Handle with Care

John Baxter | May 01, 2012

6.  Use a spoon or special prying tool like the Gaither tool shown to gently pry the bead over the rim at one point. Carefully rotate the tool around the rim to pry the rest of the bead over the top.

7.  Repeat Step 6 for the bead on the other side. With regular tire spoons, use two of them to work the tire off the rim.


1.  Coat all the surfaces with tire and tube mounting compound — full strength or blended with water, per instructions.

A slide hammer applies the force needed to separate the bead from the rim without damaging it.

2.  Turn the tire to a horizontal position and work the lower bead over the upper rim of the wheel by hand. Then use the spoon to pry a small section of the upper bead over the rim. The spoon has a small tab on one side you hook under the rim for more leverage. Work the bead over the rim, a small section at a time, by prying gently with the tool.

3.  Use air pressure to seat the bead against the rim on both sides. (Don’t try the dangerous and destructive method of using ether and igniting it with a match.) The most common tool is a special, small air tank with a release valve and nozzle, like those made by Cheetah or Gaither. Charge the device’s tank with air from your compressor, then position the nozzle of the device between the rim and the bead and open the valve to blast air into the tire and seat the bead.

The smooth surface and spoon shape of this device will protect the delicate bead from damage during de-mounting and mounting.

4.  Install and tighten the tire valve stem. Position the tire in a safety cage and stand to one side. If the cord structure of a tire has been damaged, it often comes apart during inflation with deadly force. Inflate the tire gradually to its normal pressure, typically 105 psi. Portable cages are available and can be carried in a large toolbox.

5.  If a tire has been run flat, slowly inflate it in a safety cage to 20 psi over its normal operating pressure. If you hear the cords tearing, it means they are damaged; stop inflation and stand aside. If the tire holds the high pressure, undamaged, for 20 minutes, deflate it to its normal pressure and use it.

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