Saturday, March 16, 2019

tool time: make your own patches and save some money

(Below: My Sunday Parkways tool kit.)
Tool Time returns with a little tutorial on high-zoot cheapskating: make your own patches!

The average price for a regular (non-instant or glueless) patch kit is between $4 and $5 at your local bike shop. The price for a replacement patch is between $0.25 and $0.50. A replacement tube of patch cement (which is, basically, a sticker form of rubber cement) is around $3.

I now make my own patch kits, and the only thing I still need to buy from the bike shop is a can of patch glue.

The container is usually an old Altoids or Sucrets tin. They're sturdy and hold a lot of patches and glue, ideal if you're on an extended tour or you just like a Girl Scout level of preparedness.

Any strip of emery cloth will do; you can but a whole roll at a hardware store, or just beg a few inches from your local metal shop or auto garage.

As for patches? Make them yourself, from old inner tubes that have seen the end of the road (for me, that's a tube with twelve or more patches on it. Your Mileage May Vary).

Here's how I do it:

1. Cut up a dead inner tube into 1" x 12" strips.

2. Clean the INSIDE of powder and residue, then gently rough up with sandpaper. (Blow away the rubber "crumbs" afterwards.) The INSIDE of the tube will have no "seams" from the mold on it, making for better adhesion after the patch is buffed up and glue applied.

3. Cut into 1" squares. (buff the inside of the longer pieces before you cut them down this small.)

4. Spread out a clean sheet of tin foil on a smooth, flat surface.

5. Working in a well-ventilated place, apply a very thin coating of rubber cement to each square on the roughed up side. After applying glue, one at a time, lay the squares glue-side down on a flat sheet of tinfoil about 1/2" apart.

6. When the sheet is filled with squares, cover it with wax paper and weight it down with a couple of books to keep flat. Let dry for a couple days in the well-ventilated place. 
7. When dry, remove the wax paper, cut tinfoil into larger squares around each patch (I like to leave 1/4" of tinfoil around the edges of the patch for easier handling), and your patches are ready to use (or store in a cool, dry place). Use as refills for an existing patch kit and follow instructions as you would for a commercially made patch.

(Below: My patch kit with both homemade and factory-made patches, a strip of emery cloth I schnorred (Yiddish, begged) from an auto garage, and replacement tube of glue.)

(NOTE: I've found that I need to apply pressure for longer than the thirty seconds suggested by most patch kit instructions with my homemade patches, sometimes up to a minute. I'm not sure why but it seems to hold better when I do this.

Another thing: Homemade patches are best in a standard 1" size or smaller. If you try to make a large patch it may not hold evenly all around. For really big holes, use a factory-made oblong patch.

I patched this tube yesterday -- someone had forced a 26" tube into a 700c tire and I was swapping it out to patch and keep. When the patch was applied and dried, I deflated it, rolled it up, wrote the size and valve on the tube and stored it.
If you haven't yet signed up for #30daysofbiking -- consider doing it! All you have to do is pledge to ride your bike every day in April -- anywhere, any distance -- and take mental note of anything cool from each ride (even if it's just a cool cloud formation).

If you want to make it more formal, check out Thirty Days Of Biking HERE. You can sign up to make a frmal pledge, help raise money to World Bicycle Relief, and find other riders in your area.
And check out Joyful Riders Worldwide on Facebook, where folks from literally ALL OVER the world report on their joyful bike ride moments, in April and all year round. Occasionally, folks in the same region might meet up and ride together.

Happy riding! Rubber side down, kids!

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