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Don't Let This Happen To You
Don't use LP gas to inflate tractor tires, warns an Arizona farmer who was nearly killed when a gas-inflated windrower tire exploded.
With the help of a neighbor, Jim Harbison (not his real name) was getting in the first cutting of hay last spring, making good progress until mid-morning when the right tire on the windrower went flat. Jim gassed up the tire and went down to the neighbor's place where repairs could be made. The tire went flat again just as Jim arrived at the neighbor's farm shop. This time, compressed air was used to refill the tire. Closer examination showed a crack in the rim.
Jim rotated the wheel to put the crack at the bottom. He welded the crack while the tire was flat but didn't remove it from the wheel. The tire was again inflated with air and the leak rechecked. A pinhole crack still remained so Jim touched the electrode to the wheel.
Apparently, there was just enough residual LP gas to combine with the air for a letter per feet explosive mixture. The blast ripped out the back of the tire. With the frame of the windrower serving as a launching pad, the tire and wheel took off like a rocket, shearing threads off the 8 lug nut bolts and traveling approximately 115 ft.
Unfortunately, Jim was in the way. The projectile struck him diagonally across the left forehead, crushing the skull bone nearly 2 in. into his brain. It destroyed his left cheekbone, broke his jaw and moved his left eye downward nearly 2 in.
Fortunately Jim recovered. There is a slight furrow across his forehead but his mind is clear and he's back farming his 1200 acres. He wants his story told. He says very simply that he doesn't want any farmer anywhere to go through the agonies he suffered. It all could have been avoided with, an inexpensive air compressor plugged into the cigarette lighter from his truck. His neighbors are emptying the gas out of their tires like crazy, he reports.

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1979 - Volume #3, Issue #3