As you'll probably recall, Mother Earth News, No. 46, Pages 104-106 carried an article by Bob Stevenson entitled "How to Earn $100.00 a Day Recycling Old Tires." Now that article mainly had to do with the collection of "worn out" casings from service stations and garages for subsequent sale to retreaders and recappers. And, since the publication of the piece, we've received correspondence from a few folks who tell us that they've followed Bob's directions and successfully put themselves into that particular mini-business.
But that's not what I want to talk to you about. What I want to talk to you about is the little sidebar (addition to the main article) that appeared at the top of page 105 in Mother Earth News, No. 46 (reprinted below under "But What do You do with Casings that Can't be Recapped?")
Now, all we can say is that there's one heck of a lot of you fine folks out there who'd like to recycle old tires into floor mats, and most of you have written or phoned the Mother Earth News offices to ask if we've learned anything further about S. & S. Patents.
No, we haven't. S. & S. seems to have disappeared from the face of the earth. But we do know a little more about this particular recycling business now than we did back when Mother Earth News, No. 46 was published.
Mainly we know — just as the reprinted sidebar below stated — that there are a fair number of little one-to-ten-person shops around the country still making floor mats from worn-out tires. Some of those shops use old S. & S. machinery, some use a few other brands of equipment, and some use tire slicers and mat assembly frames of their own design.
As nearly as we can figure the situation out, nobody is currently in the business of manufacturing this particular kind of floor mat equipment. There are a few sets of used machines floating around, however, and one or two folks who seem willing to build a new set of equipment on a custom basis. These scant resources pretty well sum up our knowledge on that part of the subject at this time.
There is one final chapter to this thrilling saga, however, that you should know about. Mother Earth News' research department has managed to obtain a really old and really worn-out homemade setup for producing floor mats from old tires and we're now looking into the idea of redesigning and upgrading the machinery to make it easier to operate and a lot more efficient. And if that works, we may well take the next step of contacting a manufacturer, putting the equipment into production, and offering the complete setup for (we hope) no more than $2,000.
In the meantime ... don't call us, we'll call you. We have a lot of projects on our hands and it may be a while before we get back to this one. We'll keep you advised right here, though, when we have any new developments to report.
And one final note: The folks already in the floor mat business, both private and public service, deserve one big "Thank You!" and a pat on the back. Despite the fact that our activities in this field can do little but create competition for them, a number of small mat producers have gone out of their way to help us put together the information you see here. And we appreciate it.
BUT WHAT DO YOU DO WITH CASINGS THAT CAN'T BE RECAPPED?
Years ago, a Kansas wheat farmer named L.F. Schuhmacher began to draw big royalties from the gas and oil leases he sold on his land. And with some of that money, he set up an office in Meade, Kansas. And in front of that office, he had a cocoa mat for people to wipe their feet on.
Well sir, one night somebody stole that mat. So ole L.F. thought about that for a few days and then he bolted a knife to one of his tractors and he pulled an old tire around past that knife and, slick as a whistle, sliced the tire into two strips. And that worked so well that L.F. experimented some more and, within a few months, he'd applied for a patent on a machine that nearly anybody could use to slice old tires into long strips and then assemble those strips into floor mats.
One thing led to another after that, as always happens when someone comes up with a really worthwhile new idea, and Schuhmacher moved to Chicago and set up a firm called S. & S. Patents, Inc. And, according to some 1968 letters that L.F. wrote to one of Mother Earth News' editors, more than 1,700 little shops had been set up at that time to use S. & S. equipment to turn old, worn-out tires into shop, athletic and horse trailer mats. A great many of these little enterprises were netting $5,000 to $6,000 a month for private operators. And the rest of the recycling mini-factories were providing useful jobs for the disadvantaged at sheltered workshops, missions, halfway houses and other such public service institutions.
We had fond hopes of giving a big, fat, free plug to S. & S. Patents, Inc. in this space because we like the idea of recycling even unrecappable tires into useful items (especially if there's the chance that our readers might be able to get in on the action and have yet another shot at setting up even more little businesses that might finance even more moves to the self-reliant way of life).
But, for the past three or four years, we simply haven't been able to track S. & S. Patents, Inc. down anywhere. The company doesn't seem to be at its old Chicago address, its old phone number has been given to a private family, and — in general — S. & S. seems to have evaporated without a trace. We're guessing that L.F. finally passed away and his company was either liquidated or sold to someone else (and, if sold, moved to another town).
So: Who's going to come to the rescue of Mother Earth News and our readers? Who out there knows if the S. & S. machines are still being manufactured? Who knows where we might find a used one? Who knows of a shop happily engaged in the manufacture of floor mats from old, discarded, unrecappable tires? Who can give us any leads at all on this subject?— The Editors.