Picture of How I fixed a leaky wheelbarrow tire
So I'm about to move something across the yard, and find that the wheelbarrow has gone flat, again. Not that kind of 'gone flat because it's been a couple weeks' kind either, but the kind where it's totally flat after a minute kind!

This instructable shows what a small sharp knife and a 5-gallon bucket can do to help get things running again...oh yeah, you'll also need a bag of quick-setting concrete!
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Step 1: The fun begins!

Picture of The fun begins!
Using the sharp knife with a lot of caution, I cut a hole into the side of the tire big enough to put my hand through.  I made this hole right where the valve-stem is in case I would have to remove an inner-tube.

A small slice through the flap of tire I just cut lets a piece of string through to tie the flap back out of the way. The string is white, so it doesn't show very well against the white rim, but if you try to imagine it's there it kinda makes sense.

I also found that this is a tubeless tire, so the next step is missing/uneeded. But if I had to, I would cut the tube in half to pull it out.

Another important thing here is the use of a block to keep the wheel-barrow angled so that the hole I just cut is at the highest point on the tire.

Step 2: The concrete part!

Picture of The concrete part!
I had a bag of quick-setting concrete from years ago that needed to get used for something like this.

I didn't bother measuring because I intended to get rid of this bag, but I would guess that I used 3/4th's of what there was. More than I thought I would.

I dumped the bag of concrete into the bucket and mixed by hand adding water until I could form a nice 'clumpy chunk' like in the second pic. (that's a technical term...; )
curtisx114 years ago
next time, use a spray foam...spray into the valve stem hole while turning it....much lighter and more balanced!!
When you are spraying in the spray foam through the valve stem, where does the excess air go? Would it also be inflating the tire? Or is this assuming a big hole in the tire, but one that the foam wouldn't leak out?
RonaldR3 years ago
I had a wheelbarrow with a leaking tube and it was so hard changing & by the time I had the new Tube in I never want to do that again, I had punctured the new tube badly. a week later was in the hardware store for materials for another job and send the pressure packs of expanding foam and remembered what the stuff was like i had seen it used for packing in a crate. The can has a long tube connected to the Nozzle but not flexible so used a length of clear plastic tubing long enough to reach centre of tire, I removed the valve and fed the tubing into the rubber Tube and the tube on the can tightly pushed into the clear tubing and used a screw up clamp & had tape ready to seal the opening when foam came back up along the outside of the clear tubing. I had to stop feeding the foam in for a while as it was coming out the edge of the edge of the tyre. I run some silicon sealer around the edge of rim on both sides and let it set then finished feeding the foam into the Tube & Tyre. It has set hard, have only used wheelbarrow with Mulch and garden waste nothing heavy like soil or cement yet. Have since bought 2 old wheelbarrows from recycling centre and have filled tyres on them with foam and have turned them into mobile gardens for vegetables & Herbs
Shadetree Engineer (author)  RonaldR3 years ago
I wasn't sure about the foam, as mentioned here. Basically, if the wheelbarrow sits for a couple months full of rainwater on hard soil, will that deform the foam? But I also know that the amount of weight per cubic-inch of foam in the footprint of the tire will be a lot less than the total payload weight with the wheelbarrow sitting at rest.. And that foam has a limit of load-bearing capacity that if never exceeded will not deform permanently. Sounds like it's working well for you. I'd be curious to know if you can load your wheelbarrow with 300 lbs of gravel and roll that across a small yard obstacle such as a 1-inch rock without any flat spot in the foam. But I will never need to worry about how close to the limit I am with my tire. I'm reasonably certain that the wheelbarrow itself will fail before the tire has any issues again.
crustyasp4 years ago
Another method of fixing a leaky tire , not a nail hole puncture, that fixes tubeless or tubed tires is milk and sugar. About 1/4 cup of milk add about 3 tablespoons white sugar. stir mixture. Remove valve stem put mixture into tire ( Iuse a plastic hypodermic needle without needle). Rotate tire and baounce tire to get mixture to coat inside of tire or tube. Put tire to work to warm it and dry mixture inside tire. I learned this from my grandfather who did this on his model A tires when I was a kid and fixed my bicycle tires this way until they were completely worn out. I use this method on my riding lawnmower nowadays. I think it works as well or better than the commercial sprays. Note: I usually do this on all my utility tires every spring as preventative maintenance.
That is an old recipe for a milk paint. Paint can be used as a sealant for small punctures. Thoroughly blending in egg whites makes it even more sticky as will adding IIRC, quicklime (the mineral not the fruit.)
Shadetree Engineer (author)  crustyasp4 years ago
I can see how that would seal a tight-fitting leak, it's a sticky mixture. But I would be afraid to take the tire off later! A 1/4 cup would barely coat the inside of a wheelbarrow tire, I would think that amount would be better sized for a bicycle tire?
I should have worded a bit differently and said for every 1/4 cup of milk add three tbs. sugar and add mixture moderately to suit size of tire so mixture coats inside of tire, you don't want it sloshing around in the tire. It will eventually dry but you want the seal to work as soon as possible.
Shadetree Engineer (author)  crustyasp4 years ago
Sounds about right. I know someone I might be able to talk into trying this, he has several leaky lawnmower tires around.
If your friend uses let him know that in the spring if you have winter,he will probably have to do it again in the spring if the tires are tubeless. It seems the cold breaks the crust on the tires over winter, although I have an old field trailer that has a tubeless tire tht has held air over the past four winters.
codydean3 years ago
or you could use expanding foam insulation, it becomes rock hard.
Shadetree Engineer (author)  codydean3 years ago
I had thought of that, but as this wheelbarrow sits unused most of the time, I didn't want to take a chance that the foam would settle into a flat spot

There was a nice wind storm recently, after which I was cleaning up and noted how nice it was to just grab the wheelbarrow and start using it to sweep up the small debris and haul it, without spending any time to get the tire going again

I think this readiness feature is the main reason anyone should consider using concrete. If there's any other feature that's more important, then maybe concrete is not for you.
I did this. Works great.
Cool! Now you'll find a new kind of reliability, after years go by.
Try this... It is made of a polyurethane foam. It has some of the shock absorbency and won't go flat.
I've seen that one. A friend has a tool liquidation store, he can order this tire. But fixing it this way was more fun and a lot cheaper!
NutandBolt4 years ago
This is one of the most craziest things I have seen, first I have to say fair play to you for experimenting and thinking outside the box. On the practical side I work with wheelbarrow a lot and the tought of pushing wheelbarrow full of freash HEAVY concrete on a solid concrete wheel gives me a bad nightmare. The most important thing in wheelbarrow is having the flexability in the tyre . The tyre flexability acts like shock absorber when wheelbarrow is full VS solid wheel that your bones will absorb every pot hole and bump on the ground. Using expanding foam sounds a bit better but I still prefer tyre full of air. Aagain nice experiment ;-)
Shadetree Engineer (author)  NutandBolt4 years ago
I understand! The most important thing I have noticed about this experiment is how important tire flex is. I was hoping that those who use a wheelbarrow a lot, would know better than to do this. My wheelbarrow gets very little use, and I don't want to mess with the tire on those few occasions when I need it. I don't think the shock loading is as important as being able to roll across small rocks or dips in the ground. If those things are not a big concern, such as in my case, then this Instructable may very well inspire an even better idea. Right now, I'm thinking about how to make my own urethane foam tire.
Pomerene4 years ago
Seems like a lot of work to end up with a too-heavy tire with no flexability to it. The comment about using slime is appropriate, but personally my success with Slime over an extended period of time is not good. The next time you're faced with a wheelbarrow tire that always is going flat I'd like to suggest this to you. The area I live in is full of mesquite trees and therefore the ground is covered with lots of old small branches with long thorns. My mountain bike tires were often flat before I'd gone a quarter mile from the house. Those tires are now full of expanding foam insulation. Solid, not heavy, and they won't go flat due to a thorn. Two wheelbarrows now have foam insulation in their tires; going on four months now - no problems. If you try this suggestion it's helpful to have someone helping you to mash the outside of the tire toward the rim a little to insure the foam travels all around the inside of the tire/tube, so that it's solid when you're thru. Use caution when filling the tire; basically stop squirting foam when the tire is round and full. The foam will continue to expand for a bit and you don't want to fill it so full that the further expansion leaks out.
Foam insulation in mountain bike tires! Pure genius. I have tried slimes, liners and all kinds of old-house-wifes-tales, and still i would get punctures. I will try this. One question though, does the hardened foam compress and loose volume inside the tire after awhile? and what about ride comfort?
Shadetree Engineer (author)  chrisdp4 years ago
I agree totally, DIY foam-filled mountain bike tires just sound like a really cool project! I would expect that the tires need to be firmly seated on the rim using air pressure, before doing the conversion.
Shadetree Engineer (author)  Pomerene4 years ago
The ridiculous part is how easy this was to do! Not hard work at all! I did indeed think for a moment of using the kind of foam for sealing cracks in a house, but I was concerned about the foam getting compressed and leaving flat spots in the tire. It seems you have gone further than I dared. So I'll give that a try next time. I would like to see you put that up as an instructable, as that is just the sort of thing I would expect to find here. I'll look at what has for this kind of fix. They sell a variety of foams.
jack0024 years ago
We always mixed concrete *IN* the wheelbarrow, so what you mix it in is kinda odd to think of.
Shadetree Engineer (author)  jack0024 years ago
That would've been funnier, if I had first mixed the concrete in the wheelbarrow!
jongscx4 years ago should just peel off the rubber and call it your Flintstones-Wheelbarrow.
Shadetree Engineer (author)  jongscx4 years ago
I would be worried about the concrete getting cracks, this way the tire hold the pieces together if it breaks up. But I could still call it my Flintstones-Wheelbarrow right?
glorybe4 years ago
I like it a lot. And you could also use the new, heavy wheel for other things. Two would make a nice barbell. One alone could make a stand for a fan. I think this is creative and just the type of item to post. I would have used a hole saw to cut the port in the tire.
Shadetree Engineer (author)  glorybe4 years ago
I'm thinking maybe I didn't need to leave the flap on the tire. A holesaw would be a neater looking hole, but it needs to be a large hole to make it easy to fill. The tire was easy to cut using a razor knife, there's no steel belting in my tire - other people may find otherwise...
Just buy some SLIME tire sealant and a tube. Put some tire sealant in the tube and install it on the wheel barrel. It will last 5-6 years easily, and if you hit a nail the sealant will seal the puncture. Concrete tire are you serious? The hardest part about using a wheel barrel is controlling all the weight!
Didn't I remember to explain how seriously crazy I am? I'm always forgetting that! But I did omit the part where 10 years ago I replaced the rotted wooden handles with 3/4" water-pipe and some pieces of I-beam. Which means that the rim can't be easily removed because it's brackets are welded down permanently. I actually wanted to buy a new tire from my friends discount tool store, but I didn't feel like grinding my welds apart. And I understand your point about unruly wheelbarrows, though it would've been better if you had focused on the problems with using a really hard tire on rocky ground, it doesn't roll as easy as it would with a pneumatic tire. The weight is not so serious. Just don't put that last bit of gravel in. Keep in mind that the weight of the concrete is down low where it doesn't make the wheelbarrow tipsy. And if you put less of a load in, to compensate for the concrete, then you have the same total weight but with a better balance because now some of it is down lower where it can be better handled. Being hard to roll however, could confuse some people into thinking it's the weight that is preventing them from maneuvering the wheelbarrow...
On the upside, though, all the weight is on the downside :-D Yes, of course it's a completely impractical and suboptimal solution, but aren't some of the best DIY projects exactly in that category? Why solve a problem easily, when you can be overly complicated?
When you say awesome job, do you mean the instructable is awesome or the idea? I think this idea is stupid. I wish there was a rating system to rate the posting and the idea seperately.
OK, then don't do it. But thanks! I don't think having two ratings would be a good idea. There's more to life than a single fix, or a single style of repair. The idea wasn't to have a perfect repair that would please a bricklayer on his worksite. But just what is 'perfection' anyways?
kelseymh4 years ago
If it weren't so long and well-documented, this would be worthy of a mention on There, I Fixed It!! As it is, all you get is a rating and a feature; awesome job!
Shadetree Engineer (author)  kelseymh4 years ago
Thanks! I wasn't expecting that! I didn't even think of the 'Fixed-That' community. I could've composed to a two-shot montage that would've shown all on one page...But I was just trying to answer future questions for this forum. However, I am always being surprised by new points of view regarding what I do.