BRANDON — Solid rubber skid steer loader tires have been around since Cat introduced them in 2000.
But now, the three key drawbacks seen previously — short lifespan, rough rides and poor traction — have been addressed by the latest tire technology.
Evolution Wheel started from scratch when it designed the new RS series solid skid steer tires. Engineers developed a new rim, new rubber compound and new tread patterns. The new tires double the life expectancy of competitors’ tires in most applications, said Derek Hird of Evolution. He was at Manitoba Ag Days to show farmers that the new RS tires represent a major leap forward in tire technology.
“We sell these tires to work in potato sheds, in fertilizer plants, in corrosive manure, and around chemicals and abrasive elements. Guys are getting a minimum of 1,000 hours working in really harsh situations. On average, we at least double the life of other solid tires,” said Hird, the designer and developer of the Evolution tires and rims.
“For example, in a waste transfer station where they’re spinning and turning all day on concrete, guys are still getting 1,000 hours on our EWRS-HS. HS is our hard surface tire.”
For a skid steer tire, a potash mine has to be one of the most punishing work environments on Earth, or under it. Potash Corp had previously gotten 80 to 90 hours on a set of conventional skid steer tires in its underground mines. That’s about one week of work.
The company is now getting more than 500 hours on a set of EWRS-HS tires.
“It has a lot to do with the design of the tire tread combined with the proprietary chemistry of the rubber,” said Hird. “The fact that the rubber actually compresses helps extend the life of the tire. Plus, the RS is about 20 percent more resistant to abrasion compared to other solid tires.
“Other companies use an extremely hard compound in their solid hard-surface tires to try getting them to last longer. We use the same compound in our all-terrain tires as in our hard-surface tires. The HS rubber compresses to give you good traction and you still get double the life span. That’s where a better quality tire comes into play.”
He said for the rims, engineers use Strenx 700 steel, the same product used to make buckets for excavators, which is highly resistant to the corrosion experienced when working with fertilizers and manure.
“The rim will last 18,000 to 20,000 hours and survive multiple retreads.”
The aggressive-looking lugs on all-terrain tires are the tallest in the industry, said Hird.
Major tire repairs can be done without lifting the wheel off the ground. Each tire is divided into a dozen pie-shaped segments that bolt to the special rim. A three-quarter-inch wrench can remove the single retaining nut that secures a rubber segment to the rim. The damaged piece can then be removed and a new piece set into place and bolted up tight.
Hird said the Evolution Wheel prices are usually double to quadruple the price of a pneumatic tire. However, longevity of the solid Evolution tire is four to six times the lifespan of a pneumatic tire.
“So, compared to pneumatic, our up-front cost is higher, but our product will last longer and there’s far less downtime due to flats and also changing tire sets. And if there is a problem with one of our tires, you can fix it right in the field. No need for a service call.”
The 12 x 16.5 all-terrain was introduced last year. This year, Evolution introduced the 10 x 16.5 all terrain and the 14 x 17.5 all terrain. They also added the 12 x 16.5 HS this year.
Prices start at about $3,600 for four 10 X 16.5-all-terrain tires and rims, and go up to $4,960 for a 12 x 16.5 HS set.
Hird said his company is looking to expand to cover heavier equipment in forestry, construction and agriculture.
Evolution Wheel is based in Winnipeg and all components of the rim-tire sets are made in Canada.