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October 13, 2013

NOW HEAR THIS: Keeping my tires round

By LARRY M. JONES

Last week, I experienced one of those “life defining” moments that I fear greatly. Well, maybe it isn’t quite that bad, but the sight of a half-flat rear tractor tire sitting in a pool of antifreeze is a terrifying sight to this old farmer.

Of all the flat tires that ordinary folks have to deal with, a water-filled 600- to 800-pound rear tractor tire is probably the worst scenario possible.

When the pneumatic tire was first introduced, it certainly offered a bit of luxury and comfort, but with every great improvement there’s a price to pay. An entire industry to repair flats was created. 

Those of us with vested “seniority” have been witness over the years to quite a few flat tires. Like most boys, my earliest experience in repairing flats was gained getting mesquite thorns and the like from my bicycle tires. Keeping my old beaten up 26-inch girl’s bike rolling up and down our gravel roads required a lot of my father’s hot and cold patches.

Back in those days, cold patches were pretty worthless, except for bike tires, and the best way to repair a tube was with a vulcanizing hot patch. Burning one of these would fill the shop with an acrid smoke. I think I read somewhere that the feds may have outlawed these because of the potentially hazardous fumes. It stands to reason, because anything that actually works has to be regulated out of existence.

With widespread introduction of tubeless tires during the 1950s, a new twist was added to tire repair.  With no tube to patch, tubeless tires could be quickly repaired by merely inserting a sticky rubber cement coated string in the hole from the outside. While quite effective, the tire should be patched from the inside for a more permanent fix.

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