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Did you choose the right tire?

11/09/2010 @ 3:26pm

Got a piece of machinery but aren’t happy with the performance of the tires? Bob Rees, North American product manager with Michelin Tires, explains three ways producers can change their tires on their machinery.

1. Replace the tires with the same size tires on the machine. There are many choices, and you might look to replace bias tires with radials. “Benefits are increased tire performance in terms of traction and soil compaction. And it will have improved wear of life,” Rees says.

In most cases, changing from a bias to a radial tire will make the machine perform better.

Another option is to replace R-1 tires with R-1W tires. “The tire will perform well in normal conditions but will perform very well in poor, wet conditions,” says Rees. R-1W tires have 20% more tread depth than the R-1s and about twice as much wear potential. Even though the R-1W tire is more expensive initially, Rees says, it is worth the investment because of improved performance.

2. An alternative to changing tires is changing the size of the tire to fit the existing wheel. Benefits include reducing the air pressure to carry the load and leaving a bigger footprint. This gives less soil compaction and leads to better performance in poor conditions, says Rees.

Rees says the company has seen a lot of upgrades when it comes to new combines. “In some cases, farmers get a wider tire upfront. Very often a combine comes in and we almost immediately change the tire to a wider tire,” he says. “It is low cost and there are no wheels to replace.” Because of the carrying capacity and reduced ground pressure, Rees calls it an important initiative to take if considering new tires.

3. If you see a value in going a bit further in the upgrade, then consider changing both the tire and the wheel. Rees recommends working with a good tire dealer to make sure it’s understood what can and can’t be done.

With heavy machines, larger tires will allow for less air pressure in the tire, which then leads to less compaction.

With larger combines today, Rees says air pressure can be as much as 30 psi. Producers can lower that by just changing the size of the tire to about 24 to 25 psi. “That may be adequate for some farmers and it may not be,” says Rees. “If farmers want to get to 16 psi or lower, they will need to change the tire and the wheels.”

This is a costly change, and Rees suggests working with a dealer to decide if it is better to upgrade the tires or consider specifying a new machine with optimized tires.

“The point is, a lot of farmers, even today with the advances in technology, don’t necessarily think too much about tires,” says Rees. “Changing tires can potentially transform a piece of equipment into a more productive piece of equipment with reduction in compaction and field damage.”

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