How to change a lawn mower tire
August 25, 2012
Yesterday I resolved to fix the left front tire on the Simplicity lawn mower, so after an extended session with a pitcher of water I located and marked a crack in the sidewall of the offending tire. Trouble was I marked it with a lumber crayon and the tire was wet at the time. It proved an imprecise indicator of the actual leak location, for when I probed with the sticking tool I almost found the hole. No matter, now there were two leaks to patch. More practice. It was such a small tire that I decided to cut the sticky string in the kit into half to get twice as much. Learned why those gooey strings are that long. Used two more. Added some goo outside, just in case. Ate supper while it set.
Added air. Whoosh! It sounded more like a deflating balloon than a working tire. I resolved to make a proper repair. Googled for a while, not finding any 15 X 6 turf tires without four-hole rims attached. The Simplicity uses a bronze bearing surrounding a ¾” axle, secured by a clip hidden under an impossible vinyl thing which sorta holds grease.
Eventually found the correct rig at Canadian Tire, of all places, a universal kit which promises to fit almost all lawn mowers. $59.99 plus taxes. But comments warned about the vinyl centre of the wheel, so I questioned the replacement wheel’s suitability. Tried the same phrase in Google and found that Home Depot has them for $35. In Watertown. Tried Kingston. Frustrating process here, but basically Canadian stores don’t stock them at any price.
Oh yeah, there was a place in Texas which sells the tires for 21 dollars, with free shipping within the U.S.
Under the circumstances I decided to try the CTC model, but on the way to spending 60 dollars plus taxes I stopped at TSC and asked if they had any tires. Surely enough, the guy had two at 35 dollars, but they were on sale for $20.50. I took them both and went home happy at the deal, but a bit apprehensive about the task the guy at the counter assured me I had in store. He said it would take an hour to change one wheel. He further suggested that I soak the things in warm sunlight and then sock the soapy water to them.
The old one wasn’t all that bad to take off: I used a 1/2″ socket extension down through the wheel to anchor it to my woodworking vice. Then I had at it with anything that would pry. Eventually it gave up before I got out the reciprocating saw to cut the bead.
For the new tire I decided that water would make a mess, so I sprayed everything with lithium grease. That made things slippery, all right. The first side went on not too badly. I hoped the various slips with a wrecking bar wouldn’t wreck the seal. Then came the hard side. It didn’t want to go on. Nothing was working so I squeezed the two sides of the tire body together with woodworking clamps to make a bit more room inside the wheel for fitting. Then I held the tire in place with my gut and pried with both bars at the same time. It eventually reached the point where the bead was so jammed on it didn’t want to slide away from the rim any more, and after another couple of pries it slid into shape.
Then it blew up fine and held air.
The guy wasn’t kidding about the hour of hard work, but the time wasn’t wasted.
Oh yeah: I used one corner of the hoist in the new garage to lift the front of the mower up on its hind wheels. Solid.