Nay-Sayers Beware: Titan Designs, Builds, Tests 63-Inch Radial in Seven Months - Tire Review Magazine

Nay-Sayers Beware: Titan Designs, Builds, Tests 63-Inch Radial in Seven Months

Titan Designs, Builds, Tests 63-Inch Radial in Seven Months

The compass points to four directions, but Morry Taylor only knows one – full speed ahead. When the Titan International chairman and CEO wants something done, it gets done, and he usually has his sleeves rolled up leading the charge.

Thus it was in May 2007 when Taylor decided the product-starved giant OTR radial market needed another player. He put together a plan to fast track not only the expansion of Titan’s Bryan, Ohio, OTR tire plant, but also the from-scratch development of 57- and 63-inch radials.

Seven months after the first shovel hit the ground, a prototype 63-inch radial rolled out of the 200,000-square-foot addition.

“There were many who doubted Titan’s ability to produce and test this tire,” he said. “Never underestimate a small entrepreneurial company. This tire has surpassed all of Titan’s expectations.”

Tire Review visited Taylor at the Bryan plant in early April, just after the prototype was completed and just before early production tires began testing at Titan headquarters in Quincy, Ill. Taylor gave us the full tour of the plant and the purpose-built expansion that features three two-stage builders and enough curing presses to produce 6,000 of these 13,000-pound tires per year. At some point, Taylor feels, capacity could be jumped to 15,000 units per year.

On July 7, the 63-inchers were in full production. “This tire should out-perform any tire out there and we think as production moves forward, we should continue to find more ways to improve these giant tires.” Titan is seeking patents on certain aspects of the new tire, which, Taylor claims, allows the tire to deliver “20% to 30% greater” tire life than conventional 63-inchers.

With lingering market shortages of the giant units, finding buyers should be no problem. This past March, Titan even signed a deal with Eastland Tire to feed 57- and 63-inchers to the Kennesaw, Ga.-based dealer.

In developing the Titan giant radial, engineers focused on durability and stability, Taylor said. “We’re not worried about wear, heat or chunking. We have 13 different tread compounds so we can adapt for that.”

The current 63-inch radial Titan is producing features six steel belts, special nylon belt edge strips, a thicker, more rigid sidewall, and a triple bead. Taylor said Titan can produce tires with eight steel belts and a quad-bead.

No live field testing was planned for the new giants, only extensive runs on a specially built 24-foot bull wheel, which puts 500,000 pounds of weight on the tires while running them at up to 45 mph, he said.

The multi-bead bundles add weight to the tire – “500 pounds maybe,” he claimed – but the added weight is not a concern.

Eventually, Taylor wants to bring Titan’s LSW – low sidewall – concept to the OTR market. Titan introduced the concept to the agricultural tire market about eight years ago. He said that work has already started on bias LSW tires and accompanying wheels; Titan has an extensive small OTR, industrial and agricultural wheel business.

The LSW OTR units would have the same overall diameter as standard tires but with larger wheel diameters, giving Titan an edge in the market. With the beads moved away from the wheel end, where brake and electric motor drives generate enormous heat levels, the LSW tires would not be subjected to bead area heat damage, he feels.

Taylor, 64, has led Titan since 1990 as CEO, becoming chairman in 2005. After years of fits and starts – including a record 40-month long strike by USW workers – Titan began an aggressive growth effort, capped with the December 2005 purchase of Goodyear’s entire North American ag tire business – including a plant in Freeport, Ill. – for $100 million, and the July 2006 buy of Continental Tire North America’s OTR business and the Bryan plant for $54 million.

Since 2005, Titan sales have moved from around $400 million to $837 million last year. Taylor’s 2008 sales goal is $920 million, but with the Bryan expansion and the addition of ag tire curing presses due to be installed, Taylor feels the company could even hit “$1 billion or higher.”

Taylor is all about proving nay-sayers wrong. “What does that say to an industry that Titan can build high the 63-inch tires? We showed the doubters.

“And the biggest reason is out front. It’s the people here. Titan has some of the best employees in this business, and they proved it by producing this tire in seven months.”

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