Tackling the number one most common tire repair on the farm – a damaged tube – can be as easy as changing the oil if you use the right equipment and supplies, and follow this 11-step process offered by tire guru Don Kubly. “Beyond basic supplies (listed below), all you need is a good workbench and a warm, dry place to do the patching,” says Kubly.
A basic tube repair kit should include safety eyewear, brass bristle brushes, scissors, a rubber scraper, buffer wheel, tube stitcher, and an awl (for probing tires). But the most important tool is the set of patching instructions you can get from your tire supplier, Kubly says. The Rema Tube Repair Manual is available free of charge on Gempler's website (www.gemplers.com).
Added to that tool arsenal are supplies that include chalk, prebuff cleaner, vulcanizing fluid, tire talc, and an assortment of different size and shape patches.
“Always use products from one manufacturer,” Kubly says. “For example, don't mix Rema patches with Camel cold vulcanizing fluid, because this could result in the patch separating from the tube.”
Not every tube can be patched, however. That is why Kubly recommends keeping a supply of replacement tubes on hand. “Select those sizes that are mostly commonly found in tires on your farm – such as hay trailer tires or tillage implement tires,” he says.
1. Inspect the tube
After removing the tube from the tire, inflate it to allow for easier examination. Certainly a puncture wound will make itself known right away. But the tube could have failed from a stress crack caused by a wrinkle that may have happened when the tube was first placed in the tire. Also look for any scratches, nicks, or stretching; any of which could weaken the tube and cause an opening. Deflate the tire before patching.
2. Buttonhole the injury
Use scissors to cut rounds, or buttonholes, out of each end of an injury. Doing so will prevent tearing along the crack in the future. To buttonhole, fold the tube along the crack and cut approximately 1/16-inch-diameter holes at each end.
3. Select a patch
Before cleaning and buffing, select a patch that not only will cover the injury but also will extend beyond it by at least ½ inch.
4. Clean the repair site
Pour the prebuff cleaner over the injury and the entire area that will come in contact with the patch. This cleaner is formulated to remove dirt, grease, silicone, and calcium chloride for effective bonding. Allow the cleaner to sit for up to 15 seconds before scratching the entire site with a tire scraper. Repeat the process, if necessary, until you have a completely clean site. “This removes contaminants and exposes fresh rubber,” Kubly explains. “You don't want to buff those contaminants into the rubber.”
5. Buff the patch area
Using a pneumatic buffer, clean the patch area to a smooth, velvety surface. “But don't use a buffer that has a speed greater than 5,000 rpm, because doing so scorches the rubber, which prevents an optimal bond,” he says.