By Caroleine James
Wrangell Sentinel 

New shop offers tire mounting, repair services


April 12, 2023 | View PDF

Caroleine James/Wrangell Sentinel

John Hurst has opened a tire service shop on Third Street, just off the road to the airport. He provides repair and tire-mounting services.

If you're having trouble with your tires - or you want to commission a custom blade - John Hurst of John's Junk Removal has expanded his offerings to include tire repair, mounting and balance, plus handmade metalworks from his new forge.

Hurst bought his tire-mounting machine on a whim last December, after seeing one available for sale. "I needed my tires changed and the one guy who did it here in town was really busy at that time," he explained. "I said, what the heck, I'll buy it for 150 bucks and change my own tires." After successfully operating the machine on his own tires, he decided to open a repair business to help out other community members.

Unfortunately, Hurst's machine can only handle tires with steel rims, typically found on cars that were made before 2005. "I have an older tire machine," he explained. "It will ruin newer rims." Hurst refers customers with aluminum or aftermarket wheels to another repairman who can handle the job.

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In the future, he hopes to invest in a swing-arm tire machine that can accommodate all kinds of tires and rims. However, these machines don't come cheap. "You're looking at $25,000 for the lowest, cheapest model, plus shipping, of course," he said. Saving up for one may take a while - "unless I win the lottery or something," Hurst laughed. "Or the Fourth of July contest."

The tire-mounting machine is housed on Third Avenue behind the old car wash. To set up an appointment, call or text Hurst at 907-305-0648. His usual hours are Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Quick tire repairs, like plugs, cost $15. Other repairs range from $25 to $85 for changing out all four tires. Customers can anticipate a roughly 20-minute wait time per tire.

But tire repair and junk removal aren't all Hurst does - he has a side gig as an aspiring blacksmith. The Third Avenue garage doubles as a blacksmith shop where he creates custom metalworks on commission for members of the community.

Weapons like knives and swords have always interested Hurst, and in recent years he decided to try his hand at forming blades of his own.

"Somebody asks, 'Hey, can you make this?' And I say, 'I don't know. Maybe. Probably. Most of the time, yes,'" Hurst said. "I've only been doing it for a year and a half, two years now." But even though he picked up the skill recently, he's already produced knives, metal tools, a hammer, a marlinspike (used in rope work), a harpoon and more for customers around Wrangell.

After watching a few episodes of the History Channel's bladesmith competition series "Forged in Fire," Hurst picked up a propane bottle and piece of steel and headed to his front yard to try his hand at the craft. Unsatisfied with the results of these initial metallurgic experiments, he bought a forge in March 2021 and started learning the trade in earnest.

"It was slow going at first," he recalled, especially since blacksmithing requires many specialized tools. "It took me a year to finally get an anvil," he wrote.

Blacksmithing doesn't pay the bills like Hurst's other jobs do, but he's passionate about learning the trade. "It's more of a personal side thing that's really fun," he said.


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