Tony Dye

Tony Dye

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Tires, Tubes, Patches, Plugs

Stray thoughts, and how we got from there to here. Back in the day …

For the first 50, or 60, or more, years of automobile tires, tires had inner tubes. The tire had the shape, but the inner tube held the air.

If you got a nail in a tire, you generally went to a service station, they took the tire off the wheel, put a patch on the inner tube, put it all back together, and you were good to go. It just took time. Interestingly, you really didn’t have to “patch” the hole in the tire. Just the inner tube.

Fast forward a bit. Tubeless tires came along. In the early days, when you caught a nail, you still took the tire off, put a patch on the inside of the tire, probably rebalanced, and you were good to go. A little faster than the earlier repair, but not much, and one less component involved.

Then some smart guys came up with the idea of “plugging” a hole. This could be done from the outside, without even having to take the wheel off the car! For quite a while, “professional tire people” didn’t like plugs. They were bad, unsafe, “they’ll never catch on,” etc.

Fast forward again. Now, patches are rare. But they do still exist … I just did an Amazon search and they’re widely available. Almost all current day tire repairs use plugs.

But sometimes, you get a nail in the side of a tire. Per those same professionals, you can’t plug a tire in the side. You have to get a new tire.

Just a wild thought. If you have a nail-hole in the side of the tire, what not go back old-school and put an inner tube in it? Why pitch an otherwise good tire?

I’m sure there’s a good reason why this is a crazy idea.

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