Maintenance Matters

Recapped tires-save money without sacrificing quality.


Desser retreads tires of all sizes from 4-inch Cub tires to massive airliner tires weighing hundreds of pounds.

Major tire users, from over-the-road truckers, to the airlines, to general aviation flight schools, know that retread tires can save big money over time and do not hesitate to use them. Some individual airplane owners are in on their secret, but many others aren’t. There is no reason why you can’t reap some of the savings others have been collecting for themselves, especially when Desser Tire & Rubber Company, the number one aviation tire retreader, makes it so easy.

After a visual inspection, each tire is subject to inspection by laser shearography. Any imperfections show up on the computer screens.

Cost Savings

Most people look to retread tires first to save money, and that is a very good reason to do so. They are definitely less expensive and not by just a few dollars. Desser retreads can be purchased outright without a core tire in exchange, or you can send in your good used tire and save even more. Desser pays the freight back to you if you use the exchange program. You will have to pay to ship your used tires to them. The table on the next page shows a comparison of Desser retreads and some name brand tires.

Of course, you will need a reusable tire to exchange or have recapped if you wish to take advantage of the exchange price. Desser will reject any used tire that it does not feel will be 100% reliable after recapping. Used tires can usually be recapped at least once, and sometimes up to three or four times with a good quality core tire. The more money you spend to get a good tire the first time, the more likely you are to get multiple recaps out of the original tire. Some airline tires have been recapped 17 or 18 times, but this is not typical for smaller general aviation tires.

Your long-term savings will be the average cost of the original new tire plus the recapping costs. For example, say you purchase a new 6.00 x 6, 6-ply Goodyear Flight Special II, a medium quality and competitively priced tire, and get two recaps out of it, a conservative goal. The original tire costs $119. Each recap costs $47 each, so the total cost over three tires’ worth of use comes to $119+$47+$47=$213, for an average cost of $71. This saves you an average of $48 per tire use or $144 overall. This is more than enough to buy a new tire again.

Retread tires just out of the mold get trimmed and prepared for shipping.


There was a time when people thought of retread tires as substandard, and the occasional truck tire tread left along the side of the road is a reminder that there are still some low quality retreads out there. However, Desser recaps have many years of proven performance among a number of major airline and flight school users. These people would not be using Desser retreads if they were not having good results. Tire failures cost big money to these people. They are not interested in saving a few bucks on a tire, only to have an airplane out of service unexpectedly and possibly at some remote location.

Desser insures quality by first visually inspecting every tire that comes in for recapping. If any cuts or excessive sidewall cracking is found, the tire is rejected. The same applies to any tire with cord showing. These tires are rejected before they even begin the process. Next Desser uses a process called laser shearography to examine every casing before it gets retreaded and every retread tire before it leaves their factory. The laser shearography process will show damage to sidewalls that may not be obvious in a visual inspection. There is 100% inspection of every tire twice. Bad tires simply do not make it through the process.

These tires have been ground down to eliminate their old tread in preparation for retreading.

The next question is, how do they wear? Desser says the rubber they use is denser than the typical rubber used on new tires. The downside to this is that their retread tires are a bit heavier than new tires, but the upside is that they will outlast most new tires in service, especially for heavy users who make a lot of takeoffs and landings. Desser also makes what they call a Monster Retread that has 60% more tread on it than a standard tire. They claim that it is the longest wearing tire at any price. Monster Retreads are larger in overall diameter, though, so they may not be suitable for use with tight fitting wheelpants or for planes with retractable gear. Their standard retreads will work with close fitting wheelpants and retractable gear systems in almost every case.

Desser Tire is an FAA-authorized repair station, so their retread tires come with FAA paperwork to show that they are usable on certificated aircraft. Experimental owners may not care about this, but not everyone who reads this magazine flies an Experimental airplane, although we hope they will someday.

Tires with new rubber in place await their turn in the heated tire molds. The heat bonds the rubber to the tire casing and forms a new tread pattern into the tire.

New Aero Classic Tires

Desser also sells new tires under the Aero Classic name. They have some new tires that may be of some interest to our readers. Those who fly taildraggers know that the standard 2.80/2.50×4, 4-ply tailwheel tires do not hold up well. Desser has a solution to this problem in their Aero Classic 280/250-4, 6-ply tire. For about $14 more you get a much sturdier tire that will by far outlast the typical 4-ply tailwheel tire.

Desser has recently come out with the Aero Classic 8.50×6, 4-ply smooth tire for off-airport use in planes of 3200 pounds or less gross weight. This tire only weighs 10 pounds, about 5 pounds less than the typical 8.50×6, 6-ply tire. It is 22 inches tall overall when inflated to 22 psi. They run $225 each plus tube. There are a few other smooth tires currently available, with more likely to come in the future.

This mold is in the process of making a 6.00×6 Monster Retread. These tires have 60% more tread depth to provide long-lasting tires for operators such as flight schools.

How to Get Desser Retread Tires

Desser retread tires are available from Aircraft Spruce, but the name Desser does not appear in their catalog. Rather AERO Wheel and Brake Service, an affiliated company, is shown as the supplier. They are the same tires despite the name. Unfortunately Aircraft Spruce only carries a few sizes and only sells retread tires outright.

Desser retread tires are also available directly from Desser in Montebello, California. You can call them or go to their web site for ordering forms and more information. Their web site is at or call 800-247-8473. As was mentioned before, to take advantage of the exchange price, you will need to send Desser a good used tire for a core, and you will need to pay shipping to get the tire to them. When your tire is finished Desser will pay the shipping back to you. If you have any doubt about whether or not your tire can be recapped, please feel free to call Desser and ask for their assistance. They would much rather talk to you than have you send them a tire that is not suitable for retreading.

Newly retreaded tires bristle with sprues left from the molding process. These will be trimmed off in the next step of the manufacturing process.

Desser Aircraft Hoses and Windshields

Desser also makes FAA-approved aircraft hoses to suit most any aviation need, from low-pressure rubber hoses to high-pressure Teflon hoses. All of their fittings are hydraulically swaged onto the hoses, so they won’t come off, even under the harshest conditions. They will also install firesleeve for you during hose assembly. They use Stratoflex products exclusively. Every hose is carefully cleaned and tested for two minutes at twice the rated pressure. This gives a level of confidence in these hoses that is not available with hoses you make up yourself. When ordering hoses be sure to talk to the hose man at Desser about how he wants the length measured. No one wants to throw away an expensive hose because it came out the wrong length.

Desser’s hose man demonstrates the pressure testing equipment in his shop. Every hose is tested to twice its rated pressure before he lets it out of his hands.

Desser also makes acrylic windshields for certificated and Experimental airplanes under the Cee Bailey’s name. Their products can be found in Glasair and Zenith kits, as well as the Van’s RV-10. They can also do custom work on request.

Dave Prizio is a Southern California native who has been plying the skies of the L.A. basin and beyond since 1973. Born into a family of builders, it was only natural that he would make his living as a contractor and spend his leisure time building airplanes. He has so far completed three—a GlaStar, a Glasair Sportsman, and a Texas Sport Cub—and he is helping a friend build a fourth, an RV-8. When he isn’t building something, he likes to share his love of aviation with others by flying Young Eagles or volunteering as an EAA Technical Counselor. He is also a member of the EAA Homebuilt Aircraft Council.

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Dave Prizio
Dave Prizio has been plying the skies of the L.A. basin and beyond since 1973. Born into a family of builders, it was only natural that he would make his living as a contractor and spend his leisure time building airplanes. He has so far completed four—two GlaStars, a Glasair Sportsman, and a Texas Sport Cub—and is helping a friend build an RV-8. When he isn’t building something, he shares his love of aviation with others by flying Young Eagles or volunteering as an EAA Technical Counselor. He is also an A&P mechanic, Designated Airworthiness Representative (DAR), and was a member of the EAA Homebuilt Aircraft Council for six years.


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