Bill Thomas is indeed one of the ``real'' pillars of our industry (as Chuck Slaybaugh said in his column in the Oct. 31 issue), and I have always been thankful I had the opportunity to know him. I will never forget the day Bill purchased a full new plant of Marangoni equipment from me. We walked up the street to a Bank of America branch and he told the manager to honor all of my invoices that would be forthcoming for the new advanced retreading machinery he was buying.
I worked closely with Bill and together we produced some very good tires. Yes, there were problems converting from the bias to the radial, and yes, each tire had to be measured and given much more care and concern than the bias tire, but we did produce good tires.
When you close a segmented matrix, it is like a full-circle unit and with any one set of bead plates there is just one bead-to-bead dimension. In other words, when you close the mold you only have one cavity to deal with and you have the tire encased in aluminum from bead-to-bead. Unless the tire fits perfectly, you will produce a tire that either has buckles in the belt and or the bead or you will stretch and fracture the casing. Either way, you have produced junk.
The only way out is to have a selection of bead plates that will give you a range of bead-to-bead dimensions. Also needed is a work ethic, on the part of the mold operator, that will ensure that each tire is matched to a specific cavity.
The MD-800 Marangoni presses Bill Thomas purchased are now producing radial retreads on a 24-hour basis and have been since they were sold by Bill back in the early '80s.
These presses went from Oakland, Calif., to Idaho and are now installed at the Les Schwab Tire Centers Inc. retread plant in Prineville, Ore., where 45,000 radial passenger retreads are produced each month.
Yes, we have all watched passenger retreading die, but it is not because of the quality of the casing, but rather, because very few retreaders had the desire to do it the ``hard right way.''
Les Schwab produces excellent passenger retreads, not only for mud and snow, but in high performance designs as well, and their rejection rates are about the same as the new tires.
The company has retooled over the past several years purchasing Admiral segmented matrices. Each matrix has at least three sidewall plates so that the variances in the bead-to-bead range of the casings can be properly handled.
I think Mr. Slaybaugh's column was a true account of the way one company saw the problem, but I really don't think you can lump the entire industry into this mold.
The Achievor Tire's (formerly Lakin), the Les Schwab's and the Ray Carr Tires' of this industry have been retreading radial tires for a long time and doing an excellent job, and for you to give one side of the story is not, in my opinion, good reporting.
Passenger retreading has lost ground, in my opinion, because the retreader was not willing to invest the money necessary in radial molds, and because they were not willing to learn about new processing methods.
Marangoni in Italy retreads over 6,000 radial tires daily using the same kind of equipment and methods the aforementioned retreaders use.
In my opinion your article was extremely harmful to the passenger tire retreading industry, and I would like to see either a retraction or at least an amplification that tells the other side of the story.
Wants results made public
Pertaining to your story ``Sparks fly at NTDRA Town Meeting'' in the Sept. 19 issue, if we as dealers don't know the results of the association's annual survey of members regarding the precepts of the `Tire Dealers' Bill of Rights,'' why should we participate?
We are tired of the manufacturers walking all over us. What goes around comes around. Now it's our turn! Let them (the manufacturers) get mad, maybe that will help them get smart.
Dixie Tire & Automotive
There's a cost to ensure safety
Regarding zipper ruptures in all-steel medium and light truck tires, how many dealers have taken the time to consider the extra labor involved to protect against possible injuries from zipper failures? Also, how many dealers have adjusted their prices accordingly?