CHAPTER THREE. THE START
It was dark, so we could not see the tires; but just before starting I gave each a sharp blow with a wrench to see if it was hard, - a sharp blow, or even a kick, tells the story much better than feeling of the tires.
One rear tire was entirely deflated. A railroad spike four and three-quarters inches long, and otherwise well proportioned, had penetrated full length. It had been picked up along the trolley line, was probably struck by the front wheel, lifted up on end so that the rear tire struck the sharp end exactly the right angle to drive the spike in lengthwise of the tread.
It was a big ragged puncture which could not be repaired on the road; there was nothing to do but stop over night and have a tire sent out from Cleveland next day.
While waiting the next morning, we jacked up the wheel and removed the damaged tire.
It is not easy to remove quickly and put on heavy single-tube tires, and a few suggestions may not be amiss.
The best tools are half-leaves of carriage springs. At any carriage shop one can get halves of broken springs. They should be sixteen or eighteen inches long, and are ready for use without forging filing or other preparation. With three such halves one man can take off a tire in fifteen or twenty minutes; two men will work a little faster; help on the road is never wanting.
Let the wheel rest on the tire with valve down; loosen all the lugs; insert thin edge of spring-leaf between rim and tire, breaking the cement and partially freeing tire; insert spring-leaf farther at a point just about opposite valve and pry tire free from rim, holding and working it free by pushing in other irons or screw-drivers, or whatever you have handy; when lugs and tire are out of the hollow of the rim for a distance of eighteen or twenty inches, it will be easy to pass the iron underneath the tire, prying up the tire until it slips over the rim, when with the hands it can be pulled off entirely; the wheel is then raised and the valve-stem carefully drawn out.
All this can be done with the wheel jacked up, but if resting on the tire as suggested, the valve-stem is protected during the efforts to loosen tire.
To put on a single-tube tire properly, the rim should be thoroughly cleaned with gasoline, and the new tire put on with shellac or cement, or with simply the lugs to hold.
Shellac can be obtained at any drug store, is quickly brushed over both the tire and the rim, and the tire put in place - that holds very well. Cement well applied is stronger. If the rim is well covered with old cement, gasoline applied to the surface of the old cement will soften it; or with a plumber's torch the rim may be heated without injuring enamel and the cement melted, or take a cake of cement, soften it in gasoline or melt it, or even light it like a stick of sealing-wax and apply it to the rim. If hot cement is used it will be necessary to heat the rim after the tire is on to make a good job.
After the rim is prepared, insert valve-stem and the lugs near it; let the wheel down so as to rest on that part of the tire, then with the iron work the tire into the rim, beginning at each side of valve. The tire goes into place easily until the top is reached where the two irons are used to lift tire and lugs over the rim; once in rim it is often necessary to pound the tire with the flat of the iron to work the lugs into their places; by striking the tire in the direction it should go the lugs one by one will slip into their holes; put on the nuts and the work is done.
In selecting a half-leaf of a spring, choose one the width of the springs to the machine, and carry along three or four small spring clips, for it is quite likely a spring may be broken in the course of a long run, and, if so, the half-leaf can be clipped over the break, making the broken spring as serviceable and strong for the time being as if sound.