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Tubing in a Tubeless World

• CATEGORIES: Biscuit, Features, Tires and Rims

I admit that sometimes I’m entirely clueless.  Today was a perfect example, for today I got my Desert Dogs mounted onto a 2nd set of Hurricane Rims that have been holding down the garage floor for more than two years.

The last time I got a set of offroad tires mounted on a set of rims was 27 years ago.  Those too were desert dogs. I had inner tubes added to the tires so that the air pressure could be dropped to 10 – 15 lbs when jeeping; using inner tubes was a very normal thing to do.

So, now you will understand that when I pulled up to Les Schwab Tires (btw, Les Schwab, the company founder, was an early fan and seller of the Desert Dogs) and told the guy at the counter what I wanted to do, I didn’t think much of it.  He walks out, looks at the rims, looks at the tires, and tells me he doesn’t think the tires will actually fit the rims.  Frankly, he was looking at me like I just dropped in from planet Mars.  Fortunately, I’m used to people looking at me like that.  I told him that Les himself would have mounted Dogs to rims similar to what I had.  He took it all in and seemed to think that maybe my request was possible.  So, I asked him for an estimate to mount the tires and add inner tubes.

He gave me an estimate ($91 to mount and balance them) and said he didn’t know if he could get some inner tubes, because running inner tubes on tires like that would cause them to heat up and explode (the inner tube explode that is).   Now it was my turn to look at him like he was from Mars.

However, to his credit, he was courteous the entire time and spent extra time attempting to locate inner tubes, finally finding four tubes at a cost of $38 …. that’s $38 a piece.  After some quick addition I concluded that would cost me almost $160 just for tubes!!  I told him thanks, I would see what else I could find for inner tubes.

So, I left, went home, and hopped on my beloved internet, hoping I could find a better price.  After a half our of searching the internet and finding nothing, I had an idea.  I would call Bucks, a local 4×4 shop, to see what they used.  They said they rarely use inner tubes.  The last time they used them, they got the tubes from Commercial Tire.

It turns out, in a world of tubeless tires, the use of tubes, once standard practice, has evaporated.  Worse, no one told me!

My next step was to call Commercial Tire and see what they could do.  The guy on the phone was helpful and said tubes would probably cost about $23 for my tire size, however I’d need to check the stem size of the rim as the tube price he was quoting was for a tube with a thick stem.

I figured I had nothing to lose, so I drove over to Commercial Tire and asked for some tubes.  They looked at my stem size and determined I needed a rare inner tube.  Several employees started making calls and one finally found four tubes at a warehouse somewhere and that was all they could find.  The price would be $35 a piece.

I still thought that was crazily high, so asked them to just give me a quote on mounting the tires.  They said they wouldn’t mount them because they were older than 6 years. So, my trip to Commercial Tire was a waste of time; and it confirmed that the world of tires had changed while I had been away from jeeps.

I left Commercial Tire and made the decision that I would mount the tires without tubes and give that a try.  Since Les Schwab was willing to mount the tires, I decided to just take the tires back to them and get them mounted.  Then, I took the mounted tires home and put them on the jeep.

So, maybe putting 18 year old shoes on Biscuit isn’t the smartest decision, but I couldn’t resist.  They probably have 5000 miles of road wear left, maybe a little more. However, I had to do this to complete my image of what Biscuit would be: a fiberglass flattie with an old school look.

Here are a couple images of the new, old tires.  I do prefer the pure aluminum color of the other rims, rather than having the black within the splines. So, I plan to polish the rims at some future point and take off that black.


14 Comments on “Tubing in a Tubeless World

  1. Mitch

    Well..FWIW…they were on 10″ hurricane wheels and tubeless when I got them. So they should work fine as you have them set up… I honestly think the black looks really good on there….Wouldn’t spend much time on the road with em though. Oh …and as far as worrying about the age.. I wouldn’t…For as long as I had them they were stored under the bench out of sunlight and before I got them they lived in big Skips garage on his 3B. Stored as best they could be for as old as they are.


  2. deilers

    Mitch: Don’t get me wrong, I think they are in great shape for their age and don’t plan on having them on the road much. They just look pretty attached to the jeep in the garage. It puts a smile on my face every time I go in there (which is every two hours or so … that’s not obsessive, right?).

    What i realized was that the black hurricane rims were already set up for tubeless tires. Also, the other hurricanes I run don’t have tubes either, something I realized after leaving commercial tire. Finally, I won’t be running any truly difficult trails until I get my winch, so I won’t be dropping the air pressure very much anyway.

    But, sometimes I get something in my head about how things should be and it takes some time to beat it out of there. 🙂

  3. deilers

    Many of us are old and confused. But that’s a whole different topic….

    If you run too low of tire pressure with a tubeless tire, you could break loose the bead on the tire, resulting in the air gushing out and your tire flopping around on the rim. When jeeping over difficult terrain, we used to drop the tire pressure down to approx 10lbs, providing better gripping, a better ride, and more flexibility for the tires over rockfields. I asked the dealer what the lowest pressure he’d recommend on the tubeless tires and he said around 20 (or, more accurately, I suggested around 20 and he said he wouldn’t go any lower).

    I was told that I could probably get a tractor tire tube, as the farming community still uses tubes in many different sizes of tires. So if I wanted to waste a good deal of time calling tractor places, I might have found a reasonably priced tube.

    You can also get inexpensive tubes for 15″ and 16″ standard jeep tires for between $9 & $12.

  4. Kevin

    My advise would be …if one needed to drop the pressure in a tire for some pleasure, he need not be in that situation. Why ask for trouble I guess.

  5. Craig B.

    Lower pressure equals bigger footprint equals better traction equals getting further off-road. Newer Jeeps do it all the time with beadlock wheels. But that’s not old school wheelin’ in my book.

  6. Bob

    You could also apply that black goop they put on as a beadlock. It’ll act like a glue to hold the tire onto the rims under low pressure. My buddy uses it and puts it on all his 4×4 tires when he mounts them to the rim. The only drawback is taking it off.

  7. Mitch

    I wouldn’t do anything to hold them on and I wouldn’t hesitate to run 10 psi in them… In all my wheeling, (and I do plenty) i’ve never lost a bead.. I’ve seen plenty of guys knock the outside bead off but it’s easily fixed right away. I’m usually the one that does it for them. Dave- When you get over here to go wheel with us, I’ll fix any bead problems you might have on the trail for you… I think you’ll find you won’t have any…I also think the older wheels with a rougher casting like the hurricanes we have, hold a bead better than slick painted or new polished wheels.. I think the only problem you may run into is wood debris or mud stuck in the outer bead.. But that would happen whether you had tubes or not. The downside of tubes is if you get grit in there it’s gonna eventually rub a hole in the tube and you now have a flat..that you have to take to town to fix…With a with a bead coming off, you put it back on and air it back up. Easy cheesy. A puncture would happen whether you have a tube or not…Still easier to fix without a tube…I carry spare valve stems but not tubes…

    To sum it up- I really don’t see a benefit to running tubes anymore. I’ve had mine down to 2 psi inthe snow and not had a bead problem…

  8. deilers

    We should have had this conversation when I picked up the tires. It just didn’t occur to me that people didn’t run tubes any more.

    I also didn’t know the tires came with a personal ‘bead replacement guarantee for the trails’ :-)!

  9. Mitch

    Oh….And i said it once and I’ll say it again. I like the black ones. Alison said she likes the black ones too. lol… She thinks they go better with the color scheme on the jeep than the no paint wheels.. I think the black brings it all together…

    And’s not weird to go look in the garage all the time when you get new stuff.. I do the same thing… =)

  10. frank

    I used to run dogs on my ’47 2A back in the ’80’s and never ran them with tubes. Low pressure and never a popped bead. Just my two cents.

  11. frank

    Sometimes you just do that. If it saves you cash; well, even better. Jeep looks good, makes me wish I’d kept mine……..sigh.

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