AKRON-What do you put on a 5-ton, 27-foot wiener? Tires. That is, when the hot dog in question is one of Oscar Mayer Foods Corp.'s ``Wienermobiles,'' the frankfurter-shaped vehicles that cruise the country promoting the company's name.
So when Oscar Mayer outfitted six new vehicles recently, company officials turned to Akron-based Goodyear for help.
``We were approached late last year and asked if we wanted to be the official tire of the Wienermobile,'' a Goodyear spokesman said. ``Of course, we thought it was a good opportunity to be on a fun, non-traditional-type vehicle, so we said yes.''
Odd as that application is, Goodyear had no trouble outfitting each Wienermobile with six standard Wrangler RT/S light truck tires in an extra-duty load range.
But those tires will really have to cut the mustard.
Each Wienermobile averages 50,000 miles a year, an Oscar Mayer spokesman said. The vehicles spread ``miles of smiles,'' appearing at world-famous events like Mardi Gras, the Super Bowl, the World Series, the Kentucky Derby and the Indianapolis 500.
Wienermobiles aren't the only non-standard vehicles that need tires to get around. So Goodyear, like other tire manufacturers, has made other non-traditional fits.
Goodyear has furnished the federal government with foam-filled, bulletproof tires mounted on cars used by U.S. presidents, though the company doesn't talk too much about that application.
``We have historically been asked to keep a low profile on the kind of tire for the presidential limousines,'' the Goodyear spokesman said. ``They're very particular about any of that getting out.''
However, the tire maker has no such misgivings talking about the tires it recently put on the ``Popemobile,'' the see-through, bulletproof vehicle globe-trotting Pope John Paul II usually rides in when he travels through crowds.
On a recent trip to the Philippines, the Pope rode on foam-filled, Goodyear Hi-Milers, the spokesman said. The 6-ton vehicle required six of the puncture-proof tires for support, and it's easy to see why.
The ``Popemobile'' features a quarter-inch layer of steel armor and 4-inch thick glass to protect John Paul II, the spokesman said.
Next time the Pope's in the Philippines, maybe he'll want to check out the world's largest tire, on display at the Ripley's ``Believe It or Not'' museum in Manila.
According to a Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. (BFS) spokeswoman, that's where he'll find some of that company's behemoths this summer.
``Last fall, we donated eight of them to Ripley's,'' the BFS spokeswoman said. ``Ripley's went to Bloomington, Ill., last October and actually picked them up and then hauled them to their headquarters in Orlando, Fla.,'' before taking them to Manila.
They must have used an awfully big truck. The Firestone 53.5/85-57 stands 12 feet 10 inches tall, measures 54 inches wide and weighs 12,000 pounds, the spokeswoman said. Four of the bias-ply giants fit on a new Caterpillar 994 front-end loader, also the world's largest.
Michelin Aircraft Tire Corp.'s claim to fame has nothing to do with earth movers, but with Earth orbiters.
Michelin supplies the tires that go on NASA's space shuttles. The company makes the Michelin Airs, as the space tires are known, at its Norwood, N.C., plant, a spokesman said.
The space shuttle tires have hard, fast lives but die young. They're smaller than tires installed on 747 jumbo jets but carry almost three times the load.
Each tire supports about 150,000 pounds during landing while traveling at more than 250 mph.
Those conditions limit the use of the four landing-gear tires to only one time, and the two nose tires to two or three trips.
No tire has ever failed in the 14-year history of the space shuttle, a Michelin spokesman said. But there was one close call.
``There's been one blowout, and that was because of a brake problem,'' he said. ``But there have been no tire-related problems on the shuttle.''