After a nuclear war many technologies were lost to history. One of these technological marvels that was lost is the process of making rubber.

For nearly 500 years, scientists have tried to recreate it, but the materials they make are either too brittle to be used, or too soft and squishy. Rubber tires were all either destroyed or scavenged so you can’t find any more rubber tires.

Now say I am a traveler who wants to get from the east coast to the west coast, and I am repairing a car to drive there. What materials besides rubber could be used to make tires?

  • 7
    $\begingroup$ Rubber is processed tree sap. There isn't much technology involved in making a basic rubber tyre. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vulcanization. Modern tyres have carbon added to increase the lifetime and steel/nylon bands to ensure they keep their shape, but that's all optional $\endgroup$
    – nzaman
    Feb 17, 2018 at 15:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The trees that make the sap went extinct $\endgroup$
    – Bryan
    Feb 17, 2018 at 15:35
  • $\begingroup$ Are you asking about making a tire from synthetic elastomers then? $\endgroup$
    – Shalvenay
    Feb 17, 2018 at 15:37
  • $\begingroup$ Yes I am, the knowledge of synthetic rubber is lost $\endgroup$
    – Bryan
    Feb 17, 2018 at 15:39
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    $\begingroup$ "For nearly 500 years, scientists have tried to recreate it": really? A world where they have gasoline and engine oil but no synthetic rubber is not believable -- either they have a petrochemical industry or they don't. Synthetic rubber is not that hard to make -- they made synthetic rubber on an large scale in Russia during World War 1 -- and at that time Russia was very far from being an industrial power! $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Feb 17, 2018 at 19:44

3 Answers 3


You have a 2 ton metal vehicle. So you have metal tech.
You have spring steel. You can make spring steel wheels.

spring steel bike wheels http://www.core77.com/posts/20994/ron-arad-designed-bicycle-with-spring-steel-wheels-up-for-auction-20994

Follow the link to see this bike being ridden down the street. So cool!

loopwheels! https://www.loopwheels.com/product/wheels-for-wheelchairs/

You will use spring steel loops of a gauge and loop density adequate to support your vehicle. You might make your heavy gauge loops out of something like leaf springs.

leaf springs http://www.ebay.com/bhp/trailer-leaf-springs


Once upon a time, carts ran on solid wooden wheels, and then wooden wheels with an iron rim. These wheels gave a more bumpy ride than modern tires, but then they were moving much slower, too. This would be one option.

Or the tires are a material which gives a bit more shock absorbance than solid wood and steel. One option is to use a springy wire mesh.

  • $\begingroup$ I don’t think wooden wheels would work, this isn’t a horse drawn carriage after all, its a two ton metal machine $\endgroup$
    – Bryan
    Feb 17, 2018 at 15:53
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    $\begingroup$ @Bryan Wood can support very large weights. I don't think 500 kg (2000 kg spread among four wheels) would be impossible with reasonable sizes. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Feb 17, 2018 at 21:12
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Wooden wheels were not unknown on early automobiles. Sure, they weren't big sections of log, but certainly spokes and perhaps even rims of wood are entirely feasible. And the cars and trucks those old wheels were supporting were pretty heavily built of steel compared with a modern plastic car! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Feb 17, 2018 at 21:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Bryan, Conestoga freight wagons had no trouble carrying 6+ tons on wooden wheels at respectable speeds. $\endgroup$
    – Mark
    Feb 18, 2018 at 0:21
  • $\begingroup$ Get some made right now and beat the rush: wheelwright.org.uk/wheels/car-wheels $\endgroup$
    – Thucydides
    Feb 18, 2018 at 0:53

Leather + sewing + fat, may do the job for a while or further. ( watertight early diving suits ) Leatherwork has a great range of useful mechanical properties. ( leather belting, sealing,...)

EDIT: Building inflatable leather tyre takes a lot of time, and looks like one steampunk performance.

If you need to quit and drive quick, wind large diameter rope around naked hub, tighten it using smaller rope this way : (replace tyre in picture with large diameter rope)


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