I have just joined what was formerly known as Aberdeen Ski Club and what is now known as Aberdeen Snow Sports Club. As we’re all mates now there is a 10% discount for fellow members. Looking forward to my first BBQ.

Furthermore the University ski club ABDN Snow members get 20% off on production of a current membership card.

If you are part of a community of snow heads and fancy a discount off my already keen prices get in touch and we’ll see if your buying power merits an entry to the world of ManCave mates’ rates.

Ski Tuning Lesson

Myles couldn’t resist the opportunity to learn how to edge and wax his Armadas for the same price as having me do them, so he brought them along to the man cave for a lesson. It was pretty cold so Myles gets to use the thermal coveralls and he sensibly brought his own World Cup beanie.

Although the skis were bought from a mate there was no evidence of them ever having tasted wax and the grinder striations on the base and side edges made it clear they were still waiting for their first tune up:

You can just make out the mechanical grind marks at 45 degrees to the edge

2-sharpieArmada don’t bother to put any tuning info on their website but good old Jon Coster at the Piste Office has done his homework and reckons base 1/edge 2. It’s good to check so out with the trusty Sharpie to colour up a length of edge.
Once that’s done a couple of light swipes with the file in the 1 degree guide take the ink off completely indicating that the base edges are indeed 1 degree.


3-filingThe base edges have very little marking or gouging so all we do is a few passes with the steel file to take off the mechanical markings then a pass with the 200 grit diamond file for luck. Base edges only really need attention after you have gouged them on rocks so this should see them good for a couple of trips.


4-planingThe side edges present a slight issue – Armada have somehow managed to make the plastic tops of the skis protrude very slightly over the steel edges and they have added a load of extra plastic at the binding area. We can’t see any good reason for this but it means leaving a lot of colourful curly plastic on the floor with the sidewall planer.

5-edgingOnce we have access to the edges they are also checked and 2 degrees it is. Armada manage to score a point for marking the skis L & R so we know which edges to give the extra attention to. One edge has very slight scratching but it comes out completely with some elbow grease. After the steel file, 200 grit and 600 grit diamond files the edges are gleaming like a samurai sword and too sharp so the gummi stone is used to bring them back to sharp but safe rather than hazardously sharp.


7-waxingThere are a few minor gouges on the bases but nothing too serious so it’s time for base wax. The skis are quite wide & long so it is, frankly, a laborious process to iron in then scrape off the wax but the bases really needed it. Myles is planning a trip to the Alps in January so as the crystal weather ball doesn’t stretch that far we opted for Zoom Universal which is supposed to be good for -10 to 0 degrees C.

8-scrapingScraping the bases highlighted the slight concavity we had measured right at the start of the process but like the base gouges we put the lightly railed base into the “maybe later” tray.

After a thorough brushing the skis looked like new, minus half a pound of superfluous sidewall plastic. It was so cold we ran back inside and even forgot to do the “proud owner shows off skis” photo at the end.

Don’t forget if you want to learn how to manage your own equipment it is the same price as a normal service. Edge and single hot wax should take 2 1/2 to 3 hours, base & top wax slightly longer. Get in touch here.

DPS – Worth the extra?

Colin also left a pair of DPS Wailers. Not a brand I am too familiar with, so off to the website for more info:

First thing to hit me is the pricing.  Ouch! The Wailers cost more than my car, especially once the Carbon Fibre & Unobtanium bindings are added.

Second thing is the finish:


To say they are plain would be to wildly understate how dull they are. Grey crackle plastic anyone?

Thirdly this is the first ski website I dps-sniphave seen that states clearly what the owner should ask for at the tuning shop. Why don’t all manufacturers do that?




But the real shock comes when you pick them up and find that they weigh half what typical all-mountain skis weigh.  Despite the fact they are twice as big. Here they are under my Atomics. 2cm wider, 20cm longer and half the weight.



That makes for some challenges. No mass, basically a carbon fibre sandwich, and carbon fibre is dismal at heat transfer. Which basically means that you are three times more likely to burn the bases when you do any work on them as the heat has nowhere to go. And there is work to be done…






hard-edgeBut wait a second, unlike most skis the edges seem to be especially resistant to gouging. Plus they’re slightly wider than usual.  And what’s that weird corkscrew of steel?






dsp-strange-marksAnd those strange transverse scratches, just visible on the left? Curioser & curioser.

Anyway, out with the true bar and we find both skis are very slightly concave, but we should be able to  bring it down just with base edge filing.

dsp-base-file-boxNot much demand for 1.5 degree base so the file guide is still in the box.

But even with the hard chrome file the edges take ages to show progress.


Finally the concavity is sorted and it’s time to P-Tex the gouges.  Remembering that the heat has nowhere to go I end up taking three bites of the cherry to get all the gouges, getting a few more each time but all the while aware that a few seconds too long with the heat gun will lead to much wailing and gnashing of teeth as the matrix buckles, melts or worse.  The gouges near the edges are especially reluctant to play ball. Finally, with a lot of pussyfooting, we’re there.

A few strokes with the structure tool, a final check on flatness and time to sort the side edges.  Again they seem to be especially hard.  And maybe there is a bit more width than normal.  Slowly it is dawning on me that DPS have made a set of skis that they expect to be looked after – they have used special, wider edges, made of tougher steel that resist gouging but that can be sharpened for ever.  The sidewalls are set back from the edges so no need for planing – the edge is well exposed.  Even the base seems to be tougher to plane than normal.  You pay a lot for these skis but you get feather weight and real enthusiast’s tunability, rather than fancy graphics.  But you wouldn’t necessarily spot that in the shop – it only dawned on me after working on them.


Even waxing is walking a tightrope, with the low heat resistance of the skis. To play safe I check the melting point of the various waxes in the cupboard and the Zoom universal claims the lowest so it’s a bit of thermostat fiddling then two coats of Zoom to avoid overheating the bases.

dsp-reflectionOnce they’re done they fairly glow and the initial gouges are nowhere to be seen. You would still have to know that these are top drawer skis as they don’t shout out their class.

So a real learning experience for me and I will be looking out for DPS riders in future as they clearly know their onions.


Colin’s K2s – the works

Colin dropped off a couple of pairs of skis for a makeover. These are proper backcountry skis – long, quite wide with featherweight Dynafit touring bindings and grommets for your skins.


ratty-edgeThe K2s have seen some life with heavy scoring on the bases and grooved edges:

We can’t file these right down so the edges will have some bumps. However these skis aren’t for winning at slalom so perfect edges shouldn’t be critical.



We can fill the base gouges though.


Once the skis are dewaxed it’s time to check the bases for flatness with lamp & true bar. We’re looking for a hair’s breadth of light right across the base:


Doesn’t get much better than that.  So our job is to fill the gouges, flatten the P-tex and return decent structure to the bases.



Plastic surgery never looks pretty right after the theatre…





…but after a lot of P-tex shaving and a few runs with the structure stone it’s looking a lot nicer.



K2 recommend 1 degree base bevel and 2 degrees edge so that’s what we do this time.

With steel file followed by 200 grit and 600 grit diamond files, the edges take a nice polish but if you look closely below you can see that the serious grooves would need another 0.5 mm off the base to get a perfect edge. That’s too much material lost for a ski that is supposed to be surfing waist deep powder rather than carving hard pistes so we’ll live with it.




Base wax followed by Zoom all-season universal wax on top





Nicely shined up after a good scrape & brush



Now they’re back in shape they should only need occasional waxing and a light swipe on the edges with a diamond file to last the entire season.

Now onto Colin’s DPS Wailers – will post a few pics of them in a day or two.