Old tubes to repair farm dam works like a dream


By Digital team | 6 January 2017
Mr. Koos Vorster, the man with the plan.
Mr. Koos Vorster, the man with the plan.

A farm worker uses melted tubes of tyres to repair a cracked farm dam. It works better than any product on the market and costs almost nothing.

When all the plans a farmer can make have been made and still nothing works like it’s supposed to, one tends to get despondent. But if you’ve got someone who’s been working for you for years and who’ve learnt from seeing and doing, there is hope.

Mr. Johannes van Wyk from the Northern Cape in South Africa knows from experience that the usual cement and silicone products don’t really stand the test of the South African wind and weather when a crack in a cement dam needs to be filled.

A farmer found that filling reservoir cracks with melted tube works better than any commercial producte.
A farmer found that filling reservoir cracks with melted tube works better than any commercial producte.

After the first hot day and cold night in Autumn, the silicone pulls off and the cement filling cracks open. The secret is to find a product that can stand the stretching and shrinking – however small it may be – of a farm dam in extreme weather conditions and still be effective in plugging the leaks.

Mr. Koos Vorster, a manager at the Manna Meatmater farm on Johannes’s farm, remembered a plan that his father made years ago to preserve the precious water in a dam.

Johannes says he was sceptical about the plan Koos came up with. “But it couldn’t be worse than the products we’d tried thus far. So I gave Koos the benefit of the doubt.”

And it worked.

“Any red tube, old or new, can work. The black ones go crusty and don’t melt as well as the red ones. And the black ones also crack in the sun and wind,” explains Koos.

Koos shows how the red melted rubber is applied to the cracks.
Koos shows how the red melted rubber is applied to the cracks.

He cuts the tube in pieces, then puts it in a pot on a gas stove.

“The crack also needs to be very clean, which means the dam needs to be emptied. If you do your planning well, the dam can be empty in the morning, the cracks cleaned and the melted tubes applied by the afternoon,” says Johannes.

“The tubes melt within an hour in the pot on the gas stove. Once it’s been applied, you can refill the dam with water within a half an hour – the mix will be dry,” says Koos.

The tubes melt within an hour in a pot.
The tubes melt within an hour in a pot.

It’s much faster than other products, which need a day or more to dry. To finish it off Joahannes then installs a 25 mm flatbar ring around the dam.

“The 25 mm flatbar works really well because it doesn’t rust easily and it can be pulled as tight as an anchor wire. I weld a long threaded rod onto the one side of the flatbar and an eye onto the other end, through which the threaded rod is pulled. Then tighten the steel ring with a nut.”

The iron cost him about ZMK 90. The rest of the parts were already on the farm.

An example of the 25 mm flatbar that is put up around the dam. It helps to minimise the shrinking and expanding of the dam once it’s been sealed with the rubber.
An example of the 25 mm flatbar that is put up around the dam. It helps to minimise the shrinking and expanding of the dam once it’s been sealed with the rubber.