My van and I were down in Baja California again last month. Last year my Baja trip ended a bit early when a managed to rip the sidewall of one of my tires, and then couldn't locate a suitably sized spare for sale in Baja.
Well, this year I wasn't such a tire wimp!
Actually, I didn't have much of a choice this time. I gashed two of my tires...
I was heading out to a beach called Ensenada el Mangle [GPS:26.2775,-111.3951]. The scenic access road winds around as it hugs the edge of the rocky shore.
I was happily bouncing along when Ė a huge boulder jumped out of the bushes and impaled its rocky tooth into *both* of my left-side tires! (Yeah... Turns out I'm not always so good at being "careful" when I'm driving.)
What to do now? I knew I wasn't going to roll out of there on three tires. I've repaired many tire tread punctures with those sticky rope worm things, but I've always assumed a sidewall rip meant the tire was a goner.
But wait -- I've watched YouTube videos on field-repair! I've seen how people sew up their tire sidewall holes!
Me, I've never even removed a tire from its rim. (Bicycles don't count.) But why not try? I *did* have all day...
OK. First, I had to get the tire off the rim. I wasn't having much luck with big screwdrivers. Then I remembered my Ford's big lug wrench handle has a pointy end. Aha! That must be what it's for! With ample hammering, I managed to use my lug wrench handle to get the tire off the rim.
Then I built a workstation out of rocks to raise one sidewall of the tire above the rim, so I could get access to the inside.
I used an awl, some wire, and a hand mirror to stitch the gashes closed.
With an angle grinder, some tire cement, and a piece of bicycle inner tube, I patched the inside of the tire. (Next time bring real patches!)
Wrestling the tire back onto the rim was just as much fun as the removal!
When it came time to set the bead again, I remembered a YouTube video where a spray can of flammable gas and a match can be used to explosively pressurize the tire. I did have some camping butane stove fuel... Sounds fun!
Actually, no, I decided not to have *that* much fun when I was out there alone in the middle of nowhere. I used a couple of ratchet straps tightened around the tread, and that worked great. With my onboard air compressor, I easily set the bead Ė without even needing to remove the valve core.
For good measure, I also added a bag of TireJect tire sealing liquid.
The whole process took me over five hours, but in the end - yes, I rolled on out of there!
Here's a 1-minute time-lapse video of my repair from my dash cam.
My dash cam only captures motion Ė so it doesn't properly represent all the time I'm standing around pondering what to do next.
I drove the rest of the way to the beach at Ensenada El Mangle to sleep for the night. . .