QUINCY, Ill.—Titan Wheel International Inc. has introduced what it calls a ground-breaking tire and wheel concept that considerably enhances the performance of off-highway vehicles. Titan's unique new series of wheels and tires, named the Grizz LSW (which stands for ``low side wall''), features a larger diameter rim and lower-profile tire than traditional off-highway wheel assemblies. And unlike most conventional tires, the concept also relies on the tires' stiffer sidewalls to help support the load.
According to a company news release, the LSW tire's principal performance advantage is its ability to support operational loads at substantially lower inflation pressures than a comparable standard tire.
When under load at the reduced inflation pressure, the new LSW tire's sidewall deflection is significantly less than that of conventional constructions. And this, Titan said, results in the following performance benefits:
Reduced vehicle bounce or pitch under dynamic conditions, thereby enhancing driver control;
Increased sidewall stability when cornering or when subjected to side loading;
Greater operator safety and comfort and reduced fatigue;
Fewer flats and less destructive heat build-up in the tire's sidewalls;
Larger wheel clearance for brake mechanisms;
Improved bead retention at lower inflation pressures;
Mounting and demounting via conventional procedures;
Less soil compaction; and
A significant reduction in the quantity of foam or urethane needed for applications using such filling materials.
Titan's new LSW design incorporates changes in both the rim flange and tire bead seat geometry—for which the company has patents pending.
The concept is the brainchild of Titan President and CEO Maurice Taylor Jr., who spearheaded the LSW's development despite initial misgivings on the part of the company's engineers.
The Quincy-based manufacturer of mounted tire and wheel assemblies is betting heavily on the new LSW concept, whose performance, according to Mr. Taylor, has since made believers out of Titan's engineering and technical staff.
For the past 50 years, he said, the basic design of farm, construction and specialty tires has remained largely unchanged. But change is forthcoming, he's convinced, because Titan's new LSW tire and wheel assembly is going to take the off-highway tire market by storm.
``With our new design,'' he said, ``aerial lifts won't sway, backhoes won't bounce, and tractors won't hop (when traveling over irregular road surfaces).'' With the simple installation of Grizz LSW tire and wheel assemblies—which require no further modification of the vehicle—virtually all types of off-highway equipment perform so appreciably better that users will soon settle for nothing less, he predicted.
The concept already has been tested and has drawn favorable evaluations from several manufacturers of farm and construction equipment, including Deere & Co., Mr. Taylor said.
In fact, Titan is so confident of the concept's superiority that efforts already are under way to begin retooling the company's tire and wheel manufacturing operations here and in Europe to produce such assemblies.
According to Mr. Taylor, the company will offer the LSW product line in both the original equipment and the replacement markets. Independent tire dealers can expect delivery of the first of these products within six months, he said.
Ultimately, he foresees Titan replacing all its 50,000 existing wheel sizes and types with LSW equivalents—everything from four-inch sizes on up through 90 inches.
Meanwhile, Titan simply doesn't have enough production capacity to take full advantage of the anticipated demand for the new LSW line while continuing to supply customers who opt for its conventional tire and wheel assemblies, Mr. Taylor admitted.
In fact, this need to obtain additional tire manufacturing capacity as rapidly as possible, he said, is behind Titan's current effort to purchase the Natchez, Miss., tire plant of Fidelity Tire Corp. while simultaneously building a $100 million farm and off-road tire plant of its own in Brownsville, Texas.
Negotiations for the purchase of Fidelity were still going on between Titan and Condere Corp., Fidelity's parent corp., when TIRE BUSINESS went to press May 8.
Meanwhile, Titan also has begun a $6.5 million expansion of its Quincy plant, which manufactures off-highway rims. The project, which calls for the installation of robotic welding units and other production equipment for agricultural rims, will increase output at the plant by approximately 20 percent, Mr. Taylor said.
What the company needs most is tire manufacturing capacity, he explained. ``I could supply the whole world with new wheels. (But) I cannot supply the whole world with tires.''
Therefore, Mr. Taylor said Titan is prepared to license other manufacturers—including Goodyear, Group Michelin and Bridgestone Corp.—to produce LSW tires under its patents. Titan officials already have met with Michelin to discuss this possibility, he added.
``In two years I'll have enough capacity,'' said Mr. Taylor. ``But if I get enough capacity, one of those big boys is going to be out of the business,'' he said, repeating his previous prediction that at least one of Titan's competitors will exit the farm and speciality tire market within four years.
The company's ultimate goal, he has stated, is to become the No. 1 producer of farm and construction tires worldwide.