Tag: Tires

Cities Service “Miler” Tires – David Conwill @Hemmings

Cities Service “Miler” Tires – David Conwill @Hemmings


A Reminder Of When Service Stations Sold More Than Just Fuel And Snacks


Miler tires were a replacement available at Cities Service stations and are one collectible that will likely never be reproduced. This pair, seen in the swap meet at the Carlisle Ford Nationals, were the correct size to fit a 1933 or ’34 Ford. While too old and oxidized to ever see service again, the deep tread and well-preserved sidewall detail means they were perfect for display.

What was Cities Service?

Cities Service has been better known since the mid-1960s (and officially known since the early 1980s) as Citgo, and is commonly associated with the Venezuelan government. Before 1986, when resisting a takeover attempt by notorious corporate raider T. Boone Pickens badly destabilized its finances, it was an entirely U.S.-owned company. It was founded in 1910, not as a petroleum-dealing concern, but to supply electricity and natural gas to municipalities—hence the name Cities Service. Within a decade, however, its position in the natural-gas market made it a natural entrant into the gas-and-oil industry and it began exiting the municipal-supply business in the 1940s when forced to choose in response to federal legislation. The familiar triangle-in-cloverleaf logo seen on the sidewall of this tire was first used in 1921, according to company trademark filings.

Why did Cities Service sell replacement tires?

In the 1920s, fuel sellers quickly discovered that there wasn’t enough money to be made simply filling up motorists’ tanks— plus they had a ready supply of other petroleum products available for retail (think lighter fluid, cleaning solvents, etc.). Diversification was the order of the day and Cities Service was hardly alone in selling house-branded merchandise to its customers. Socony-Vacuum’s Mobil brand is well remembered as is that of the Atlas Supply Company, a company jointly owned by several Standard Oil successors. Cities Service was marketing Acme-brand tires in the mid-1930s and by 1950 its halo tire was called the Cities Service Airmaster—a riff on the Milemaster moniker the company had used to label tires (under the Acme brand as Mile-Master), gasoline (or “gasolene” as Cities Service styled it back then), car batteries, and other products as early as 1932.

Just how old is this Miler?

It’s tough to say just when these tires were made. The size, 5.25/5.50 x 17, was common in the early 1930s, being original equipment on the 1933-’34 Ford, the 1933-’36 Chevrolet Standard, some 1933-’35 Plymouths, and other, similarly sized cars. Because those brands all had mass-market appeal, it meant there was a massive replacement market when they were in service— especially since the Great Depression meant not everyone was ready to re-tire with name-brand rubber like Firestone, Goodyear, or B.F. Goodrich (which was later renamed BFGoodrich in the 1980s). Since Milemaster became a Cities Service brand (directly, rather than as an Acme tire) in the 1940s and lasted through the 1960s as a tire brand, they would seem to be from a rather narrow window of time when Acme tires were sold using the Mile-Master name, leaving Cities Service to turn to something purely descriptive for its high-mileage tire. These are probably no newer than the early 1940s.

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Biggest Automotive Flops of All Time: 1969 GM/Chevrolet Liquid Tire Chain & 1971-3 Buick MaxTrac


Tire chains can be a driver’s best friend when it comes to handling snowy and icy conditions, but decades ago, General Motors offered something quite novel—even if we don’t know if it actually worked as intended.

What GM called “liquid tire chains” was an option across the entire 1969 Chevrolet lineup of cars, save for the El Camino and station wagons.

Hagerty discovered the unique option of yore and published the corresponding video, which details many other creature comforts available with the 1969 Chevrolet Caprice. As the ad told consumers, the Caprice could apply liquid tire chains to the rear wheels “so it won’t keep sitting there” in snowy weather. Drivers simply pressed a button on the instrument panel and a space-age polymer coated the rear wheels to provide traction.

It’s unclear just how effective this was, but probably not well, judging by the take rate. Chevrolet only sold about 2,600 cars equipped with the option and it was quickly discontinued after the 1969 model year. Still, it’s a pretty neat idea. It also goes to show how awful tire technology was almost 50 years ago.

Although the liquid tire chains weren’t long for this world, plenty of other options found on the 1969 Caprice still exist today. A rear-window defogger, engine block heater, and headlight washers are still common—if not standard—among today’s modern cars.

Max Trac

MAX-TRAC was a traction control system that was way ahead of its time. It measured the speed of the left front wheel and compared it with the output on the transmission. If there was a difference, the ignition would short-circuit so the power on the rear wheels went down.
Because the system had lots of maintenance-problems and emission-control regulations would not allow to keep the system as unsophisticated as it was, it was dropped at all for 73.

Below you find a description from the 71 Buick brochure and from a 72 manual. The text in the brochure is nice: “…..a miniature transistorized computer actually compares the speed of the front and rear wheels…”

Sources – Motor Authority
Rare Classic Cars & Automotive History

Buick Riviera.com

The Science Behind “Big and Little” Tire Combinations – @CokerTyre


Okay, so it’s not really science. Big and little tires are your preference and it’s a method of customization that hot rodders have been using for decades. It originated from racing, as most forms of racers (dirt track, Indy and drag racing) would fit racecars with smaller front tires and wheels and larger rear tires and wheels. The smaller fronts reduced rolling resistance and weight, while the larger rear tires provided more traction and a modification to the final drive ratio. The look translated well to street-driven hot rods, and it is a timeless design that is still be utilized to this day. Hot rodders have experimented with various combinations, and continue to do so, while holding a measuring tape and their trusty Coker Tire catalog for reference. Whether you choose the traditional look of bias ply tires, or the upgraded handling of a radial tire, there are dozens of combinations that give you the timeless big and little look. It’s also important to look at wheel sizing, as staggering the diameter and width can provide a more aggressive stance with the right tire selection. We’re proud of our extensive tire and wheel size selection, and we’re sure that we can accommodate even the wildest big and little tire combination, so if you’re setting up the stance on your hot rod, call us and we can help you dial it in with the right tires and wheels. You can also call up on the help of our neighbors at Honest Charley Speed Shop if you’re working on the chassis and suspension for your hot rod. For now, let’s take a look at some awesome examples of hot rods that perfectly embody the big and little look. We made an effort to keep it consistent with the chassis style (1932 Ford), so that you see the dramatic changes by simply swapping tires and wheels. You can use these hot rods to draw some inspiration for your build and see how you can match up a set of big and little tires and wheels

This 1932 Ford Vicky has a distinct tire and wheel combination that really enhances the stance. It’s rolling on a set of our Firestone Dirt Track tires, sized at 500-17 and 820-19, mounted to custom Hot Rod Steel wheels that are powder coated black for a sinister appearance. This combination is not only “big and little” but also “tall and skinny” with a difference of 6 inches in overall diameter.

This is a more common approach to big and little tires and wheels. This 1932 Ford roadster has similar chassis and suspension modifications as the rest of the cars featured, but uses a set of our BF Goodrich Silvertown Radial whitewall tires for the perfect amount of rubber rake. The car features a 165R15 front tires and a 285/70R15 rear tire, giving it 5-1/2 inches of difference between the front and rear tire diameters. The wheels are Hot Rod Steel, powder coated red and sized at 15×5 and 15×8

The most exaggerated combination in our featured group of big and little tires is this full fendered 1932 Ford roadster, built by Adams Hot Rod Shop. It features Firestone Dirt Track tires, sized at 500-15 and 820-17, wrapped around a set of stock style wire wheels. The diameter difference on this combination is a touch over 8 inches and it really gives this car a wicked look

While this 1932 Ford Tudor sedan looks subdued in comparison to some the wild combinations of big and little tires, it still has an aggressive look. It features a set of Firestone Deluxe Champion bias ply tires, sized at 500/525-16 and 750-16. This combination provides a diameter difference of 5 inches

A popular design for big and little tire combinations is our Excelsior Stahl Sport Radial. We offer these tires in a variety of sizes, and they have the narrow tread profile of a bias ply tire with the construction of a modern radial. This 1932 Ford roadster features a combination of 500R16 front tires and 750R16 rear tires, wrapped around our Hot Rod Steel wheels. Diameter difference on this combination is 6-1/2 inches

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How can you preserve your tires from age-related rot? – Kurt Ernst @Hemmings

Sometimes, no amount of care is going to help. Photo by author

Tires may be the most overlooked—and most misunderstood—component on your car. While modern tires are incredibly capable (even compared to those made a decade back), they still require some degree of care and feeding to maximize their lifespans.Reader Doug Higbee recently chimed in with a rather specific question about tire care, asking:

Tires age. ‘We’ know this to be the case. What would be Hemmings recommendation to preserve tires from age-related rot?  I cannot confirm what I was advised many years ago: Using a pure silicone spray on the tire will help replenish what has dried from the tire over time. I have witnessed this absorption to be extremely rapid after the spray contacts the tire, leading me to believe it benefits a ‘thirsty’ tire. What is your take on this?

First and foremost, we need to acknowledge that modern tire compounds have evolved at an incredibly fast pace. In some cases, they’ve become even more specialized, too: Modern summer-only performance tires offer a level of grip unimaginable in a street tire a few decades back, but the window in which they can be safely used has grown smaller. Both Pirelli and Michelin warn that summer-only tires may be subject to sidewall cracking in low temperatures, voiding any manufacturer’s warranty.With this in mind, the rubber compounds used in a modern tires differ from the rubber compounds used in tires years ago. What may have been good advice for a ’60s-era bias-ply, or an ’80s-era radial, may be harmful to tires today. For advice on proper tire care, we looked to Goodyear, which manufactured over 169 million tires (of all types) in 2021

Per the Akron, Ohio-based manufacturer, sidewall and tread weathering, often referred to as dry rot, is a result of the breakdown of compounds used to make the tire. Though a natural age-related process, several things can accelerate this, including UV exposure, environmental extremes (particularly a hot, dry climate), high ozone levels, underinflation, and lack of use. Tires benefit from regular exercise, and don’t like to remain stationary for extended lengths of time. According to South Bend, Indiana, (and online) vendor the Tire Rack, “The repeated stretching of the rubber compound actually helps deter cracks from forming.”To care for tires, Goodyear recommends cleaning them regularly with water and a mild dish soap, followed by a rinse with clean water. The manufacturer cautions against the use of some tire dressings, specifically those that contain petroleum distillates. While these products may temporarily enhance a tire’s appearance, in the long run petroleum products can prematurely age a tire. The Tire Rack backs this up, advising that excessive use of tire cleaners and dressings can remove anti-oxidants and ozone protectants from the tire’s rubber compounds.

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In the Days of the External Spare, Novelty Tire Covers Spoke to the World – David Conwill @Hemmings


For all their ubiquity today, bumper stickers are largely a post-World War II phenomenon. Instead, if you had some personality quirk you wished to display (your politics, your favorite sports team, a brand you enjoyed, or even some touristy spot or event you’d visited), you had roughly five options. The closest to the modern bumper sticker was a rectangular piece of cardboard that could be wired to your bumper; there was painting directly on your car, an option particularly popular with youthful drivers in worn-out machines; there were water-transfer decals to go on your glass; there were metal toppers and frames for your license plate; and finally there was the spare-tire cover.

Before the mid-1930s, the external spare tire was the norm. The cheaper the car, the more likely the spare was simply hung off the back, naked to the world. Manufacturers usually offered optional accessory hard and soft covers (along with locking hubcaps to prevent theft), but the plethora of colorful and interesting aftermarket covers were difficult to resist, thanks especially to a price subsidized by some company’s advertising budget.

The accessory spare-tire cover wasn’t a terribly durable sort of thing, although they usually outlasted waterslide decals and cardboard placards. They were typically made from oil cloth and screen printed or painted, often by the hand of some local sign painter. The elements and changing tastes have made actual vintage covers a rare and collectible item today, so we were thrilled to see this one pop up at the 2021 AACA Eastern Fall Meet at Hershey in the booth erected by Mike Wolfe of the American Pickers television show

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That Great Old Tire Look – Dan Stoner @Hemmings


Remember those great old Firestone gold-line Indy tires? Those real wide ones that look great on GT40s and Shelbys and just about any track car, pre-1975? There’s something about the shape and style of those bias-ply tires that looked so much better than the radials that came after them, and these Indys are right up there with a piecrust slick and a pizza-cutter front runner. It’s as if a Great Being in the sky looked down upon us gearheads and said, “Look, you’ve foolishly squandered your life’s savings on these damn things, so your punishment is that you can either have tires that perform well or tires that look really great. But you can’t have both.”

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Tasty: slots and bias-plys! – Dan Stoner @Hemmings


Here’s one of your author’s biggest pet peeves: the wrong tire choice on an otherwise bitchin’ car. Do you know that pain? You feelin’ that? Does it even matter to you? The Great Bracket Racer In The Sky as our witness, a new rounded-corner, sensible radial on a period-perfect, pre-’75 muscle car causes a rash that takes weeks to disappear.

Now, one of the cures for a rash like that is to start scouring social media for vintage snapshots of cars done right, just because everything was new at that moment and all the parts and goodies and custom touches were nothing more than the stuff available in stores. And, really, isn’t that the whole point? Aren’t we building and driving and loving and hating and buying and selling these cars because we’ve got a love for nostalgia and truly believe car design was better at some point in the past? That’s a lot to unpack, but it’s right…right?

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Determining Tyre Age: DOT Code Explained – OPONEO.CO.UK


Do car tyres have an expiration date? Does the age of a tyre actually matter? These are the most common questions asked by car owners thinking of replacing old tyres. Even if your tyres don’t show much wear after a few years of driving, bear in mind that they are considered “new” for up to 5 years from the manufacture date. It’s good to know what the tyre age is then – it’s not advisable to rely only on a visual inspection of the tyre wear.

What is the tyre DOT code?

Each tyre has an imprinted DOT code on the sidewall. DOT stands for the Department of Transportation and the code is made of numbers and letters – they indicate the place and date of the tyre’s manufacture.

Read on to find out how to check the tyre’s date and place of manufacture and why the age of a tyre matters.

To begin with, watch our expert video:

Production year – how can you check the tyre age?  

The DOT abbreviation is followed by numbers that indicate the tyre factory code and date, respectively. Production time is indicated by the last three or four digits.

Three-digit numbers indicate a production date before 2000; the first two digits stand for the production week and the last one indicates the year.

For example, 346 means the 34th week of 1986 or 1996. To indicate that the tyre was manufactured in the 90s and to distinguish it from products from the previous decade, the triangle symbol is shown.

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You’re ignoring the most important part of your car: Five things to know about tires – Kurt Ernst @Hemmings


Tires are the Rodney Dangerfield of car parts: They can’t get any respect. On the daily driver, they’re likely to be ignored until one goes flat, and on the project car, they’re likely to be the last thing in line for an upgrade. Yet those in the know understand that tire technology has advanced by leaps and bounds over the past two or three decades, and for those seeking improved performance, tires may offer the biggest single bang for the buck out there.

Consider this: Tires control how much torque you can translate into forward motion, how much speed you can carry into a corner, and how quickly you can scrub off speed. Don’t believe us? Borrow the keys to a Challenger Hellcat or equivalent and see how difficult it is to get a good launch on street tires. Sure, 700-plus horsepower sounds impressive, but if the car (or driver) has a hard time getting that to the ground, it’s just a number.

Admittedly, other components play a part, too, but tires are far easier—and likely less expensive—to upgrade than engines, transmissions, suspensions, and brakes. They’re also wear items that need to be monitored closely throughout their lifespan, especially if your car sees the occasional track day. Or, if you live in parts of the country where rain, cold temperatures, snow, and ice are harsh realities for part of the year.Below are five things to consider when shopping for a new set of rubber, whether it’s for your daily driver or a weekend toy.

To many, the codes on a passenger car tire’s sidewall might as well be Egyptian hieroglyphics, but with a little bit of information, they’re not mystifying at all. Here, we’ll focus on passenger car radial tire size, which is typically a sequence of three numbers followed by a forward slash, two more numbers, a letter or two, then two more numbers, a space, two numbers and a letter (like 205/55R16 91W).

The first number in the example above, 205, is the section width as measured in millimeters across the tread from sidewall to sidewall: This tire is 205 mm, or 8.07 inches, wide. Next comes the number after the forward slash, or in this case 55. This is called the aspect ratio, and it is a measurement of the sidewall height, expressed as a percentage of the tread width. Doing a bit of math, 55 percent of 205 mm works out to be 112.75 mm, or 4.44 inches.

Now, we get into the letters (or letter) following the aspect ratio. Tires made after 1991 typically have one letter, “R,” denoting radial construction. The exception is “ZR,” which indicates a “Z” speed rating of “in excess of” 149 mph. The adjacent numbers indicate the diameter of the wheel (16 inches, in our example above).

Modern tires also include a load index and speed rating (or clarification). The 91 cited in our example means that the tire will safely carry a weight of 615 kilograms, or 1,356 pounds. It’s most relevant as a baseline; when replacing passenger car tires, it’s okay to go with ones carrying a higher load rating, but not ones rated below the manufacturer’s specified load rating. Finally, the “W” indicates the tire’s speed rating, in this case up to 168 mph. (This can also be displayed with a “ZR” next to the aspect ratio, clarifying the maximum speed of the tire instead of just a range.) Listing all service ratings and speed ratings would fill most of a page, but this information is readily available online.

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