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The history of wheels 2

From now on they also could be called 'pneumatic-tyres'. The expression originates from the Greek word 'pneuma', meaning air or wind. Although it would still take a good half-century, before this principle would assert itself, indeed, it presented the possibility to travel somewhat more comfortably over the rough roads.

The premise for Robert Thomson's invention, which was after all, made up of a type of inner-tube and an outer casing of leather, was the development of vulcanisation in 1839 by Charles Goodyear. Thus, a rubber was created, which had quite a durable form and which was very firm, through adding e.g., sulphur to the natural rubber, and by applying a suitable amount of heat aa well as sufficient pressure. Unfortunately, the motorised population still had to wait a bit longer, because after Thomson's death in 1873, his invention was simply forgotten about.

Bicycle racing benefitted the development of the pneumatic tyre.

In the same century, the Irish veterenarian, John Boyd Dunlop, developed the pneumatic tyre. It was in fact, only intended for his son's tricycle. An air-tight rubber tube was wrapped in linen cloth. If the tube had to be patched, then the linen had to be detached, layer for layer. The name of the first example?, the 'Mummy-Tyre'. All this dates back to the year of 1888, when the first safety bicycle with pedals and a chain, was introduced in place of the 'Penny-Farthing'.

Of course, neither of the two first automobile builders, Benz and Daimler, knew anything about this invention. In England however, and in rapid succession, the drop-center wire-bead (Charles Welch, William Bartlett, up tp 1900), the valve (Charles Woods) and in France, the tyre with a replaceable inner-tube (Édouard Michelin) were invented. The latter, together with his brother, was responsible for testing this innovation in a race for the first time, which, by the way, resulted in a distinct time saving.

Despite the hundreds of patents, one problem would still accompany the pneumatic tyre for more than fifty years, the loss of pressure, not caused alone through the vast number of lost horse-shoe nails, but also through the linen reinforcing, because it's various layers chafed against each other. This was the only advantage that the solid rubber-tyre had, as a buffer between the rim and the road. It could be mounted, using a great deal of force, by the village blacksmith, or in one of the primitive workshops of the time (see picture 4).

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