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Roadfly Magazine
Issue Eleven
Table of Contents

Past Issues Index
Roadfly Magazine
Aston Martin at Detroit Auto Show
Issue Eleven
March 30, 2004
Live, From Detroit, It's the 2004 NAIAS!
Detroit Auto Show Awards
Keeping things in Balance
60 Seconds with Henrik Fisker
Windshield Dyno: The Beltronics GX2
Nissan Altima Facelift
WORK Wheels Introduction
Cadillac Merchandise
Not The Record To Be Proud Of
Open Wheel Racing in the USA: Big Changes
Bear Market in the Auto Business?
Coming Next Issue
NYC Auto Show

Keeping things in Balance, continued.

Hunter Computerized Wheel balancer

Hunter Tire Changer for Alloy Wheels

"What's happened here is that the rim has a high spot, as does the tire. To complicate matters, the tire has its own 'stiff and weak spots.' As the assembly rotates, there are various forces working against the tire. Air pressure is supporting the tire, while the road surface is pressing back against the tire. When there's a stiff spot, it can act like a 'hard spot' and cause a vibration."

Bowen seems to be reading Scribner's mind because he continues, "Dave is going to deflate the tire, break the bead and spin the tire so that the high spot on the rim matches with the low spot on the tire. That should correct the problem."

We follow along with Scribner as he rolls the wheel assembly over to another one of Hunter's fine pieces of machinery, the top of the line TC3500 Tire Changer. Having spent many years mounting and balancing tires myself, I was awed by Hunter's latest and greatest equipment. The attention to detail, the quality construction and the amount of computerization was nothing short of amazing.

As Scribner deflated the tire and broke the bead, we arrived at a somewhat startling discovery. The wheel that we had been working with was a 19" magnesium alloy wheel from a Ferrari, and much to our surprise, the inside surfaces of the wheel were heavily gouged and scraped. "That's from a technician using a shovel breaker improperly," said Scribner rather nonchalantly.

Apparently the Hunter folks were well aware of this, and explained that on traditional tire changers, a metal shovel squeezes the tire against a nylon block while breaking the bead of the tire (that's where the tire mates to the rim to create an air tight seal). If the operating technician isn't careful, the shovel will drag across the inside of the rim. "The scary part of this is that the customer would never know it happened, but anyone with a basic understanding of chemistry will know that magnesium doesn't like water," says Bowen, "And the inside of tires can collect moisture and water rather easily." The result could be catastrophic were the damage and moisture great enough - the wheel could easily collapse at a very inopportune moment.

"We can build the greatest equipment in the world," says Jim Huhn, "But if the tech's don't know how to use it properly, it won't matter how good our equipment is. We place a lot of emphasis on proper technician training, and offer classes here on a regular basis (for industry technicians)."

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