Make Bulk Bicycle Tube Patch Kits

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About: Second year engineering student studying at the Beautiful Okanagan campus of The University of British Columbia. I like to tinker with electronics and meddeling with 3D printing. I also have a penchant for r...

Last year I helped organize and prepare my Venture (scout) company to go on a 200km cross country bike trip along the Kettle Valley Railway. Once everyone (10+ people) had a suitable bike and panniers (saddle bags), and cooking and cleaning equipment the only things left was to maintain about 8 bikes that were bought from local classifieds and un-tested. Buying 20 (two each for good measure) patch kits would not have been terribly expensive, but saving any cost is always good. Besides all the things that are in a patch kit were laying around my house. 

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Most of  the things you need can be bought at a hardware store.
Contact Cement (500ml or less)
Sandwich bags (1-2 per kit)
Sand Paper (1 square inch per kit) - optional
Old Inner tube (1 will do)
Spoon (disposable hopefully)
Scissors 
hammer and/or tin opener  (or  COLD chisel) to undo and do up the contact cement can. 

Be careful when opening the can and read and follow the warning label on the contact cement.

Note if you're not using sand paper use sand from the location you're in instead, if you're location doesn't have any sand or gritty substances make sure to pack the piece of sand paper. 

Step 2: Cut to Size

Start by cutting the inner tube and sand paper into smaller sizes. The Inner tube should be cut into patch like shapes, circles or ovals not squares and rectangles. Also when cutting the inner tube make sure to cut the final patch with the scissors on an angle so that the patch has beveled edges, slanting up to the center of the patch. The sand paper can be cut to whatever size is convenient, if you're using sand paper. 

Step 3: Package Contact Cement

Take a spoon of contact cement (or less) and add it to the plastic bag. Squeeze all the air out or the cement will harden in the bag and then your stuck with a flat tire. Don't suck the air out with a straw, the contact cement is quite poisonous. Roll the bag up so it takes less space. I used a Ziploc bag and rolled and squeezed all the air out before sealing the last bit of the bag.  

Step 4: All Together Now

Next add everything to a sandwich bag or just chuck the various components into your backpack or seat pouch. Squeeze the air out so it takes up less space. 

Step 5: How to Use

If you've never had need to use a patch kit or this patch kit is a different kind then the ones your familiar with this is how to use it.

1- locate hole, this patch will only work on small holes so if your whole tire is blown up then you'll need a new one. The best way to find a leak is to first take the tube out of the bike, just like replacing a tube. Pump the tube up a little bit, listen and feel for ware the air is escaping. Run the tube around your ear when you hear something, move the tube down a little so you can feel the air on your cheek. A faster but less trail side way is to submerge the slightly inflated tube and look for bubbles. Also be sure to check the inside of the tire to avoid a re-puncture by the same object, mark with chalk (or mud) the location of the tire .

2- scratch up the patch and the tube, sandpaper is best but just plain sand or gravel can also do the job. Roughen up the area around the hole and the back (white) side of the patch. 

3 - contact cement. Apply a little cement to the back side of the patch and the tire tube, less is more in this case just a thin layer will do. Next wait for the cement to get sticky, once it is sticky apply the patch. For more detailed info on how to use contact cement see back of the tin. 

4 - wait a bit and then re-insert the tube into the tire and pump up, these patches if done correctly can last for years. One of my friends ran on four patches for two years, before selling the bike complete with patches. 

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    69 Discussions

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    SamuelCalifornia.diamar79

    Reply 1 year ago

    Besides a bumpier ride, it would probably be necessary to cut the tire and tube to get them off when necessary. There is a manufacturer of solid tubes (I think they are owned by Bell now) and a maker of solid tires. The problem with solid tubes is that they are impossible to use when the tire has those metal rings in them and I think most do. Even if you get a solid tube in a tire installed and working, you might have to cut the tire to get it off. The problem with the solid tires is that you must measure the width of your rim precisely and get the right size tire to match that width.

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    RamonD7

    3 years ago

    It doesn't work, the contact cement simply wont hold. I have a road-bike tube so I assume your talking about mountain-bikes? Which take up to 80-120 p.s.i. Ive done this over twenty times. And even let the cement adhere for the next day. It wont hold. I even used duck-tape to hold the patch down. Waste of time. I would assume if one could find out the type of vulcanizing liquid that's in a patch-kit you might have a better chance. Im sure I can find other uses for contact cement.

    1 reply
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    Zaphod BeetlebroxRamonD7

    Reply 3 years ago

    Sorry to hear that. I admit I have never tried it on a road tube. The smaller surface area, and significantly higher pressures are probably why. Yes if you can find vulcanizing fluid (Look at an auto parts store, maybe Princess Auto?) you should have better luck. It could also be the temperature that is affecting the cure on the contact cement, was it cold when you tried?

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    ryant_xc

    3 years ago on Introduction

    I'v gotten 3 flats in the last week and a half and I'm done buying new tubes! this should work great.

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    behrouz.amini.31

    3 years ago on Step 5

    Thanks. I fixed 2 tubes with 8 and 7 inches long cut alont the tubes. This is for a road bike. Works great. Bought 3 oz contact cement in a small hard-to-break glass bottle for $4 plus at Lowe. A nice brush is part of the cap. Done with buying endless patches. Wonderful!

    1 reply

    Thanks so much. Fixed 2 blown up inner tubes with 8 inch and 7 inch cut along the tubes. Works great. This is a road bike. Holding 70 psi. Bought contact cement from Lows (sp?). comes with small hrad to brake glass bottle with very nice bruch as part of the cap. It was $4 plus, Thanks, done with buying patches.

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    omikeo

    3 years ago on Step 5

    thanks, i already use used tubes as an endless supply of patches, but i couldn't remember if i needed rubber or contact cement - i have a can or two i hope it didn't freeze though - and i though about sand paper for the scratcher too - just make sure to clean the area again after sanding

    1 reply
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    Zaphod Beetlebroxomikeo

    Reply 3 years ago on Step 5

    If you can find vulcanizing cement it works even better, chemically "melts" the rubber then when it dries the tube and the patch are one piece, as opposed to two that are glued together.

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    joe_process

    6 years ago on Introduction

    can you recommend a "proper gum cement"? Im working on a series of improvised repairs videos, and i want to test this stuff side by side.

    1 reply

    So far my contact cement patches are holding up. After a year I think you should be able to get a new inner tube. Thanks for the tip about clamping and heating.

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    mysss

    6 years ago on Introduction

    This seems like a very harden-prone method of carrying the rubber cement...I think I'd rather just buy the tubes of cement, with the infrequency I get flats away from home and the little glue they take. The important thing, of course, is that when you get that third hole (you were carrying a spare tube, weren't you? the glue doesn't set completely all that fast) you still have patch material and usable rubber cement to repair it. Also, I'd advise against using sand, because it's liable to stay on the tube, defeating the purpose of sanding in the first place (this actually isn't to rough up the rubber--it's to remove the talcum powder left over from manufacture, which is what prevents the insides of the tube from sticking together). Although it is a very resourceful idea, you also risk contaminating the inside of the tire/rim, which could lead to another flat. So I guess you could do it, but make sure you clean the heck out of the areas exposed to sand (although we all know sand gets into everything).

    ALSO, minor nitpick: please don't call panniers saddlebags. It's that kind of general misinformation that makes it impossible to get good search results when you're looking for a saddle bag (bicycle "seats" are actually technically saddles, so-called because they're not meant to support all your weight).

    In conclusion, thanks for the ideas, cool hatchet, and I hope your trip was awesome! I hope to go on one like it sometime.

    1 reply
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    Thank you for all your tips, I called them saddle bags because I wasn't sure people would know what panniers were. The trip was vary good and we only had one flat, unfortunetly we ran over an old 6 in nail that completely shredded the tube so we couldn't try out the patch kit.

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    thewmas

    6 years ago on Introduction

    As a buffer, I've took a tin can lid and a sharpend nail, hammer the tin flat and punch a bunch of small holes on a piece of wood.