Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Cross It Off The List

Several years ago I got a wheelbarrow through Freecycle. The metal tub had lost most of it's finish and the outside had some permanent residue around the rim, but it didn't cost me anything but the time and gas it took to pick it up. It's served me well for projects around the yard.

Last fall I was hauling some mulch in the wheelbarrow when the wheel suddenly went flat. After taking a good look at it, I determined the tire had come off the rim. A bit of Internet research indicated it should be an easy fix--tie a rope around the center of the tire, cinch it up until the tire bead presses up against the rim, inflate the tire with a compressor so the bead seals on the rim, then remove the rope and finish filling the tire.

Somehow, though, this was one of those projects I just never seemed to get around to. The weather turned cold, and I figured it would be hard to manipulate things with gloves on. We never really had spring weather this year...cold and rainy turned to hot and muggy overnight, and then I didn't want to be outside. In the meantime, the wheelbarrow served as a nice staging area for the large bag of birdseed when I filled up a smaller container, and when I painted earlier in the year it kept all the cans of paint and accessories in one place.

However, now that the weather's getting conducive to doing outside activities fixing the wheelbarrow showed up on my list of things to do again. Today I decided to tackle it. I followed the directions on the wikiHow article How to Fix a Wheelbarrow Tire (tubeless). After breakfast I carried the wheelbarrow upstairs, and turned it upside down on the kitchen floor so I could get to the tire. The first rope I tried was too wimpy, but a second one, tied around the center of the tire tread, looked like it would work just fine. After I knotted the rope, I tied a wooden salad spoon on top of it, then twisted the spoon to increase the rope's pressure on the tire(like a tourniquet). It looked like the tire was doing what it was supposed to, compressing in the middle and expanding around the edge.

Of course, there was no way of knowing if this was really going to work until I tried it at the air pump. I carried the wheelbarrow out to the car (actually a Honda CR-V, with enough room in the back for big things when the rear seats are put down) and slid it in so the wheel was facing outwards. I got the bottle of dish detergent and put it in, too, because my directions indicated the soap would help the bonding process and I figured I'd need all the help I could get.

At the gas station I backed in next to the air pump, and opened up the back of the car. I smeared dish detergent all around the rim of the tire, then attached the air hose to the valve stem and turned on the air. After a couple of seconds I checked the tire. Nothing. I added more air. Still nothing. I was disappointed, but decided to try one more time before I went home. This time I got distracted by a missing bolt in the axle bracket...wondering how long it had been gone and if it had anything to do with the tire problem. I looked back at the wheel--HOLYCANNOLIIT WAS WORKING! The tire had attached to the rim and was filling up. I added air until the tire felt hard, then screwed the cap on the valve stem and put the air hose back.

When I got home I looked through a box of bolts in the basement, but there wasn't anything the right size. I'll have to go to the hardware store and buy one, but then my wheelbarrow will be ready to roll.


  1. I really need you at my house Kathy, you are Mrs. Fix-It for sure! Wonderful work and great recycling.

  2. haha:) that's why the project was put off. it takes a journey to complete it:)
    soon you will have it done, tho.

  3. We have an old wheelbarrow (got it shortly after we moved into this house 31 years ago) and although it's rusted, it still functions. However, the tire goes flat on me. So, I could sympathize with your problem. Glad you were so resourceful and to it fixed.

  4. Wow. When I bought my place, there was an old wheelbarrow behind the shed. This year (*cough* 11 years later), I pulled it out from behind the shed. The tire is flat.

    Now I'm curious about what kind of tire it is and if it's fixable.

    Estimated date of investigation: June, 2022.