Lessons learned from failure

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tractor tire
Men changing a tractor tire (Farm and Dairy file photo)

The sweat was literally pouring out of my skin. I was in the shade, but I was drenched in sweat. I must have been doing something wrong, but I didn’t know what.

My only formal training on taking off and putting on a tire on the rim came from a video online where an old man did it in his backyard without any special tools in just a few minutes.

I bought special tools. I even bought a couple extra inner tubes. But I quickly found myself waiting over three weeks for this repair — not because I wasn’t working every day, but because I had to wait for the new parts to be delivered.

One by one, I would try to install a new inner tube, mount the tire and inflate. And one by one, I would go back to Amazon and order a new inner tube as the air just wouldn’t stay in the tube. It was humiliating, and that’s when the trouble really began.

I was about to lose my temper and just start smashing the whole project, but cooler heads prevailed. Why…? Because my son offered to race me. It was on.

I had purchased some special tools for dismounting the tires, but I could not catch up to him. I made a mad dash to the toolbox and decided I would cut the tire off the rim. Of course, I would yell at him if he did this, but my pride would not allow me to lose.

Unfortunately, not only was it nearly impossible to cut the tire off, but it also turned out to be much more difficult. What’s worse … I lost.

Having to replace the tire, I placed another order.

This time, I had my wife help me. Despite all my strength and tools, I could barely get the side of the tire over the rim. But I found myself entirely exhausted from the work.

I wasted no time and quickly mounted it to the tractor, as I had work to do. After inflating the tire, I looked around, but I feared something was wrong. The tire was bulging and looked like a giant inflated flat tire. Then, it blew.

It was the loudest bang that I’ve heard since coming home from Iraq two decades ago. I quickly used the army of three brain cells I dedicate to solving problems to creating new adjectives and expletives to express my frustration. Did it help? Yes! My childish anger-fueled outbursts helped.

I took the wheel off, and laid it on the ground. This time, I squeezed the snot out of the tire, as I removed it. And miraculously, just like that, it was off. The tire was ruined, I popped the bead while forcing it on, but that’s where I learned.

I don’t learn from my successes, which is probably why I’m so eager to fail. I learn by examining my failures and conquering them.

The wheel is shaped so that there is a deep “V” groove inside. Squeezing the tire allows the tire to flex and go into the depth of the groove, allowing the other side of the tire to slip over the face of the rim. It’s not important just to get the side of the tire of the rim, but to move it and position it so the next side can slide over. It only took me three tires and seven inner tubes to fix the flat!

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