Friday, July 10, 2009

what do you do with an old bathtub?

in time to come, you will not be able to see the old bathtub outside the bicycle repair shop or the tyre repair shop in singapore. with tubeless bicycle and motor-cycle tyres, the repairman no longer need to submerge the inflated inner tube in a bathtub of water to check the effectiveness of his handiwork.

picture from national archies of singapore

you will be hard-pressed to find a bicycle repair shop in your neighbourhood. these days, even bicycle tyres are tubeless. if the tyre is defective, the bicycle shop will sell you an inner tube. however, if your bicycle tyre is one that still has an inner tube and that is punctured, you can easily mend it yourself. you buy a patch to stick over the punctured part.

in the days when we also rode bicycle with inner tubes and when we had a puncture, we would go to the bicycle/motorcycle repair shop to have it fixed. that was when the discarded bathtub came in useful. the repairman would inflate the punctured inner tube and then passed it under the surface of the water (in the bathtub) to ascertain the spot where the puncture had occurred.

he would mark the spot, dry the area around the spot and then he would use a metal file to file the area. he cut a piece of rubber from an old discarded inner tube, filed it and then applied contact glue to the two surfaces - the spot that he had filed and one side of the rubber piece.

i can still remember how he went about afixing the rubber patch to the punctured spot. he would stretch that affected part of the inner tube over his fist. after filing and applying the glue, he would have to wait for the glue to dry. to hasten the drying process, he would blow his breath over the area.

those days when motor-car tyres had inner tubes, when we had a puncture, we did not go to the workshop at the petrol station to have it fixed. instead, we would drive it to one of these bicycle-cum-motor-cycle repair shops. the mechanic would jack up the car, remove the offending tyre and follow more or less the same procedure. however, for bigger inner tube, there was one more step. they would use heat to fuse the two pieces of rubber together.

i think in those early days, the cost of repair for a punctured bicycle tyre was about twenty or thirty cents whereas for a car tyre, we had to pay $1.50 or $2.00.

where, in singapore, can you still find an old bathtub outside a shop?


peter said...

They still do the bath-tub test for leaks on car radial tyres -those without inner tubes. The idea is to see whether bubbles rise. if there are they want to find the location and then seal it with a kind of thick thread. They use a T-shape handle with the thread wound through the needle and force it through the hole of the tyre. By a few turns, they pull out the needle and the ends that stick out of the tyre will be sliced off.

This method saves one from buying a new tyre. The cost of the repair is S$10.

There are very few stand-alone car tyre shops in my area. Two I know are at Marine Parade and Nallur Road. Most are now attach to a gas station.

Lam Chun See said...

Ah yes. This is another of those processes that I liked to watch as kids. The other being how they fried the you char kueh.

We had a bicycle shop not far from our kampong house.

Victor said...

Bicycles have no inner tubes? YG, you are way ahead of my time. All my bicycles still have inner tubes.

And yes, whenever the inner tube springs a leak, they always replace it with a brand new one instead of repairing. I guess their profit margin is higher that way and both customers and shop assistants have little time or patience nowadays to wait for a repair service to be slowly completed. After all, it costs only $10-15 to replace an inner tube (ordinary type made in PRC or ROC) - chicken feet... I mean feed to most people in modern times.

yg said...

peter, the petrol station where i go to fix a puncture uses soap suds to check for leaks instead of immersing the tyre in a bathtub.

yg said...

victor, my foldable dahon hike - which is definitely more than 10 years old - has tubeless tyres.

stanley said...

When I was a kid, I remember I used to cut strips of rubber,about 15 cm in length, from the discarded inner tube to make lastic(catapult)

yg said...

stanley, yes, the used inner tube was used for the lastik, toy gun and also for the baby's sarong.

peter said...

also can use as a float if u can't swim.

nah said...

A punctured tyre is one of those things that happens when we least expect it. If the tyre puncture is by a nail, the tyre is usually repaired by using a tyre plug. The plug gets heated up from driving, and it melts into the tyre and becomes one piece. If the puncture is not made by a nail, but by a cut, then patching is used where the patch is heated and fused to the inside of the tire. Another method of fixing a tyre puncture temporarily is to use the aerosol tyre sealer which comes in a can. When used, the sealant is forced into the inside of the tyre, through the valve, to seal the puncture, so that you can get to a safe place to get the puncture repaired.

peter said...

Has anybody ever seen a woman-driver replacing a flat tyre?

Lam Chun See said...

Stanley. My friend Chuck blogged about the 'lastic' here. he even gave detail instructions on how to make one.

Dogcom said...

The old fashion bicycle repair we talked about here is still very much alive in Shanghai today. The guy is probably doing it just to past time. Notice the tools are really the simplest and basic.