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2016 Tours & Expeditions

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TYRE & TUBE REPORT - "C96 - 2 Soaks" 2016 Expedition

   It has been a while since I have completed a dedicated Expedition tyre & tube report, but this year warrants the effort. Quite simply we had a lot of trouble when we should not have. The tyres were fine, everyone had Bias fitted, but the tubes on some vehicles let us down very badly. I’ll let the following data tell the full story; see what you think.

   We were searching for two watering points that David Carnegie & his party used in 1896. We failed to find them but came up with quite a few other excellent Native Wells & Soaks that more than likely have never been seen by a white-fella. To our knowledge this particular area had not been looked at by modern white travellers, at least we didn’t see any wheel tracks during our journey of 560 kms off-track.

   All six participating vehicles were required to fit heavy sidewall tyres, in this case Bias were used exclusively, all but one vehicle had MRF tyres fitted. All tyres were mounted on Split Rims obviously as the tyres won’t fit well on anything else.


Tyre Repair

Another day at the office


Results in Brief


    The following is a run-down of what happened during the expedition to the tyres & particularly the tubes. Over the years we have seen the following problems in small amounts now & again. This year the number of problems in a short space of time was entirely unexpected. Never have I seen such trouble with tubes before. During & after the expedition I spent a great deal of time thinking about what went wrong. See what you think about the stuff below.


How I Repair Tubes

    NOW before I describe the problems with tubes this year I had better explain how I repair tubes. Over the years my method has evolved so for clarity I had better go through the steps I use in the bush. It is pretty simple & it works on good quality tubes 99% of the time.

  1. find the hole – can be difficult if it is a very small slow leak
  2. decide what patch to use
  3. mark the area that needs preparation with crayon or texta
  4. using "Liquid Buffer" rub the repair area with Scotch-Brite to remove preservatives, mould release etc (I no longer buff the tube with abrasive tools)
  5. clean off the repair area with a small clean dry paint brush
  6. apply glue in a thin even coat
  7. wait until it is dry
  8. put the patch carefully on
  9. stitch the patch on very firmly with the roller
  10. stitch around the edge as the last job
  11. carefully remove the plastic cover off the completed repair (try pulling it off from the middle outwards)
  12. rub over with talcum powder so it doesn’t stick to the tyre


Tyre Repair tools

Tube prepared for patch, you can see the area cleaned with Liquid Buffer & Scotch-Brite


9 x tube problems – mostly tiny 1mm splitting - (we have seen this before now & again, but not to this degree)

    Most of the tube problems were tiny splits in the sidewall area which caused slow leaks. There was no damage to the tyre so the only conclusion is that the tube actually breaks & creates a tiny split. All I can think of is that the tubes, particularly the cheap thin varieties, simply don’t handle low pressure where the sidewall area is moving and stretching more than normal. The same tubes when at higher pressures for off-road & on-road don’t have the same problems.

    After some research by a colleague it has been revealed that many tubes these days have some amount of recycled rubber in the recipe. Now this recycled rubber could only be tyre rubber as tubes are not recycled to our knowledge. This may explain why modern tubes are not very "rubbery"; by that I mean they don’t stretch well. This may be the cause of the splitting, simply that the tube is not elastic enough & fatigues at low pressure when the stretching & movement is at its worst.

    I have over the years refined my fitting technique & experimented with methods to reduce the strain on the tube in the sidewall area. I have found the ingredients for best success are;

    The best way to avoid tube splitting at low pressure generally - AVOID USING CHEAP KOREAN / CHINESE TUBES


Tiny tube split

Tiny split in tube – pretty hard to see isn’t it.....


Tiny tube split - stretched

Tiny split in the sidewall area on tube
stretched a bit to make it visible


    To show this point clearly, look at the table at the bottom of the report;

                           the vehicles with good quality known tubes (& well fitted) had very little, in fact almost no, trouble.


4 x tube problems – tubes splitting under repair patches – (we have seen this before but it’s rare)

    The splitting of the tubes under the repair patches is a technical mystery and not a problem that is seen by the experts. We know this because before writing this report a colleague & I spoke to a few known experts in the tyre & tyre repair industries. They had not heard of tubes splitting under patches at low pressure in a 4WD situation. So we are on our own.

    Inspecting the 4 tubes that split under the patch on the expedition it was noticeable that on some the patches hadn’t stuck really well & others the patch did stick on properly.

    I’ve broken the problem into a few possibilities;

  1. I have long held the belief that some cheap tubes will not accept the glue we use & I still believe that.
  2. I suspect the patches will stretch more than the tubes, so the tube just keeps splitting as the patch is not holding the damaged area firmly enough.
  3. Given the "hardness" of modern tubes it’s possible to buff them too much making them too thin – I don’t buff them at all anymore.


Patch lifting from Chinese tube

Patch lifting from Chinese tube. With good preparation & technique this shouldn’t happen, but it does


Patch lifting from Chinese tube

Removed some of the same patch from the same Chinese tube & you can see that some of the patch
didn’t bond well (black area) & that some of the patch had bonded well (orange bit).


Failed patch

Another failed tube patch (it tore in half getting it off), but this one has pretty consistent colouration,
meaning that it seems to have bonded OK, but it still allowed the tube to continue splitting underneath it


    The solution to this problem is easy. Don’t run at really low pressures for weeks at a time. Of course we can’t do that on our off-track expeditions. So, I’m left with experimenting with how to solve this problem. To cut a long story short I have two main options that I can think of to try & stop the tube splitting under the patch. Both methods are trying to restrict the stretching of the tube. I’ll try both next year & see what happens.

  1. Put two patches on the puncture, the correct one first & a larger patch over the top (you can overlap tube patches)
  2. Use a small rubber-only tyre patch like a UP6, UP8 or UP10 (on small punctures worth a try.....)


4 x tyres were staked & repaired

    An excellent result for the tyres, better than expected in fact; three of the stakes were on the lead vehicle. All of them were repaired and put back to work as usual during off-track expeditions.


Staked tyre

One of the 4 staked tyres, pretty standard.


Details of tyre problems during 2016 Expedition

Vehicle Tyres Date Cause (& size) Position Comments
Land Rover
130 Defender
5 flat tyres
Bias - 14 Ply
MRF "Super Miler"
Bridgestone tubes
(fitted by Mick)
17/8 Tread stake – 5mm Front left B8 mushroom & #5 tube patch
20/8 Looked like tiny tube rub..... Front right #5 tube patch ----- (poor fitting – my fault)
21/8 Shoulder stake – 10mm Rear right No.5 tyre patch & #4 tube patch
28/8 Tube split under patch Front right New tube fitted
29/8 SW/shoulder Stake – 3mm Front left No.3 tyre patch & #5 tube patch
V8 Utility
9 flat tyres
Kenda & MRF
Korean & Chinese tubes

Customer did all but two of the fitting jobs
15/8 Tube hole in sidewall area Rear right #3 tube patch
15/8 Tube hole in sidewall area Rear left #3 tube patch
16/8 Tube split under patch Rear ? New tube (Buff off old patch &
      #5 tube patch
16/8 Tube hole in sidewall area Rear ? #3 tube patch
21/8 3 tube holes in sidewall area Rear left Customer did repairs
22/8 Tread stake – 10mm Front ? No.3 tyre patch & #4 tube patch
22/8 Tube split under patch Rear ? Spare tube fitted ?
27/8 Tube holes in sidewall area Rear right Fitted new Bridgestone tube myself
27/8 Tube holes in sidewall area Rear left Fitted new Bridgestone tube myself
(No more problems after this)
V8 Utility
5 flat tyres
Bias - 14 Ply
MRF "Super Miler"
Korean tubes
22/8 Tube hole in sidewall area Rear left #4 tube patch
22/8 3 tube holes in sidewall area Rear right Fitted spare tube
23/8 Tube split under patch Rear right  
27/8 Unknown cause   ? Heard about flat tyre on UHF after vehicle left trip for mechanical reasons
27/8 Unknown cause   ?
GU Patrol ute
1 flat tyre
Bias - 14 Ply
MRF "Super Miler"
Korean tubes
(fitted by Mick)
27/8 Slow leak - unknown cause Front left Put spare on & vehicle left trip due to
mechanical problems before tyre was repaired
78 Troopy
½ flat tyre
Bias - 14 Ply
MRF "Super Miler"
TOYO tubes
(refitted by Mick)
18/8 Shoulder stake – 2mm
            No damage to tube
Front right Pulled apart to clean & silicone early in trip, stake found in tyre, but tyre not flat.
UP6 on tyre – nothing needed on tube
Ford Ranger
Dual Cab ute
MRF "Super Miler"
Bridgestone tubes
  No punctures or trouble recorded    



    I’ll include a brief overview of these problems in the 2016 Tyre & Tube Report & include some further conclusions & developments.

    We’ll see if we can have a better run next year.......


Mick Hutton
Copyright : December 2016





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