Let’s talk about tires: A Brief History of the Common Tire

Did you know that the word tire comes for the word attire?  This is because before we had the modern pneumatic tire., the wooden wheel was the norm typically covered with rubber and considered to be “dressed”.  The history of the tire is one of constant human innovation.  From the mesopotamic wheel to the roman chariot, all the way to the Jeep Wrangler, great minds have constantly worked on perfecting it.  In 1839 Charles Goodyear accidentally created the process known today as vulcanization by mixing rubber with sulfur. He realized that by doing this the rubber would harden and it would harden even more if he raised the temperature. This led to the invention of the rubber tire, at least the first functional one. These rubber tires were considered an improvement on metal tires but didn’t do much for shock absorbance. In 1898 the Goodyear Tire company was founded in his honor.

In 1847 Robert WIlliam Thomson created the first pneumatic tire but it was not a commercial success and didn’t even make it into production. Years later this opened the door for John Boyd Dunlop in 1888, who was unaware at the time of Thomson’s invention, to create the first successful pneumatic as he helped his son that was having problems with his tricycle. With the help from Willam Harvey Du Cros they founded the Dunlop Pneumatic Tire Company and were a huge commercial success due to a bike craze that was soon to begin. At the same time the Michelin brothers founded their own company and were the first to use it on an automobile.

Demand for greater mileage on tires pushed for the invention of the radial tire in 1946. The radial tire replaced the bias ply tires that were made up of an inner tube that contained compressed air and an outer casing. This casing protected the inner tube and provided the tire with traction. Radial tires are so named because the ply cords radiate at a 90 degree angle from the wheel rim, and the casing is strengthened by a belt of steel fabric that runs around the circumference of the tire. Years after this transition, even though radial tires are the mainstream you can still find bias ply tires for vintage builds.

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Have a fantastic weekend everyone !