Double-Fabric Tire Company
Auburn manufacturers often had to change their focus to stay relevant in the competitive world of manufacturing. Few instances demonstrate this as well as the 50-year history of the Double-Fabric Tire Company and Auburn Rubber Company in Auburn. The switch from wooden wheels - a carryover from carriage and buggy manufacturing - to rubber tires was an important step forward in early automobile manufacturing. As manufacturing of these new machines grew in Auburn, Indiana, in the early 1900s, an early tire supplier also emerged: The Double-Fabric Tire Company.
The Double-Fabric Tire Company was organized and founded by A.L. Murray and William H. Willennar in 1910. Located first on East Seventh Street, and then at 18 West Ninth Street in Auburn, the company focused on making rubber tubes and tires of high quality that wouldn’t puncture or blow out on the car owner. The “interlocks” manufactured by the company under trade names “Oval,” “Fatso,” and “Auburn Certified” names were inner tires that held the tube in such a way that they would not be cut by the rim of the wheel. Unfortunately, in February 1913, a fire in the company’s building - which also housed the Auburn Courier newspaper offices and the temporary courthouse - destroyed nearly everything.
The Double-Fabric Tire Company carried on, erecting a $10,000 factory in West Auburn, but by the mid- to late-1920s, Mr. Willennar had sold his interest in the company. The Double-Fabric Tire Company became the Auburn Rubber Company. While the new company initially manufactured industrial parts, a lead tin soldier purchased by A.L. Murray shifted the trajectory of the company. The company began manufacturing similar toys using rubber, along with other items such as swim goods, stick-on soles, and industrial rubber parts. Many Auburn Rubber Company toys were manufactured and sold in dime stores, including toy automobiles - the first of which was a 1936 Cord like those manufactured in Auburn. The rubber toys were an important part of toy manufacturing, bridging the gap between more expensive metal toys and today’s plastic toys. The Auburn Rubber Company moved to Deming, New Mexico, in 1960, but the popular mid-century toys remain collectible.