October 2005

Equipment Spotlight
by Mark Henricks

View the list of manufacturers at the bottom of the page

Bob Kaplan used to ship off whole automotives tires and wheels to a tire shredder for processing. Now the vice president at H. A. Kaplan’s Metals Reduction Co. Inc. uses a tire crusher to remove the steel rims from the auto wheels recovered at his Saint Paul, Minnesota, auto salvage operation. “It makes good sense for us to separate the steel and rubber and recycle those separately,” Kaplan says.

Many other businesses, from junkyards to landfills, have decided that processing automotive tires and wheels is something that makes good sense. “Customers in states like Texas, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida and parts of California are going crazy right now,” says Bud Reynolds, general manager of DESCO Inc., a manufacturer of tire shears in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota.


Regulation is behind much of the demand. Automotive tires are tough to dispose of. Scrap tires collect water and provide shelter for mosquitoes and rodents that can carry disease. They have a tendency to trap heat and catch fire as well. Tire fires are hard to put out and, although whole tires aren’t considered hazardous materials, once burned they turn into a host of hazardous gases, heavy metals and other dangerous byproducts. Even when buried, they often rise to the top of landfills, disturbing the cover.

As a result of the problems associated with tire disposal, eleven states ban all tires from landfills as of 2003, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association. Just eight have no restrictions on putting tires in landfills. Most of the rest allow cut or shredded tires into either landfills or monofill sections of the landfill into which only scrap tires are placed.

R.M. Johnson

The tremendous volume of scrap tires gives the problem plenty of scale. At the end of 2003, about 290 million used tires rolled off of U.S. vehicles and into the waste and recycling stream, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates. About 80 percent are recycled into uses ranging from fuel to playground equipment. Others are retreaded or exported, leaving some 27 million tires a year to be disposed of. There are also hundreds of millions of tires remaining in tire piles that have built up over the years.

The tires remaining are bulky and mingled with steel wheels. Two solutions combine to solve most of the problems: tire derimming or crushing and tire shearing or cutting. Tire crushers operate by crushing tires and wheels together so that the compacted steel wheel drops out of the resilient tire. Derimmers push the wheels through the tire, separating them without crushing the steel.

Tire shears and cutters slice scrap tires into pieces. The number of pieces usually depends on local tire disposal and recycling regulations and practices, and ranges from two to eight. Most shears use a scissors-type cutter. Others use a square blade. Both crusher-derimmer and shear-cutter equipment typically employ a hydraulic cylinder, powered by electric, gas or diesel engines. Some models attach to excavators or loaders and draw their power from the vehicles’ engines.

Another variant concerns the size of the tires the equipment can handle. The most popular units are designed for Tire Service Equipment passenger car and light truck tires, typically up to 17 inches or so in diameter. Larger, more expensive models can cut and crush or derim truck tires. The heaviest-duty units handle tractor tires. Throughput on most models of both derimmers/crushers and cutters are about 100 tires an hour.

The R.M. Johnson Co. in Annandale, Minnesota, manufactures the EZ Rim Crusher, a 2,200 lb. unit that sells for $7,900. The hydraulic ram employs a three point pressure system driven by electric, gas or diesel motor. It’s designed to be easily portable. “Any half-ton pickup can pull it,” says R.M. Johnson’s David VanVleet. The units come with one-year front-to-back warranties and the relatively simple mechanism has proven durable. “The first one we built is still crushing rims and we’ve been building them for over 15 years,” says VanVleet.

Cost savings drives steady business for tire cutters, says Reynolds. For instance, he says, in Texas tire disposers may pay $180 a ton to dispose of whole tires, compared to $25 a ton for tires cut into four pieces. “The ROI strategy is what we focus on,” he says.


DESCO’s least expensive passenger and light truck shear, employing their square-blade cutter, sells for $8,900. Derimmers start at similar prices. The company also manufactures a large truck tire shear that sells for $27,500. Combination units that derim and cut tires range from $20,000 up to a combo derimmer-shear that handles large truck tires for $50,000.

Payback can be as little as five years for a salvage operation or tire retailer handling more than 500 scrap tires a month, according to the company. “The ROI is very fast,” Reynolds says.

Tire Service Equipment of Phoenix employs a patented shear blade that increases blade life, says sales manager Randy Kindel. The company’s models start at $7,100 for a passenger car and light truck tire cutter to $40,000 for a large tractor tire cutter. Smaller cutters are most popular, says Kindel. “A lot of times a tire shop will put them in,” explains Kindel.

Tire Service Equipment also makes crushers. One model services passenger and light truck tires up to 17 inches, the second handles large truck tires. The smaller model costs $8,200, the larger starts at $17,850. Kindel says the company advises prospective customers to consult their local regulatory authorities and recycling operations to make sure that the prevailing standards and regulations will suit the equipment they are buying. Some landfills charge the same for tires whether cut or not, he says. “We encourage them to check before they start thinking about cutting tires,” he says.

Eagle International

At Kaplan’s Metals Reduction Co. in Saint Paul, Bob Kaplan is looking for good things from the newly installed crusher, especially as long as prices for scrap steel maintain their current levels. “We’ve just decided recently to do it for ourselves,” says Kaplan. “The steel markets have been high enough that there’s a benefit to separate those on our own.”



Company Name
Contact Person
Desco, Inc. Bud Reynolds 800-344-0814
Eagle International, LLC. Julie Prochello 800-755-8473
Multitek Howard Heikkinen 715-428-2000
The R.M. Johnson Co. David VanVleet 800-328-3613
Tire Service Equipment Randy Kindel 800-223-4540



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