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Does that look like an afternoon treat?
 

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Discussion Starter #25
Michelin Man: The Inside Story
Impersonating the famous tire guy, our reporter (above) bathed in love and in sweat. Nothing new for this 107-year-old icon. A true tale of serendipity, survival, and brand management.

By ROGER PARLOFF
September 19, 2005
(FORTUNE Magazine) – My field of vision is constricted because I'm peering out of the cheesecloth mouth of the costume, and I've been instructed to keep looking down lest the mascot's head appear to be rocking back unnaturally toward the sky. A battery pack strapped to my back powers two blowers near my thighs that inflate the suit's nylon infrastructure and its outer artificial-leather shell. The blowers are supposed to provide circulation too, but acrid sweat is already soaking through my third T-shirt of the morning. I can now make out a nearby family of tourists, maybe from India, on the Times Square traffic island where my handlers have led me. I waddle toward them, waving exaggeratedly. They reward me with startled grins and laughter and are soon taking turns posing for photos with me. Earlier this morning, after just five minutes in this bathysphere-shaped getup, the neural synapses that control my social inhibitions suddenly toggled off. As long as I was encased in this thing, people of all ages, races, and creeds would reliably respond to me with enchantment and glee. Accordingly, I could approach anyone. The most forbiddingly beautiful women; the severest, most humorless executives; the baddest, buffest bike messengers--they would all be flattered by my attentions, enthusiastically shake my hand, touch me, hug me. Whoever categorized goodwill as an "intangible" had obviously never spent a day as the Michelin Man.

Though most Americans recognize the Michelin Man--the symbol of what is now the world's leading tire company by market share (No. 294 on FORTUNE's Global 500)--their appreciation for him is only tread-deep. They think of him as a younger cousin to the cuddly Pillsbury Doughboy, who was created in 1965. But the Michelin Man has been promoting tires since 1898. Though not the oldest corporate mascot (the Quaker Oats Pilgrim goes back to 1877, and Aunt Jemima to at least 1893), he has probably been drawn, painted, sculpted, die-cast, injection-molded, animated, and pixelated in countlessly more postures--and in infinitely more imaginative postures--than they or most of their protégés put together, including the Morton Salt Umbrella Girl (1911), Mr. Peanut (1916), Betty Crocker (1921), the Jolly Green Giant (1925), and Reddy Kilowatt (1926). (I exclude Mickey Mouse, born in 1928, because he is Disney's product itself, rather than simply an emblem of its product.)
 

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Discussion Starter #26
History
During the 1970s, the Firestone 500 steel-belted radials where known to separate from the tread, usually at high speeds, due to water seeping under the tread, which caused the belting to rust and the treading to separate. Joan Claybrook, who was the Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) during the Firestone scandal stated before the Transportation Subcommittee United States Senate Committee on Appropriations on September 6, 2000, that "There was a documented coverup by Firestone of the 500 defect, spurred by the lack of a Firestone replacement tire."


In March 1978, NHTSA announced publicly a formal investigation into defects of the Firestone 500. Firestone refused to cooperate. Firestone first asserted that only 400,000 tires produced at the Decatur plant were defective. But during the NHTSA investigation the NHTSA found that the tread separation defect was a design performance defect effecting all Firestone 500's. Firestone knew about this defect for at least three years prior and never told the NHTSA.

After forty one deaths, and after Firestone initially blamed consumers (improper repairs, rough use, or under-inflation), on Oct. 20, 1978, Firestone then recalled ten million tires.[1][2][3]

Firestone was originally based in Akron, Ohio, also the hometown of its archrival, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. Together, the two companies were the largest suppliers of automotive tires in North America for over three-quarters of a century. The family had decided in 1984 to look for a purchaser and began liquidating assets at that time.


A Firestone tireThe company was purchased off the stock market by the Japanese tire manufacturer Bridgestone in 1988. The combined Bridgestone/Firestone North American operations are now based in Nashville, Tennessee.

After the merger, allegations of defective tire designs continued, especially in 2000, when an abnormally high failure rate in their Wilderness AT, Firestone ATX, and ATX II tires resulted in multiple lawsuits, as well as an eventual mandatory recall. Ford has since stopped equipping its pickup trucks, SUVs and full-sized vans with Firestone tires. However, passenger cars such as the Ford Focus and Mercury Cougar bore Firestone tires as original equipment.

For 35 years, the company sponsored the radio and television show The Voice of Firestone.
 

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Discussion Starter #27
Making a Tire

1. Radial tire manufacturing starts with many kinds of raw materials: pigments, chemicals, some 30 different kinds of rubber, cord fabrics, bead wire, etc.

The process begins with the mixing of basic rubbers with process oils, carbon black, pigments, antioxidants, accelerators and other additives, each of which contributes certain properties to the compound.

These ingredients are mixed in giant blenders called Banbury machines operating under tremendous heat and pressure. They blend the many ingredients together into a hot, black gummy compound that will be milled again and again.

2. The cooled rubber takes several forms. Most often it is processed into carefully identified slabs that will be transported to breakdown mills. These mills feed the rubber between massive pairs of rollers, over and over, feeding, mixing and blending to prepare the different compounds for the feed mills, where they are slit into strips and carried by conveyor belts to become sidewalls, treads or other parts of the tire.

Still another kind of rubber coats the fabric that will be used to make up the tire's body. The fabrics come in huge rolls, and they are as specialized and critical as the rubber blends. Many kinds of fabrics are used: polyester, rayon or nylon. Most of today’s passenger tires have polyester cord bodies.

3. Another component, shaped like a hoop, is called a bead. It has high-tensile steel wire forming its backbone, which will fit against the vehicle's wheel rim. The strands are aligned into a ribbon coated with rubber for adhesion, then wound into loops that are then wrapped together to secure them until they are assembled with the rest of the tire.

Radial tires are built on one or two tire machines. The tire starts with a double layer of synthetic gum rubber called an innerliner that will seal in air and make the tire tubeless.

4. Next come two layers of ply fabric, the cords. Two strips called apexes stiffen the area just above the bead. Next, a pair of chafer strips is added, so called because they resist chafing from the wheel rim when mounted on a car.

The tire building machine pre-shapes radial tires into a form very close to their final dimension to make sure the many components are in proper position before the tire goes into the mold.

5. Now the tire builder adds the steel belts that resist punctures and hold the tread firmly against the road. The tread is the last part to go on the tire. After automatic rollers press all the parts firmly together, the radial tire, now called a green tire, is ready for inspection and curing.


6. The curing press is where tires get their final shape and tread pattern. Hot molds like giant waffle irons shape and

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vulcanize the tire. The molds are engraved with the tread pattern, the sidewall markings of the manufacturer and those required by law.

Tires are cured at over 300 degrees for 12 to 25 minutes, depending on their size. As the press swings open, the tires are popped from their molds onto a long conveyor that carries them to final finish and inspection
 

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Yep this area isn't so dead after all...........
 
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