Retreads a firm alternative
As tyre retreading for commercial tyres on trailers and trucks continues to be offered in Jamaica, a major provider of the service claims it is very cost-effective and the redone tyres have an extended life.
For safety reasons, retreading is normally done on rear tyres, which wear less than those used on the front of the vehicles. Among the sizes on which the process is done are 700/16, 750/16, 11R22.5 and 11R24.5.
Kenton Bryan, Tyres-R-US fleet sales manager, said, "Retreading is 60 per cent less of the cost of a new one and you are guaranteed about 30 per cent more wear vis-‡-vis the new tyre. The rubber that is applied to the used casing is more dense and stronger than the rubber that comes on the original tyre. In other words, it is guaranteed to last longer - tried tested and proven."
He quickly pointed out that retreading can be done at least three times on the same tyre, depending on its casing.
Bryan explained that the process begins with an inspection of the used tyre, referred to as the 'carcass'.
"We look for flaws such as breaks, cuts, snags and punctures. If we see where wires are exposed on the tread area, we do not retread. We do an X-ray to make sure there are no hidden flaws in the tyres," he said.
This is followed by buffing, which requires that the outer tread be removed. This results in a semi-smooth surface.
"The side that touches the road, you removed all of that. You may have to do a bit of repairs, just in case there are any flaws in it. After that, you clean the area that is buffed with solvent to prevent any form of contamination. Cushion gum is then applied, followed by a roll of pre-cured rubber," Bryan explained.
It is this pre-cured rubber, which already has a tread pattern, which he says tougher than the rubber that came with the tyre when it was new.
A curing process then follows and heat is applied, which takes at least six hours. An entire day is normally devoted to retreading a tyre.
Bryan pointed out that aircraft use retreaded tyres, and even some garbage trucks do. The rear wheels of Jamaica Urban Transit Company buses are also retreaded.
However, he said some persons are shying away from the retreading process because they can access cheap tyres being imported from China which closely resemble the retreads.