Tyre punctures in the Kimberley

Submitted: Monday, Jun 16, 2003 at 21:20
ThreadID: 5487 Views:1980 Replies:11 FollowUps:6
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After the experiences of people that have travelled the Gibb river road (including the Mitchell Plateau) and have come out with blown tyres. I'm getting very different feedback from everybody eg some do the whole trip without a puncture and some don't.
I know that driving habit has an influence on the way tyres perform.
Surely new quality tyres have a better survival rate than say 50% worn ones. One guy told me today that he chose a flight over the plateau after seeing more vehicles that were damaged in one way or another returning. He's 60 so maybe he is trying to save as much retirement money as possible.
Please roll in your statistics. Maybe I can figure out something from everybody's "statistical returns".
Gibb River in July.
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Reply By: Brett - Monday, Jun 16, 2003 at 21:41

Monday, Jun 16, 2003 at 21:41
Mate, we did the GRR in our old 75 series troopy heavily laden and towing a camper trailer with a 12 ft tinny on top. Tyres are Desert Duelers 31.5 10R15's running 25 psi. The road was not the best as we crossed early April last year and the grader had only just completed the section of road near El Questro and a bit near Burnett Roadhouse. As often as possible I tried to "Drive over" the corrugations. Where lots of sharp rocks were present I dropped the speed considerably. In fact the 2 km (approx) rocky section of the GRR between the Pentecost and Durack I handled in Low range 1 st gear and crawled. The suspension on the troopy is original and a bit spongy having done 300,000km. The front springs and rear springs are almost flat. I think this actually gives a softer or less harsh ride than heavy duty stuff and you don't get the guts of the car shaken to pieces and the GPS is readable at almost any speed.

We did 55,000km on the trip and ended up with 1 flat tyre on the last day of the journey.

Adjust tyre pressures to suit the conditions and take corners smoothly.
AnswerID: 22713

Reply By: Phil G - Monday, Jun 16, 2003 at 22:28

Monday, Jun 16, 2003 at 22:28

Some common factors with punctures are:
Too much weight,
Too much speed,
Too much pressure in the tyres,
Flimsy tyres

I led a trip last year across the Simpson and had zero punctures in a convoy of 12 vehicles, because we observed all of the above. Another rip was 8 vehicles over he Anne Beadell with only one puncture.

Take it easy, and you'll be fine. Lowering the pressures (I run about 25psi on dirt) also irons out the corrugations and reduces chances of suspension problems.

AnswerID: 22724

Reply By: Member - John- Monday, Jun 16, 2003 at 22:54

Monday, Jun 16, 2003 at 22:54

Speed combined with heavy loads on roads with a lot of loose sharp rocks. The tyre guy here in Derby will tell you that long tread life is irrelevant here as few tyres actually "wear out", rather they are destroyed.

I have done 30000km in the Kimberley region in the past year and had 4 tyre events. Two were repairable punctures and two were destroyed tyres in 10 minutes on freshly graded road. My colleague kept the speed at 100kph (unwisely).

I was running Bridgestone Dueller AT's at middle of the range pressures.

In general, keeping the speed down in such conditions will save the tyres. Taller, narrow 85 section tyres last better than fat tyres which tend to have sidewalls very exposed.

AnswerID: 22731

Follow Up By: Phil G - Tuesday, Jun 17, 2003 at 21:17

Tuesday, Jun 17, 2003 at 21:17

If I can just add to your comments. The 85 section (typically 235/85R16) tyres are LT construction and usually have a high load index of about 120 which is a 10 ply rating in the old scale. Much tougher tyre with a narrower footprint.

The fat tyres (typically 10R15, or 31x10.5R15) are mostly P (passenger) construction and have a much lower load index (usually 109) (6 ply rating) and a fatter footprint. Relatively speaking they are a bit flimsy.
FollowupID: 15057

Follow Up By: Member - John- Wednesday, Jun 18, 2003 at 11:47

Wednesday, Jun 18, 2003 at 11:47
You are especially right for "P" rated tyres ... should never leave the blacktop with those on a well loaded fourbie. I was referring to the LT rated AT tyres of those sizes being more vulnerable than the taller skinny "85" section LT tyres because of the way their side walls bellow out close to the road contact.

The comments about pressures are interesting. I keep mine a bit higher than some of the folks here have suggested. I have found the mfrs recommendation for min pressure is about right. These pressures are usually too low for the blacktop but seem fine for gravel roads.

FollowupID: 15090

Reply By: kevin - Monday, Jun 16, 2003 at 23:10

Monday, Jun 16, 2003 at 23:10
We did the Kimberley at this time last year from Adelaide (an overall trip of 12,500 km) without any tyre problems in an 80 series cruiser, weighing about 3.2 tonnes all up. Other than good luck, which probably makes a fair bit of difference, we started with new BFG AT's, and ran them at about 28 - 30 PSI. Too much pressure in the tyres is a problem on gravel roads (just ask any bush mechanic... especially the bloke in the Pink Roadhouse at Oodnadatta), and speed is also a problem, especially if you do have a puncture as you simply cant stop in time before you do too much damage to the tyre. Most times we have destroyed a tyre in the past is when they are down to their last 30,000 km, unless you decide to do the "Old Ghan" railwayline, and pick up a railway spike... that's just bad luck.

By the way the roughest stretch that we found was on the Kalumbaru Rd, and the trick was not to go too slow. Travelling at about 30 km/hr would shake the old truck to pieces, but at 60 km/hr it was tolerable.... guess you have to experiment to get the speed right in the conditions.

Hope you have a good trip... wish we were going back too!

AnswerID: 22734

Reply By: Member - Bob - Tuesday, Jun 17, 2003 at 09:16

Tuesday, Jun 17, 2003 at 09:16
I reckon overloading and speed are the main controllable factors. Followed by pressure.
AnswerID: 22752

Reply By: Allyn (Pilbara) - Tuesday, Jun 17, 2003 at 09:26

Tuesday, Jun 17, 2003 at 09:26
Too much pressure, too fast & freshly graded roads are what you need to be aware of as previously stated.
H/T tyres are a waste of time but I did see an old EH station wagon doing the trip last year with the barest of necessities. Wished him luck but told him I wouldn't be helping him if he was stuck.
Have done this road twice with only the one puncture (absolutely shredded an el-cheapo tyre about 5Km's into GRR, turned straight around and bought a full set of BFG A/T's at Kununurra).
Will give you a full update when you hit Hedland but with Cooper ST's you shouldn't experience any problems outside of bad luck
AnswerID: 22753

Reply By: crowe - Tuesday, Jun 17, 2003 at 11:31

Tuesday, Jun 17, 2003 at 11:31

after living in kununurra for 2 years and spending most weeknds out and about, the biggest problem i had with the gibb was the following weeks after graders go through. The road is rough in places by generally kind to tires but not after grading.

For example i did two tyres in 30 minutes and these tires had probably spent over 1500kms on this rd already, all because the grader had been through 4 days earlier. The other big factor as mentioned above is pressure, i never ran over 30psi when driving on roads like this.

Unfortunately you can't do much about the grader, otherwise it's all much of a muchness, IMHO best to drive into the mitchell plateau, boring as bat bleep from the air

AnswerID: 22774

Reply By: Barry - Tuesday, Jun 17, 2003 at 12:44

Tuesday, Jun 17, 2003 at 12:44
Do graders actually make conditions worse? Or do they just allow some drivers to go faster and this is what causes the tyre problems?

AnswerID: 22782

Follow Up By: Phil G - Tuesday, Jun 17, 2003 at 21:11

Tuesday, Jun 17, 2003 at 21:11
Both. Graders turn up rocks and break them exposing sharp edges.
FollowupID: 15056

Reply By: rads - Tuesday, Jun 17, 2003 at 16:32

Tuesday, Jun 17, 2003 at 16:32
G'day Chris
Done the GRR twice. Once in forerunner skinny tires with 1 puncture. Second time 80 series 33inch muddies 1 puncture(almost new). Mate in a Hilux went at same time and shredded 3 tires(factory 31x10.5x15). As mentioned above, freshly graded roads were the worst. Wrong speed/pressure seems the killer.
AnswerID: 22790

Reply By: Member - Alan - Tuesday, Jun 17, 2003 at 16:50

Tuesday, Jun 17, 2003 at 16:50
My dollars worth-
We did the trip in April/May of this year and had no tyre problems.
I have a 92 Daihatsu Rocky fitted with Simex Road Trekkers 31/10.5 R15 that had done approx 15K before the trip. I towed an offroad camper and ran pressures of 32 front , 36 rear and 30 in the trailer.
On our return home I had the 4 wheels rebalanced and a front wheel alignment - was amazed at the difference it made , should have had it done before we drove home on the black stuff.
At one petrol stop on the GRR got talking to a grader driver and he said don't let your tyres down ,keep them hard - stones can puncture a soft tyre ????? After my experience I would have to agree with him.
My mate , also in a Rocky , got a metal stake through a tyre and destroyed it before he could stop - thats bad luck and could happen to anyone.

Have a good trip.
AnswerID: 22792

Follow Up By: Phil G - Tuesday, Jun 17, 2003 at 21:10

Tuesday, Jun 17, 2003 at 21:10
Don't agree with the grader driver, but we all have differing opinions when it comes to tyre pressures. Just an analogy: Whats easier to puncture, a half inflated balloon, or a full inflated tight balloon?
FollowupID: 15055

Follow Up By: Phil G - Tuesday, Jun 17, 2003 at 21:21

Tuesday, Jun 17, 2003 at 21:21

Just another thing in your favour, your Diahatsu is a much lighter vehicle than most Landcruisers/Nissans running on those 31/10.5R15 tyres. Wouldn't matter what pressures you run at.

FollowupID: 15059

Reply By: big john - Monday, Jun 30, 2003 at 22:24

Monday, Jun 30, 2003 at 22:24
I'm heading up to the Gibb river road and kalumburu as well as mitchell plateau in july. ive got a gu patrol towing a cavalier camper trailer , ive got bridgestone all terrains on the patrol and i'm unsure how good they are(original tyres)

has anyone done this trip on same tyres

have had advice that high tyre pressure is the go which is different to what most writers are saying

see you all in the kimberleys

big john
AnswerID: 23904

Follow Up By: Chris (W.A.) - Tuesday, Jul 01, 2003 at 20:29

Tuesday, Jul 01, 2003 at 20:29
Hi Big John,
After speaking with a mate (mechanic) we've opted to keep the pressures up ie with my laden cruiser somewhere between 35 - 39psi. I'll have a lot of weight and want to keep the bulge out ot the sidewalls. We'll stick to a speed which best suits the conditions up there. Take a bit of hit & miss but shouldn't take too long.

John your not based in Hedland by any chance r u? or used to be?Gibb River in July.
FollowupID: 16109

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