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March 09, 2005

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Paul Rubenson

I was pleased at first to see your recent article about Thomas B. Jeffery and the clincher tire. After reading it thoroughly however, I regretfully report it is critically misleading. The problem is that WIRE BEAD TIRES AND CLINCHER TIRES WERE HISTORICALLY DISTINCT, even though the terms are often now used interchangeably.

Thomas Jeffery (and also William Bartlett in the UK) invented clincher tires WHICH HAD NO WIRE BEADS. These tires held fast to the rim simply by pressure and the shape of their clincher beads. On the other hand, Charles Welch (in the UK) and A.T. Brown & G.F. Stillman (in the US) are responsible for the wire-bead design we know today. Their design was adopted and popularized by Dunlop, who had introduced the pneumatic tire to the world market only a few years before.

Single-tube or "hosepipe" tires (invented by Pardon Tillinghast in the US and I.W. Boothroyd in the UK, and promoted by Col. Albert Pope of Columbia Bicycles) were only ever popular in the US, and only from 1892 to 1933). They were an odd dead-end of local technological development, and their strangle-hold on the American market was all but inexplicable. Elsewhere, wire bead tires dominated the market from day one.

See: US Patent #488,494 (A.T. Brown & G.F. Stillman, 1892), UK Patent #14,536 (Charles Welch, 1890), UK Patent #11,900 (William Erskine Bartlett, 1889), US Patents #486,915 and #497,971 (Pardon W. Tillinghast, 1892-1893, and US Patents #434,115 and #466,789 (Thomas B. Jeffery, 1891-1892).

Thanks sincerely,

Paul Rubenson, MA-History of Technology
University of Maryland Baltimore County

Leo R. Esper

I would like the progression of the type of tires installed on early Fords, (1903-late 20's).
Thank You.
Leo R.

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