Chema Blasco

Problems with Lester tires

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Hello

I would like to comment the serious problems we have had repeatedly with several recent batches of Lester White Wall tires purchased to Universal Vintage Tires. As you can see in the pictures attached as example (corresponding to 5.25-5.50 x 19” WW tires -purchased for my 1931 Chrysler CM-) only one of the four new tires purchased started to become with a dirty and very poor aspect without any use only few weeks after being installed in the wheels and after a gentle cleaning (see below) of the blue protective coat sprayed by the manufacturer.

Sometimes the problem is generalized affecting all the tires purchased. However, in other batches, only few of the new tires are affected. Old Lester batches (even purchased by me more than 10 years ago) were never showing this problem.

I have commented these problems to Universal Vintage company, and even sending samples of the affected tires (that were destroyed for such purpose). The company was returning new ones to us free of costs (we had to pay shipping costs again) but I never received any explanation on the research conducted to investigate the problem. I have contacted this company again since we have had exactly the same problem with the new replacement tires provided. They replied that they have not identified the source of the problem, and that the only thing they can do is offering us a discount (not the real value) on a new batch. They think, moreover, that the problem is produced by the cleaning procedure used by us.

However, we have been using always the same cleaning procedure when purchasing new tires. We use common dish or hand-wash detergents (Ajax or Palmolive) diluted in tap water cleaning gently the protective blue coat with heavy duty sponges (Scotch- Brite). The problems appear very soon after cleaning (in a few weeks) even without using the cars. Once the problem appears, we are not able to fully recover the clean and bright aspect of the new tires. We have repeated this cleaning procedure for years in many BF Goodrich and Firestone WW tires (and even in many Lester batches of the same manufacturer) having never experienced this problem. Once cleaned, the new tires are protected from direct sunlight (we have even maintained the new tires covered without any significant improvement), and the cars are maintained in the same garage and environment with many other cars installed also with white wall tires, and that never have been showing the problem.

I will appreciate any comment.

Yours sincerely

JM Blasco

Spain

 

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Yep a very common problem with today's antique car white walls.

Many people have tried to get this same problem solved.

It appears to be a issue of poor quality black rubber bleeding through the whitewalls.

My old Lester's and Denman's have never done this.

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The new all-white tires have the same problems. There is a brass-era restoration blog on this forum which shows the guy's new set of white tires as the blog begins. A few months in to the restoration, the tires are a cafe-o tan color. Remember that the Universal, Coker and other tires come from the same factories.

 

Phil

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Thank whom ever is responsible for changing the compounds used in making the Rubber for tires. The old classic tires use the modern type material .

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Could be clueless but I thought the rubber was white to begin with and to make a white stripe the mfr just cut away a layer of black exposing the white. A synapse is jingling that carbon black is added to make rubber black and does many other good things.

 

I remember seeing blackwalls split and show white but was a long time ago.

 

Must say that looks a lot like whitewash that is wearing off a black surface.

Edited by padgett (see edit history)

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When the first "Lester" tires came out, we were very grateful to the instigators,  as they brought back to life several sizes for "collector" cars that had become impossible to get.

 

Unfortunately,  they had a quality problem from the very start.

 

First, as to "round-ness".  In the days of "bias" tires, the industry standard was a tire was considered defective if it was 5/32 "out-of-round" or more.   ( tires "out-of-round" but less than that would be "trued" at the dealers, just about all of whom in those days had a shaving device called a "tire knife". ).

 

I recall having to send maybe half the tires of any given shipment of four or six  Lesters back for failing to meet the then-existing standard.  ( even when "trimmed",  a tire whose structure was out-of-round was difficult to balance dynamically).

 

The second problem I had with Lesters  was structural failure.   Over the years of using Lesters I had several blow-outs  (I went thru several sets of Lesters over the years - again, they alone made the unique size I personally needed - I actually DRIVE my "collector" car .  And not THAT fast -  65-70 mph cruising tops.

 

As a side-note,  I did NOT have a problem with "bleed-thru" of the Lesters I owned.

 

For the past 20 years or so ( or whenever they started in business )  I have used Diamonds.   They take a modern radial tire and add a white-wall to it.   Whatever process they are using STAYS white. 

 

As a side-note, my car was "squirrely" with the Lesters.   I know from personal experience that when cars came new  from the factory with bias tires,  yes - there was a bit of a wiggle-giggle when  paraelling street-car tracks or similar road irregularities,   but nothing like the Lesters.   The modern radials that Diamond uses behave as any other modern tire - will make your collector car drive the way it is supposed to - the way it did when new.

 

Yes - there IS a potential risk to using radials, hopefully remote.  IF a radial fails, it is often  pretty theatrical!!!   Meaning,  they literally blow apart.  I have seen collector cars sbadly damanged when what is left of a radial tire following a failure go whipping around.   I would HOPE that a frequent inspection for signs of imminent failure would eliminate that possibility - meaning you'd catch the problem before the tire blew up.

Edited by SaddleRider
durn - have to learn how to type (see edit history)

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Heck I had tread separation on bias tires (but used to get them a bit warm first) but the Firestone 500 took it to a whole new level.

 

My experience is that a tread that is separating will either vibrate or start pulling quite badly.

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Been there done this with Firestones. Three setts to finally get a batch that did not yellow. Well not yellow as bad as the first two setts.

Next time it will be black-walls for me.

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Had the same problem with the last two sets of tires . They turn brown ,Coker told me it was because I was using Wheslyes  white to clean with , been using it for years.  Put a new set on a car  I am working on they turned brown within a month  .Kings32

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9 minutes ago, kings32 said:

Had the same problem with the last two sets of tires . They turn brown ,Coker told me it was because I was using Wheslyes  white to clean with , been using it for years.  Put a new set on a car  I am working on they turned brown within a month  .Kings32

What did Coker suggest you use Howard?

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The Peterson route sounds more interesting all the time. (Black Walls only!)

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They said to use simple green  . Didn't seem to do much better .  Having problems with the brakes on the 26 ,  Kings 32

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Roger on Simple. Sorry about the brakes...........:( 

 

We were at "her old home"  yesterday afternoon.:)

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Here's the restoration I spoke of, a nice 1918 Kissel. The first photo is from a post dated 4/3/15. The second photo 6/10/16.

 

 

Kissel1.jpg

Kissel2.jpg

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Ok, all very interesting as has been Matt Harwood's comments in other posts. on, Coker/Universal are owned by the same company. Tube failure has also been an issue on other posts. A close friend who has a 32 Franklin sedan had 6 new tires and tubes (Lester) he bought from Universal and started to drive his car cross country, had three tube failures and one tire failure. ALl well and good they send replacements but then you are going through scuffing and scraping the the paint at the edge of the rim when you dismantle the lock ring etc. Has anyone had any issues with the tires/tubes supplied by Lucas of California?

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Since we are on the subject of tires....My newly purchased Universals after being mounted on the rims for about 6 months and then driven 100 miles. Car is always garaged so the only sunlight was out driving or in a show.

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Those are little cracks in the sidewalls.  They look a bit worse in the photos as they are magnified a bit.  After being a year and a half old and 500 total miles they haven't gotten any worse - thankfully.  Universal offered to replace all 5 tires but I decided not to as I would probably scratch up my disk wheels getting the locking rings off.  So I'm hoping they don't get any worse during season #2.  We'll see.

 

This issue and the white wall browning issue described by the OP are both results of quality control.  Quality of the raw material and, to even a greater degree, the processing. There are a lot of control parameters that go into the processing of elastomers and many of these off-shore companies do not have the proper facilities, equipment, trained people and concern for the customer to deliver consistently good product, so this is what we get....spend hundreds of dollars on each tire and have crappy experiences. The most important thing to do with your next tire purchase is to ensure the tires are manufactured in the US where at least the equipment is capable and some standards are set.  Secondly, just share our experiences and the best companies will get the business and survive.  Not sure what else we can do as customers.

Scott

Edited by Stude Light (see edit history)
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Thanks for your clear and helpful responses. And yes, I was informed by the Universal Vintage staff that the Lester’s, Coker’s and Firestone’s are produced by the same manufacturing company. However, I have to say that in the last few years we have purchased nor less than 10 tire sets of 4.75 -5.00 x 19 (or 21) for several model A Ford club member cars, and we had never experienced the problem. At least 5 sets of BF Goodrich tires have been also purchased in the club and no problems occured. However, the problem has been recurrent with the last 6 sets of Lester tires purchased in the last five years or so to Universal. The aspect of our problem Lester tires is identical to that clearly evidenced in the posted pictures of the nice 1918 Kissel. We are unable to recover minimally the tires to our shows, and the only solution is turning back the tires placing the white wall directed to the inner part of the cars…..really frustrating.

I wonder if given the extended nature of the problem we should take altogether some legal (or at least a serious protest) action against Universal (or the manufacturing company). Unfortunately, I am living far away from you (Europe; Spain), and apart of the many e-mails or phone queries submitted to Universal, my level of potential legal actions is quite limited if any. Obviously, I have decided neither to purchase nor recommend purchasing Lester tires anymore.  

 

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37 minutes ago, Walt G said:

Ok, all very interesting as has been Matt Harwood's comments in other posts. on, Coker/Universal are owned by the same company. Tube failure has also been an issue on other posts. A close friend who has a 32 Franklin sedan had 6 new tires and tubes (Lester) he bought from Universal and started to drive his car cross country, had three tube failures and one tire failure. ALl well and good they send replacements but then you are going through scuffing and scraping the the paint at the edge of the rim when you dismantle the lock ring etc. Has anyone had any issues with the tires/tubes supplied by Lucas of California?

In 2009 I bought five 700x17 Bedford Famous Coach WSW tires and tubes from Lucas for my 1934 Pierce.  The tubes seemed unusually thin, and were marked as having been made in the Far East.  On a 1500 mile trip a couple of months later, I had two flats due to tube failure (along the bonded seams) but the tires survived beautifully.  I replaced ALL the tubes with 16-inch light truck tubes from my local tire wallah at less than 40% of the Lucas tube price.  The 1934 Pierce wheels are drop center, so the 16" tubes fit well.  No problems during the 10,000 miles since then.  No whitewall issues and I'm delighted with how well the Bedford tires survived 55 mph flats.

 

I have the Bedford Coach tires in 700 x 18 blackwalls on my 1930 Pierce roadster as installed by previous owner and they are excellent as well.

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Thanks so much for the input. I am going to need some 600 x 20 tubes for my 1930 Packard , do light truck tubes exist in this size? 

Also 700 x 20 tubes, do light truck tubes exist for these as well?

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Walt, I don't know, but suggest you talk to a tire dealer who serves medium-duty trucks. If you have a bare wheel and an old tire casing to take in, that would probably be helpful.

 

I also recommend (which I did before having the new 17" tires mounted) wire-brushing the naked wheels, then Metal-Prep or similar, then a rust-preventive paint -- I used Rustoleum--on the inside of the wheel.  I also used heat-resistant 20-mil HVAC tape (not duct tape which is NOT heat-resistant) on the drop center surface and 10-mil HVAC tape on the shoulders--but not the bead-sealing surface.  That tape is slick!  The idea is to prevent an development of rust which could possibly abrade the tubes.

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Afterthoughts on the Bedford Famous Coach tires:  They are larger in diameter AND cross-section than factory tires, as are most repro tires today, but the Bedfords are *significantly* larger.  The 1930 Pierce fenderwells will not accept even a flat Bedford--on a tour, I had to leave a flat at a fire station for later pickup.  My fender-mounted spares are 650x18 Lesters, as installed by the previous owner, but the canvas covers help mask the difference in size.  AND the Bedfords produce some road hum on certain surfaces.  Those aspects will not deter me from buying Bedfords again.

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I have had the same problem with my 6.50 X 19 Lester WW tires.   It is a never ending battle to try to keep them looking half way decent.   I have used everything ever recommended that is supposed to do the “trick” to keep them from looking off white, or brown.  Nothing works.  Within a day of scrubbing they start to turn brown even if the car does not leave the garage.

I will never again buy white wall tires.   As soon as I can justify the expense I am switching to black wall tires – and they will definitely not be the Lester brand. 

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From what little I overheard from the technical department at the tire factory I worked at. The discoloration is the oils from the black rubber leaking through the barrier and seeping through the white walls. We made "all pink" tractor tires for breast cancer awareness. It was still black inner liner and black rubber calendered around the nylon cord for the plys. They applied a cheaper quality layer of barrier material and then applied the pink tread and sidewall rubber, white rubber that had a pink pigment added. They looked good for a week or so then the black started leaching through. 

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