Aftermarket Options: Flattening downtime

If there is a possibility of getting flats on your jobsites, you can minimize the risk with flatproof tires.

Making the leap from standard to flatproof isn’t cheap, though. A flatproof tire is about triple the cost of a pneumatic tire. But when you consider a flatproof tire can last up to five times as long as a standard pneumatic tire, you can justify the expense if you are plagued with flats. There are several options available for those interested in flatproofing products, though, so examine the choices before making a decision.

Polyurethane fill
Instead of buying an entire flatproof tire, you can purchase polyurethane fill, such as Arnco’s SuperFlex. A dealer pumps polyurethane liquid into the tire which then cures into a soft rubber-like material. Once filled, the tire will perform much like an air-filled tire, but without losing air when punctured or cut. Nearly half of all tire failures are a result of cuts or punctures, says Arnco president Larry Carapellotti. Tires also often fail because the operator hasn’t maintained proper air pressure – a concern you won’t have to worry about with polyurethane fill.

The material works in any tire with a sound casing and can be used for many kinds of machines, including skid steers, graders, ditchers, trenchers and front end loaders. Because of the wide range of applications, Carapellotti says flatproofing products are likely to increase in popularity as the large earthmoving tire shortage continues. “Unfortunately, the shortage is not a short-term problem,” says Carapellotti. “Tire and wheel manufacturers are trying to catch up to a market that is continuing to grow.”

Semi-pneumatic tires
For those who would like an air-filled ride but still want to eliminate flats, semi-pneumatic tires such as the Bullman Flatproof tire or McLaren Industries’ Nu-Air Tyre are available. Semi-pneumatic tire technology involves strategically placing holes throughout the sidewalls. The holes are at a specific depth and placement to create a combination of maximum machine performance and longevity. The result is a tire that integrates the durability of solid tires with the cushioned ride of pneumatic tires. Unlike standard pneumatic tires, a semi-pneumatic tire does not flatten. Under normal working conditions, the average life expectancy of both the Bullman tire and the Nu-Air Tyre is 1,000 hours – approximately three to five times the life of a pneumatic tire.

Thomas Daly, general manager, BLS Enterprises, says that the Bullman flatproof tire is suited for machines working in areas prone to tire punctures. Available in three sizes – 8 inch by 16.5 inch, 10 inch by 16.5 inch and 12 inch by 16.5 inch – the tire can be used on skid steers and backhoes. Although more expensive than standard pneumatic tires, the cost difference is offset by several factors, according to Daly. “The cost for our flatproof tires is about three times the cost of basic pneumatic tires,” he says. “The labor and material cost savings as well as significantly less machine downtime, however, exceeds the cost difference.”

Daly says operators no longer have to worry about load capacity when operating with flat tires. “The load capacity of our tires far exceeds the capacity of the machine itself,” he says.

Deeper treads also improve performance. According to McLaren Industries, the tread depth on a Nu-Air Tyre is twice that of a standard pneumatic tire to maintain traction in snow, sand or deep mud. The tire also complements over-the-tire tracks well in harsh work environments with its flatproof capability and increased load capacity.

Quick Fix
In a hurry? You can now permanently repair your tires in the field with a heavy equipment tire repair kit made especially for big off-road tires. The Safety Seal Heavy Equipment Tire Repair Kit includes everything you need to make repairs on off-road pneumatic tires “on the wheel.” The kit features a tool that will insert up to three 16-inch-long Safety Seal repair strips into a tire puncture at one time, allowing operators to fix large tire punctures right on the jobsite.