HOW TO: FIX A FLAT
When in the field operating power equipment, there are a number of potential problems. Reducing downtime for the equipment is important in maintaining your profit margin, or for accomplishing the tasks on your long list. Equipment with wheels has its own set of problems. Use these tips to keep the equipment rolling.
No discussion of fixing flats in the field can progress without some reminders on preventing flats in the first place. Don't take equipment out without including a check of the tires and the inflation pressure. This involves more than a look at all four tires to see if they have air. Know the proper inflation pressure, then get out the tire gauge. This check needs to be performed while the tires are cold or haven't been driven within the past 3 hours. Inspect the tires for cracks, thorns, rocks or nails and repair before taking off.
Stock your vehicle with any equipment and supplies you might need while out on the job. This list includes tire gauge, auger (for cleaning out the puncture and inserting plug), plenty of volcanized rubber plugs and accompanying cement, paper towels (for drying area) and a source for air. The air can be supplied from CO2 canisters (you will need three to five) or from a mini air compressor, which operates off a 12-volt battery source, similar to a car cell phone charger. Having a spare tire with you would be ideal, but may be difficult, especially if your crew is operating several different types of mowers.
Investigate the use of preventive tire sealants. The Missouri Department of Transportation performed a study comparing two mowers used for roadside maintenance, complete with Flat Free Tire Sealant, to their other roadside mowers. During the course of one mowing season, they experienced two flats on one of the mowers and zero on the other. The typical record for their mowers is 10 or more flats per season. Of the two flats with the preventive sealant, one flat was caused by running up against the end of a culvert pipe and the other was a slow leak that had no further problems after airing up. Talk with other professionals to hear of their experiences.
To repair a flat, move to a safe place to work. Determine where the puncture is and mark it with something so you won't have to spend time looking for it again. If you can't locate the puncture, pour some water over the tire and watch for air bubbles to tell you where the leak is.
Using the auger, clean out the puncture and rough up the inside of the hole. Cut off a liberal length of plug or use a round plug. Coat the entire plug and the hole with the included cement. Using the auger, insert the plug into the opening until the hole is completely filled. Hold the auger and plug in place for 1 to 2 minutes to allow the plug to bond. Remove the auger and wait another 10 to 15 minutes for the bonding to be complete before adding air.
Inflate the tire to its required pressure. Once it is inflated, trim off any excess plug even with the tread. You should be ready to go.
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