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Ohhhh, so that's how it's done: Watching the Reputable Retreading DVD

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(Ironhead Technologies photo) Applying the tread in a retread shop.

AKRON (April 1, 2013) — In honor of our Commercial Tire & Retreading Report in our upcoming print issue—Available on April 1—I decided to take Harvey Brodsky, managing director of the Retread Tire Association, up on his offer to watch the "Reputable Retreading" DVD.

As I have now been reporting on the tire industry for almost seven months, I have continued to learn about the processes. However, as you all can attest to, it's a lot to grasp. And while I understood the principles behind retreading, there is definitely something to be said about being able to watch the process.

I hope one day I will have the opportunity to take a tour of an actual plant, because I am a very visual learner. However, I didn't mind taking a trip right from the comfort of my office chair at the Tire Business office.

I thought the whole process was pretty interesting. In general, I like idea of aiming to help the environment. When I first learned how much oil it takes to make a tire, I was flabbergasted. If it takes 22 gallons of oil to manufacture each truck tire on every truck that I pass while driving on the freeway, that's a ton (well, way more than an actual ton) of oil!

This is why retreading fascinates me. It seems wasteful to not reuse the casing of the tire that is not worn out. After all, we all go in for treatments now and again, get our arms reset when we break them, and we are still functioning in society. This video helps people see that tires can too.

In case you are thinking about checking out this yourself, I thought I'd break down the different sections you will go through:

  • Initial inspection: Are there any nail holes in the casing? Anything else to note on the tire? This is done here before it goes on through the process.
  • Shearograpy: The tire is put into a machine with two laser cameras that determines any movement in the casing, which could reveal air trapped inside.
  • Buffing: This is where the old tread design gets shaved off. The extra pieces get pushed into a trailer and when the trailer gets full, it gets sent out to a company who will then convert the rubber pieces into rubber mats and other surfaces. The buffering goes down to 3/32nds of an inch of rubber, then the tire gets deflated and sent to the next area.
  • Skiving: This is where small hand grinders are used to fix up and raw cuts that need to be completely removed. Any exposed steel needs to be cleaned up and removed, and you are looking for nail holes in this stage as well. This is the stage where it's decided if it needs repaired or not.
  • Patch and repair: This is where the tire goes if it needs a repair, such as filling a nail hole. If the tire needs no repairs, it goes right to the next stage, which is…
  • Rubber applied: The tire gets mounted onto a machine and then gets inflated. This stage is pretty much self-explanatory because the rubber is applied to the tire so it has a nice, smooth layer for the tread to adhere to.
  • Tread applied: The tread in the video is a pre-cure tread, meaning an existing tread design is applied to the tire.
  • Envelope: The tire gets put in an envelope, which is sort of like a bag to put the tire in. This is the first stage of the chamber portion of the retreading process. The envelope is what allows direct pressure onto the casing.
  • Vacuum seal: This makes sure the envelope is tight onto the tire before it goes into the chamber.
  • Cure Chamber: The chamber cures at 210 degrees for three hours and 40 minutes with an air pressure of 85 psi directly on the tread area.
  • Remove bands: This is the reverse of the set-up process. The tire is taken out of the envelope.
  • Final inspection: The tire is again searched for any repairs to ensure nothing was missed. It is also verified that the correct tread was put on the tire. The last step to the process is to paint the casing so the sidewall matches the tread.

There are a lot of you out there that are already familiar with the process. However, it might be useful to have this DVD on hand in case customers or other people have questions. There is sometimes a stigma that "used" always means "less quality" but the video kind of walks you through those doubts. It also comes with testimonials of different types of people, school districts, etc. I think if the school district that is entrusted to keep our children safe trusts the process, those naysayers may turn to take a second look as well.

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