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Old 10-10-2007, 02:23 PM   #1
CycleDoc59 OP
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Tubeless tire conversion: how to

BACKGROUND: Yes, I've read all the posts, here and elsewhere; about trying everything from silicone to duct tape. But after fighting tube flats over the years, and being envious of those with tubeless tires, I began to experiment with what might be an efffective spoke nipple sealant.

I sealed the rear spokes on my '00 Tiger 2 years, 20K and 3 tires ago. I sealed the rear spokes on my '05 KTM 10K and 2 tires ago. A friend, using the same process, sealed his Tiger spokes several tires ago. No problems at all, none expected. I just completed sealing the rear wheel on a '01 Triumph Bonneville (chrome steel wheel) yesterday.

ADVANTAGES: Easier to change tires; punctures can be quickly fixed with a string-plug. Also, normally water enters the spoke nipple area and over time causes rust/corrosion. This process completely seals the rim; no more rust/corrosion.

DO NOT try to seal 21" front wheels, or any wheels without safety beads;
those bumps that the tires pops over when air is applied. Those beads do two things: help seal the tire bead to the rim, and help keep the tire in place in case of a flat. Also, while rear tire punctures are common, front tire punctures are rare, plus usually the front tire lasts much longer than the rear. I expect bikes that are pounded off-road on a regular basis, are not good candidates for sealing, as they often need spoke replacement/adjustments.

MATERIALS NEEDED: wire brush or two, soap/water, a 1/2" tubeless tire valve stem, a drill bit to enlarge the valve stem hole (or use a bolt-in metal stem). I like the rubber stems, as they can be found most anywhere if ever needed. And one tube of sealant: Amazing Goop. Here's a link to the Goop site, so you can read the hipe. http://www.amazinggoop.com/amazinggoop/index.html Notice that
Goop comes in many varieties, all of which are the same stuff, in a different tube. Pick one. Most hardware stores carry it in one or more forms.

GETTING STARTED: Clean, clean, the spoke area to be sealed must be clean! Use a wire brush, pen knife, picks or whatever to remove any rust or other material from the spoke nipple area. Last thing is to wash the rim/spoke nipple area with soap/water/rag/brush, whatever it takes to get it completely clean. Then allow plenty of time to dry completely. There is no need to rough up the rim with sandpaper/powered wire brush, etc.

APPLICATION: This is a three-day job; DON'T RUSH IT! First day, clean and dry as above. Then set the rim on edge. Apply Goop straight from the tube to each spoke nipple; around the nipple, and over the center. Not too much, but enough to cover. Do only about 6-7 spokes at a time, then wait
15-20 minutes for the Goop to set up before turning the rim to do 6-7 more spokes. This is so the Goop won't sag as you turn the wheel. When complete, set the wheel aside for 24+ hours to cure.

SECOND DAY: The first application will have shrunk, and when it shrinks, it goes down into the areas around the nipple, giving a good seal. Now, apply a second layer of Goop, right over the first. Same as before; around each nipple end, and over the spoke end. Work under a good light and check your work, looking for any voids. Set the wheel aside for another 24+ hours to cure.

THIRD DAY: Recheck each spoke nipple. If all is well, drill out the valve stem hole to pull in the new rubber valve stem. (If you drill, remove any roughness or burrs) Or bolt in the new metal valve stem. Do not use a rim-strip or tape, or anything over the Goop. If you've allowed it to
completely cure, it will be quite tough now. Install your tire, using a good bead lube, like Murphy's Oil Soap, which is ideal. Inflate the tire to proper pressure, set it aside for a few hours, then recheck pressure before installing back on the bike.

If you've taken your time with this, and checked your work, there should be no leakage. But, if the tire has lost several pounds of air pressure, spray on a soapy water solution to find the leaky nipple. Then remove the tire to reseal the culprit. Clean and dry any area to be resealed.

Remember to add a string-plug kit to your tool kit. Also, string-plugs are the only plugs that work well with steel belted tires.
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Old 10-10-2007, 03:29 PM   #2
Tangai
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Excellent write up. I did accentually the same thing only I used Permatex ULTRA GRAY silicone gasket maker. Really tough stuff and only needs to be applied once, but needs 12 hours to cure. I did this on my Ducati Elephant 900 more than ten years ago. I put 65,000 miles on that bike running the rear tire only tubeless. Now, with my KTM 950A, I'm on my second rear tire and at 4,500 miles on the front, both tubeless. I went ahead and did the front too on this bike because I almost never go off road and run 30psi in each. However, like you I do not recommend to anyone that they run the front tire on this bike tubeless because, as you pointed out, the front wheel is not a safty rim.

Again good write up, thanks.
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Old 10-10-2007, 04:32 PM   #3
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Front punctures aren't rare for me, unfortunately. In 25 years of riding, I have have more front flats than rears. Especially on dirt bikes.

I have had one flat so far on my 950--on the front--courtesy of a king-sized Mesquite thorn.
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Old 10-10-2007, 04:52 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnf3
Front punctures aren't rare for me, unfortunately. In 25 years of riding, I have have more front flats than rears. Especially on dirt bikes.

I have had one flat so far on my 950--on the front--courtesy of a king-sized Mesquite thorn.
You need to be wheeling over everything-then no front tire flats
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Old 10-11-2007, 07:52 PM   #5
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Thumb Going Tubeless

Great post on going tubeless. I disagree on one point. It does not matter if the front rim is designed to be tubeless or not. If you get a flat with a tube, the air will escape much quicker than if the spokes are sealed and there is no tube. either way if you let the tire go all the way flat, the tire will still come off the rim. If you pick up a nail while tubeless, deflation will be slow enough to give you time to stop and repair the leak before total deflation. I have Goop sealed the front and rear wheels on my 1998 Tiger several years ago and only the rear wheel has a tubeless style rim.

In addition to keeping a string type plug kit, also keep a DC powered air pump on the bike. (I saw a compact one recently for sale at AutoZone in the Slime display. CO2 tubes are a waste of time.

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Old 10-12-2007, 06:39 AM   #6
Tangai
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One more important thing to remember before converting to tubless. Make sure you have 4-5k miles on the bike and the spokes are well seated and tight first.
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Old 10-12-2007, 07:44 AM   #7
Sheep Shagger
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Nice description, But how do you adjust the spokes without breaking the seal?
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Old 10-12-2007, 08:15 AM   #8
RedRupert
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Yes, a good write up.

I did mine a year ago. I've since done over 10,000 km on it, and changed one tyre. All has been well.

I used normal silicon mastic, and did it in one go. I used masking tape over greased spoke nipples to allow for adjustment.

I did not do the front as: 1) it's much easier to repair a front puncture, 2) there is no safety bead, and 3) it is much worse to have a front wash out than a rear (but now I've tested DIY tubeless, I would do a front).

I think a tubeless tyre may last longer, but I need more time to tell.
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Old 10-03-2011, 05:55 AM   #9
alexisan
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Hi guys, I am about to do the same when I get my TKC's next week.
Could you tell me some tricks on "How to"

1. cleaning the surface
2. cover up the niples
3. apply silicon, using a gun (?)
4. level surface
5. wait 24 hours
6. Hope it doesnt leak..

Would that be the sequence?
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Old 10-04-2011, 05:04 AM   #10
RedRupert
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexisan View Post
Hi guys, I am about to do the same when I get my TKC's next week.
Could you tell me some tricks on "How to"

1. cleaning the surface
2. cover up the nipples
3. apply silicon, using a gun (?)
4. level surface
5. wait 24 hours
6. Hope it doesnt leak..

Would that be the sequence?
My rear is still fine after around 65,000 km (40,000 miles). However, filling the valley with mastic does make changing tyres more difficult - for this reason I'll be using blobs of glue on the spoke nipples next time.

Anyway, to answer your questions:

1. Carb cleaner, brake cleaner, contact cleaner or acetone
2. A small dot of grease on the nipple, then a disk of masking tape
3. By gun with no nozzle
4. With a plastic spatula cut to to shape so that it runs along the rim on both sides, leaving a skim of mastic about 5mm over the nipples.
5. Wait as long as you can - a week, or more if possible.
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Old 10-04-2011, 05:22 AM   #11
CycleDoc59 OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexisan View Post
Hi guys, I am about to do the same when I get my TKC's next week.
Could you tell me some tricks on "How to"

1. cleaning the surface
2. cover up the niples
3. apply silicon, using a gun (?)
4. level surface
5. wait 24 hours
6. Hope it doesnt leak..

Would that be the sequence?
"Goop" works well. It has Very good adhesion, is clear so you can see any voids or bubbles, and
one small tube will easily do any rim. Each spoke is done individually; about 1/4 of the rim at a time,
till it dries for 12 hrs or so, then at least one more trip around after completion. Goop stays flexible and
springy, and the only way to remove it is grinding, or a chisel.. Any leaks later are easily fixed with
an additional dab.
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Old 10-04-2011, 07:37 AM   #12
alexisan
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ok, then I am going to get the Goop stuff too. Will also just fill the niples. Would you go for glue as well or just Goop?
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Old 10-04-2011, 08:49 AM   #13
CycleDoc59 OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexisan View Post
ok, then I am going to get the Goop stuff too. Will also just fill the niples. Would you go for glue as well or just Goop?
Just Goop. When you buy it, the tube may say "Automotive", or "Marine" or "Plumbing".
But it's all the same stuff.. Clean the rim/spoke ends, and finally wipe down w/alcohol.
Goop will shrink when it sets, put a blob on each spoke end (top 1/4 of wheel), let
it set up for a few hours, then repeat for each quarter of the wheel. Let it cure for a couple
days, then go around and do it again, as there will be voids/bubbles. Let it cure again,
then recheck; you should be done.....!
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Old 10-04-2011, 08:52 AM   #14
alexisan
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ok, will do that.
Was checking Loewes yesterday for Goop. Didn't have it. Where did you get yours?
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Old 10-04-2011, 09:38 AM   #15
Subutai
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Filling the nipples sounds like a bad idea to me.. you pretty much have to dismount the tyre, remove all the sealant whatever you use and then redo the whole sealing process if you want to be sure that no leaks develop when you have to adjust the spokes?

I saw a method earlier about a kind of tape to be used to seal the rim. Tape would be easier to remove and allows for adjustment of the spokes. Anybody know if any of the tapes which I could get from the hardware store could do this trick? Or maybe use some kind of film over a strong glue of sorts, similar to using a silicone layer evened with a spatula?

Great write up nevertheless!
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