While doing labor, we use tools that we often don’t recognize the value of. We don’t think about how useful the hammer is in our hands, how impossible driving that nail would seem without it. We don’t often stop to consider the value of the shovel, which makes digging possible. Tools are there to help us, and they do such a good job of doing so that we never even think to appreciate them. They are our invisible allies.
Invisible, that is, until they break. When a hammer breaks, we notice it. When a shovel no longer shovels, we feel its lack. This is especially true of those simple machines that allow us to carry great weights with ease — wheelbarrows, hand trucks, and other such devices.
When our wheelbarrow stops working because the tire has gone flat, we feel its lack profoundly. Suddenly, moving that pile of bricks across the yard is more challenging than we are willing to accept. If we are professional laborers, then wheelbarrows and hand trucks may be essential parts of our lives on the job — without them, we cannot work.
When one of these tires goes flat, we need to repair it. And we need to repair it quickly and efficiently. There is a problem, however. These are not like the tires we are used to inflating. These tires, like bike tires, are tubeless, and we may not know how to go about getting the air to stay in them.
What is a Tubeless Tire?
The tires in your car are designed to stay inflated even if the seal between the outer, hard rubber and the rim is not maintained. These tires have inner tubes as well as outer tires. The inner tubes of car tires are doughnut shaped rubber pieces that are completely sealed to hold in air. This allows them, unless they are punctured, to not go flat, even under tumultuous conditions.
But the tires that you have on your wheelbarrow and hand brakes are not like this. These tires are tubeless, meaning that they don’t have inner tubes that keep the air in. In a tubeless tire, the air is inside of the tire itself, and it kept in place by the contact between the rubber and the rim.
One problem with tubeless tires is that even if they are not damaged they can be difficult to inflate once they have gone flat. This is because the contact between the tire and the rim is no longer sustained, so when you pump air into the tire it leaves just as quickly (since the tire is not completely sealed).
It is not, however, impossible to re-inflate a tubeless tire. In the next section, you are going to find out how to do so.
How to Inflate a Tubeless Tire
To inflate a tubeless tire, there are a few things that you will need. First, you will need an air compressor to pump air into the tire. Next, you will need to be sure you have the correct end to attach your compressor to the stem on the tire. And finally, you will need either zip ties, bungee cords, or a ratchet strap.
Once you have assembled these things, you can begin. Here is the basic procedure:
Clean the rim that the tire sits on
In this step, we move the flat tire around in order to reach the rim of the tire. We clean the rim as thoroughly as possible. It is easier to move the tire from side to side rather than removing it completely. Generally, it is not necessary to use soap and water — a dry, clean rag will do. The purpose here is to make the contact between the rim and the tire as strong as possible once we start to inflate the tire.
Place the tire securely on the rim
Here, we fit the tire onto the rim as securely as possible. The tire is flat at this point, and so it will not create a seal, but we need to make sure that the connection is as solid as possible.
Secure the tire with ties or bungees
Here, we want to secure the flat tire with ties, bungees, or a strap. We want to wrap whatever we’re using around the length of the tire to hold in down and then tighten it. Anything that will do that job will work.
Inflate the tire
In this step, we inflate the tire. Using an air compressor, we fill the tire with air. Whatever we used in step 3 will keep the tire in place long enough for the pressure in the tire to build, which will then form a seal between the now inflated tire and the rim that we have just cleaned.
Remove the ties/strap/bungees
Now we can remove whatever we put on in step 3. The tire should have formed a seal on its own due to the air pressure inside. After this, we are all finished.
Do You Need to Use an Air Compressor to Inflate Your Tubeless Tire?
I have described this procedure using an air compressor. It is possible to complete it, however, using a hand pump (the kind that you might use for a bicycle tire). The question is — which is better? Do you need an air compressor?
While it is possible to do the job with a hand pump, it will go faster, be easier, and probably be done better if you use an air compressor. There are great portable air compressors available for situations like this one. The compressor will allow you to fill the tire quickly, which will be helpful in encouraging a seal to form between the flat tubeless tire and the rim.
While it is possible to do this job with a hand pump, it is preferable to have an air compressor. There are a lot of other jobs, such as inflating a car tire, that you will need an air compressor for, so it is worth having one around.