Dunlop, John Boyd

Dunlop, John Boyd
SUBJECT AREA: Land transport
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b. 5 February 1840 Dreghorn, Ayrshire, Scotland
d. 23 October 1921 Ballsbridge, Dublin, Ireland
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Scottish inventor and pioneer of the pneumatic tyre.
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Reared in an agricultural community, Dunlop became a qualified veterinary surgeon and practised successfully in Edinburgh and then in Belfast when he moved there in 1867. In October 1887, Dunlop's 9-year-old son complained of the rough ride he experienced with his tricycle over the cobbled streets of Belfast. Dunlop devised and fitted rubber air tubes, held on to a wooden ring by tacking a linen covering which he fixed around the wheels of the tricycle. A marked improvement in riding quality was noted. After further development, a new tricycle was ordered, with the new airtube wheels. This was so successful that Dunlop applied for a patent on 23 July 1889, granted on 7 December. With tyres made in Edinburgh to his specification, bicycles were manufactured by Edlin \& Co. of Belfast and put on sale complete with pneumatic tyres. The successful performance of a racing bicycle thus equipped inspired an unsuccessful competitor, William Harvey de Cros, who had used a solid-tyred machine, to take an interest in Dunlop's invention. With Dunlop, he refloated a company in Dublin, the Pneumatic Tyre \& Booth's Cycle Agency. Dunlop made over his patents, for the tyre, valves, rims and fixing methods, to Du Cros and took shares in the company. Although he was involved in it for many years, it was Du Cros who steered the company through several struggles to success.
The pneumatic tyre revolutionized cycling and made possible the success of the motor vehicle, although Dunlop did not profit greatly from his invention. After the sale of the company in 1896, to E.T.Hooley for $3 million, he took no further part in the development of the pneumatic tyre. The company went on to become the great Dunlop Rubber Company.
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Further Reading
J.McClintock, 1923, History of the Pneumatic Tyre, Belfast (written by Dunlop's daughter, who based the book on her father's reminiscences).
LRD

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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