John’s Factions – waving or drowning?

John brought round a pair of Factions because he knows how infuriating it is to work on white bases ūüôā

All seemed well until we got busy with the true bar. Take a look at these bases:

I have never seen such wavy bases before. They are like a ploughed field. So what looked like a simple edge & wax turned into a massive battle with the base planer to try to at least reduce the waves to a state where they can be waxed easily.

The received wisdom on base waves is to attack them at 45 degrees so you don’t just follow them up & down. The base planer holds the file at 45 degrees for just this reason:

So after many, many passes with the file I was hoping for perfectly flat – what I got was instead was flatter:

The peaks have been smeared out into ovals rather than lines so better but still not perfect. However John had never complained about the waves before so let’s not kill ourselves 3 days before Xmas.

Another concern was the huge hole shot that had been repaired some time ago with a big swoosh of black P-tex. Although it has held on for quite some time it is about half a millimetre shy of the base so it will act as a little anchor. After much furious base planing it was still keeping its head down so I roughened up the surface with a stiff brush and added more black P-tex to bring it up flush with the base. Once that was done and the other gouges repaired with clear & colourless P-tex (rather disconcertingly you can still see the original gouge even after a perfect repair) it was time to edge the skis. Faction ask for 1 degree base and 1.5 degree side, just to be awkward, but someone else had tuned the sides to 1 degree so I followed their lead. The edges came up very nicely which was a pleasant change from the Bacons.

Once waxed they looked OK and here they are with the infamous Bacons and Ross’s Atomics, awaiting collection from the Cave:


Sir Francis Bacon

John brought round a range of skis. As well as the Whitedots, he apologetically handed over a set of LINE Sir Francis Bacons. For a pair of skis that had lain in a moist roofbox for six months they didn’t seem too bad – a bit of rust here and there, but the groovy graphics hid a nasty little secret.

During the routine check a small bulge on the base turned out to be a bit
more significant – you can barely see it with the naked eye, or in the photo on the right, but a particularly evil stone had not just gouged the base but had managed to split the side edge altogether.

With luck the photo below makes it clearer once the bulging blue P-tex has been cleaned away. Sadly¬†the picture doesn’t get any happier as the rail is showing significant rust inside the ski:

It’s hard to see on this photo but the P-tex is very slightly coming away from the edge for an inch in each direction and a thin strip of rust is peeping out.

Anyway before we do anything else we need to decide how to handle the split rail. Choices are

1) Glue, fix up & smooth down then ensure this stays an outer edge for ever after;

2) Cut out 2″ of dodgy rail, insert & screw in carefully measured replacement rail, glue up & edge;

3) Chuck ’em in the bin and get¬†something else.

A quick call to Jon Coster at the Piste Office revealed that the pragmatic skier’s solution is 1) so we’ll go with him and see what other delights the skis have to offer.

The edges are horrible but John has been careful to keep a left & right ski so the less-used edges can be saved, to an extent anyway. Obviously there are other gouges, one of which seems to have a bit of quartz wedged in it – a wee memento from a past trip.

The bases are neither convex nor concave but have an M profile with two longitudinal ridges and a central valley. Whatever, it needs to be sorted if only to make it easier to wax the damn things.

So let’s start by gluing up the edge:

Following a good night’s sleep the skis sadly hadn’t tuned themselves so it was time to dig out the base planing file and grind away to try to achieve a flat base profile. They are big skis and the workshop was knee deep in P-tex & filings by the time the bases were acceptable.

The hole I made around the break has a fair bit of Araldite lining it but there is plenty of steel exposed so out with the metal-grip and the gas-fired base mender soldering iron. Metal-grip is basically P-tex with added kryptonite so it sticks properly to steel. Once the Metal-grip is smoothed and the other remaining gouges are filled & scraped it is time to veeeeery carefully file down the highs around the repair.

This photo makes the edge look proud of the base but in fact it isn’t – the edge sinks away slightly so I¬†took a further photo to try to show the repair in a better light.



Edging the skis was a thankless task as the base & side edges were so tatty. Even taking into¬†consideration the fact the base angles had to be reset from scratch after the base grind they still had some serious grooves which show up as nicks in the side edges. Still, the edges were eventually functional if not pretty and it was time for some Zoom purple rehab wax followed by Green Universal wax on top. Ultimately they have come up well enough to ski for maybe one more week in the Alps if John is careful to keep them on the correct feet but I wouldn’t expect a very long life from them.

Finished photo at the end of the following blog, because John had left yet another set of skis for attention.

Alice’s Atomics

Alice is off for a week soon and dropped off her Atomics for a quick once over.

I’ll admit that I like Atomic skis a lot. They are one of the few ski manufacturers that unashamedly ship skis with 1 degree base & 3 degree side bevels – the golden ratio according to many of the EpicSki forum gurus – they make nice sharp top sheet designs that don’t age too quickly and the tops tend to be made of resistant tough plastic that doesn’t look terrible once it’s been skied over¬†a couple of times. On top of all that they tend to stick to nice, easy to service black bases too. And, finally, they claim to make their skis in Austria rather than China or Vietnam like a lot of the other manufacturers. None of which really matters to Alice who can now look forward to some effortless gliding on her two coats of Dominator wax for a week.

John’s Whitedots – lesson

John has waxed & edged his own stable of skis already but wanted to make sure he was doing it right. As ever we’re happy to oblige. Remember, getting a lesson doesn’t cost any more than having me do the work.

He came round with a set of Line Sir Francis Bacons which looked OK at first glance but proper inspection with the hand lens revealed a break in one edge – more on that in a future blog post. Once the tears had dried we got to work on his Whitedot Carbonlite touring skis.

As always, following a brief inspection the bases were checked for flatness with the true bar. Well they were sort of true with a bit of an M shape going on longitudinally and a definite bulge under the heel binding on one ski. Nothing too radical but worth watching in future. It’s the sort of thing you can’t see without a true bar & backlight so if you’re the sort of person who skips medical check ups in case the doc finds something then maybe the true bar isn’t for you.

Next step as always is to double check the base bevels with a sharpie and file in the appropriate base file guide. They were already at 1 degree as per manufacturer’s guidance so they were just given a few swipes to clear rust and a couple of minor scratches.


Before we could do any edging the sidewalls needed planing. Although the skis had been tuned once before there was a good bit of plastic in the way of the edging tools. As always getting the right combination of weight & speed to¬†plane the sidewall perfectly smooth takes plenty of time & patience, especially as these walls had been left pretty lumpy by the last guy. If in doubt many fast & light strokes always beat one huge heroic effort. And finally, don’t be frightened to use a knife to remove big lumps if the alternative is shattering your planer blade.

Although pretty new the skis had been tuned once, in France. Whitedot changed from a 1:1 base:side bevel to 1:3 in 2014 so in theory the skis were new enough to have the more radical sides. Out with the sharpie once more, and we found that three of the edges were pretty much one degree with one edge significantly less than one degree. This is unusual and is probably due to the last guy not planing the sidewall radically enough and the file riding on plastic sidewall not steel edge. If he took skis with a¬†3 degree edge bevel and took them down to 1 degree (because that’s what the previous year’s models were and not everyone checks bevels before they start tuning) then he will have taken plenty of steel off the edge and his files may well have been riding on plastic even after a cursory bit of sidewall planing.

Anyway we’re here to edge & wax skis not cast aspersions about other techs, so on with the edging. John opted to keep the 1 degree side bevel as he’s been happy so far so it was just a case of getting the right combination of speed, weight, file noise and flair:

Like a lot of activities when you get it right it feels right so I think John achieved his ambition of getting more confident on the edging side of things. As always chrome file then 300 grit diamond then 600 grit diamond then gummi the edge back to just sharp not silly sharp.

John tried out a few angles with the wax scraper, including this one pictured left. As always touring skis are a drag to scrape just because they are so big.

The scraping showed up the weird M-shaped bases again but some furious brushing left them in tip top condition. Here’s John showing off his planks and just ready to head back home and dig out a few more sets of skis for the treatment.

Now the easy ones have been done it’s nearly time to sneak another peek at the Bacons –¬†if we’re feeling strong enough…

Hazel’s White Lines

Hazel is the first ABDNSnow member to take advantage of the eye-watering 20% discount available for card-carrying members.  As Uberkommandant of the entire club she should help to spread the word to the rest of the crew.

hazel-introHer LINE skis are needed for a trip to the Alps on Friday so she brought them round for some pre-trip TLC. They are a good looking ski, quite wide under the binding but not ironing-board wide like true powder skis. Pretty light too.

The bases are the most complicated I have ever seen with blocks of black, blocks of fancy graphics and LINE spelt out in big white letters. They must have looked great in the shop.

However Hazel has been hitting the dry slopes big time and the results are clear to see.

hazel-white-linesSerious white lines on the bases indicating not just “not much” wax left but frankly indicating “less than zero wax left”. To get this effect requires years of studious neglect. It’s not 100% percent certain that simply waxing them will bring them back to life once they have reached this state. When ski forum experts talk about “oxidized” bases this is what they mean. Any organic chemists out there care to comment on whether or not high molecular weight polyethylene gets “oxidized” rather than “scratched”?

hazel-grassAnother giveaway that the skis are more used to pastoral use is the amount of grass & soil in the bindings.

Finally I’m not sure if this is related to dry slope use but the tops had a number of nips & dings where the wood was just showing:

hazel-little-nip hazel-split-end

These are easy enough to araldite up (sorry that should probably read “2-pack epoxy up” but that doesn’t feel like a verb) but one wee nick on the base isn’t so simple:


You can hardly make it out but the P-tex is coming away from the steel edge – you can just slip your thumbnail in the gap. Now you can either ignore it, leave it and keep an eye on it or you can repair it so it doesn’t get worse. Repairing it means making the wound bigger to get some metal-grip in there then P-texing, scraping & redoing the structure. We agreed on the “don’t fix but keep an eye on it” approach.

One good thing about the nylon nets on dry slopes is that they are very kind to edges so Hazel needs no intervention there, just a bit of glue to stop the water from swelling her wood cores then two coats of wax.


You’ve seen the before photo above, here’s the overnight shot…


…and here’s the after. A quick trim with a craft knife once the glue is properly dry and that will be hard to spot.

So the final question is of course “did we get rid of the white lines?”.

I hate to say it but even with the healing powers of Zoom Purple rehab base wax then Zoom Green Universal top wax the lines can still just about be made out:

hazel-post-waxNothing like as bad as they were, and I would hope that the two coats will keep Hazel gliding for a whole week in the Alps, but not quite perfect. Nothing for it but another visit to the ManCave after the Alps to freshen up the structure, check out the various nicks and wax them back up again. Of course the huge discount means the more work she gets done the more savings she’ll have for J√§gerbombs or whatever young people drink on ski trips¬†these days. Bon voyage!


Colin’s V√∂lkls – ebony & ivory

Colin became my first repeat customer by dropping off a couple of pairs of twin-tip Volkls. His idea was an edge & wax for each or anything they needed which is a nice way to kick off the commercial discussion.

The skis looked superficially similar on top with no obvious model name and the same not-too-radical shape. However underneath they differed hugely with one set with normal black bases and one with completely white bases.

They also varied in terms of the state they were in.

The blacks had been attacked by a shark at some point:

colin-black-view colin-black-hair

Whereas the white bases had also been to the seaside but only to lie in salty water for a few months:


The initial thoughts were black bases – repair gouges, restructure base then edge & wax, whereas white just clean off the rust then a coat of wax. However the base flatness check revealed seriously convex bases on the black skis so a more heroic approach was required. Normally I’d recommend a quick trip to Blues to drop off the skis for a base grind but that’s a 10 day turnaround as they make their way to Edinburgh & back so instead the new SkiVisions base planer (strapline – “this machine eats skis”) was taken out of its cage:
ski-planerI know it just looks like a file in an ergonomic holder but what a file! ¬†Absolutely brutal. Anyway you really need to check flatness after each run to make sure that you don’t consume the entire ski.

Once the base was flat the base edges needed to be reset properly – usually they just need a swipe to keep them clean. However Volkl didn’t pay the extra for the tough steel that DPS use so it wasn’t too onerous a task to reset them to 1 degree. Side edges on Volkls are two degrees and again easy to get them sorted.

Two coats of wax and the worst of the shark bites were gone and the bases were ready to be shown off in polite company:


The white bases on¬†the other hand were proving more problematical. The edges were fine, just rusty – but so rusty that it started turning into a full edge & wax which wasn’t really required. Also the bases were soaking up the brown goo¬†developed by the diamond file lube & the rust getting to know one another. So a halt¬†was called before the white bases turned completely brown. As if that wasn’t bad enough actually waxing white bases is a nightmare – I suspect these ones are extruded rather than sintered as they positively repelled the wax at first then when you are scraping you just can’t tell how you’re getting on the way you can with black bases.

Anyway they are done and look – on top of everything else they are impossible to photograph nicely! I’m definitely not a fan – a new prejudice to add to my collection!


Emmett’s skis – don’t judge a book by its cover

Emmett was the first client to get in touch through the new Gumtree ad, about an hour after it was posted. He bought a pair of Head skis off a mate a while ago and assumed that they must need some attention by now.

Certainly the tops looked like they had been under a train at some point:

Emmett's Heads tops

However close inspection of the bottoms after cleaning indicated that the bases are flat, the edges nice and sharp, the sidewalls had been planed at some point and there were very few significant gouges. Notwithstanding a couple of slightly ropey P-Tex repairs they were in good order – even still had some wax on them.


So a quick swipe of the edges with a diamond file to clear off any rust, iron in the wax, scrape & brush and they’re good to go.


They might not be this year’s model and they certainly won’t win a beauty competition based on their tops but this is a good pair of skis in good condition and based on what Emmett told me he paid for them he got a real bargain.