6802 Peters Creek Road
Roanoke, VA 24019

11 Things You Didn't Know About Tires

July 10th, 2015

Tires in Roanoke,VA There’s a lot about tires you probably didn’t know…so get ready to take notes (for those playing at home, get out your score cards)!

  1. The first pneumatic tire was invented in 1845 by Scottish engineer Robert William Thomson; his “elastic belt for carriage wheels and other rolling bodies” was a leather casing around a rubberized-fabric inflatable tube. At the time, natural rubber was prohibitively expensive, making mass production of tires unprofitable. It wasn’t until the popularity of bicycles in the late 19th century that pneumatic tires came into their own.
  2. Rural West Texas is home to several tire testing facilities and test tracks. Bridgestone/Firestone has a 6,000 acre facility in Fort Stockton, Goodyear’s facility is in San Angelo, and Continental’s is in Uvalde. 
  3. The modern radial tire was introduced in 1946, by Michelin; it took another 30 years for them to become standard equipment on most American and imported cars.
  4. Aircraft tires have to handle extremely heavy loads for short durations of time. They are typically inflated to 200 pounds per square inch; during testing, they have to be filled with water rather than air or nitrogen, so the testing room won’t be blown to pieces when the tire fails. 
  5. For the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City, Uniroyal built a 80-foot-tall giant tire, anchored in concrete and steel. The giant tire was made of a polyester/fiberglass resin and was designed to withstand hurricane-force winds. In its original form, it was also a Ferris wheel and carried passengers such as the Shah of Iran, Telly Savalas and Jacqueline Kennedy. Two years later, the tire was disassembled and shipped to Allen Park, Michigan, where it still stands today.
  6. Goodyear made the nitrogen-filled tires for Apollo 14’s Lunar Rover.
  7. Goodyear also makes the tires for the presidential limousine, but all other information on those tires is classified.
  8. Early automobiles had “artillery wheels,” with the tire bolted to the wheel, rather than a clinch-style bead. They probably rode about as well as they sound like they would. 
  9. Before about 1920, tires were grayish-white, with zinc oxide as part of the tread compound. Manufacturers started to add carbon black to enhance durability, but some added it only to the tread area, leaving the sidewalls white. Today, whitewalls and raised white letter tires are made the same way, with a pattern overlaid that keeps carbon black out of that part of the tire.
  10. In an early 60s car show, Goodyear introduced a light-up tire, lit from the inside with incandescent bulbs. They did not make it to production.
  11. What’s the largest tire manufacturer in the world? LEGO – each year, the toy company makes well over 300 million of their tiny little tires. 
  Tags: tires, tire trivia
  Posted in: Tires 101