Best technique for finding that troublesome leak!

Submitted: Wednesday, Jun 12, 2019 at 22:50
ThreadID: 138512 Views:2497 Replies:13 FollowUps:20
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The curse of the outback traveller is always that pesky pointy thing that pokes into a tyre and lets all the air out. Now I admit there are times that It's been obvious to me that I've staked a tyre simply because of the noise coming from the birds nest on the third branch in but how do you detect that troublesome leak? You know the one. It never shows itself despite you emptying the entire bottle of Morning Fresh dish washing liquid into the squirt bottle (and getting your ear chewed off by the missus as a result).

In this case the tyre was drowned in the first available waterhole with a successful outcome at the end of two weeks of abject frustration.

If there's a better way, I'm keen to hear about it. Horror stories also encouraged!

Cheers

Mick





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Reply By: nickb - Wednesday, Jun 12, 2019 at 23:05

Wednesday, Jun 12, 2019 at 23:05
What about adding half a litre of morning fresh inside the tyre when they are installed on the rim as part of a pre trip service? Then the bubbles will be blowing out of the hole come puncture time!!!!! May play havoc when you are adjusting tyre pressures though!!!!
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Follow Up By: Mick O - Wednesday, Jun 12, 2019 at 23:31

Wednesday, Jun 12, 2019 at 23:31
Imagine the thrills for the kids in any community you pass through as you leave a trail of bubbles for them to chase lol
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Follow Up By: Gbc.. - Thursday, Jun 13, 2019 at 02:36

Thursday, Jun 13, 2019 at 02:36
If you were doing that you’d just add a couple of cups of tubeless tyre sealant like we do on mountain bikes and be done with it? Small leaks like what were experienced above would become non issues. I don’t know what the down sides are otherwise everybody would be doing it?
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Reply By: Phil B (WA) - Thursday, Jun 13, 2019 at 05:12

Thursday, Jun 13, 2019 at 05:12
I haven't been beaten by a pesky leak yet. If there is a troublesome leak I pump the tyres up to 50 plus psi and use the soapy water trick.

You use soapy water but it may be that the water over in the West is errr purer.

Here abouts is a photo of a bone through the nose puncture it wasn't hard to find this puncture. The tyre was on his wheel carrier when he punctured it, he was reversing up and hit a stump.

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Follow Up By: Mick O - Friday, Jun 14, 2019 at 18:07

Friday, Jun 14, 2019 at 18:07
Ha, that's not a stake...........this is a stake! (Best Croc Dundee voice their Phil :-)


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Follow Up By: Phil B (WA) - Saturday, Jun 15, 2019 at 07:07

Saturday, Jun 15, 2019 at 07:07
Gee - is that your way of collecting firewood!

PS I'm off in a few hours for a 5 weeker that includes the CSR N to S.


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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Saturday, Jun 15, 2019 at 10:53

Saturday, Jun 15, 2019 at 10:53
Now thats what I like to see - its not just me that numbers there wheels !
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Follow Up By: Member - ACD 1 - Saturday, Jun 15, 2019 at 12:29

Saturday, Jun 15, 2019 at 12:29
Hi Phil OAM

Just came off the CSR on Monday. I know it's not your first rodeo, but thought you might like a quick update!

Track conditions are same as last year, rough! Some minor track damage up north end as a result of last cyclone (and careless travellers) but nothing overly serious or impassable.

Biggest change I found was in the dunes with quite a lot of damage due to incorrect tyre pressures and speed. Lots of power bouncing going on causing some deep rutting. I waited for one group of 4 vehicles try for 3 hours to get over one set and eventually asked if I could pass them before they totally stuffed the face. They were quite surprised when I simply drove up and over (18 and 22 psi - low 1st -1400/1550 rpm). Could not convince them to lower their tyres. Left them too it and they drove into my night camp at about 6:45pm (I arrived at about 4:00).

Track care were working on installing a new toilet at Well 33 (gee they do great work!). Lots of large burnt out areas caused by lightning strikes - not TO burns. Hard to convince people the TO's won't burn so hot. These areas are completely devoid of vegetation.

I travelled solo, so took your book as company - some nights read for 3 hours. Couldn't have picked a more appropriate place to read it - will have to get you to sign it some time - must be worth a fair bit more with a gong attached (seriously congratulations and well deserved).

Flys super friendly, Durba is pretty low on water with quite a few mozzies!

Traffic was starting to get more frequent (quite a few trailers and large slide on campers while I was out there). Came across 3 other EO members Kilcowera crew, Darwin Dave and Mark and Sandy.

Enjoy

Cheers

Anthony


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Reply By: Erad - Thursday, Jun 13, 2019 at 05:55

Thursday, Jun 13, 2019 at 05:55
Years ago, we were in a caravan park at Coober Pedy and my wife noted a half flat tyre on our camper trailer. Jacked it up and put the spare on and tried to find the leak, but in Coober Pedy, there are no unlocked taps to assist. Eventually the gardener (What garden in Coober Pedy???) came along because I had amassed a small crowd by then. He had a spray bottle and he sprayed the whole tyre - Nothing. Check the valve, nothing. Then he sprayed his magic bottle on the rim. A spot weld had let go, and there was a slight leak there. I put a tube in the tyre and also included a note as well that the rim was faulty so the next bloke who fitted a tyre would know.
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Friday, Jun 14, 2019 at 01:09

Friday, Jun 14, 2019 at 01:09
Erad, I have a policy of refusing to utilise wheels now, where the wheel centre is only spot-welded to the rim.

Here's one of the 14" wheels off my car-carrying tandem trailer. I wondered why I had constant air leaks. I found all 4 wheels in similar condition.

They're HT Holden wheels - and I trust all wheel centres are welded today, as compared to the less-than-satisfactory wheel spot welding of 1970.

Note how the cracking starts in the centre of the spot weld and then extends through the width of the rim.

Cheers, Ron.



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Follow Up By: Mick O - Saturday, Jun 15, 2019 at 15:05

Saturday, Jun 15, 2019 at 15:05
I had a very similar incident while pushing through to Dragon Tree Soak. Following video covers the drama - Two cracked rims and welding to repair them.

About 3:15 into the first vid for the cracked rim




More tyre repair madness when Scotty staked three in an hour halting proceedings for the day.


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Reply By: Joe Fury - Thursday, Jun 13, 2019 at 07:29

Thursday, Jun 13, 2019 at 07:29
G'day Mick O

I had a very similar situation to try and resolve on my most resent 'desert trek' with Hugh Brown at Desert Queen Baths, earlier this year.

We had staked a tyre, deep in the the folds of hill country south east of the Kintyre Uranium mine area, this bugger was found and fixed using a plug, pretty standard and I know you and everyone who dares to venture beyond the normal, carries and uses these plug kits and a good air compressor, mostly with great success.

It's a real bummer to wake after a hard won sleep, to find a flat tyre on your vehicle, it's just not a nice way to start any day ~ anywhere.

I had the Cruiser on the jack ~ airing the tyre up as the billy boiled, expecting to find and fix the puncture while I had my morning coffee, I managed a couple of coffee's and a bowl of cereal, but had no joy with finding what caused the 'leak' but found the area where the air escape came from eventually, used up a fair amount of dish washing liquid in the process too.

The wheel came off, we talked about taking the thing down to the Rooney Creek and hurling it into the water, but temperature wise it was already in the forties and the pool was a fair trot away and with far too many rocks/boulders to contend with this idea was shelved.

Hugh thought I lost the plot, when I started scratching a depression into the hard ground using a miners pick, the depression had to be big enough to take a 285 ~ 75R 16 tyre/wheel, I spread a blue polly tarp across the depression and back filled it with water, maybe 20 litres worth.

The air loss came from a tread block on the big Toyo mud tyre, the object in the tyre was not visible so I couldn't tell which direction the hole took, so plugging the leak was not an option at the time, I cut a chunk of floor mat rubber and tried to effect a Phillipino Fix, buy pouring molten rubber into the leaky tread block split, luck has it the floor mat was made of 'fake rubber' so it just caught fire and burnt to black ash, even thought of slicing a genuine Toyo tyre tread (real rubber) block off the side wall punctured tyre from the previous days effort.

Anyway back in Newman now, the tyres were in the hands of Newman Tyres, the fixed side wall plugged Toyo went on the scrap pile, near made Hugh cry as this was a new tyre until it got stabbed. The tread block leaker was stripped off the rim and patched internally, the offending stake, about the size of a Bic Biro now resides in the centre console of the Cruiser with a rail spike and various other treasures Hugh has collected ~ in his tyres on his adventures.

Safe travels : Joe
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Thursday, Jun 13, 2019 at 09:00

Thursday, Jun 13, 2019 at 09:00
.
Sorry Joe, but tyres are not made from "real rubber". They are primarily composed of styrene-butadiene, a synthetic copolymer.
Nothings "real" these days! lol
Cheers
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Follow Up By: Joe Fury - Thursday, Jun 13, 2019 at 13:23

Thursday, Jun 13, 2019 at 13:23
G'day Allan B

Can't disagree with your statement Allan, 'nothings "real" these days'.

I know of rubber inner tubes not being the genuine thing ~ rubber wise but I confess to not knowing about the realness on the actual tyre material, though I've seen a tyre repair done using the Phillipino Fix ~ but it might have been a Russian method, not sure anymore.

I guess we who live in the supposedly First World Countries, are happy to just pay some tyre technician to repair or fit a new tyre and don't or won't bother resolving an issue by actually trying something a little 'left of field'

I don't mind trying a few things before I give up, especially when I know it can be done.

I helped a bloke out at the Marble Bar caravan park, he had pulled the water tank out of his 'off road' caravan, it had split and was loosing water, he was about to mix up a two part epoxy putty for the repair. I chimed in and suggested using a cable tie or two.

Can't be done he says, bloody impossible !!

I fixed the split with one and a half cable ties and a 12 volt soldering iron ~ just plastic welded the thing using the cable ties as filler rods, well I'll be fritzed he said, wouldn't believe it if I hadn't seen it with me own eyes ~ he said.

I said 'Safe travels' ~ got an email from him about four months later, back in Brisbane, all still good with the cable tie weld 'Ya smart ar$e'

Safe travels Allan
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Reply By: Ron N - Thursday, Jun 13, 2019 at 10:57

Thursday, Jun 13, 2019 at 10:57
A kids paddle pool makes for a good tyre leak checker - but of course, you need to have an amount of spare water available to utilise it. Not always possible in the Outback.

All tyre shops have a big water bath to check for leaks, both before and after repairs.

Cheers, Ron.
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Reply By: RMD - Thursday, Jun 13, 2019 at 11:44

Thursday, Jun 13, 2019 at 11:44
Mick
If you suspend the wheel between two bars or even on the hub, you can jack up the wheel and use a clear plastic sheet to encompass the lower half of the wheel up to and past rim level. With some bubble making stuff in the water you will easily see where the airleak is from by observing through the clear plastic sheet.
This won't use much water at all and it can be caught and reused when turning the wheel for further checking.
The sheet can have edge folds and reinforced with eyelets so it can be strung up while you do the observation. Maybe never having to remove the wheel from the vehicle.
The use of an LED torch with it's defining light will also help.
This method worked for me when I had my 4 wheeler for spotlighting rabbits and had to use tyre plugs after driving over hidden fencing wire.

PS. Alloy rims can develop pin holes and as someone else mentioned, the spot welds on steel rims can fatigue and have a fine crack, this will find either pretty quick if air is escaping.
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Reply By: Glenn C5 - Thursday, Jun 13, 2019 at 13:35

Thursday, Jun 13, 2019 at 13:35
You could try sprinkling talcum powder on it . Might be able to locate it that way.
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Reply By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Thursday, Jun 13, 2019 at 21:01

Thursday, Jun 13, 2019 at 21:01
These are the sort of threads that filled the posts here 15 years ago that made this site interesting, about different gear, the pitfalls and how to use it and how to get around problems. Not a lot these days. Michael
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Follow Up By: Mick O - Friday, Jun 14, 2019 at 13:40

Friday, Jun 14, 2019 at 13:40
Maybe we all need to make a bit more of an effort Michael :-)

I think that the way people communicate has changed a bit as well, especially with the rise and popularity of social media sites like Facepage.

I prefer a reduced digital footprint myself so stick with the forum.

Trust you'll be travelling about the wide brown land this season?

Safe travels

Mick
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Follow Up By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Friday, Jun 14, 2019 at 21:44

Friday, Jun 14, 2019 at 21:44
Hi Mick,
I did suggest a year or two ago on this forum to get more practical and technical posts going on the weekends when everyone had a bit more time, but it only lasted that weekend. A lot of it now seems to be questions about road conditions which is fine and it's good to know that current information but the overall scope seems to have narrowed greatly over the years. A few other sites have sub forums for other topics so maybe that would be of benefit on EO also. In regard to travelling, we had a trip to Darwin this time last year and since a mate of mine is having a 60th Birthday in Perth this November, we put off doing anything these cooler months this year. So we will head very slowly to Perth for a couple of months in October. Unfortunately it will be too hot to do the Anne Beadell or similar to break up the asphalt so it's tar all the way i guess! Cheers Michael
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Friday, Jun 14, 2019 at 22:01

Friday, Jun 14, 2019 at 22:01
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Hi Michael,

The forums that use subject chapters lose the "club-like" nature of EO where we all weigh-in on any subject raised and have a jolly good time.

If we adopted division by subject I would possibly never get out of "Batteries" and thus would miss all the diverse fun from matters such as "Troublesome Leaks".

So long as we do not stoop to name-calling!
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Reply By: BobR4 - Friday, Jun 14, 2019 at 21:02

Friday, Jun 14, 2019 at 21:02

This was a good story.
More like suspension trouble than tyre trouble though.
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Reply By: The Explorer - Friday, Jun 14, 2019 at 21:40

Friday, Jun 14, 2019 at 21:40
Would suggest a small spray bottle with water/detergent mix - same as used when checking for leaks on gas fittings….But I would also like to mention that when “outback” (if you call central Tasmania “outback”) that even worse that a slow leaking tyre (given you probably had a spare anyway) is a leaking air mattress with a hole the size of a fleas anus – impossible to hear or see. Sleeping with no mattress is zero fun. Same solution as yours – a quick dunk in the nearest pool – in my case Lake Windermere. Leak found in 1 second.



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Follow Up By: Mick O - Friday, Jun 14, 2019 at 23:18

Friday, Jun 14, 2019 at 23:18
Well it's not often I put a sleeping mattress and a tyre repair together but I have. Lilo patch, gaffer tape, superglue and baby powder. Got us out of a bind and lasted longer than the good lord of tyre repairs ever intended!

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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Friday, Jun 14, 2019 at 23:30

Friday, Jun 14, 2019 at 23:30
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Err Mick, I presume that in addition to "patch, tape and superglue" there was an inner tube?
Or perhaps not?
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Saturday, Jun 15, 2019 at 12:37

Saturday, Jun 15, 2019 at 12:37
Jeez, Mick - you've increased my level of respect for gaffer tape, far above my levels of respect for silastic and polyurethane sealant! [;-)

That's just amazing what that gaffer tape held, when you consider the number of broken plies in that sidewall.

I've got a big portable 240V vulcaniser for those kind of sidewall holes - but I wouldn't even consider vulcanising a sidewall with that number of broken plies!

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Mick O - Saturday, Jun 15, 2019 at 14:37

Saturday, Jun 15, 2019 at 14:37
Yes Al, there was an inner tube.

Ron, when you're a long way from anywhere, you'll do what you need to to keep going. The guys at the tyre place in Alice Springs where we replaced it were quite impressed.

Cheers
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Saturday, Jun 15, 2019 at 15:16

Saturday, Jun 15, 2019 at 15:16
.
Well Mick has inspired me. I have just this minute repaired the inner-tube of my wheelbarrow using gaffer tape and contact cement. I know. I know.... not quite in Mick's league however so far, so good. But we'll see what tomorrow brings, eh?
Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: BobR4 - Saturday, Jun 15, 2019 at 18:22

Saturday, Jun 15, 2019 at 18:22
I've managed to stuff a dozen or so strings into a semicircular cut in the middle of the tread where a sharp stone went through. It was as though a crown seal cap was used to cut a jagged hole right through. I also glued a large diagonal patch over the inside. Made it from Rabbit Flat to Hall's Ck before I put the real spare on. Later got another 10,000 kms out of it.
Interestingly, the original puncture was on a LT, right through the tread and belt, as clean as a whistle. I had no right to expect the (dodgy) repair to go too far at all, but was still quite sound when the tyre was finally worn out. In fact the Bridgestone dealer chided me for stretching the life of the tyre a bit too far.
Then I showed him the repair!
He shut up then.
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Reply By: Robin Miller - Saturday, Jun 15, 2019 at 11:29

Saturday, Jun 15, 2019 at 11:29
Shu-goo is almost universal way to solve many issues like this.

It can be applied with finger across suspect areas and as it goes across leak will tend to bubble and seal at same time as it has high sticking capacity and can be used without drying out tyre sprayed with water.

It can also be used in layers on inside - thru tend to outside to form full double sided patch.

We have even replaced a full ripped off tyre block like this.

Also repaired everything from cracked air boxes to Sandals.

With lilo's and similar they often perish across and area with no obvious leak and so you spread it across whole area (P.S. use clear not black )


Don't leave home without it - and carry 2 tubes as one of your friends is bound to knock off a tube.
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Follow Up By: Blown4by - Wednesday, Jul 03, 2019 at 12:51

Wednesday, Jul 03, 2019 at 12:51
As always another sensible suggestion from the well informed Mr Miller. Mmmm! I'll have to try Shoe Goo when the soles of my Japanese Riding Boots aka Surfer Joe Thongs de-laminate again. If they are good enough to be de rigueur for Jase & Simon, they'll do me. Whilst not for tyres, 2 more products that I wouldn't go remote without are: Q Bond & JB Weld. The latter is available at Jaycar for $14.95 for the 28.4g each Part A & B tubes. JB Weld has a 20 year shelf life, sticks like the proverbial to a blanket & cures in 20-25 minutes. I've used it personally to repair a petrol tank on my old bomb work commute vehicle that was leaking around the sweated joint where the filler neck enters the tank. Whilst not being able to see the crack I could just fit my hand in the area to apply the JB Weld & it saved me having to R&R the tank & either have it de-gassed or fill it with water prior to re-soldering the joint (not being very brave when it comes to heat & a possible spark around petrol tanks) 5 years later & still no leaks. Also used it to repair an adjustable nozzle shower head which was leaking between to two moveable parts. No more leaks (no more adjustment either so its always on the correct setting when I use it:-)
Q Bond is $40.00 approx. for the kit containing super glue & grey powder for use on grey & white plastic & black powder to use on black plastic. You know those types of automotive plastics that the OEM's design with a finite life so in our climate they turn to powder after 10 years to keep the spare parts industry solvent. It adheres to other materials too, but is the only product I have found that will successfully bond to washer reservoirs, headlamp assemblies, fan shrouds, screw holes in dashboards & consoles, pump housings, etc. & like super glue it sets in a matter of seconds & can be sanded smooth. To reduce costs if traveling in a group only 1 vehicle would need to carry them.
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Reply By: Member - John (Vic) - Wednesday, Jul 03, 2019 at 23:05

Wednesday, Jul 03, 2019 at 23:05
You have buggered more tyres than anyone else I know!

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Reply By: Member Kerry W (WA) - Friday, Jul 12, 2019 at 23:07

Friday, Jul 12, 2019 at 23:07
Had a painful leak in one tyre a few years ago - one of 2 punctures I got snigging logs near the Holland track. We thought we got both but one returned or was 2 punctures in the same tyre. It was very slow and intermittent. Took almost a year to isolate the problem. To make matters worse due to my work schedule the vehicle may sit for a month or more at a time but often a week at a time usually with no drop in air pressure. But sometimes it would leak. Took the tyre in to have fixed several more times thinking I had marked the right spot on the tyre but repairers could not find the slightest leak with the tyre off or on the vehicle. I realised it must be something located so that it only leaked when the the tyre was stopped in a certain position on it. So next time it tyre went down I pumped it up - and sprayed detergent all over the lower portion of the tyre and rim - nothing!! By now I was so over it I grabbed a shovel and made a 15cm bund/ dam around the tyre (no point removing the tyre) and filled it water......and there it was!!! A tiny stream of bubbles floating up about 8-10cm up on the sidewall - out of interest I moved the vehicle back an inch or two and checked the leak - Nothing!!! .... but now having marked the source of the bubbles the tyre place could find the problem. They extracted a 6 cm splinter of iron hard wood out of the tyre - it would only let air past when it had pressure on it in a specific position. - problem solved.
Kerry W (Qld)
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