Rubber Products

The only one of its kind

Rubber Products Division

Rubber Products Division is the only facility of its kind in the Department of Defense. As the sole source provider of the M1 road wheel, the depot has the most sophisticated, state-of-the-art track shoe and roadwheel re-build / manufacturing facility in the world. Rubber Products Division is capable of producing multiple types of track shoes and road wheels simultaneously to meet the Army’s demand. Equipment modernization projects such as the automated rubber denuding system and robotic road wheel material handlers have ensured that RRAD will continue to be a leading producer of track shoes and road wheels well into the future. Since 1953, RRAD has produced nearly 250,000 track shoes and over 50,000 roadwheels. Along with the equipment modernization program, RRAD has developed a professionally trained staff of engineers, technicians, equipment specialists, rubber workers, systems operators and inspectors in its Rubber Products Operations.


This $3.3 million addition to Red River Army Depot's Rubber Products Operations is revolutionizing the way that rubber is removed and also making it environmentally safe. The Rubber Products Operations has two fluidized vats that can operate simultaneously. A total of 4,200 pounds of material can be processed at once It takes about 30 minutes for each vat of boiling sand to complete a cleaning cycle. The fluidized bed removes the rubber from the track shoes and roadwheels by immersing them into a bed of sand approximately 925 degrees Fahrenheit. The sand is fluidized by air and gas rising from the bottom to the top. The fluidized sand mass takes on the physical properties of a boiling liquid. Rubber pyrolyzes in the hot sand, and the remaining gases are burned above the surface of the bed. Combustion gases are then burned again after being reheated in the exhaust system, cooled, filtered, and vented.


The mechanical denuding equipment automatically removes the rubber from the periphery of the roadwheel in preparation for the replacement of new rubber. After being manually loaded on an in-feed conveyor, the roadwheel is conveyed to one of three machines. Under the direction of a programmable logic controller, the roadwheel is automatically loaded, the old rubber is cut off, and the surface is scraped and brushed to prepare it for the new rubber. The cleaned wheel is then automatically off-loaded to an outgoing conveyor to be carried to the next step in rebuilding.


The adhesive spray system consists of two separate units which automatically prepares the roadwheel or track for injection molding of rubber. All manual operations (previously required for the blast cleaning of roadwheels or the spraying of adhesive on roadwheel and track) are eliminated. The new system is directed by programmable controllers, which receives the identification of the part from the operator. Without further input from the operator, the controller selects the spray guns and patterns necessary to apply the minimum acceptable amount of primer and adhesive to prepare the component for injection molding. The installed heating/curing ovens provide the capability to use environmentally acceptable water-based adhesives and further reduce emissions.


Red River Army Depot has nineteen injection molding machine systems that are used to produce numerous different types of track shoes, track pads, track bushings and roadwheels. The injection process uses strip type rubber stock and state-of-the-art computer-controlled injection equipment to increase product quality and decrease rubber scrap. Metal parts are loaded into the injection molds. The strip rubber is then drawn into the injection barrel by a rotating screw, masticated into a low viscosity state and injected into the mold cavity under high pressure. The finished parts are then removed from the molds and placed on conveyors where they are transported for further processing.


The curing press prepares slabs of rubber for laboratory test in accordance with the standards established by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Red River Army Depot's curing press meets and exceeds all ASTM D-3182 requirements. It is semi-automatically operated (90%) and is the latest model Pasadena Hydraulic, Inc. (PHI) press. This curing press (PHI) has an ASTM four-cavity mold that meets and exceeds the National Bureau of Standards requirements. All of the physical requirements for natural and synthetic rubbers are tested from samples made with the Laboratory Curing Press.


The track adhesion tester tests rubber-to-metal bond and provides values. When testing track shoes, the adhesion test pull has to be at least 60 lbs per square inch to qualify as good. Track pads require a minimum adhesion pull of 120 lbs per square inch.


The drum test machine performs dynamic tests for roadwheels to ensure conformance to requirements. A 48-hour test is conducted at 10 miles per hour and a 6-hour test at 30 miles per hour. Adhesion tests are performed to check for blistering, nonbonding, etc. New shipments of rubber must pass strenuous acceptance tests before purchasing. Regular production samples must also pass these tests before final acceptance.

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