AMELIA ISLAND, Fla.—Ardon Retread Systems of Quebec City, Quebec, is seeking 10-15 dealerships in the U.S. to serve as off-the-road tire repair sites that would use a system that suspiciously sounds like a blend of fancy footwork and urban contemporary music.
But it's not really that.
The company uses the Tap Rap Tyre Repairing System made by Fergom S.p.A. of Modugna, Italy. It is a radial repair system that can handle extreme injuries in large OTR tires, said Dan Hunstiger, national sales manager for Ardon in the U.S.
Tap Rap provides a flexible patch using a fabric radial repair and an "innovative" steel unit that doesn't overheat or break out as many conventional units will, he explained during the recent Tire Association of North America Off-the-Road Tire Conference in Amelia Island.
Radial repair patches need flexibility to allow the tire to run cool, he said. A stiff repair causes excess heat, which can lead to a failure.
A side benefit is that the system can repair large injuries without the bulge normally seen with standard repair units, Mr. Hunstiger added.
Founded two years ago to sell used retread equipment, Ardon now is the exclusive distributor of Tap Rap repairs in North and South America. Sales in western Canada are coordinated by B-Line Tire & Auto Supply in Burnaby, British Columbia, and the company already has 12 repair shops using the system in that country, said J.P. Bouchard, Ardon president.
In the U.S., sales are handled by Mr. Hunstiger, who said he is looking to set up 10-15 factory-trained repair depots "where we recommend people take their tires."
Craft Tire Inc., a used tire dealership and OTR retreader in Uniontown, Pa., has become the first business in the U.S. to use the product.
The dealership entered the retreading business about a year and a half ago when it expanded into OTR retreading.
"We've done several repairs and have some in the field still running," said President Allen Craft. "These are tires we normally would have scrapped."
The dealership currently has five customers running the tires. "We're tracking the hours right now and everything's still running," he said.
Training in the Tap Rap system is highly intensive, Mr. Hunstiger said. "You're dealing with extreme injuries—large repairs on large tires."
It's also highly technical, he added, because it's a component system.
"We actually build the repair to fit the injury, including removing the damaged steel and replacing it with new steel," he said.
Ardon is opening a training repair school for Tap Rap in Quebec City at the end of July. The training site will be located near the company's distribution offices in an actual retread shop that has an autoclave, Mr. Hunstiger said.
The classes will run for three days and include hands-on training, he added.
With a limit of six students, classes will be offered only to those interested in dealing with the Tap Rap system.
Mr. Craft said the new repair technique has opened up a new supply of tires for his OTR business. "Everyone in the repair industry is dying for more information as to how to repair a tire with a large injury," he said.
Craft Tire, which employees 25 at a 38,000-sq.-ft. facility, has had 12 days of training since taking on the Tap Rap system in December.
"They (Tap Rap trainers) come into our place every month for four days," he said.
Tap Rap repairs are more expensive then conventional systems, Mr. Hunstiger said. Labor costs are higher because the repairs are more labor intensive. Patch prices are higher in some cases, and lower in others, he said.