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News > McKinley Lab deep-freezes for tire testing
 
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Going for a spin
A Goodyear test vehicle waits to spin the tires on the snowy track in the McKinley Climatic Lab Sept. 9 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The company demonstrated the tire’s snow traction and ice braking capabilities to potential customers from Northern U.S. states and Canada as well as media. (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)
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McKinley Lab deep-freezes for tire testing

Posted 9/13/2010   Updated 9/13/2010 Email story   Print story

    


by Samuel King Jr.
Team Eglin Public Affairs


9/13/2010 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- As the Florida heat wave continued outside, snow fell and temperatures reached 20 degrees inside the McKinley Climatic Lab in preparation to test snow traction and ice braking capabilities on vehicle tires.

Lab engineers had snow falling Sept. 4 to fill the chamber and create the freezing and icy conditions needed for the customer, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company.

It took two long days to fill the 55,000 foot chamber with snow and reach the conditions required, according to Matt McCarty, test engineer with McKinley Lab.

"The lab can produce enough refrigeration power to run 1,500 home air conditioning units," said Mr. McCarty. "That capability has a cost though. Depending on the requirements and conditions, a day in the lab could cost the customer between $20,000 and $40,000."

The McKinley Lab, with its huge temperature gauge on the front of the hangar, has been an Eglin icon since 1947 and is the largest climatic lab in the world. The 46th Test Wing facility is primarily used for military testing, but provides services to commercial companies and even foreign countries.

"The commercial companies' testing keeps us on our toes working and prepared for when a military test needs to be accomplished," said Mr. McCarty.

Goodyear required a course of thick snow and a straightaway of ice within the chamber to demonstrate a new cold-weather truck and SUV tire. The company also used McKinley Lab in 2004 to demonstrate its products.

"We're so excited to come back to this facility," said Gary Medalis, Goodyear general manager. "They create the conditions we need to show our products to our customers, which allows us to give them the best information available."

The conditions provided for demonstrations of handling, turning, traction and stopping with the company's new tires. Trucks made laps inside the chamber, first on packed snow and then on a sheet of ice.

The Goodyear demonstration was a much easier process to create than a typical aircraft test.

"There's a lot more prep work that goes into aircraft testing," said Mr. McCarty. "With this test, it's just an empty chamber; we just had to provide the conditions."

The main demonstration for customers and media from the northern U.S. states and Canada occurred Sept. 9, but Goodyear will continue testing through Sept. 16. With another successful test complete, Eglin and the Air Force continue to work with and strengthen its ties with major U.S. industries.

"We wanted to show our customers we're working with top-notch facilities," said Mr. Medalis. "Goodyear likes to attach themselves to a leader and this is a great way to do it."



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