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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Plugging a Flat Tire

Original Article

Plugging a flat tire
“Why are our tires magnets?”
That was the first thought that came to my mind as I walked outside to see yet another flat tire on one of our vehicles. It seems that there must be an irresistible attraction between the steel belted radials on our vehicles and any sharp, pointy object that can pierce the tire and liberate the air trapped inside. It seems to happen to us regularly.
If I only could harness that attractive force.

Learning to Plug a Tire


I’m thankful that I learned a skill many years ago that has come in very handy many, many times – far too many times for me to count: I learned to plug a tire.
My initial reasoning for learning the skill had nothing to do with prepping. I was raised to be a do-it-yourselfer. Growing up if there was a job to do, nine times out of ten we did it ourselves. Change the oil in a car? We did it ourselves. Install an attic fan? We did it ourselves. Most every household repair, home improvement project, or auto maintenance, we did ourselves. I’m thankful for those learning opportunities and the hands-on, I-can-do-it spirit that it instilled in me.
The other reason that I learned to repair my own tires was one of financial. I don’t know just how much a repair shop charges to put a plug in a tire, but I’m sure that it cannot be less than I can do it myself. A tire repair kit from Amazon is $6. It comes with enough plug material to repair four punctures. Not bad.

Repairing a Tire

Repairing a tire is a very simple and straightforward process. If you can change a flat tire and put on a spare, you can also repair the original – though it does require a certain amount of strength.
punctured tireStep 1. Find the puncture.  The obvious first step in repairing a flat tire is to find the cause of the flat. Most flat tires are caused by objects picked up on the road. These are frequently nails and screws, but can also be other object such as bones and files. The easiest way to locate the puncture is to remove the tire from the vehicle and slowly roll it on the ground looking for the cause of the flat. Sometimes this is obvious and easy to find. Occasionally, the nail or screw is imbedded in a valley of the tread and difficult to locate.
Step 2. Remove the offending object. Once you’ve located the foreign object that has deflated your tire (along with your method of transportation), it’s time to remove it from the tire. The easiest way to do this is to use a pair of needle-nosed pliers. You can also you use the pliers that are part of the multi-tool that you keep in your vehicle’s Get-Home Kit.

Get a good grip on the object and pull it out of the hole.
fixing a flatStep 3. Ream the hole. Insert the repair kit’s Rasping Tool in the hole left by the nail or screw. You may find that it’s easier to do this if you allow some of the compressed our to leak out of the hole before trying to insert the rasping tool. Additionally some punctures may have been made by objects with a very small diameter compared to the rasping tool. So this can take some strength and patience.
Once you’ve inserted the tool in the puncture hole, remove and insert over and over again rapidly to roughen the puncture hole. It works best to not completely remove the tool from the hole. This process also ensures that the hole is large enough for subsequent steps.
Be aware that after doing the several times, the rasping tool can become very hot. Don’t touch it immediately after using it to ream the hole.
Plugging a tire with the insertion toolStep 4. Plug the hole. Once the hole has been reamed with the rasping tool, it’s time to plug it. Insert the plug (the very sticky tar-like strip) into the the eyelet of the insertion tool. The plug should be approximately 1/2 through the eyelet.
You’ll notice that the eyelet of the insertion tool has a narrow slit in the end of it where the plug can slip out as you remove it from the tire.
Using the insertion tool, insert the plug into the hole approximately 3/4 of the way. As with the rasping tool, this will take a non-trivial amount of force to push the plug into the hole. The plug is larger than the hole.

Once the plug is in place, give the insertion tool a good swift tug and remove it from the tire, leaving behind the plug.
Step 5. Remove the excess plug. Using a sharp knife or the blade of your multi-tool, cut the excess plug that protrudes from the hole. Be careful not to accidentally pull the plug back out of the hole. Don’t worry if it’s not completely flush with the surface of the tire.
Use an air compressor to inflate the tire. We carry a 12-volt mini compressor and repair kit in each of our vehicles.
checking a plugged tire for leaksStep 6. Check the plug. Finally, once you’ve inflated the tire, you can check it for slow leaks. The easiest way to do this is to put a little dish washing soap in a cup of water so that it bubbles up. Apply the bubbles to the top of the plug and watch. If the bubbles grow in size, you’ve got a leak, if not you’ve got a good solid plug.
Mount the tire back on your vehicle and continue inflating it to the manufacturers specifications.

A Skill for Now and after TEOTWAWKI


Learning how to plug a tire can save you money and time. And by stocking up on inexpensive tire plugging kits nows, you’ll be prepared for life after TEOTWAWKI when the local tire shop is no longer in business.

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Alternative Energy Battery Type 101

Original Article

alternative-energy-battery-trojan-t105
Practically all batteries used in alternative energy solar power backup systems are Lead-Acid type batteries. Even after over a century of use, they still offer the best price to power ratio.
ALL of the batteries commonly used in deep cycle applications are Lead-Acid. This includes the standard flooded (wet) batteries, gelled, and AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat). They all use the same chemistry, although the actual construction of the plates etc varies.
The lifespan of a deep cycle battery will vary considerably with how it is used, how it is maintained and charged, temperature, and other factors.

These are some typical expectations for batteries if used in deep cycle service.

Type of battery:  Expected battery life in ‘deep-cycle’ mode
Starting: 3-12 months

Marine: 1-6 years

Golf cart: 2-7 years

Gelled deep cycle: 2-5 years


AGM deep cycle: 4-7 years

Starting batteries are commonly used to start and run engines. Engine starters need a very large starting current for a very short time. Starting batteries have a large number of thin plates for maximum surface area. The plates are composed of a Lead “sponge”, similar in appearance to a very fine foam sponge. This gives a very large surface area, but if deep cycled, this sponge will quickly be consumed and fall to the bottom of the cells. Automotive batteries will generally fail after 30-150 deep cycles if deep cycled, while they may last for thousands of cycles in normal starting use (2-5% discharge).
Deep cycle batteries are designed to be discharged down as much as 80% time after time, and have much thicker plates. The major difference between a true deep cycle battery and others is that the plates are SOLID Lead plates – not sponge. This gives less surface area, thus less “instant” power like starting batteries need. Although these an be cycled down to 20% charge, the best lifespan vs cost method is to keep the average cycle at about 50% discharge.

Golf cart batteries are quite popular for small systems and RV’s. The problem is that “golf cart” refers to a size of battery (commonly called GC-2, or T-105), not the type or construction – so the quality and construction of a golf car battery can vary considerably – ranging from the cheap off brand with thin plates up the true deep cycle brands, such as Crown, Deka, Trojan, etc. In general, you get what you pay for.
Marine batteries are usually a “hybrid”, and fall between the starting and deep-cycle batteries. In the hybrid, the plates may be composed of Lead sponge, but it is coarser and heavier than that used in starting batteries. It is often hard to tell what you are getting in a “marine” battery, but most are a hybrid.
Gelled deep cycle batteries, or “Gel Cells” contain acid that has been “gelled” by the addition of Silica Gel, turning the acid into a solid mass that looks like gooey Jell-O. The advantage of these batteries is that it is impossible to spill acid even if they are broken. However, there are several disadvantages (must be charged at a slower rate and lower voltage to prevent permanent damage, In hot climates, water loss can be enough over 2-4 years to cause premature battery failure).
AGM, or Absorbed Glass Mat deep cycle batteries have all the advantages (and then some) of gelled, with none of the disadvantages, and they can take much more abuse. Since all the acid is contained in the glass mats, they cannot spill, even if broken. This also means that since they are non-hazardous, the shipping costs are lower. In addition, since there is no liquid to freeze and expand, they are practically immune from freezing damage. Nearly all AGM batteries are “recombinant” – what that means is that the Oxygen and Hydrogen recombine INSIDE the battery. AGM’s will cost 2 to 3 times as much as flooded batteries of the same capacity. In many installations, where the batteries are set in an area where you don’t have to worry about fumes or leakage, a standard or industrial deep cycle is a better economic choice.

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