Rumblings, June 1972

Motorway Remoulds.—

It is very important these days, when each defective tyre on your car can earn an endorsement and a fine, to ensure that the car is properly shod. This puts up the cost of motoring, Of course, but the bill can be cut to around 2/3 rds or even half if remoulded tyres are used. There is still a good deal of mistrust in “second-time” tyres, although about half the tyres sold in this country are remoulds and they are good enough for airline use— “0 to 200 m.p.h. in 0.5 sec.”, as the Regent Remoulds advertisements remind us.

Another excellent piece of publicity for retreaded tyres was the journey made this year from Wales across the Sahara desert and back by a Ford Escort Mexico and a Ford Transit truck shod with from stock Motorway remould tyres—165 x 13 GT radials on the Mexico, Mk. 3 700 x 14 cross-plys on the heavily loaded Transit. In 7,500 extremely punishing miles no air was added to these tyres, which gave absolutely no trouble and came back with at least 4 mm. of tread left on them. The Mexico was driven by rally driver Eric Jackson, who had previously known a car to be abandoned on this route and who had previously experienced 17 failures with new tyres on the tarmac, sand, gravel and rocks terrain.

This demonstration came as no great surprise to those who knew that it was thought up by John Brisbane, head of the Brisbane Group which includes Motorway Remoulds of Knighton, and that Motorways’ Managing Director David Rowlands drove the support Transit, because they have previously won awards in the Monte Carlo, RAC, Acropolis, Tulip, Irish and Welsh rallies with cars using Motorway remoulds and Bill Bengry finished the London-Sydney Marathon on a Ford Cortina GT, using 165 x 13 Motorway Rally remoulds.

All this should do much to reassure those who are chary of using retreaded tyres, especially for continuous motorway driving, and we drove through some typical Radnorshire countryside recently to see how this company operates. We were received enthusiastically by their Australian PRO Brett Young, who commutes to his office in an orange Fiat 850 coupé. He told us that it all dates back to 1919, when S. W. Brisbane & Son was a small garage business, in the remote Welsh country-town of Knighton. They began to remould tyres for local farmers in 1938, one man collecting the covers and retreading them himself in a small shed. After the war this side of the business was developed as Radnorshire Tyre Services, established in a nearby disused woollen mill. In 1964 they pioneered the retreading of radial-ply tyres, now a very important aspect of their work.

A new factory was erected behind the mill in 1969 and is at present being extended to provide more spacious working condition for the 100 operatives employed, the old mill being retained as a store-house and dispatch bay. This is no insignificant Welsh local industry. Indeed, Motorway Remoulds turn out in the region of 4,000 retreaded car tyres and some 300 to 400 heavy-duty remoulds each week. These are distributed to specialist tyre firms in a fleet of seven articulated trucks, Leyland, Sedden, etc., with a BMC van looking after local deliveries. Most of the deliveries are anything but local, going all over the country, down to Plymouth, across to London and East Anglia, up to Preston, and so on, while Motorway Remoulds do export business with Scandinavia, the West Indies, Nigeria and Burma. One gets the impression that the only limit is the present shortage of radial-ply covers suitable for retreading, due perhaps to the longer wear in new radials and the harder life they lead under fast-cornering, etc. This is accentuated because the export of used tyre casings for foreign retreading is mopping up supplies.

Radnorshire Tyre Services changed its name to Motorway Remoulds in 1968 in order to emphasise that it manufactures retreaded tyres and is not a repair and get-you-home service. The name was not chosen to suggest motorway usage but has, nevertheless, a ring of confidence about it.

Tyres have to be remoulded to strict standards, which the tyre retreaders professional association helped to determine. Motorway are among the ten remould companies on its strength, out of some 43 such firms in this country. Their methods follow the established pattern. A store for bought-in used covers has been established on the opposite bank of the river to the factory, each one very thoroughly checked, and rejected if it shows any faults. Avon rubber is used for retreading, which is of the band-to-band pattern. The moulds are of Danish make, 35 for car tyres, five for heavy-duty commercial tyres of the size which might cost £50 new but nearer £25 from Motorway, half-a-dozen for intermediate sizes. The new treads are vulcanised on under a combination of heat (steam at 300’F), pressure, and time, being ejected automatically when the process is complete.

Car sizes range from 520 x 10 to 650/670 x 16, in Motorway Mk. 3, with a Dunlop-like tread, and Countryman cross-ply types, and front 145 x 10 to 165/175 x 16 in Motorway GT, the rally-proved tyre with close affinity to an Avon tread pattern, Motorway Mk. 3 and Motorway Rally Pattern radials. These, of course, do not include the commercial vehicle and tractor tyres.

Owners of older cars who require replacement tyres in 17 in., 18 in. and 19 in. sizes would do well to contact Motorway Remoulds Ltd., who are sometimes able to supply these larger retreads.