Episode 168: Fixing a Flat

Air Date: June 8, 2011

A fish on the end of a fishing line can swim so fast that the line’s reel will catch fire due to friction.


After spending a day trying to catch fish without success, the Build Team returned to the shop to test line/reel combinations. They began with a lever-drag reel and measured the maximum temperature achieved with the line running out at 20 miles per hour. Four different lines were tested, with braided Spectra giving the highest result of 158°F; it was used for all further testing. Next, the team switched to older-design star-drag reels, one of which reached 245°F and showed large amounts of smoke.

For full-scale testing, the team outfitted a go-kart to match the mass and top swimming speed of a typical sailfish and hooked their line to it from a star-drag reel. Kari drove it at 68 mph, while Tory applied drag and Grant measured the temperature. The first two runs gave a peak of 530°F and smoked without any fire, even after Tory used larger amounts of flammable lubricant on the second run.

Declaring the myth busted, the team brought in a professional motorcycle racer and his sidecar rig to achieve higher speeds. Tory also changed the lubricant out for even more flammable engine starting fluid. Runs at 140 and 180 mph gave temperatures over 700°F, with the second of these causing the line to melt without burning. Finally, Tory set the reel on fire by exposing it to an open flame.

A car with a flat tire can be made temporarily drivable by stuffing the tire with straw.


Adam and Jamie removed the wheel, stuffed the tire with straw, and re-mounted it. The car performed adequately through one lap, but showed signs of losing its stuffing. Adam and Jamie decided that straw could work as a short-term fix.

A car with a flat tire can be made temporarily drivable by placing a makeshift sled under the tire.


They forced a branch underneath the flat tire, running front to back, and lashed it to the wheel. Although Jamie was able to drive the car forward with a push from Adam, the branch came off at a speed bump.

A car with a flat tire can be made temporarily drivable by replacing the tire with a wheel carved from a log.


They cut a log section to size, made it as round as possible, and mounted it in place of the wheel. It performed well through one full lap, and Adam and Jamie decided that it was the best solution so far.

A car with a flat tire can be made temporarily drivable by mounting a manhole cover to the wheel.


Adam found a cover that was the same size as the tire, mounted it, and was able to drive the course successfully.

A car with a flat tire can be temporarily driven on the bare rim.


Despite the trouble with balance and poor acceleration, Jamie was able to navigate through every obstacle in the course.


  1. Jackson unwin says:

    Wow thanks for letting me on how to change a flat without a spare

  2. Meister Burger says:

    How did you make the lug bolts get longer so they would go through the log wheel?

  3. OogieWaWa says:

    You know, if they wouldn’t have kept dumping tons of oil and ether onto the reel, which carries away tons of heat when it evaporates, it just may have got hot enough to catch fire with a MINIMAL amount of lubricant. Applying the liquid is cooling, acts as a lubricant (duy) and evaporation further cools things. Bogus test.

  4. Bridget says:

    In “A car with a flat tire can be made temporarily drivable by replacing the tire with a wheel carved from a log.”, think about a real like situation. Who would have the tools and material’s to make it successfully? It’s simply ridiculous.

  5. shawn says:

    what if u leave a gun in a freezer would it go off

  6. tena says:

    Just watched a repeat of this episode! I can’t help but think that reels have changed over the years. when I went fishing 30 years ago!!!!!! The reels looked a lot different and were made of different materials. thank you.

  7. shane says:

    is a great australian doco called BUSH MECHANIC, is about how aboriginals use every day items to fix there cars BRILLIANT!!

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