Of Tires, Tubes & Testings

For the first time in about fifty years, I had occasion to repair a bicycle tire this weekend. Part of the reason why it had been so long is that I didn’t do much bike riding for most of those years. Not doing a lot of riding seems to reduce the frequency of needed repairs. Eventually, though, I guess the odds catch up with us.

Frankly, I was a bit surprised to find the tire totally flat. There hadn’t been any warnings obvious enough for me to notice. Basically, that means I didn’t experience a blowout twenty miles from home. Just went into the garage one evening to show a friend my commuter bike and the front tire was as flat as Flipper’s flivver.

A few days later, I rotated the tire, looking carefully for any foreign objects of the penetrating sort. Found none. When I aired it back up, the tire snapped back into “set” and it seemed to hold air okay. So I topped it off Saturday morning and took off for a good ride on a lovely day. By the time I got back, the tire was getting a bit spongy. Thus, the opportunity for repair.

I’d recently purchased a small repair kit that included a set of small plastic tire removal tools. I used those instead of the big ole flat-bladed screwdrivers Paul and I used to use in the back yard on the farm in Todd County. The tools were different but the technique was pretty much identical: pop a tire edge out—hopefully without gouging the tube—and then work your way around. Once that side is out, work the other side until the tire is off the rim. Pull out the tube and check for leaks.

There weren’t any. I checked carefully. Twice. Rotating sections about eight to ten inches long at a time, I held the semi-inflated tube in a bucket of water, looking for bubbles. None. Knowing that flat tires are usually pretty consistent in their devotion to the laws of physics, I decided to increase the pressure until I got the confession I needed. With the psi doubled, I was pretty confident I’d find the object of my search.

I was right. As soon as I immersed the third section, a steady stream of little bubbles started bubbling up, leading me to a tiny tell-tale dot on the tube. I dried the area, scuffed it up with the tiny little scuffer from the kit and pressed a quarter-sized self-adhesive patch into place. I held it there for about thirty seconds and then re-assembled the tire and tube onto the rim. Re-installed the tire and aired it up to 85 pounds. Job done. I hope.

Lessons learned:
 Fixing a thing is usually better than complaining about it.
 Just because something is not obvious does not mean it’s not there.
 The greater the pressure the more likely a weakness will be revealed.
 Sometimes, just a little bit of the right kind of attention can solve a significant problem.
 You don’t have to have the perfect tools to do a job… but they sure can make it easier. I think that’s why God offers wisdom to those who ask. Otherwise, we may end up ruining what we were trying to fix.

H. Arnett

About Doc Arnett

Native of southwestern Kentucky currently living in Ark City, Kansas, with my wife of twenty-nine years, Randa. We have, between us, eight children and twenty-eight grandkids. We enjoy singing, worship, remodeling and travel.
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