He asked nearby Sandia Labs for advice through the Small Business Assistance Program. Last year, Sandia helped 278 businesses in New Mexico. A researcher gave him three ideas for automatically maintaining air pressure: a compressor system, a high-pressure bottle, and a gas generator.

Petty built a portable prototype based on the air-compressor idea. It is powered by a 12-V lead-acid battery with a 100-Vac battery charger and resembles Dana Corp.'s central tire-inflation system (CTIS) found on off-road vehicles. He also built a high-pressure bottle prototype (shown) and mounted one on each wheel of his 1966 Mustang.