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Car Tyre History

Tyres have come along way since their conception back in the days of the horse and cart and really this wasn’t the conception, it was more a wooden wheel with a band of iron wrapped around it, not the rubber tyre we know today.

The name “tyre” came about due to the fact that the Iron that was wrapped around the wheel quite literally “tied” the spokes of the wheel together, hence the name “tyre”.

Way back at the turn of the 18th century a gentleman called Charles Mcintosh was in the deep depths of the Amazon basin experimenting with latex, He found that the Latex actually had some pretty awesome qualities. He noted that the material was waterproof but became brittle when cold and very sticky when it was hot.

In 1839 Charles Goodyear discovered that by adding Sulphur to melted Latex the much sought-after attributes of elasticity and strength were attainable. This new “vulcanized” rubber was used initially as ‘cushioning tyres’ for carriages and bicycles making a much more comfortable ride.

In 1888, looking for a way to make his sons bike rides more comfortable John Boyd Dunlop used rubber on the wheels of the bicycle. This was actually the conception of the pneumatic tyre. Although unknown to John Boyd Dunlop another scotsman, Robert William Thomson had actually patented the rubber tyre back in 1845. After what can only be described as a lengthy legal battle John Boyd Dunlop won market share for his design and it was this design that became the known first invention of the pneumatic tyre.

Some time later it was two French brothers who invented the detachable pneumatic tyre. The invention came from the Michelin brothers, yes the very same brand we see and know today. Michelin is one of the oldest and most established tyre brands on the market. It was back in 1891 that they came up with this very invention. The new design featured a separate tube and an outer cover which was bolted onto the rim of the wheel. Very different from how tyres operate today.

Over the years the design and build of the detachable pneumatic tyre was improved and amended by various different inventors and companies, notably W.E Barlett.

Dunlop was still very much in the mix and after a collaboration with engineer Mr Welch they were brought back to the forefront of the ever changing pneumatic tyre.

As the decades past the evolution of the tyre progressed getting closer to the tyre that is used on every vehicle today. The Michelin brothers came up with the “Radial tyre” back in 1947. Michelin was now a very formidable force within the tyre market and this new introduction changed the tyre market forever. The Radial tyre although slightly different from what it was in 1947 is what we see on most vehicles today.

There were many benefits to the new design, not only was the tyre much more economical due to a decrease in roll resistance but the life span of the tyre was very much increased. This was seen as a great innovation in the tyre industry and a huge accomplishment from Michelin. Obviously the radial tyre has come on a long way since then but the basic principles are very much the same.

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