The front tires on the old ATV that I’ve owned for the past nine years have become so imbedded with thorns that they are impossible to keep inflated. Every time I need to use the vehicle, I have to make a pass by the farm shop and add another half-can of tire sealant before adding air. Even if I use it twice in one day, I still have to follow the same routine and wonder when the tires will eventually become a solid core from all the spray foam I have put in them over the years.
Late this past summer, I noticed a sale on ATV tires at one of the local farm supply stores and decided that I could save money by buying two tires on sale instead of spending $2.95 every other day on tire sealant. Unfortunately, the farm supply store that was running the sale on the tires does not have a trained crew in the back that actually changes tires. It’s just a simple cash and carry operation which left me with the dilemma of changing them myself or paying a real tire shop to do the operation. In an effort to save a few dollars, I decided that I was up for the job. After all, how difficult could it be to change these itty bitty tires?
On one of the hottest afternoons of this overly hot summer, I decided it was time to change the tires. I hadn’t changed a tire by myself in probably 20 years or more because there’s a good tire shop only about 10 minutes from my home. This place has changed all my farm tires on tractors and trucks for all of those 20 years and the people there have done great work at pretty reasonable prices. But, gosh, times are tough and here was a chance to save a few bucks.
Since I’m at the heaviest weight of my life, I figured I could break the tire loose from the rim simply by standing on it. I was wrong, but that didn’t dissuade me. Out came the old splitting maul from my younger wood-cutting days. Several whacks and a pile of sweat later, the tires hadn’t seemed to move even a fraction of an inch from their permanent location on the rim. Next, I tried the steel chisel and after that, real tire tools. Still, there was no progress. Hot, mad and frustrated, I went to the house for a drink of water.
Sensing my anger, Judy asked if there was anything she could do. I mumbled something that I hoped would be inaudible, but my wife followed me back to the shop anyway where I beat on the tire for a few minutes more, cursed a few times and then sat down in a pool of my own sweat. “Why don’t you just cut it off?” she suggested.
“Because a tire has steel cords in it.” I answered rather bluntly. She raised her eyebrows and went back to the house. After another 10 minute battle with the inanimate object, I reached into my jeans and took out my pocket knife. I slowly opened the knife and then abruptly began stabbing the fat little tire over and over again as if it were someone who had just killed both my kids. Then, laughing, I cut out enormous chunks of black rubber that would allow me access to that precious little band that had seemingly grown to the rim. Now, quarts of sticky, slimy sealant oozed out onto the floor and on me in some type of “Jedi” tire revenge. Fighting mad, I made access to the inner parts with cutting pliers that eventually allowed me to cut those tough little steel cords and rip the tire from the rim.
I was pulsating with newfound energy now and with both hands I raised the defeated, mangled rubber above my head, with its dripping sealant blood, like an aboriginal hunter with the head of his first kill.
Realizing there was nobody around to share my success, I looked at my watch. Apparently, I had been fighting my prey for two and one-half hours. There was not enough kitty litter in Lawrence County to soak up all the tire sealant on the floor, plus the clothes I was wearing would surely have to be burned.
I took the remaining tire to the tire shop and paid them $5.00 to change it in less than ten minutes.
Jerry Crownover farms in Lawrence County. He is a former professor of Agriculture Education at Missouri State University, and is an author and professional speaker. To contact Jerry, go to and click on ‘Contact Us.’


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