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A little tire history

Posted: Thu Oct 22, 2020 10:09 pm
by otrcman
I was doing some internet reading on the history of rubber in general and use on tires in particular. One article (link below) was especially interesting as to the development of rubber tires. Somebody here recently asked when tires switched from white to black. In the linked article, it seems that adding carbon black to rubber was found to increase strength and UV resistance as early as 1912, but it didn't come into popular use until about 1917.

People had been experimenting with additives and processes (as in vulcanizing) to improve the properties of rubber as early as the 1850's. Somewhere along the way, zinc oxide was found to increase the durability of rubber. The article doesn't say so specifically, but I'm wondering if it was the added zinc oxide that gave us white tires.

Apparently zinc came into higher demand for munitions during WWI, which probably gave impetus to the change from zinc oxide to carbon in tires.

Dick ... 1828925177

Re: A little tire history

Posted: Thu Oct 22, 2020 11:07 pm
by OilyBill
I had a long-running argument with a car friend of mine about the use of white and black tires.
If you look at McCalley's book on the Model T. there are white and black tires mixed on Model T's into the 1920's, and this is on the factory model shots, not just people's Kodak prints.
Prior to that, they all look either white, or very light gray to me.
I always contended that nearly all early cars had white tires. Although I have heard of some red ones, and even an orange set. Don't know what they were putting in the rubber for those.

Re: A little tire history

Posted: Thu Oct 22, 2020 11:37 pm
by Mark Gregush
Natural rubber is gray. White sidewalls were around before they were the hot thing. Adding carbon black to tires was expensive so just a black cap was used on some brands of tires. As cost came down they were able to make all black tires. Guess if they could make the gray rubber white it would be a simple process to add dye to the rubber for colored tires or tubes.

Re: A little tire history

Posted: Sat Oct 24, 2020 12:03 am
by Steve Jelf
I've seen old ads showing red tires, the same red as radiator hoses, but I'm not finding a lot of examples with a Google search. Gray and white are pretty easy though.
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Firestone's latest in 1917 were these nifty red & black tires. I wonder if Ford ever used these.

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Re: A little tire history

Posted: Sat Oct 24, 2020 12:05 pm
by Rich Bingham
Imprint on a good old red rubber tube. Anyone know when they disappeared ?

Re: A little tire history

Posted: Sat Oct 24, 2020 12:19 pm
by Steve Jelf
I don't know how long red tubes were around but I know for sure they were used in the T era.


Re: A little tire history

Posted: Sat Oct 24, 2020 1:40 pm
by Billdizer,Spencer In
If you are serious about tire development, you need to start with bicycle tires, where pneumatic tires were made popular in late 1880's, and had taken completely over by about 1892. Automotive tires were developed from them. Bicycles also started the good roads movement 20-25 years before autos became popular.

Re: A little tire history

Posted: Sat Oct 24, 2020 5:59 pm
by George Mills 25 Fordor still has red rubber tubes! I don’t drive on them anymore...but they all still hold air good enough to do roll around for a few I’ve had replacement tubes both folded, which dry rotted in the wrapper, to partially inflated but still surface on the Hack which takes the same size tubes, I no longer have NIW (new in wrapper) spares...just a ready to run spare on the running board and two pumped and on rim in the garage 🤣

Re: A little tire history

Posted: Sat Oct 24, 2020 6:34 pm
by Allan
I have two red rubber Goodyear tubes somewhere in my fleet of Ts. They came to me in two had-as-rock new tyres on new rims. They are quite thick. I have no qualms at all about riding on them. I know they hold air, as none of my Ts need topping up between uses.

Allan from down under.