I am certain all of you with early show cars desiring white tires is aware of, or been a victim of the problem. I have 2 1911 Fords with white tires. I have Cocker Firestone white smooth tires purchased around 2009 and about 2013. The second set browned much quicker than the first. I have a 1914 Ford restored in the late 1970's, its white tires are perfect and it has been stored at times in the less than perfect conditions, and has been driven. I have been told some Goodyear Dunlop white motorcycle tires have the problem also. The point is, it seems to me the tire industry is not making much effort to identify and rectify the problem. I am planning on conducting some research myself. I would like you to help. I plan on applying the scientific principal for solving problems. I plan on contacting tire manufacturers to try to determine what they know about the problem. I do not want to re-invent the wheel. The industry has been making white tires for 100 years and it has only been in the last 15-20 years that the problem has existed, and gradually gotten worse. They may or may not want to help. I want to get some affected tires and have an organic chemist analyze the rubber to determine the precise chemical compounds involved in the discolored rubber. Determine the chemical, or photochemical reactions which lead up to the discoloration. Determine what alteration of the manufacturing process can be made to prevent the process from occurring in the future. Determine if some process can be found to treat existing tires to reverse the the discoloraton reactons. Determine if there is some dye available which would treat and cosmetically restore the white color to discolored tires. If you have had experience with these brown tires please contact me. Vetsvet@gmail.com. I would like to know tire brand, model, when purchased, where purchased, how the browning process evolved. I would like to get some tires which have browned for analysis. Preferably they will have been manufactured within the last 15 years, had minimal road exposure, have a record of purchase and be expendable. We will be cutting them up. I will be at Chickasha, Ok in 2 weeks. Booth S-N-15. My phone is 319-361-9720. Lets work together to so see if we can solve this problem. Hopefully the rubber companies will participate. Thanks. John
Perhaps you'll find this helpful. _I don't know whether the claims are true, but perhaps it's a place to start:
It comes up from time to time:
Seriously, I think about the only way to root out the problem is to hop on a plane and make an in-person visit to the sunny paradise of Vietnam. There's probably not much chance of them allowing you to do that since they don't seem to be interested in doing it themselves.
I applaud your interest, though. Date codes on a spreadsheet with chemical analysis would tell us more than anyone knows now. It sounds like an expensive project and one that a customer shouldn't have to take on themselves.
Bob..I commend you and your article, but in my humble opinion I don't think the two issues are the same.
I agree with Tim. I've had modern radials that would do that after a period of months and I can wet sand it away with 400g paper and it's good for awhile. That's not the case with our white (and gray) tires, not to mention the fact that they also get extreme cracks all over and break down at an accelerated rate.
I had the problem on my 1912 that now belongs to John Mays. Funny thing, the problem was only on one of the tires, not all four. I was told by Wallace Wade that the problem was caused by the material used to make the current crop of new tubes.
Does that mean that tire flaps are back in vogue to prevent this from occurring regarding tubes? : )
I recall reading reports that the discoloring occurred only after the tires were mounted and inflated. That would seem to indicate some kind of chemical transfer between the tube and tire, perhaps a volatile plasticizer in the tube material ? A flap would only protect the tire in a narrow band at the rim.
I've got a pair of white Firestone Non Skid 30 X 3 tires that I bought in 2011 but have not yet mounted to tires. They remain perfectly white.
It was I that made the observation about them not discoloring until inflated. However, I do not think the issue is the tube because:
1. We do not see issues with the tubes.
2. We do see issues amongst tires grouped by date code.
3. I suspect if something were able to migrate all the way from the inside of the tire and show itself on the outside of the tire, the tire would also not hold water were it tasked to do so.
Walter, as I recall previous discussions, there were a number of responses that corroborated your observation that the tires remained white until mounted and inflated.
I offer these thoughts not to be a "pissant" picking at your objections just for the sake of being argumentative, but in the spirit of analysis.
First fair question would be, how consistent is the "browning" effect when mounted and inflated vs. tires remaining white over time when unmounted ? If that could be found a reasonable constant, then what factors obtain that could cause it, other than the constant that they were mounted, tubes installed, and inflated ?? Air quality ? Stretch from being inflated ? What ??
You state that we don't see issues with the tubes, but since the "browning" is essentially a cosmetic change in the tire, we are not assessing issues with tubes so long as they continue to be functional. Are "browned" tires also failing in some way that makes them non-functional ? It has been a general opinion for quite some time that white tires don't wear as well as black tires.
Since the browning effect can be pretty much isolated in tires grouped by date codes, and since the defect was not an issue in times prior, it's certainly safe to assume there's some change of method or formulation of late in the white tires that results in their turning brown.
As for the chemistry, I certainly ain't no chemist, but I have noted how often synthetic pliable materials such as vinyls and many species of plastics continue to "off gas" elements used in their compounding, often with undesirable reactions with other materials. The permeability of materials we use as vessels is often very surprising. I agree that if (and it's a big IF) there's some-such reaction associated with the tubes themselves, it's rather a moot point, since we can't very well run clincher tires "tubeless" !! Nevertheless, if that is a factor, it could lead to a solution to the problem.
Any road, the plumber knows it's much more difficult to run a compressed air line that doesn't leak, than one that carries water.
What about UV ?? I seem to recall that responses on other threads about this problem were inconclusive - can UV exposure be ruled out as the cause ?
UV...UV...UV...that's my argument and I'm sticking with it. Experienced same thing with the coverings on my former sailboat lifelines years ago. Manufacturer said they accidentally left the UV protectant out. Sent new lifelines (these things aren't cheap) and no more problems.
I don't regard it as pissanting. Discussion is good as there are still a lot of unknowns and maybe it will light a fire in the observations of others. The observations of those who have experience of handling these tires and using them in service is best. When I've had a chance to quiz them, I have found their experience mirrors mine, so at the very least where the problem shows it's ugly head, it does so consistently.
My experience is I have mounted two sets of gray smooth tires on two different cars and two sets of white ribbed on the same car. I don't have date code information for all of them, but I can get it eventually and plan to record it when the opportunity presents itself.
Addressing your questions, my thoughts are the following.
Uninflated tires: I have used ones that were both wrapped and unwrapped, sitting in a typical shop environment, some for a period of years and some for only weeks, and the problem doesn't show until inflated.
Air quality: I would think for that to have an effect, you'd have to see tires going flat by leaching air through the entire surface area of both the tube and tire. None of the installations I have performed lose more than a few pounds over many months, just like any other set-up of this type. Additionally, the air sources have varied, but in some cases where one tire discolors and another not, the same air was used, the same tube was re-used, and the date codes on the tire were different.
Tube effect on tire: I assess the tubes when I dismount tires that have discolored. I would think if the tubes were causing the tire to brown, the tube would have to give something up in order to do so and, therefore, we would see degradation of the tube. Additionally, and I'd have to recheck this and will have an opportunity to do so this spring -- the inside of the tire doesn't discolor. Like you, I am not a chemist, and that is an assumption on my part.
White vs. black tire wear: I believe this was an issue in teens when white tires fell out of favor and was still an issue 30 years ago when good white tires were being made. Longevity is not likely a factor with respect to the discoloring issue.
Older manufacture white tires vs. last ten years: Yes, I believe this is key. The problem doesn't seem to show up until production moved to Vietnam. Most likely a q.c. issue with the ingredients they throw in the pot.
Issues beyond discoloring: Yes, the degradation of the rubber on the outside (not minor surface cracking) seems to go beyond what you see vs. tires that don't discolor. Deep cracks in which you can stick your thumbnail, etc. I've seen 30 year old tires that don't do this and not all of the tires that discolor do. Sometimes it even varies on the same tire. Inconsistency in the cracking on the same tire tells me there is an inconsistency in the mix.
Ultraviolet: I've had the same problem on cars that see a lot of daylight and another one that lives inside constantly with the shutters closed on the windows.
For what it's worth, my air lines leak condensate everywhere they leak air and vise versa! Of course, most water lines don't run at 175 p.s.i., either.
Tim was typing while I was composing what's above. I used to think UV was the easy answer, but I had a set in the shop with the same date codes, already a few years old at that time, and unwrapped one and it sat around open for about a year before inflating it. No discoloration took place after light exposure until inflating it.
My theory is it's an oxidation issue, not UV.
One more observation came to mind while you've got my wheels turning on this subject again.
Prior to being inflated, the tires seem to have a pretty smooth surface. After inflating, and particularly in the weeks after, you see all the little cracks. It's as though the surface of the tire has kind of a burnished skin on it that doesn't hold up when inflated. Sort of like how if the skin on your hands dries out and you make a tight fist and what's underneath the cracks is softer than the "shell" on the outside.
Maybe it's cracking this shell that sets off the process. In that case, the compound that's exposed when inflated vs. uninflated may be where the variable comes in. Whatever it is, whether oxidization or UV, it has to boil down to bad chemistry / bad manufacturing process because 30 years ago this wasn't a problem.
(Message edited by Wmh on March 03, 2017)
Walter...certainly I won't dismiss your theory either. Obviously anything is possible. All I do know is Ashley at Langs specifically said "due to EPA regs. 'some chemical' has now been left out", hence the browning. Another persons analogy here:
>oxidation from oxygen exposure
Specifically it's o-zone that leaks from the soil which causes rubber to become dry, brittle, and cracked. I'm pretty sure the yellowing is not the rubber but a binding agent they put into the rubber. Looks like it's UV damage.
Well, I have been working with this problem for a while. Between my father and myself, we have 10 T's, a lot of them are brass cars. Quite a few of our cars have white tires on them and we have been burned by the tire discoloration problem over the years a number of times. One of these occurrences has made it very clear to me what I believe is the root source of the problem. THE TUBES.
I am out of town right now and it is hard to type on my phone, so when I get back to my computer at home on Sunday, I will present my story and what information/facts I have at this point.
John, I will try to get in touch with you when I get back also. I do not have access to some of the testing you are talking about doing. It sounds like working together would help both of us.
Like Todd says, the manufacturer and Coker Tire are fully aware it is the tubes causing the issue. Is there a fix? Not that I know of, unless you have some good thirty year old tubes to use. Hence my unmounted tires.
Maybe this got missed before, but on one of the cars on which all the tires turned brown in very short order, we received a replacement set of tires and I removed one of the brown tires and replaced it with a white tire of a newer date code and reused the same tube and this tire has not turned brown.
So, what about that?
I have seen modern black tires that take on a brown tint, so it's not just the white tires in my OP.
Walter...what date code is that tire? I have 4 new tires sent to me from Lucas, thanks to Ashley at Langs, haven't mounted yet. I do plan to use the "old" tubes, as they're not even a year old.
Tim, the replacement that I mounted last fall was a mid-March 2016 production ribbed Universal. If you go back to the link I posted at the beginning of this thread (which was the thread you started awhile back) you can see an image of the date code in the first photo. I would repost here except I don't seem to have that photo on this computer and I'm too lazy to steal it to repost again.
You know what, something I noticed looking at that photo is the area concealed beneath the clincher seems not to discolor. Maybe it is a combination of the "shell" cracking and the UV not getting to what's underneath the clincher, maybe the open air simply doesn't get to it to cause oxidization, or maybe that part doesn't stretch in the same way since it is contained. However, it is something I hadn't thought about before.
Hey Walter...thanks for the info. Mine I believe will be somewhere in '16, haven't had the nerve to even remove the black plastic from 'em until I'm darned ready to mount 'em. Probably in a month.
I also noticed the area beneath the clincher in your photo. So many possible theories. Re the tubes, as I'm also gonna re-use my former practically new tubes, but just the same, in case it IS something with the tubes, now I'm wondering what, if anything, we can "coat" the tubes with to "seal" them? Desperate measures for desperate times!!
Your comment about using the same tube again and not experiencing the same problem with a new white tire, is not new to me. There doesn't seem to be a unlimited supply of whatever the tube is off gassing. The problems seam to be more prevalent with the use of "fresh" tubes.
Tim -- white Imron with a whole bottle of flex additive!
That's interesting Tod. So, if that's the case, for a die hard that needs white tires wouldn't the answer be to "exhaust" the tube off-gassing by mounting it once and then reusing it and have you had consistent success by doing so?
This is all fantasy and conjecture until someone runs proper tests and records the research for all to see. I want to buy some all white tires soon and want real answers.
Gosh, Ed - why don't you be that "someone" ? I'm sure we'd all appreciate having proper tests, recorded research and a definite answer.
Meanwhile, I'm reminded of a quote from pro golfer Lee Trevino many, many years back . . .
"Black may be beautiful, but brown is cute."
Good point Ed, but as Walter said earlier here, unless someone flies to Vietnam for a one-on-one session with them, I don't think nothing's gonna really happen, unless we stumble upon it by accident. I don't fly, so I aint going!! ;)
I'd like to, but it's not in my wheelhouse or bank account. Maybe the tire sellers would care enough to initiate some sort of investigative research. Not slighting the theories presented, for I bet one or several are responsible.
I didn't know Browning made tires, and certainly not white tires. I thought their wheelhouse was guns.
John purchased a set of firestone white non skids from Coker tire in mid 2013 for my 1911 ford. fall of that year tires were mounted on newly restored wheels. shortly after started to notice browning. tires are now the color of cup of coffee with a little cream. wheels have been stored in my house and never mounted on car as i have postponed restoration of car. no exposure to elements or sunlight. at same time bought a set of 28 x 3 smooth greys for another car. have some browning on these but not near as much as the white tires. have pictures but dont no how to post. hope this problem can be fixed. as collectors we want good white tires. thank you Brian
Ed, I think you are right, there are probably multiple factors causing this.
Henry, if Browning made white tires for model Ts, they probably wouldn't turn brown . . .
Okay, laying in bed this morning thinking about this ongoing tire issue. So lets say it's not UV, but something to do either with air and/or tubes. If that's the case, what about figuring out some way of "coating" the inside of the TIRE? Shellac? Lacquer? Heck, line 'em with Saran Wrap? Like I said before, desperate measures... I got about a month to come up with some hair-brained idea.
I read somewhere (I thought here but I guess not) that the rubber in black tires has some kind of brown stuff in it to protect it from something in the environment. I forget exactly what it is they're guarding against but that's not important. What important is this protective stuff is slowly squeezed to the surface of the tire through the constant flexing imposed on it by the vehicle being in motion. It's harder to see brown stuff on a black tire, of course, but just think about every time you wash your car and how more often than not the tires are brown-ish when you do.
What I suspect has happened is that our Model T tubes are being made of tire-formula rubber and that brown protectant is leeching out through your tires as you drive.
Tim, that's certainly a thought. I'm just having a hard time wrapping my head around anything making it's way through the otherwise fairly thick, dense sidewalls is all. But that said, starting to think my Saran Wrap idea is worth a try! Maybe if I wrapped the tubes with it, it would work?
Tim Wrenn, the brown stuff is already capable of squishing its way through the thick rubber of a modern tire. The compression and expansion of the rubber under the weight of the car pumps it through.
Note that this also can explain the instances where someone will mount all four tires plus a spare at the same time and the spare stays bright white.
Here's an article that explains what I think is happening:
I had forgotten that the browning is the antiozonant reacting once it reaches the surface so I don't know what colour the stuff is when it's in the tire. Maybe the tires themselves do have antiozonant in them after all.
If it's the inner tubes why not try putting warm soapy water in a laundry tub and take an inflated tube and wash it with a white rag to see if you get any discoloration. If you do then wait a day and try it again to see if more color comes off the tubes. If no color is coming off the tubes then it's not the tube. Is the inside of the tire brown?
If driving the car is necessary to pump the brown antiozonant out of the tires, that's certainly not the situation with the most recent case I referenced because it hasn't move a single inch since the day I mounted them 2-1/2 years ago.
Dennis asking about the inside of the tire -- of the one I removed last year, I want to say the inside was still white. I'll certainly check the next time the opportunity presents itself.
Dennis & Walter..FWIW I just checked my "old-old" white Firestone tires that came with the car when I bought it in '13. The inside of those are all black. I can't remember what the inside of the next batch of tires were, and I sent them back to Lucas. Haven't taken the coverings off the new one's yet so can't tell ya either on those.
Tim E., noteworthy article. I bought a UV protectant for outdoor furniture that I still might try, maybe after I also try this dressing idea. I'm still wondering about maybe literally painting the inside of the tires with something like Rustoleum, if indeed the problem is with the tubes puking through the tires. Maybe that'll stop it.
I shouldn't have said the inside was white. White or gray, but not discolored.
The odd thing is the gray tires I've mounted were white inside, leaving me to believe the were just taking a white tire and "painting" it gray. Well, the white tires I've worked with recently were gray inside, so that sort of blew that whole theory. I've never been able to get a straight answer on that one, either.
(Edit to add: the 30 year old ones I removed were black inside, as are all of the other 30 year old ones I have seen.)
(Message edited by Wmh on March 04, 2017)
I am back from my travels and now have access to my computer and photos. I thought about just adding the information I have to this post but this post is getting long, so I will be starting a new thread called “Browning of White Tires, A Theory and Why” shortly. I expect my post will kindle a new avenue of discussion and it should be easier to follow this way.
To John Goedeken, I am not trying to hijack the thread you started, I just think we will get more informational feedback if I do it this way.
Well, I was just down to the basement to check on tubes, per Tod's other post...looked inside the one old Firestone tire from way back that is yellow (other 3 are not) and come to discover on the one yellow one, the inside IS white as a ghost! Go figure. The other three are black as coal, and stayed white. Sigh.
Tim, what are the date codes on your four tires with respect to which ones are white and black inside?
Walter..no date codes per se
Just a small circle with letters. K G I & P inside and the other side down close to the bead is " 1 B-B" right under the tire size