us. Guess I just have to grin & bear it as I have made a rod for my own back with the interest I have shown in the subject & duty of care I have over our customers. In other words shut-up & get on with it......


Sidewall cut

This tyre got a pretty good cut on the sidewall from a sharp limestone rock
and then was run flat as the owner didn’t have any pressure monitors. Once
you see the ripples in the sidewall you can write that tyre off, it’s stuffed.
Nullarbor near Cook S.A. – September 2018


Sidewall bulge

This is a delamination of the sidewall where a fault on the inside lets air
into the sidewall which results in a bulge. This can’t be repaired and the
tyre shouldn’t be used as they can blow out. Once this was seen this tyre
was changed for the spare, which created another problem........see below.
Cook Road Nullarbor S.A. – September 2018


Pinhole in spare tyre

This is the spare tyre that we were going to put on to replace the tyre
with the bulging sidewall. We got it off the vehicle and it was flat!
No evidence of damage so we overinflated the tyre and found a tiny
pinhole in the shoulder, you can see the bubbles from the soapy water.
Without another spare ready to go I put a temporary plug in the tyre
so we could keep going for the day. I was told that later that on the
highway that plugged tyre failed. [I didn’t get a chance to repair it properly as
that vehicle headed into Ceduna for some new tyres after this happened.]
Cook Road Nullarbor S.A. – September 2018


Observations from 2018

    Not much out of the ordinary really this year. I should say nothing we haven’t seen before. Still it is best to record what happens as it may be of use to someone in the future. During the season we had a few tyres either run-flat or unserviceable for whatever reason. Nothing unusual about this, tyres can & do fail, they have a tough job to do. It’s not easy being a tyre in remote country, think about it. Below are a few follow-up thoughts, some I have mentioned before so there shouldn’t be any surprises.

   These are the topics covered;


Sealing Tubeless Repairs – over-inflation

    I wrote about this in last year’s report & this year I kept using the over-inflation method to "seal" a fresh tubeless tyre repair patch. Quite simply it seems to work really well. So much so that it hasn’t failed me in the bush yet.

    After repairing the tyre with a patch and painting with Innerliner Sealer the tyre is remounted onto the rim, the beads seated and then the tyre is inflated up to 70-75 psi cold. (If the patch has failed miserably I can always hear the air pouring out of the puncture channel, this happens occasionally.) I then write in crayon the pressure figure onto the tyre (in case I forget) so in the morning the pressure can be checked to see if there has been any loss. So far the repairs have held overnight perfectly.

    It’s more likely a combination of several factors that I have found over the years through experience, these are listed below;

    Certainly the over-inflation method does work. I’ll keep using it in the bush & at home and see how things go for next year.

    Now for anyone who says you can’t overinflate a tyre to some degree, not true. Please check the Tyre & Rim Association manual for further information.


Experiments with Tube Repair – Bias Tyre Patches on Tubes

    So the next attempt to find a solution to the "splitting under the patch" problem on tubes was to try full blown tyre patches. I chose to try Bias patches simply because I carry them and they are more like a round patch with no sharp corners, no stress raisers so to speak. Anyway I bunged some on repairs during last year and fitted those same tubes to begin this season.

    Quickly had a result with one patch, it fatigued and failed I guess because it was being flexed the wrong way to what it was designed to do. Weeks later the other patch failed as well, the same reason from the look of how the patch literally broke through and then cut the tube, oh well back to the drawing board......

    For more information check the 2016-18 Tube Problems & Repair Experiments on our tyre website page.


Professionals Seem to Know Bugger All About Tubes

    As mentioned in the body of this report and many previous years it is plainly obvious to me that very few professional tyre shops know how to deal with tubes in any way shape or form. It is nearly to the point now that anyone on our trips with tubed tyres I have to strip, clean & talc all of the tyres & tubes during the trip. If I don’t we suffer from a plague of slow leaks during the trip which causes stress and uses time that is better spent learning about the desert and the history of the region which is the reason folks are out there to begin with!

    I’m satisfied with my technique regarding the use of tubes all of which is plainly explained & shown on our website at no cost. I have the figures over quite a number of years to show that I have been successful in handling tubes in all situations from bitumen highways to the roughest off-track bushbashing through heavy Mulga scrub.

    Some reading this will just simply say that tubes are no longer needed, tubeless can do anything. Not so & anyone who thinks this immediately shows a lack of experience with all conditions a 4WD may be used in. Their opinion is not based on all of the facts. I think I’ll leave it at that.


We'll see what happens next year.
Mick Hutton
Copyright : November 2018





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