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  1. #1
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    Old tube as patch material?

    Hi, there. I'm a relative mechanical newbie. I'm also a cheapskate who hates to throw things out, so I tend to patch tubes that can be patched instead of just throwing them out if they only have one or two holes.

    I'm finding that I go through patches faster than I go through the glue to attach them, so as I go through patch kits, I'm accumulating partial glue tubes, still usable scuffers, and empty plastic boxes that the patches come in. Instead of buying a new patch kit just to get the patches, I'm wondering if I can just cut patches from old unpatchable tubes. Does that work just as well as store-bought patches?
    Quote Originally Posted by MadfiNch on Commuting forum
    What's the point of a bike if you can only ride it on weekends, and you can't even carry anything with you?!
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  2. #2
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnBrooking View Post
    Hi, there. I'm a relative mechanical newbie. I'm also a cheapskate who hates to throw things out, so I tend to patch tubes that can be patched instead of just throwing them out if they only have one or two holes.

    I'm finding that I go through patches faster than I go through the glue to attach them, so as I go through patch kits, I'm accumulating partial glue tubes, still usable scuffers, and empty plastic boxes that the patches come in. Instead of buying a new patch kit just to get the patches, I'm wondering if I can just cut patches from old unpatchable tubes. Does that work just as well as store-bought patches?
    You'll probably find that an old tube doesn't work as well as a patch. They tend to be too thick and covered in talc. Adhesion isn't as good either. However there is a solution to buying patch kits. The Third Hand sells Rema patches in boxes of 100 for around $15 and spare glue tubes too. That way you can use those old boxes
    Stuart Black
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  3. #3
    Sir Fallalot wroomwroomoops's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    You'll probably find that an old tube doesn't work as well as a patch. They tend to be too thick and covered in talc. Adhesion isn't as good either. However there is a solution to buying patch kits. The Third Hand sells Rema patches in boxes of 100 for around $15 and spare glue tubes too. That way you can use those old boxes
    Wait a moment; we had a shortish thread about JUST this very problem here, a while ago, and the initiator told us that old tubes worked great for patching.

    I think cleaning the tube and the "patching tube" thoroughly to remove traces of grease, is critical. But after that, the tube will stick very well.

  4. #4
    coffeeeeee p4nh4ndle's Avatar
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    you have to sandpaper both the tube and patch to clean the surfaces and you must also apply rubber cement to both to ensure proper adhesion. The Rema patches don't need glue because they are already de-vulcanized.
    It works, but it's really only ideal as a shop fix when you have the time to let everything dry properly. I haven't had a problem using old inner tubes as patches... yet.

  5. #5
    Sir Fallalot wroomwroomoops's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by p4nh4ndle View Post
    you have to sandpaper both the tube and patch to clean the surfaces.
    You know, I found this not to be true: I use a paper tissue with alcohol to clean the surfaces, let it dry (takes a few seconds) and apply the cement - and this seems to be quite enough. Not a single patch has separated afterwards. On the other hand, I had patches not stick perfectly, if I relied on sandpapering only.

  6. #6
    holyrollin' FlatTop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wroomwroomoops View Post
    You know, I found this not to be true: I use a paper tissue with alcohol to clean the surfaces, let it dry (takes a few seconds) and apply the cement - and this seems to be quite enough. Not a single patch has separated afterwards. On the other hand, I had patches not stick perfectly, if I relied on sandpapering only.
    This has been my experience as well. If you have never tried this type of patch, why not experiment? Scissors will cut up a tube easily.

    Whatever the patch, let the cement dry per the instructions.

    I tend to install the patched ones after testing with moderate pressure first.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    Try patching the old cut up tube with a patch from itself for practice. All you have to lose is a bit of rubber cement, and you have plenty of that.
    You may find one cleaning method works better than another for you.
    The main thing in cleaning is you want to remove the old surface layer of oxidized rubber. There shouldn't be any grease on it unless you put it there.

  8. #8
    Sir Fallalot wroomwroomoops's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
    There shouldn't be any grease on it unless you put it there.
    You put grease everywhere your fingers or your skin touch. It's not a lot of grease, but it's plenty to prevent the patch from sticking correctly.

  9. #9
    Grumbly Goat Bushman's Avatar
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    those little foil sealed alcohol wipes are the best thing to carry in a ptach kit.

    sand the tube, wipe clean with the alkyhol wipe, apply glue, let cure for a miunte or two, apply patch and pressure.
    You ride a bike, we GET IT, no need to rant about it or look down on others....its JUST A BIKE...get over yourselves.

  10. #10
    Sir Fallalot wroomwroomoops's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
    those little foil sealed alcohol wipes are the best thing to carry in a ptach kit.
    Absolutely! Sadly, I can't find any with actual alcohol, here in Finland. They all are with water. I'm thinking of buying a bunch as soon as I visit a country that's not as much of a nanny state as my otherwise beautiful Finland.

  11. #11
    tired donnamb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnBrooking View Post
    Hi, there. I'm a relative mechanical newbie. I'm also a cheapskate who hates to throw things out, so I tend to patch tubes that can be patched instead of just throwing them out if they only have one or two holes.
    John, tire tubes have lots of uses when you can't repair them. They make excellent tie-downs when cut up, for instance.

    Check these links out:
    http://www.evilmadscientist.com/article.php/tubes
    http://www.pacificpublishingcompany....d=515218&rfi=6
    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2005...d_bike_t_1.php
    http://keetsa.com/blog/recycle/bike-...-recycled-bag/
    http://www.cyclingnews.com/tech/2001...tubetips.shtml
    "Real wars of words are harder to win. They require thought, insight, precision, articulation, knowledge, and experience. They require the humility to admit when you are wrong. They recognize that the dialectic is not about making us look at you, but about us all looking together for the truth."

  12. #12
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    This has been discussed before many times.

    Let me save you the trouble of learning for yourself. Old tire innertubes do not make good patch material.

    Real patches are cheap and they work much better. Patches are tougher and they hold on to the tube better.
    Mike

  13. #13
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wroomwroomoops View Post
    Absolutely! Sadly, I can't find any with actual alcohol, here in Finland. They all are with water. I'm thinking of buying a bunch as soon as I visit a country that's not as much of a nanny state as my otherwise beautiful Finland.
    Most all isopropyl alcohol, whether in wipes or in the bottle, is cut with water. Seldom do you find it over 75% alcohol. It's a flammability thing. More water means a higher flash point which means safer to handle. But 75% will usually get the job done...for sterilization Heck, 25% will kill most anything. Try methanol or 190 proof ethanol (Everclear here).
    Stuart Black
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  14. #14
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    I'll try it with some plain fingernail polish remover. The kind with no added oils or perfumes.
    This space open

  15. #15
    Pwnerer Wordbiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by donnamb View Post
    Nice links Donna.

    I've used that last one a few times. Now I save thorn-resistant tubes in sizes to fit frame tubes tightly. They work great as chainstay protectors for full suspension bikes as the thicker section can be run at the top where the chain would tear up standard tubes. A little disassembly, a little soap and you have a clean looking guard with no zip ties.
    Quote Originally Posted by ahsposo View Post
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  16. #16
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    Thanks, all. I might just go with those Rema patches, cyccommute. (Geez, you and DonnaMB are on all the boards I visit!)
    Quote Originally Posted by MadfiNch on Commuting forum
    What's the point of a bike if you can only ride it on weekends, and you can't even carry anything with you?!
    Portland Maine Bicycle Commuting Meetup

  17. #17
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    sorry if this is a repost, but...

    i once read somewhere that patches are only desingned to hold half the pressure, and are just to get you home. say you inflate to 40psi, that means 3 patches and your down to 5psi. ok, thats a little unrealistic, but id just go buy a new nube, and keep a patch kit with you on the trail
    Live to ride, Ride to live

  18. #18
    Senior Member FlatFender's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by norco_rider77 View Post
    sorry if this is a repost, but...

    i once read somewhere that patches are only desingned to hold half the pressure, and are just to get you home. say you inflate to 40psi, that means 3 patches and your down to 5psi. ok, thats a little unrealistic, but id just go buy a new nube, and keep a patch kit with you on the trail
    hmm.... ive never had a problem running a patched tube at 120PSI.
    Matter of fact, the rear tube on my roadie currently has 3 patches on it (yesterday was rough) and its held pressure all night last night, and I rode it to and from work today without issue.

    there may be a pressure limit with some stick on patches, but I dont use those unless I absolutely need to. (BTW, the little stick on patches that come in the kit at Target work surprisingly well if you are in a bind.)

  19. #19
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    Cut up inner-tubes make great industrial-strength rubber bands to hold your skiis together.
    Mike

  20. #20
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    target is non-existing in Canada, and i just buy new tubes, i dont get many flats, only a couple this summer since i got the wrong tubes (too thin)
    Live to ride, Ride to live

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by norco_rider77 View Post
    target is non-existing in Canada, and i just buy new tubes, i dont get many flats, only a couple this summer since i got the wrong tubes (too thin)
    Yeah, I used to just buy new tubes when I had a flat maybe once a year... but I had over 20 flats this year so started to patch them each tube (4) have over 5 patches on them and they work great with 90psi. I think I'll give the tube patch a try since I also have an extra glue left from the 20patch kit.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by norco_rider77 View Post
    sorry if this is a repost, but...

    i once read somewhere that patches are only desingned to hold half the pressure, and are just to get you home. say you inflate to 40psi, that means 3 patches and your down to 5psi. ok, thats a little unrealistic, but id just go buy a new nube, and keep a patch kit with you on the trail
    Not true - in my experience, patches that are put on properly last "forever" and hold pressure like the rest of the tube whether that be 50 lbs or 120. I've never noticed any difference, unless I do a poor job putting on the patch. Then, it is not a subtle difference, it just plain doesn't hold air - and when inspected, has an obvious leak.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    You'll probably find that an old tube doesn't work as well as a patch. They tend to be too thick and covered in talc. Adhesion isn't as good either. However there is a solution to buying patch kits. The Third Hand sells Rema patches in boxes of 100 for around $15 and spare glue tubes too. That way you can use those old boxes
    Another issue with using old tubes is that the rubber does degenerate. I use to use old tubes. But after spending alot of time trying to figure out what was going wrong with my patches I decided it just was not worth the effort. I'd definitely use it in a pinch, but my confidence is not as high as I would like with them. It sucks to be walking .

  24. #24
    Huachuca Rider webist's Avatar
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    I would think most patches are also a bit thinner.
    Just Peddlin' Around

  25. #25
    Sir Fallalot wroomwroomoops's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by masiman View Post
    Another issue with using old tubes is that the rubber does degenerate. I use to use old tubes. But after spending alot of time trying to figure out what was going wrong with my patches I decided it just was not worth the effort. I'd definitely use it in a pinch, but my confidence is not as high as I would like with them. It sucks to be walking .
    How or why exactly does rubber degenerate, in your view? Cause, the patch from a tube should last like the tube itself, no?

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