Tuesday, 5 July 2011

5 quick things to make with an old inner tube

Quite often when I receive a bike its because its fallen out of use due to something simple like a puncture. When repairing a bicycle today I counted the repairs on an innertube I'd removed and found that it had 12 patches and was still going strong.

Sometimes though, because of how or where an inner tube is damaged, its beyond being safe to use in a wheel. Although cheap, rubber is a finite resource so I thought i'd share some of the quick things that I use old tubes for:

1) Puncture patch

Old tyres make adequate puncture patches. Puncture kits are cheap to buy but it makes better sense to use what you have if you can. Inner tube rubber is generally thicker than patch rubber except on racer innertubes which work the best.

To use a patch make sure you wash the chalk off before using it (or the glue won't stick) and roughen the side which you are going to glue (and the area that your glueing it to) with a bit of sandpaper

2) Plant/ cable ties

It doesn't get simpler than this. An old inner tube cut into thin strips ready to use as ties for any number of jobs. The other day I used the tube ties to fix the wheels onto the hazel rods to fix together the wheel fence

3) Bicycle chain cover

Just snip the valve off your inner tube and you have an instant, ready to use, no frills chain cover. Not only will it help prevent the elements from rusting it up, when attached to your bicycle the rubber outer will prevent the metal chain from scratching and chipping the paintwork of your treasured bicycle.

4) Wheel rim liner

Quite often (especially with cheaper or old bikes) the liner inside the wheel which protects the inner tube from the spoke nuts has disintegrated- when this happens the top of the nuts (or if you're unlucky a bit of spoke) rubs on the tube. Usually you'll only discover this when you remove the wheel to look for a puncture.

Its well worth re-lining the wheel with a bit of old tube. Inner tubes stretch, so for a 26" wheel use a 20" inner tube- cut the right width and away you go.

5) Emergency firelighters

Quite a few years ago now I was given this firelighting kit by a good friend. Part of it is thin strips of scrap inner tube which help get your campfire going, particularly good in the wet. I always have this with me when off in the wilderness and its now part of my essential bike travel kit.

So if your off on your travels why not put something similar together and take it with you, you'll not regret it.