Puncture plugs came 50 years before tubeless tyres

Here’s An Advertisement For Them From A 1902 Magazine

The ease with which a tubeless tyre can be fixed makes you wonder why we wasted years patching and vulcanising inner tubes. Find the leak, insert a plug of soft rubber, inflate the tyre, and get going again. They are a boon for everyone, especially bikers going off the beaten track.

Tubeless tyres went mainstream in the 1950s, but the well-known method of repairing them is much older, a relic of America’s single-tube tyres that were popular at the end of the 19th century and in the early years of the 20th.

How were single-tube tyres different from tubeless tyres? Both do not have inner tubes, but the single-tube tyre is itself a tube. It is a sheath of rubber and canvas that encloses pressurised air and is firm enough to support a bicycle or automobile. It is simply a very strong tube.

The tubeless tyre does not have a tube. It holds pressurised air between its own walls on three sides, and the wheel rim on the fourth.

So, how old is the method of fixing tubeless tyre punctures? It was being used in exactly the same way 115 years ago. Take a look at this magazine advertisement for the Diamond brand of repair kits from 1902. They claimed to be economical and simple to use.

Tubeless

Single-tube tyres were already in use in America at the time but they were not easy to repair, as the copy explains: “The owners of machines object to removing tyres and sending them away to be vulcanised for the reason that they lose the use of the machine and the expensive method of repairing.”

Diamond Rubber Company claimed their kit would “successfully close a puncture in a few minutes and make a permanent repair.” The accompanying pictures make the repair look very easy. “We have a device that anyone can use successfully.

It must have been a new technique at the time because the Ohio-based company was willing to “furnish a complete outfit for $2, and ship it to you on trial, to be returned if unsatisfactory.”

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