Solving road lope is easy, says Titan
Road lope is a rhythmic, ‘porpoising’ motion that develops at higher speeds or in road gear when a tractor is not pulling any significant load. It often occurs because a tyre or rim is not truly round. And it’s annoying; according to a recent US survey conducted on behalf of Titan Tire Corporation, approximately 47 per cent of growers (regardless of tyre brand they’re running) identify road lope as a problem they’re currently experiencing with their tractors and combines. This physical swaying and bouncing of the machine during road transport can result in extreme rider discomfort and inhibit the grower’s productivity between fields, however there are some simple solutions that growers should be aware of in order to rectify their road lope issues.
Wheels and tyres
Titan says end-users labour under the misconception that road lope is a by-product of poor design, when in fact the issue is more often than not related to how the wheel aligns with the tyre when installed on the equipment. “Wheels and tyres both have natural high and low spots, and if they are not aligned correctly when mounted and installed, it will increase the likelihood of road lope issues,” explains Scott Sloan, agricultural product manager for Titan and Goodyear Farm Tires. “By selecting a factory-mounted tyre from a manufacturer that aligns the high and low spots of the wheel and tyre in the factory, the grower is likely to see reduced road lope as compared to a tyre that was mounted without regard to high and low spots.”
Field service programmes
Not all wheel and tyre assemblies are factory mounted, however solutions are available for growers that run aftermarket tyres and are experiencing road lope problems. Growers can work with their local dealer or the tyre manufacturer’s field service team to troubleshoot the issue. In Titan’s case, the tyre maker formed the ‘Titan Grizz Squad’ for its US-based US in 2011. This is a team of field service technicians responsible for visiting customers across the country and making adjustments to their wheels and tyres in order to get better overall performance in the field. When dealing with road lope, field service technicians use portable laser run-out machines to measure the radial uniformity of each individual tyre on the grower’s equipment. The results are tracked in a software programme and the data is used to determine the wheel and tyre’s high and low spots. The high spot of the rim is then matched up with the low spot on the tyre, giving the assembly a true roundness and solving the road lope issue.
“It’s not uncommon for field service teams to encounter growers who are on the verge of buying all new sets of tyres, because they are fed up with the road lope,” says Sloan. “This could be up to a US$40,000 purchase to replace tyres that are in perfectly good shape, but after spending an afternoon with a field service technician, the problem can be solved at no cost to the grower.”
Low sidewall (LSW) technology
Another way of combating road lope is with low sidewall (LSW) technology, which helps boost stability in the field and on the road and reduces road lope and power hop. LSW wheels and tyres feature a lower aspect ratio, smaller sidewall and larger rim diameter without increasing the tyre’s outside diameter. With a smaller sidewall, the potential for recoil and bouncing is lessened significantly.
“LSW wheels and tyres are perfect for large growers and custom harvesters that routinely travel several miles between fields,” shares Sloan. “With the LSW, they will experience greater stability, less road lope and less power hop when compared to conventional tyres and wheel assemblies.”
Combining LSW and IF
Titan offers LSW technology in a variety of Titan and Goodyear agricultural tyre lines, and even combines LSW technology with increased flexion (IF) technology. The tyre maker says that combining these two technologies offers the stability benefits of LSW along with the flotation and traction benefits of running at IF technology’s lower inflation pressures.