AgriCup tires roll out

In case of a flat tire the Galileo cupwheel can run for enough time with no inflation to allow the operator to finish the field before heading back for repairs.  |  Galileo photo

The innovative Galileo CupWheel tire, the round rubber tire that bulges inward to behave like a rubber track when under pressure, is available to prairie farmers.

The Galileo makes its prairie debut this summer. The tire-track units will be handled by Dawson Tire and Wheel in Rosetown, Sask., said Dawson’s Grant Henderson.

He told The Western Producer that the CupWheel will eventually be available in sizes for tractors, combines, sprayers and telehandlers.

When used to replace conventional tires on irrigation pivots, CupWheel runs at zero pounds per sq. inch of inflation. Dawson irrigation specialist Cole Fredrick said the irrigation version of the CupWheel lists for US$1,300 and comes mounted on a rim. He adds that the CupWheel can be mounted on any conventional rim.

Fredrick said normal CupWheel inflation for implements is 10 p.s.i. However, if there’s a flat in the field, the operator can finish the task without air pressure before driving back to the yard for repairs.

Mike Gelbman, Galileo North America vice-president, said his company plans to launch five new tractor sizes in 2021, with front and rear combinations, plus one size for combines. In 2022 they plan to introduce as many as 16 new sizes. The plan is to offer CupWheels for every farm implement, including sprayers.

Gelbman said the question he hears the most at trade shows has to do with the way the sidewall implodes instead of bulging out “the way tires are supposed to.” Intuitively, people assume the inward bulge must be the weak point in the tire.

The tire itself supports the tractor, rather than having air in the tire supporting the machine. The sidewalls bulge to the inside, forcing the ground contact into a long, flat track-like surface. | Galileo illustration

He laughs, “It’s deceiving, isn’t it. But they do not buckle under or break. They stand up to the downforce and rough conditions. We carry more weight with less air pressure than the most progressive advanced radial IF and VF tires. In larger sizes, we run as low as eight psi with a full load. All the specs are up on the website so you can compare to any of the name brand VF tires.

“There’s no magic to this. Look at all conventional tires, be it radial, bias ply or cross ply. They all use air pressure inside the tire to carry the load. A tire is an air chamber, that’s why the sidewalls bulge out.

“This cup-wheel design has been around for a while in Mitas and Trelleborg tires and New Holland in Europe.”

Gelbman said they are making their tires available as an aftermarket product, however, the company focus is on making them an OEM option for all manufacturers.

“We’re getting a lot of interest from major companies, not necessarily as an OEM tire option, but as a replacement for rubber tracks. Our competition in the marketplace is the rubber track. Compared to the track, a CupWheel is far less money to buy and far less maintenance. The price is in the tire ballpark, not the track ballpark.

“We are currently making a CupWheel tire for Claas harvesters. And we’re working on providing CupWheel tires for their Xerion tractor. It’s perfect for high-horsepower tractors. They really do not want to put tracks on that machine unless they have to.”

He said engineers have done field testing with CupWeels on the front only. It works OK, but the tractor does not gain the full benefit of the tire design.

“We don’t have exact pricing worked out yet, but we know for sure prices will be modestly higher than the conventional VF radials.”

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