Wide-base tires, new and retreaded, are providing an extended-mileage benefit for dry-van carrier Bear Trucking Inc., according to a company manager.
“The mileage is excellent,” said Wayne Jacobi, operations manager for the San Bernardino, Calif.-based company.
The fleet runs three brands of wide tires on about 45 tractors and 140 trailers, he added.
Singling out a recent example in which new wide-base tires on a tractor operated exclusively by one driver lasted more than 200,000 miles, Jacobi said, “When we finally pulled them off, they were still ‘capable’ casings.”
After being recapped, those tires have been running on a trailer and are expected to reach the same mileage. “We have been doing recaps on the wide-base tires since 2010,” he said.
Typically we would get between 150,000 and 160,000 miles on drive tires in a dual configuration, before retreading was needed. Quality retreads have been a staple for the trucking industry. Many retreads, though, use outdated equipment to remove the original tread from wide tires — a process called buffing. Retreads have been steadily replacing their machines with newer, computerized buffers that can be used on all truck tires
This makes the buffing step more precise, in order to remove the appropriate amount of original tread and yet keep a safe distance from the belt package.
David Stevens, managing director of the Tire Retread and Information Bureau in Falls Church, Va., said,“Continued adoption of wide-base tires by fleets that do careful [return-on-investment] analysis and have tire-maintenance programs shows that for the right application, wide-base tires can provide economic benefits — including successful multiple retreads.”
He added: “There really haven’t been changes in the retreading process for wide-base tires,” which he said has been in existence for more than 20 years.
What has changed, Stevens said, is that tire sizes that were predominately used on refuse trucks and saw “very little, if any, use in line-haul trucking” have evolved, and the retread industry “has adapted to take on the challenge of retreading these tires for line-haul use.”As with dual tires, casing is critical to retreading, tire manufacturers said.
Compounds, sipping, tread design, inspection equipment and processes are all areas where great strides [also] have been made,” he added.
Last year, Michelin launched a wide-base retread for the line-haul drive position. And Continental Tire has introduced a retread for its HTL1 wide-single retread.
Additionally, the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., based in Akron, Ohio, has wide-base tires with “DuraSeal,” — a feature that “instantly seals punctures of up to a quarter-inch in diameter in the repairable area of a truck tire’s tread,” said Brian Buckham, commercial brand manager, adding that the feature “helps ensure casing integrity” for retreads by not allowing the tire to go flat.
“If the tire continues to roll while losing air, its casing durability will begin to degrade over time — similar to running a tire at a low air pressure,” Buckham said.
Although retread-ability plays an important role in the purchase of wide-base tires, the products offer other benefits that are driving a perceived sales growth — such as weight and fuel savings, tire makers and fleets
“Our sense is that [sales are] growing, slowly, the wide-tire market is described as a niche that can be profitable for manufacturers targeting weight-sensitive carriers.
For such fleets, the product makes sense. “There is no disputing that these tires save fuel, tanker fleets and bulk haulers see an immediate increase in payload capacity due to the weight savings from wide-base tires.
There is a fuel-savings advantage as well, but that can be a bit more difficult to accurately track and document unless the fleet keeps very good records.”
But a problem with wide-base tires and their wheels involves the possibility of a blowout on a truck traveling at highway speed.
“If you’re doing 65 or 70 miles an hour down the road and one of these tires goes down, by the time you realize it and are able to pull over,” the tire and the rim are destroyed in many cases.
“If you have a blowout, you’re guaranteed you’re going to lose a rim,” Bear Trucking’s Jacobi said. “The weight just drops down on the rim, and the rim’s gone.”
He also said such events were infrequent: “We just don’t have very many road calls on them.” the rate of such occurrences — losing tire and rim — was very low in the six years the fleet has been running wide wheels and tires. The fleet consists of 24 tractors and 32 refrigerated trailers, running on two brands of tires.
“I’ve had two situations out of maybe 30 tire issues on the road [where] we ended up needing a rim,” he said.
Overall, the switch to wide-base wheels has been good, saving over a thousand pounds per combination. That’s allowed us to put more product on our trailers
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