Tire Shark

Tire Shark

Workers’ homemade tire shredder saves a lot in disposing mountain of old tires

Faced with mounting costs to dispose of old tires picked up off rural roadways and creek beds, Collin County Public Works employees designed and built a portable tire shredding machine from scrap material and a few new parts to help clean up the countryside and save a great deal of taxpayer dollars.

The Tire Shark, a gas-powered hydraulic chopper mounted on an unused old water pump trailer, is hauled to illegal dump clean-up sites across 600-plus square miles and cuts tires in half, cutting disposal costs by about 96 percent. Now in its third year of operation, almost 20,000 discarded tires have been disposed of, with close to $100,000 saved in disposal fees.

The county’s investment: some innovative thinking, teamwork and about $2,200 in equipment.

In early 2009, Collin County stepped up enforcement against illegal dumping, putting the Sheriff’s Office and the Public Works Department in a partnership that would clamp down on those who illegally dumped trash on county roads and in creek beds. Naturally, that effort triggered a large follow-up operation to clean up sites scattered across more 600 square miles of rural land.

While the results of this ongoing program proved effective in curbing new dumpsites, the  clean-up costs for properly disposing of mountains of old tires collected in the process began to climb quickly.

Most household trash is hauled away to the local landfill, but the county faced a $5 per tire fee from the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD); meaning, a ton of old tires would cost taxpayers here about $500. Crews were hauling anywhere from three to eight tons of old tires every month out of dump sites, tree lines and stream beds – or about $1,500 to $4,000 in monthly costs for tire disposal alone.

However, the NTMWD only charges $31 a ton for tires that have been shredded or chopped up.

The Road and Bridge staff worked to find a way to overcome the problem of those costs, without buying expensive equipment. Commercial car tire shredders run from $50,000 to $100,000, depending on the volume of work required and the amount of shredding and separation of steel belts.

So the staff put their heads together to solve the problem by building their own tire shredder.

By August 2009, they had culled together a mish-mash collection spare parts and scrap from the county’s  service center, including an old trailer frame, bought a new motor and pump for $2,200, and came up with a working portable shredder that would pay for itself in a very short time.

The workers came up with a design to build a simple machine to chop tires in half – and cut disposal costs to a fraction of their original amount – after reading articles on tire-cutting to save costs. They inspected similar commercial machines in two other counties, and felt they build one cheaper. They took photos, drew up a plan, and started gathering what material they had on hand.

With a collection of angle iron, inch-thick steel plating, some metal mesh and an old water pump trailer, they got to work.

The backbone of the project, however, would be to purchase a hydraulic pump and cylinder to handle the 3,000 psi needed to cut easily through steel belts in old tires, and a 24-horsepower gas engine to power it all.

The "Tire Shark" Shredding Machine

They wanted a slow, steady blade drop for safety and to cut down on wear and tear, plus the trailer allowed for the shredder to be transported to dump sites where the tires could be cut and then hauled directly to the dump.

Daily maintenance has been simple: greasing the cylinder, and checking fuel, oil and hydraulic fluid levels. Workers are still using the original blade. Due to hauling the shredder to remote sites and the muddied conditions of many old tires, the only replacement made so far has been the cylinder, most likely fouled by dirt and debris.

They nicknamed it the Tire Shark.

The shredder has become an integral part of the county’s environmental clean-up efforts in rural areas, and has obviously helped cut costs to taxpayers dramatically.

Now in its third year of use, the shredder has lopped 19,923 old tires in half. Without it, the county would have paid out $99,615 to dispose of them with the NTMWD at $5 per tire. Instead, the cost to dispose of almost 200 tons of tire has come to $6,176.13 – a savings of $93,428.87 for a $2,200 investment and some leftover material.

Besides being used to help clean up dump sites, Public works folks also pull the Shark to the county’s rural trash dump days, where residents can have their old tires cut up for free -- and avoid the  $5-per-tire fee. They also shred old tires from the county’s fleet of vehicles.

Nice work, fellas. 



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