When you get more than one puncture
So you're planning a great gravel travel trip this holiday season. The car is packed and you've ticked off everything on your pack list, but have you thought about what will happen if you have more than one puncture? Only the most well prepared off roaders carry two spare wheels and for many there is simply insufficient space for a second spare, so what else can one do to prepare for that second puncture?
For starters, the quickest and easiest solution is to purchase a tin of tyre sealant/inflator. It's a 2-in-1 product that temporarily seals most punctures and the compressed gas in the can also automatically reinflates the tyre. A similar product is commonly used in mountain bike tyres and is known commercially as "Slime". The jelly like liquid is emptied into an inner tube by removing the valve body and the centrifugal force as the wheel rotates forces the "slime" into every part of the tube as a liner.
It remains in liquid form until there is a pressure release (like a puncture) when it changes into a solid in the form of densely packed fibres and in the process seals the puncture. It's been around for years and it is this technology which is used in vehicle puncture repair canisters as well. Buy yourself a can suitable for the tyre size of your vehicle, but our advice is to rather buy the 4x4 canister, which is more powerful and effective, even if you end up using only half the product. In this case, more is better. Read the instructions carefully before using it. Having a canister of tyre weld can truly save the day. Buy new canisters every 2 years as they become dysfunctional after a period of time and are prone to losing pressure over long periods of time. These have saved our bacon on more than one occasion. Note that the tyre must be 70 - 80% deflated otherwise the pressure inside the tyre will too great for the pressure in the canister.
The other option is really about getting down to basics - the tyre plug method. This kit consists of a packet of very sticky and rubbery, fibrous lengths of 'plug' coated in a sealant type glue/gunge and sealed inside a packet; a tool to open and roughen the hole in the tyre (it's not a corkscrew to open a bottle of wine as you ponder your state of despair); and another tool that looks like a big darning needle, to insert the plug. You will also need a small bottle of water with a spray nozzle, a pair of long nosed pliers, a sharp blade and some soap to wash your hands afterwards.
Step 1: The repair can be done with the tyre still on the vehicle or off - it's your choice. Remove the object causing the puncture using a pair of long nosed pliers. Usually the culprit will be a nail, screw or sharp stone. If you struggle to find the puncture point, use the spray bottle to see where the air is bubbling out of the tyre.
Step 2: Insert the corkscrew type tool from the kit into the hole, to roughen the sides and clean the hole out.
Step 3: Thread one of the rubber plugs into the insert tool. It has an open ended hole at the end, so thread the plug in like a piece of cotton through a needle. Get it to the midpoint of the plug.
Step 4: Push the plug (using the T-tool) directly and vertically through the hole until only a small portion of the plug tails remain visible. (Some kits come with a tube of separate sealant, which you add liberally onto the plug before insertion). Remove the T-tool by twisting it and leaving the plug behind in the hole in the tyre.
Step 5: Reinflate the tyre and retest the plug with the spray bottle to ensure no air is escaping.
Step 6: Trim the excess plug ends off with a sharp blade, so that they are not protruding beyond the normal tread..
Remember to have the tyre properly repaired with an inside plug at a proper tyre repair store at your earliest convenience. Never repair a sidewall cut with a plug.
Check the packaging of the plug repair kit and avoid buying on price alone (Chinese products are usually cheaper, but inferior and you don't want to be cursing your bargain product when you're stuck in the Gamadoelas). Products made in South Africa, Australia, England, USA or Germany are usually the best. Pay a bit more and know your plug kit will work when the chips are down.
When we travel on filming trips, we carry both Tyre Weld and a Plug Kit.
Pass of the Week:
Abel Erasmus was quite a character and by the age of 19 was already married, and a strong community leader and respected man by all who knew him. He had the Midas touch and by the age of 31 had acquired several farms, bred a large herd of healthy cattle and was the commissioner and magistrate of the entire Lowveld district. The big pass that drops down from Ohrigstad on the R36 to the Olifants River and the Kruger National Park which sports over 60 bends, corners and curves, a tunnel and spectacular scenery was named in honour of this prominent South African - a true leader of his time.
We unpack the full story of Abel and his rise to fame and fortune (not without mishaps along the way) via our 3 part video series, available via the link below.
From the team in the admin room at Mountain Passes South Africa, we wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a healthy and safe New Year. We have BIG plans for 2019, most of which will be shared with you via these newsletters.
New passes added this week:
Bongolonek (R392) - A substantial tarred pass between Dordrecht and Queenstown (Provisional video)
Xuka Drift - A minor blip on a gravel road that drops down and up the other side of the Xuka River near Engcobo (Provisional video)
Zoetendals Poort - A scenic gravel poort near Willowmore along the Trakarivier (Provisional video)
Bokpoort - A short little poort tucked away on a farm road near Loxton in the Northern Cape (Provisional video)
Thought for the day: "It is much more gratifying to give than to receive" ~ Anonymous