The Scope and History of TRA
The Tire and Rim Association, Incorporated, is the technical standardizing body of the tire, rim, valve and allied part manufacturers for the United States. It was organized in 1903 when passenger car users were greatly inconvenienced because each make of tire required its own special rim. This situation, coupled with the fact that there were only a few, widely scattered retail sales points, presented a situation which obviously needed correction. To resolve this, a group of seven tire and four rim manufacturers met in Cleveland, Ohio, on August 13, 1903. At this meeting, the forerunner of the Association was organized and called THE CLINCHER TIRE MANUFACTURERS' ASSOCIATION. This group standardized clincher rim dimensions and tolerances to provide interchangeability for all makes of tires on all makes of rims. On October 15, 1903, rim inspection was initiated to assure conformance to these standards. Rims that met Association standards were permitted to be stamped with the Association's copyrighted brands. This stamp on a rim assured the vehicle manufacturer and user that when the rim was used with the recommended tire size, desirable tire to rim fit would be obtained. (This activity was discontinued on January 1, 1973).
By 1911 the importance attached to the Association's objective was indicated by the fact that the following men actively served on the Executive Committee: Messrs. C. J. Butler, H. S. Firestone, John Kelsey, H. E. Raymond and F. A. Seiberling . At that time offices were established at Cleveland, Ohio, and an operating manager appointed. Prior to that time the operation of the Association had been conducted by a Managing Trustee from the plant at which he was employed.
With the introduction of straight side rims and standards for tire loads and inflations, a more suitable name, THE TIRE AND RIM ASSOCIATION, was adopted on July 6, 1917. At that time the Association's activities became much more technical in nature and the direction of the Association was placed in the hands of the top technical representatives of member companies.
By 1922 the use of pneumatic tires had extended to trucks, busses and airplanes. Tire loads and inflations plus principal tire and rim dimensions were standardized. On June 14 of that year, the Association was incorporated in Connecticut and the name changed to THE TIRE AND RIM ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA, INCORPORATED. At that time manufacturers of allied parts joined the Association and activity was started on the standardization of tubes, valves, and flaps.
On April 11, 1933, the Association was incorporated in Ohio and its name changed to THE TIRE AND RIM ASSOCIATION, INCORPORATED. Soon pneumatic tires were also being used on agricultural, earthmoving, road building and small industrial vehicles, which required additional tire, rim, tube and valve standardization. As a result of these increased activities, the Association offices were moved to the more central location of Akron, Ohio, in June 1939.