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Tending to implement tires

If there were ever a stepchild in the tire world, it would have to be implement tires. Fact is, there was a time that tires were even optional on some implements and wagons. Today's implements aren't just bigger, wider, and heavier – they often cover more distance on the road at higher speeds. “As an industry, we've gone about as far as we can go with a multipurpose tire design,” says Jay Ogden of Titan Tire. “We could make tires out of harder material to better withstand field damage, but then we compromise other factors, like the ability to withstand higher transport speeds without chunking and chipping.”

Inflation strategies

Regularly checking the air pressure is absolutely crucial not only to ensuring a long service life of implement tires but also to improving their operating performance. The deflection caused by underinflation can make the tire wear quickly and unevenly, particularly in the shoulder area. Eventually this leads to cracks in the carcass.

Underinflated tires on planters, for example, affect seeding depth placement and can affect proper spacing if the planter is driven from the tire.

Overinflation, on the other hand, creates an underdeflected tire, leading to increased wear on the center of the tire. The tightly stretched carcass becomes more susceptible to impact breaks.

Ogden stresses the importance of not overloading tires beyond their design parameters.

“Generally, tires are specified by the equipment manufacturer to carry the load of the implement,” he says. “But we often see equipment on which the owner may have added an aftermarket fertilizer tank, higher sideboards, or extra attachments. So one of the first things I ask when someone reports a tire failure is, ‘Have you weighed the implement?’ You need to make sure the tire is indeed rated for the load you are putting on it.”

Following are four steps you can take to affect tire life, according to tire experts.

1. Store tires with the implement blocked up to take the weight off the rubber. This method is ideal. Realizing, however, that very few will go to that effort, Ogden advises at least lowering the air pressure in the tires during storage. For example, a tire with a proper pressure of 75 psi should be deflated down to around 40 psi.

2. Protect tires against ozone exposure by shielding them from continuous exposure to sunlight. Even worse, says George Crum, a Titan Tire engineer, is storing equipment in a shop where a welder or an electric motor is frequently in use. “The ozone produced by a welding arc will actually age the tire much quicker than prolonged exposure to the sun,” Crum says. “It is the ozone that causes depletion of the waxes and material in the sidewall and tread that keep the tire from cracking.”

3. Minimize stalk damage to implement tires by using a device on combine to lay stalks down. “With the new hybrids and reduced-till farming, stubble damage is absolutely an issue for all tire companies,” Ogden says. “So anything mechanical you can do to protect the tires – like installing stalk stompers on the combine or not cutting so close to the ground – is an added bonus.”

4. Replace worn tires with similar tires. Ogden says it is also important to consider the application when buying replacement tires. Tires that carry the load during transport when implement wings are folded, for example, require a different load rating than those on the wings.

By Tharran Gaines

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