Tyres.....Catch 22

Submitted: Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 10:19
ThreadID: 54498 Views:11321 Replies:11 FollowUps:10
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In the beginning of Four Wheels Driving for me, …it was 1977,…I had a whiz-bang Suzuki two-stroke, shod with Bridgestone bar tread tyres. Never had a puncture with them. But they were ugly and did not do well in the mud in the northern tropics. The pressure was on in the club to upgrade to nice wide, fat, tubeless tyres. Yeah!!!

My first set of fatties, were Armstrong Rhinos. They stuck out about 50mm beyond the mudguard and so I had to fit flares. But in those days flares were few and far between. So I made up a set from heavy-duty rubber. There was much mirth in the club for my invention, as the flares looked a tad gawkish. Thereafter I progressed to Dick Cepek Mudders, and later settled with BFG Mud Terrains on a variety of vehicles. Never had a puncture with these tyres on the little cars, even when driving in extreme off track conditions.

Later in life, the size of my personal girth changed and as we had other variables come along in our lives, I upgraded to larger 4bies. I ran cross-ply tyres on some Nissans and Landrovers, and then also on my old FJ55. Went on the wallaby in 1995 and the cross-plies on the LC and the radials on the caravan did not mix well and I decided to switch to radials on splits and Telecom Tyres (Dunlop Road Grippers) were fitted. I lost count how many punctures I got with those tyres and this was mainly on the bitumen. But I persisted with them as one could pick up seconds anywhere in the country. Later I bought a set of Bridgestone Desert Duellers 7.50x16 and they fared much better with punctures. It basically boiled down to the fact that inner tubes were losing their quality control and could not withstand the heat that the tyres generated when running on the bitumen.

In 2004 I bought my current Nissan and replaced the Kelly’s on it with the first set of Cooper STT’s. These tyres fared reasonably well, suffering only a few stakes but they developed cracks around the beads and Coopers offered me a set of new STT’s at cost price. Shortly after that I bought a set of Eldorado ZTR Sport for my trailer. These tyres are also manufactured in the Cooper factory. Their side walls are seemingly even thinner that those of the Coopers and I have suffered too many punctures with them.

In 2005 and 2006 I did some extensive touring along remote tracks and quite bit of off track driving in the Simpson, Victoria, Gibson and Great Sandy Deserts. Punctures galore!!!!!!

The problem as I see it, is that to drive off-track over sandy terrain necessitates the need to lower tyre pressure substantially. Now if you were driving over pure sand this normally would not be a problem. But in Australia we have Green Deserts. That is, deserts covered by a variety of shrubs and trees. Over the years there have been fires through these deserts burning down a variety of foliage and especially Mulga trees and shrubs. This in turn creates a hazard that we know of as Turpentine (description unknown) whereby sharp root stakes lurk just below the surface of the sand and are deadly on most tyre makes.

Once a tubeless tyre has been staked, it can usually be repaired, by one or two, or more, tyre plugs. The trouble is that with the raising and lowering of tyre pressures there is more flex given to the tyre side wall and invariably the original puncture hole will widen, letting air out. It could even tear beyond repair out in the bush. I have had ‘gaters’ (inner sidewall tyre patches) glued to my damaged tyres by Tyre Repairers, but due to the nature of the flexing sidewall and tread wall, the patches come loose. Then the only option is to fit a tube to a tubeless tyre.

Frustrated by all this tyre damage and endless punctures I sourced 10 Nissan split rims (after a lot of searching) and bought a set of MRF(Indian) Super Traction 12 ply rating cross-ply tyres. I also recently bought 2 x Triangle(Chinese) 14 ply rating tyres for the trailer to replace the ‘seconds’ MRF M77’s which I had found at the Warraweena Station dump. I removed the Nissans flares(which were being torn off anyway when doing cross country driving).Image Could Not Be Found

The MRF’s, which come with MRF tubes, and at $180ea, have given me 25,000km trouble free motoring so far.
The downside however is that:
a) They are very noisy on the bitumen
b) They tend to dig in on sandy surfaces
c) Digging in results in a higher fuel consumption
d) They throw large pebbles up driving on gravel roads
e) They distort when aired down to 10psi.
f) The tread probably will not last to 35,000/40,000km.

I have lowered the psi to 10 on the MRF’s and although they do distort, I have not run one off the rim.

Next time around I will go with the MRF Super Miler with a highway pattern tread, as they are good for desert journeys. They are used extensively by Beadell Tours, who do a lot of cross-country treks.

So there you have it. The pros and the cons of wide vs skinny

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Reply By: troopyman - Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 10:45

Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 10:45
Well , my first fourby was in 1981 . It was a suzuki LJ80V with the 798cc 4 stroke . I put bar tread tyres on and in the wet on bitumen was lunacy . I was too scared to turn a corner on bitumen in the rain over 40 klm/hr . My current troopy has had Dueler A/T D693s on for the last 5 years (50,000 klms in 5 years) . Probably still get another 3 years out of them LOL .
AnswerID: 287034

Reply By: Member - Davoe (Yalgoo) - Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 10:51

Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 10:51
well as you know i to had the same tyres as you except they were almost bald when i got them and gave me many trips of trouble free goldfeilds trips. finally i got a flat up at mt elvire. i didnt repair it as they were well and truly worn. Instead opted for tubeless MTR.
they have not dane anything like the trips i did with the MRF but have still suffered numerous sidewall and crown punctures. some i have had repaired by a retread place others were write offs and others i have continued running the plugs.
After (estimated) 25,000k they are over 1/2 worn.
I am unsure when it comes time to rplace them weather I will bother or just get the splits back out again and run the MRF
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Reply By: Nav 8 - Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 10:59

Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 10:59
Good information there Willem. I have been watching your threads very closely over a number of years as you are obviously a man of experience when it comes to offroading. I think I would be around your age and I bought my first 4x4 a G 60 Nissan soft top in 1974. Since then I have owned a number of 4x4 vehicles and spent around 15 years working as a mechanic on 4x4 vehiclesof most makes. Although my travels have not been as extensive as yours I am trying to make up for it in retirement and see as much of this great country of ours while I am still young enough. Keep the information coming as it is appreciated by myself and I am sure all followers of this Forum. Regards Nav.
AnswerID: 287037

Follow Up By: Willem - Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 17:48

Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 17:48
Yeah Nav 8, while we are still young enough...lo

Yesterday I was up and down a ladder numerous times building a wall partition. Today I felt like an old man might feel....buggered

I am giving this 4x4 caper another 10 years. By then we might have run out of fuel or my GQ will have grossed a million k's. The I will be able to sit on the verandah reflecting on the days gone by. Still our Uncle is 80 and still taking his Pajero and camper on camping jaunts

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Reply By: Member - Tim - Stratford (VIC) - Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 11:11

Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 11:11

Good write-up - interesting to see the Road Grippers haven't changed. A mate used to get these as cheaper take-offs (brand new tyres taken off customer's new trucks at delivery to fit 'better' tyres) and he was continually getting flats - hardly any off road driving would see 4 to 5 punctures per year.

A local DSE crew was assisting me at work one evening clearing tracks north of Briagolong when they got a flat - Road Grippers again. I joked about the quality and puncture resistance - and was told it was their sixth puncture in the fortnight. Good thing was it only took him aboyut three minutes from go to woe to change it - lots of practice.

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Reply By: Member - Mark E (VIC) - Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 12:06

Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 12:06
Whilst I'm (a.....bit?) younger than all you lot (!?!?!?), my first real 4by had the old Goodyear Hi-Milers Custom Extra Grip. I didn't do much desert work then, but spent almost every weekend in the high country driving the tracks and camping. This was in the early 80's when few people went up there. I NEVER had a puncture in the bush, only in the city by picking up a nail or two. Again, they were fantastic tyres, with great grip on rock and mud, just OK on the road when new and VERY noisy when worn. They did last for about 60k km on the old Tojo shorty, though. They were a bit slippery on wet roads, but the old diesel shorty never really went that fast (sheesh, I complain about how slow the 1HZzzzz is??).

I'm now one of those who use the old telstra tyres (Road Grippers) and whilst they don't last all that long, I get them very cheaply from tyre dealers who can't get rid of them, after people buying fancy wheel/tyre packages. For me, they have been a reasonable tyre. 15k km through the Kimberley, across the Simpson, GCR, GBH etc and not a single puncture. I run to the 4psi rule, though with these tyres which has led me to use MUCH higher pressures than would normally be acceptable by the 'masses', particularly on the bitumen. The ones I have at the moment have done 45k and look like they will last another 20k or so...which I'm happy with. Tim, get the Parks blokes to pump them up a little harder and then see how they go? It's different in muddy or slippery conditions where the pressures may need to be a little lower, but for most conditions in the HC, I keep them quite hard.

I don't do the extreme off-track stuff that Willem does, but if I did, I would go back to rag tyres in a flash, but with slightly less agressive tread than his MRF's, as he suggests above.

I have never had any desire for wide tyres as I haven't been convinced as to any advantage, other than looks. Skinny's are available more widely, particulary in remote areas and are generally cheaper. As for the 'unsprung weight' and danger involved with tyre repairs with split rims etc, I have done many and never had an issue, but I take precautions. I know them, they work, and for what I do, they suit me fine. I just don't look so cool when driving down Chapel Street past the shiny black Hilux's with the 25" rims shod with glorified rubber bands.

Hope this adds something to the thread.


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Reply By: Member -Signman - Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 12:33

Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 12:33
Yup- fully agree !!
Been a 'narrow' tyre advocate since 1969-
Series 2 (or was it 2A??) LWB FFR Landrover...

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Reply By: splits - Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 13:10

Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 13:10

Have you had any experience with the MRF Steel Muscle tyres that Beadells are very impressed with? I am considering trying these on my Hilux. My problem is I have to drive over a 1000 ks before I find any desert tracks so the highway pattern would be the most suitable and the all steel (steel in the sidewall) radial construction would be much better on the bitumen than cross plies and much more puncture resistant than steel belted radials.

I have noticed when you get out on many of those rough country roads and some of the flatter and less sandy outback tracks, there are plenty of motorhomes and local trucks running around with their stock all steel highway pattern light truck tyres and many of them use the common 7.50 x 16 size.

I think I would have to use a 7.00 on mine because a 7.50 might be getting a bit heavy and too big in diameter for the little Lux.

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Follow Up By: Willem - Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 13:35

Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 13:35
G'day Brian

I haven't looked at Beadells website for a while and now see that thety have added the MRF Steel Muscle range. I have spoken with Mick Hutton via email. Tnhey use the Super Miler cross plies for off-track driving and Steel Muscles for off road tours. The steel belted tyres should give better sidewall flex and will be a lot quieter on the bitumen.

Yep 7.00 will be better for your Lux.

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Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (Yalgoo) - Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 13:42

Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 13:42
just be aware that just coz some tyres have a steel belt sidewall that doesnt mean they are that strong
bridgestone v steel are an 8 ply and 1 only ply steel sidewall belt. better than a normal radial but not as strong as a crossply
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Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (Yalgoo) - Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 13:46

Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 13:46
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Follow Up By: splits - Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 14:23

Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 14:23
Thanks Willem

That explains it a lot better than the way Beadells did on their site.


I know how strong the cross plies are but they would drive me nuts if I fitted them on the east coast then drove to the centre. In any case I don't intend driving off track so the all steels should be fine. They should take me anywhere except steep muddy hills and I am damm sure I am not going out there with mud tyres just in case I find one of those.

Thanks for the info about the sidewalls.

I am not sure how many companies make these type of tyres. There may be plenty of them but there is little said on their web sites.

Goodyear list a G101 but their site does not give any technical details. It is probably the same as the Bridgestone.

I will definitely be having a look at the MRF. I would imagine if there was something better then Mick would be using it.

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Follow Up By: Nick R (VIC) - Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 19:54

Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 19:54
hey davoe,
we just started fitting those to an agricultural impliment, punctures have stopped for now, they would be better on a 6 inch rim instead of the 10 they are on now!!!
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Reply By: Member - DAZA (QLD) - Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 17:22

Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 17:22
Hi Willem and All

I agree with the above, I thank you for sharing your informative
travel experiences, I only hope my Cook and I can do half the
expeditions you have done, getting back to tyres, how many
spares would you take on an extended trip.?


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Follow Up By: Willem - Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 17:34

Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 17:34

I carry one spare for the GQ and one spare for the trailer. Truck and trailer wheels are the same size. Then I carry some puncture repair kit and 6 spare tubes.

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Reply By: Gramps (NSW) - Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 21:50

Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 21:50

LOL still running original Road Grippers after 89,000klm. Nothing like your offroad exploits but have still done a lot of gravel roads and rough station tracks with a bit of offroad. No, repeat NO, punctures stakings etc etc etc

I know I'll pay for that now :)))))

AnswerID: 287150

Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 22:58

Tuesday, Feb 12, 2008 at 22:58
hehehehe gotta love this tyre stuff :-)

My history:
1970's offroading in the Corolla - ran Uniroyal steelcats, and Klebers - many punctures and a cracked rim - scissor jack as a beadbreaker, handpump to reinflate - we repaired them as tubeless, just with patches but occasionally put a tube in. Trips through WA, SA desert tracks, Queensland.

1980: 2A LandRover - ran crossplies including Dunlop RTM (the precursor to Telstra tyres) - all had nice thick tubes - light vehicle, no punctures; Trips around Central Aus, Queensland, Fraser etc

Late 1980's: FJ55 plus Treg trailer - Goodyear Hi-milers on splits - heaps of punctures - most from stones being retained in tread and eroding through to tube. Changed to Michelin radials and no problems - the old truck steered a lot better too. Trips through outback SA, Simpson desert, Central Aus.

1990+: HJ47 Troopie plus trailer - Used the Bridgestone 757 Allsteel radials on splits (see Davoe's photo). All flat tyres were due to tube fatigue on brand new Korean tubes. Destroyed one tyre and nearly rolled the Troopie twice from 100kph blowouts on bitumen. Trips through Kimberley, most of SA and WA.

Mid-late 1990's HJ61 Sahara - fatties with Desert Duellers - fewer offroad trips, so had a great run, but then destroyed 3 of them on Birdsville track and cross country through Tirari desert.

2000-2005 Prados with BFG ATKO, BFG M/T and Goodyear MTR - One puncture - slashed sidewall on slate in VHC. Trips included 3 Simpson desert crossings Including cross country Madigan Line, 3 Anne Beadell Hwy trips, 4 Vic High Country, 10 Flinders trips etc etc

2005-2008: 79series TD with tubeless MTR and Goodyear Silent Armour. Umpteen desert trips - Maralinga, Madigan Line again, Hay River, almost all the Beadell roads, Rudall River, Canning, Pilbara, Vic High Country etc etc Only one puncture - sidewall stake off track on the Madigan line. I killed the MTRs after 42,000k by delaminating them - Goodyear replaced them prorata. The Silent Armour have done 35,000k on bush trips only, and have over 8mm tread left and no chipping.

So my experience is a bit different to Willem's - I've never owned Cooper Tires :-)) And Davoe is the only person I know who's punctured a bunch of MTRs, but Davoe did let on that he'd had over 50 punctures the year before.

I go away with lots of other vehicles - club trips, friends trips, charity trips etc etc and I'm happy for anyone to bring any brand of tyres. From what I see, the people who leave their pressures up high, get more punctures, but don't delaminate their tyres. We plug tubeless - with good technique, glue and quality plugs, 80-90% have a good result. With splits, not many punctures but plenty of tube failures in splits on the older vehicles.

Thats my experience, and we live in a colourful world!!!!!!!
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Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (Yalgoo) - Wednesday, Feb 13, 2008 at 00:14

Wednesday, Feb 13, 2008 at 00:14
I guess my biggest beef with radials is apart from a tech screw through the tread of a Toyo the rest of my punctures have been crown or sidewall. Which dodgy places will fix but most wont. that is an isnstant $250+ down the drain with a radial but a simple 20 minute tube repair with a crossply (but probably you wouldnt have got it anyway)
I have been in perth for 18 months and only done one proper trip but with my last puncture (on very well formed track) looked very innocous but when the tyre was pulled off the inside was a mess with spkits all through it - at least 3 majour repairs by a truck retread company about $120-150 so the tyre was written off.
The multiple punctures was in hard core off track burnt country using 12 ply rags. going by what i have seen it would be about 10 seconds before you would be sitting on 4 rims with a few shreds of rubber left with the MTR in those situations
and no tyre was wrecked
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Follow Up By: Willem - Wednesday, Feb 13, 2008 at 06:49

Wednesday, Feb 13, 2008 at 06:49

BY 1970 I had already used up 19 cars. My most memorable bush cars were the rear engined Simca 1000 and Renault 10.

As far as I can recall there were mainly Dunlop, Goodyear, Olympic and Firestone tyres around in those days.

I do not recall many punctures biut there wasn't much offtrack driving in those days and the Southern African gravel roads were very good

Image Could Not Be Found

Image Could Not Be Found

Them were the days....LOL

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Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Wednesday, Feb 13, 2008 at 13:33

Wednesday, Feb 13, 2008 at 13:33
Gday Willem,
In 1970, I shaved my moe for the first time :-))
Interesting thing about the VW and Renault 10 was that they had very skinny tyres. But they were 15 inch diameter, so they had the clearance and the really long footprint, and with the engine weight over the rear driving wheels, were a lot better in sand than you'd think.

Clearance was always my problem with the Corolla, but it was skinny enough that you could always put one wheel up on the centre of the track. But the underneath was well protected, and I welded up a sump guard that was worth its weight in gold.

Gday davoe,
yep, I reckon you're a lost cause ........... its MRF's for you :-)))
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Reply By: Russ n Sue - Wednesday, Feb 13, 2008 at 14:24

Wednesday, Feb 13, 2008 at 14:24
G'day Willem,

For my money, all tyres are a pain in the rear end. We all know that you can't get a single tyre that will do all of the things that we require of it.

I have tried quite a few and in the end have come to the conclusion that it is just as well that I have become very good at repairing tyres. I think that this is a key argument. If you are careful and stop regularly to monitor what is happening with your tyres, the chances of blowing one and ruining it are greatly reduced.

You're still going to get the sharp rock or stick punctures but these tyres can be repaired and get you out of trouble. Those people that get on the forum and state that they've never had a puncture or get 150,000 Km out of their tyres simply haven't been to places where they are likely to get a flat.

It is true that you get what you pay for in most cases and the more expensive tyres appear to resist total failure moreso than cheaper ones, but there is always the exception to the rule.

I just look at tyre replacement as a cost of travelling that is to be endured, but I don't get bitter and twisted over it any more.


AnswerID: 287262

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