A number of products grabbed front-page headlines in 1993, but not always for the reasons hoped for by manufacturers or marketers. Fuller Brothers Inc., a Clackamas, Ore.-based manufacturer of retreading industry related products, launched a ``crusade'' against Equal, a truck tire balancing product sold by International Marketing Inc. of Chambersburg, Pa.
Fuller Brothers alleged that Equal-a powdery substance installed inside the tire for balancing purposes-emits dangerous formaldehyde gas once heated to operating temperatures.
Responding to Fuller Brothers' accusation that Equal is a potential carcinogen, IMI cited technical data that it contended shows its product is no threat to tire service personnel.
Furthermore, IMI contended, Fuller Brothers waged the campaign because Fuller's ``Tire Life,'' a rust-inhibitor used on truck rims, isn't compatible with Equal.
The campaign generated a lawsuit between the two companies and an investigation by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration-both of which are still unresolved.
Late in 1993, industry experts began warning service personnel against dangerous ``zipper'' failures which are showing up in the sidewalls of all-steel light truck radials.
Such failures are made even more dangerous in view of the fact that, unlike commercial truck tires, which federal regulations say must be changed using a safety cage, most light truck tires are changed using passenger tire equipment, leaving the service worker dangerously unprotected in the event of an explosion.
Edward J. Wagner, president of Tire Technical Inc. in Louisville, Ky., one of those issuing such warnings, called for an investigation into the causes of such failures and to determine why they appear to occur much more frequently in North America than elsewhere.
The Environmental Protection Agency proposed a ban on OZ-12-a highly flammable air conditioning refrigerant sold as a replacement for R12 (freon).
Experts estimated as many as 50,000 U.S. vehicles have air conditioners recharged with OZ-12.
Bob Lanzendorf, product manager for Moog Automotive's A/C product lines, warned at the Ohio Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association's June convention that other potential replacements such as R-176, GHG, R-22, MP-52, MP-39 and MP-66 may also pose problems.
Toyo Tire (U.S.A.) Corp. officials introduced the company's first 80,000-mile warranted tire, the Toyo 800 Plus. The tire is an all-season touring tire carring an S speed rating and a top UTQG treadwear grading of 540 for 15-inch sizes.
Goodyear and Akron Paint and Varnish Inc. jointly announced the development of a new water-based adhesive called Zevoc for use as a tackifying cement to hold precure tread rubber and cushion rubber components in place on the casing during the retreading process.
According to the companies, Zevoc contains no volatile organiccompounds or other materials classified as hazardous.
Meanwhile, two new health insurance programs offering participants a cut in rates without decreasing benefits were debuted by the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association.
Among these were a a new program promising a 10-percent rate cut on medical and dental insurance and a plan for catastrophic insurance featuring up to $1 million in coverage with an optional 3-percent reduction in premiums if the participant agrees to a higher deductible figure.
The new plans are backed by New York Life, which has provided coverage to NTDRA members for 14 years.
Likewise, the American Retreaders Association also unveiled new insurance programs-providing health, property and life coverage-along with a new credit card processing system and check authorization plan for members.
The new programs were described as being of particular benefit to smaller retreading operations needing the potential savings afforded by group rates.
The ARA's credit card processing system offers dealers and retreaders a rate of 1.55 percent on Visa and Mastercard transactions. The association's check authorization program, meanwhile, offers a rate of 1.15 percent and can be used to guarantee checks up to $2,500.