A Protective Shield: Dura-Flange® 70% as Hard as Diamond

A Protective Shield: Dura-Flange® 70% as Hard as Diamond

Advanced Surface Treatment Increases Durability and Wear Resistance in Rim Flanges

Rim flanges play a critical role in shifting loads transportation, it’s the outermost edge of the wheel rim where the tire bead sits, and the flange is subject to wear as the tire rotates against it during normal operation.

Rim flange wear is one of the most common maintenance conditions that occur with wheels, especially in shifting loads applications like transit, mining, tankers, and heavy hauling. Excessive rim flange wear is a primary safety and maintenance concern as it can become severe and sharp, which can damage the tire bead, cause air leaks, or even lead to tire blowouts. For fleet managers and owner-operators who have the job of reducing maintenance costs and downtime from wheel-offs, rim flange wear is an important issue to monitor.

This irregular wear and/or pitting found on the top surface of the rim flange is caused by abrasion from the tire chafer and sidewall. Over time, the abrasion erodes the flange surface. It can be caused by a number of factors, including improper tire inflation, aggressive driving, corrosion, lack of regular maintenance, and excessive weight on the trailer, which puts added pressure on the rims.

While there are steps to take to reduce rim flange wear in heavy haul and shifting load applications, it can still eventually happen. The question becomes how long can a wheel go before the rim flange begins wearing: 100,000 miles? 200,000 miles? 3000,000 miles?

Approaching the Hardness of a Diamond

One more step to take to reduce wear is to use Alcoa® wheels with a specially treated rim flange that acts as a protective shield. Alcoa® Dura-Flange® wheels were developed to greatly extend wheel life over standard wheels. These wheels feature a proprietary carbon tungsten treatment that literally impregnates the aluminum to harden the flange.  

In fact, Alcoa® Dura-Flange® wheels feature a surface treatment with a hardness approaching 70% of the diamond’s hardness on the Mohs scale. The result is at least double the life of the wheel under the same conditions. Dura- Flange® wheels are the only wheels on the market that offer this kind of rim flange protection, while also offering a two-year warranty without a mileage limit.

The exceptional hardness makes the wheels most appropriate for transport where loads are heavy and prone to shifting, causing the tire bead to rub against the wheel flange, such as:

  • Transport under extreme conditions (like mining)
  • Heavy hauling (like logging)
  • Tankers operating off-road (like local milk collection, fuel distribution)
  • Transit buses

Road Proven

In testing, Alcoa® Dura-Flange® Wear Protection Wheels exhibit no signs of rim flange wear even after 240,000 miles under extreme conditions. This was in field trials conducted in the toughest applications, including fly ash hauling, logging, fuel oil, and transit buses.

Back in 2008 Savage Services Corporation with a fleet of 24 trucks and 22 trailers that haul some of the heaviest loads around – roughly 5,100 total tons of waste coal, fly ash, and limestone hauled each day – was often seeing rim flange wear at 40,000 miles. With each truck in the fleet running about 3,500 miles per week, more durable wheels are a necessity to keep maintenance costs low. Alcoa® wheels with Dura-Flange® Wear Protection help cut maintenance time dramatically.

Previously, the company spent a half hour in labor on each wheel every time it serviced the tires, which is anywhere between 40,000 and 75,000 miles. The job required grinding the two lips on the outer rim in preparation for the tire. With the move to Alcoa® Dura-Flange® wheels, replacing a tire became a five-minute job because there is no wear on the rim. The trucking company had trucks run nearly 400,000 miles without any grinding required with Dura-Flange®.

By improving wheel durability and wear resistance, Alcoa® Dura-Flange® wheels offer enhanced performance and productivity and delay replacement costs for many more miles to save time and money. For the trucking company mentioned above, increased safety was another benefit.

“When there’s no wear to the wheel rim, you take the judgment of the mechanic away,” said the trucking company’s maintenance supervisor. “With maintenance grinding, even when the mechanic is confident that the rim is prepared properly, it is more difficult to watch as it wears. With the Dura-Flange® wheels, we know the rim is solid and there’s less danger of it cutting into the sidewall.”

Spotting Rim Flange Wear

Without proper maintenance, rim flange wear can cause premature wear of tires and lead to unnecessary and costly replacements. The only way to properly identify rim flange wear is to remove the wheel/tire assembly from the truck or trailer. The catch: excessive wear can damage tires when they are being demounted from a wheel that exhibits sharp edges.

STEP 1: Remove the wheel/tire assembly from the vehicle. Remove the valve core to deflate the tire completely, and demount the tire from the wheel.

STEP 2: After the tire is demounted, verify that the circumference of the bead seat on the open side is acceptable. Check the wheel flange with the Rim Flange Wear Gauge for Alcoa® Wheels to determine if the wheels must be removed from service for excessive rim flange wear.

STEP 3: If the wheel is serviceable by the rim flange gauge, examine the wheel flange edge for sharpness by using a rubber sharpness gauge. If the rubber is cut, then follow edge removal procedures.

Specifying Dura-Flange® Wear Protection Wheels

Spec'ing Dura-Flange Wear Protection  is Easy

Alcoa® Dura-Flange® wheels are available in all common sizes for 8-class trucks and come with a brushed surface, with DF standing for Dura-Flange® when specifying. For the full specification sheet, click here.  

Wheel Part Numbers with Dura-Flange® Wear Protection with High Polish on both sides

22.5 x 8.25 – 885657DF

22.5 x 14 – 84U617DF

24.5 x 8.25 – 98U637DF and 985657DF

Wheel Part Numbers Dura-Bright® and Dura-Flange® Wear Protection

22.5 x 8.25 – 885651DD with Mirror Polish on the steer side

        885652DD with Mirror Polish on the drive side

        885653DD with Mirror Polish on both sides

        886510DD with Brush Finish on both sides

        886513DD with Mirror Polish on both sides

        886523DD with Mirror Polish on both sides

22.5 x 9 – 89U643DD with Mirror Polish on both sides

   896510DD with Brush Finish on both sides

22.5 x 14 – 84U612DD with Mirror Polish on the drive side

Dura-Flange® Wear Protection Treatment can also be paired with the Alcoa® Dura-Bright® Surface Treatment, which keeps wheels shiny and corrosion-free with less maintenance. Dura-Bright® for added protection is available with Dura-Flange® in a variety of wheel sizes.

Learn more about how Alcoa® Dura-Flange® Wear Protection Wheels with a specially treated rim flange can reduce wear and extend wheel service life.