Designing Tires For The Long, Winding Road

Today's refuse truck tires benefit from many improved technologies, including better compounding of materials, increased strength and resistance in sidewalls, more durable crowns and advanced steel radial design, according to recent reviews.

Oversized single models, in which one big tire replaces a pair of duals, are growing in popularity. Like many advanced tire concepts, the single models have many benefits to offer; for instance, replacing two tires with one improves flotation to help trucks traverse rough surfaces and reduces the overall weight.

Increased weight-carrying capacity also is attractive in modern tires since so many refuse chassis have gross vehicle weight (GVW) ratings well above the 33,000-pound level, where the heavy-duty class begins.

Although the number of manufacturers offering tires for big trucks has declined, four major producers of such tires include Bridgestone-Firestone, General, Goodyear and Michelin.

The decline in manufacturing firms is masked by the fact that tires continue to be sold under a number of old-tire names. Michelin, for instance, continues to offer tires with the Goodrich and Uniroyal names.

Here's a look at the latest big-truck tire offerings for refuse haulers.

Bridgestone-Firestone "The refuse hauling industry presents tire manufacturing engineers with just about every problem in the book," said Brian Bancroft, the commercial tire product manager for Bridgestone-Firestone. "Tires that refuse haulers use must provide traction in soft, muddy locations as well as on smooth highway surfaces. They must be capable of carrying heavy loads and be resistant to cuts, stone drilling and sidewall damage," he said.

Other desirable characteristics include good retread capabilities and long-lasting initial tread life, said Bancroft. Bridgestone-Firestone offers six on/off road tire series. All-position radials are offered in six sizes and another series of radials with rib/lug tread patterns are available in 16 sizes. Deep-tread drive axle radials are offered in nine sizes, all-position wide-based singles are sold in three sizes and other wide-based tires come in one 18R19.5 size.

General Tire General Tire produces General and Continental brand tires for waste industry applications. "We have an ongoing development program in place to continually improve and update our product lines for the refuse-hauling segment of the market," said a General Tire spokesman.

General has five tire lines for the waste tire field. Three Continental lines include one for occasional off-road use, a low-profile model for steer axle/trailer use and a tire, added in 1993, that offers improved on/off highway traction.

Top offerings in the General line include the firm's deepest skid depth tire for drive-axle positioning and a steer-axle tire that features a chip-resistant compound.

Goodyear The Unisteel G-286 Super Single wide-based truck tire is Goodyear's top offering for refuse haulers. The tire features high strength, increased cut and snag resistance and maximum flotation. The G-286 is designed as a replacement for dual drive-axle tires.

"One of the major strengths of the G-286 is that it is designed to keep air pressure up to proper levels," said a Goodyear spokesman. "Maintaining proper inflation helps to protect a tire from damage when trucks are operated on rough surfaces. We are always researching compounding and other development methods that will increase durability," he said.

Michelin The latest advances in truck tire engineering include a new family of on/off-road products that Michelin Tire Corp., Greenville, S.C., will introduce in April. Two rough service products - the XZY-1, a rib tire, and the XDY-1, a drive tire - have recently become available.

The new line of tires boasts improved original mileage, greater resistance to irregular wear and enhanced crown protection from impacts and penetrations.

The tires have added sidewall protection for increased cut and snag resistance and extended casing life for greater retreadability. "These changes were implemented to deliver the lowest cost per mile," said a company spokesman.

The new tire lines on the market aim to provide some welcome relief and long wear to conquer the difficulties encountered every day by refuse-hauling trucks.