Pneumatic-tyred wheelbarrows are known for their convenience and handiness. However, the tires have a tendency of going flat due to punctures, slow leaks, cold weather or sometimes no reason at all. This can be frustrating, especially when you have a hefty task ahead of you.
While most people opt to replace the entire wheel or, if it turns out strenuous, ditch the wheelbarrow, this is costly and wasteful. Why toss out the whole wheelbarrow while you can simply fix the tire?
With the required tools and skills, this is a DIY job that should take you no more than 20 minutes. Whether the tire has a tube or is tubeless, we are, in this article, going to learn how to fix a flat wheelbarrow tire.
How to fix a flat tubeless tire
Fixing a tubeless tire is a lot easier than fixing a tubed one. No tubes to remove or rubber patches to stress you out. Much better if it has gone flat due to cold weather or a leak as all required from you is to inflate. However, if there is a puncture, you’ll need to seal it.
If you aren’t certain whether your tire is tubed or tubeless, check the air valve to be sure. For tubeless tires, the valve is fixed tight to the rim of the wheel.
Removing the wheel
The first thing is to take the wheel off. So, begin by turning the wheelbarrow upside down to easily access it. And with the help of two wrenches, remove the nut in the centre of the wheel. One wrench will hold the axle in place as you loosen the opposite nut with the other wrench. Turn the nut anticlockwise until it is loose enough to be rotated by the hand. Slide the wheel out to begin finding the leak.
Finding the tire leakage
How easy you will find the puncture depends on its size. Large punctures are always easy to spot. You can detect them by rotating the tire while carefully listening for the leak. This is what to do:
Begin by fully inflating the tire. Slowly rotate it while listening carefully to spot the area where air is escaping. Once you identify the spot, visually inspect the tire for any rip or tear. If the tear isn’t visible or if you can’t hear any air escaping, run your fingers through the tire to identify the spot. Sometimes, when the puncture is too large, you’ll spot it even without listening or touching.
If you can’t find the leak through listening or touching the surface, then the puncture is a small one that calls for other tactics. You can identify it through any of these two methods:
(i) Spraying the tire with soapy water: You’ll need an empty spray bottle. Fill it with water then add a few droplets of liquid soap. Shake the bottle vigorously until the mixture of water and soap forms bubbly foam. Literally spray the soapy water on the entire external surface of the wheel. Now visually inspect the wheel for bubbles. The leak will be at the spot where the soapy water will be bubbling up. Mark the spot.
(ii) Immersing the tire in water: This is the easiest and fastest method. Fill a large basin with clean water and immerse the tire. Slowly rotate it inside the water while on the look out for bubbles. The leak is located on the area you will see water bubbling up. Mark the area.
If you can’t find the leak on the tire surface, the problem is with the bead. That, too, can be fixed.
Fixing the leakage
You are going to need a tire plug kit. A tire plug kit is a kit with a set of tools which include a reamer, applicator and rubber plug that will help you fix minor tire leaks. The reamer is a rounded file whose function is to make the hole round. The applicator, on the other hand, is a small metal pole that pushes the rubber plug inside the leak hole.
You can purchase a tire plug kit online or at the nearest auto spares store. A nail can work well as a reamer if you don’t have one.
Here are the steps to follow:
1. Hold the reamer via the handle and push the sharp end through the leakage hole. Work the reamer in and out of the hole to make it wide and round.
Doing this with a deflated tire can sometimes be cumbersome, so you might wanna consider inflating it first.
2. Insert the rubber plug through the oval-shaped opening in the applicator, pinch it and pull it through. Pull the rubber plug until the length on both sides is even.
3. With the help of the applicator, push the plug into the leakage hole. Force it in until about three-quarters of the plug is on the inside part of the tire. You can now pull out the applicator. Do it carefully though not to rip out the rubber plug.
4. Using a pair of scissors or razor blade, trim the leftover part of the plug protruding at the surface of the tire. Ensure it is even with the tire.
Fixing the bead of the tire
If you didn’t find any puncture, the leak is probably on the bead where the tire and rim meet. This can also hamper the inflating process. You can fix it using a rope or a nylon ratchet strap.
1. Wrap the rope or strap around the external circumference of the tire. Tie a knot at the top to attach the rope to the tire.
2. Tighten the rope until the tire is fully compressed. This you can manage by inserting the handle of a hammer or a short pole under the rope and then rotating it. Rotate until the tire can’t be tightened any further.
3. With the rope tightened, start inflating the tire. Add air until the tire is fully inflated. This will prompt the tire to slide into the rim until it’s perfectly tight.
4. Unwrap the rope or strap and reattach the tire.
Fixing a flat wheelbarrow tire with tube
Tyres with tubes go flat more often than tubeless ones. But fixing them is also as easy.
You begin by turning the wheelbarrow upside down and removing the tire. (Follow the steps in the previous section). Once the tire is out, you can break the bead to take off the tube. Here is the process:
1. Insert a flat edge or a flat screwdriver between the edge of the rim and the bead of the tire. Work around the rim using the screwdriver until the tire and the rim separate. However, be careful not to pierce the tube.
2. Take out the tube and inflate it.
3. To identify the puncture, immerse the tube in a basin full of water and watch out for bubbles. Water will bubble out around the leaking area. Mark the spot.
4. Seal the leak using a tube sealer or a rubber patch. Slide the tube back into the wheel.
Fixing a wheelbarrow tire is an essential skill for any gardener or homeowner. And I believe I have exhaustively taught you how to do it. No more need to pay experts to do it for you or to abandon the wheelbarrow just because of a faulty tire. Get the required tools and fix the wheelbarrow tire yourself!