What Makes OTR Tires So Amazing?

March 14, 2019 | News

You may not think about them that way, but mining tires are engineering marvels. They’re much more than just bigger versions of the tires you have on your car, though they definitely can be huge. Mining tires can be as much as 14 feet tall and 5 feet wide, and weigh almost 12,000 pounds.

A lot of what makes mining tires (also called off-the-road or OTR tires) unique is what lies under and inside those small mountains of rubber. The chemical composition of the rubber and the construction methods used to make OTR tires differ from those used for tires meant for road use, and for very good reasons.

Some mining trucks need to carry as much as 4,000 short tons, which is enough of an engineering problem in and of itself. But to carry that weight over uneven, often unprepared terrain is another challenge altogether.

This means that OTR tires need to be made much tougher than tires used for road vehicles, and a lot of work is done to allow these massive tires to maintain their integrity for what might be months of continuous use.

What makes OTR tires unique?

Let’s use the 59/80R63 XDR OTR tires made by Michelin and Bridgestone for reference. These massive tires are used for the ubiquitous Caterpillar 797 mining dump trucks, which can be found all over North America. Each of these tires weighs around 11,860 pounds contains almost 2,000 pounds of steel, which is enough to build two small cars. The leftover 9,860 pounds of rubber on these tires is enough to make 600 tires for normal-sized sedans.

It’s not just ordinary rubber and steel either. They are developed to a standard of toughness and flexibility, requiring the use of different rubber compounds and specific grades of steel. The construction of these tires is far more complex than the construction of regular tires, due to the sheer size and scale, making them impossible to manufacture with the same equipment used for making regular tires.

They’re not cheap.

The result is a massive price tag. Each 59/80R63 XDR tire costs $42,500 – when you buy a full set of 6. They can cost substantially more when purchased individually. That’s about twice the cost of a used pickup truck.

Of course, most mining tires aren’t as big or as expensive as the 59/80R63 XDR. Most mining tires are at a more modest height of around 9 feet, and most cost in the neighborhood of $8,000 to $10,000. In any case, we’re guessing they still won’t fit through your front door.

They come with big problems – and incredible solutions

One thing to note is that OTR tires need to be replaced often. Mining trucks routinely encounter extremely harsh conditions and are often in near-continuous operation. This means that even the best-engineered tires can and do wear out in under a year. And given the sheer size of many mining operations, that’s a lot of tires that have to be discarded.

And these discarded tires are literally tougher than nails. Old OTR tires may not be able to withstand the rigors of mining, but they’re still incredibly difficult to break down and recycle. Most tire recycling centers are simply not equipped to deal with them. Without specialized companies like Western Tire Recyclers, these tires would be destined to either be incinerated or to sit in a landfill for decades.

Western Tire Recyclers has the tools and know-how to recycle OTR tires into the usual shredded and crumbed tire products. It also specializes in turning these highly-durable tech marvels into agricultural water storage solutions that outperform even the most expensive steel equivalents.

Repurposed OTR tires have several advantages over traditional metal tanks. First, they can’t burst or get damaged due to the water inside freezing and expanding. Second, they are able to resist impact damage due to the action of livestock – typical water tanks have to be over-engineered and expensive to offer the same durability. Lastly, the material allows the water to stay cool and comfortable for livestock to drink in the summer.

If need recycled or repurposed OTR tires, or if you need to dispose of OTR tires in a safe and eco-friendly manner, Western Tire Recyclers is here to help.

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