A few photos

A few people have asked for fast turnarounds over the last week or so which precludes proper photo tracking. So if you were hoping to see your planks or board featured and it never made it, I’m sorry. Here are a couple of orphan photos that never quite formed a story by themselves.

Robbie’s furry board:

Hard to see from the picture but if you are worried that your board has a non-flat base either send it to Blues in Edinburgh for a stone grind or give it to me for SkiVisions flattening, but please don’t reach for the wet & dry and give it a seeing to. Sandpaper simply doesn’t cut P-tex but makes it into a big furry ball. Once you’ve made all that fur it’s the devil’s own job to try to get rid of it to actually cut the P-tex & flatten the board. Anyway we persevered and got to a better place, and Robbie did introduce me to the concept of Extreme Carving, which looks quite a lot like having a wee snooze on each turn but in fact must be quite demanding. Robbie’s board was a really good looking Burton “race board” from about 2000, when they were manufacturing in Austria. Nice & slim and purposeful looking.

Lara’s skis:

Lara dropped off a couple of sets of skis for wax & edge. As a complete pushover I filled a couple of gouges for free.

Following a bit of a photo drought I finally remembered to snap the finished skis. The Rossis (white tops) are remarkably lightweight and, combined with their sensible black bases, were a pleasure to work on. As a wee bonus Alasdair dropped off his brand new Atomics for a once over when he picked up Lara’s skis.

Other clients though the Cave in the last few days have included Tom’s Blizzards take 2; Darren’s girls’ dry slope boards; Neil’s K2s, Moz’s skis and a couple of others. Most of these were turned round in less than 24 hours or some on a while you wait basis.

Please feel free to add positive comments if you’re happy with the work.

Matt’s Lesson

Matt brought round his Nordicas for some TLC. Here they are after a dewax:

They showed up a little bit concave with the truebar but well within acceptable limits. There were a few lumps & bumps & base gouges so these were filled and Matt got to scrape the repairs flat. Remember kids – steel scraper & brush for base repairs; any other times keep the steel away from the bases – you’re allowed brass brushes and perspex scrapers for waxing but no steel.

Once the base is cool it’s time to sort the base edges. It’s becoming clear that people aren’t always 100% clear on what bevels are for, which is understandable given the ease of distribution of misinformation in the current era. So, you need edges to cut into hard snow & ice when you want to make a turn. When not turning, you want the steel out of the way as it is more draggy than waxed P-tex and you don’t want your skis to start turning by themselves. So we put a small angle on the face of the edge that faces the snow, typically 1 degree, max range probably 0.5 to 2 degrees. Smaller base angles (according to ski tuning orthodoxy) are for slalom guys who want their skis to initiate turns very quickly; bigger angles are for park dudes who don’t want their edges digging into the rails or for anyone who fears their tails digging in on mogully slopes. Naturally some forum experts advocate blended base angles (eg 1 degree underfoot, 2 degrees at the tails – make up your own variations) but this could be a case of keyboard cowboy differentiation signalling.

Side bevel discussions are particularly incendiary and make the Brexiteer/Remoaner arguments look demure and even handed. You do need to put an angle on the side edge, but should it be 1, 2, 3, even 4 or 5 degrees? Who knows. I run base 1 and side 3 on my Atomics because that’s how they leave the factory. Lots of other brands run 1,1 or 1,2 and people seem to be able to turn perfectly well on them. But don’t let that stop a heated argument in the bar! Here’s Matt giving his Nordicas 2 degrees.

Once the edges are sorted, and Matt’s edges had a weird ultra-sharp burr that had to be eased out before gummi stoning them to perfection, it’s out with the £6 Tesco iron to wind up the purist wax dudes. Seriously, the thermostats all come from the same supplier in China whether you spend £6 or £300. Plus the steam holes don’t fill up with wax and burn down the garage, regardless of what you might read. Just fiddle with the heat setting until your chosen wax melts slightly reluctantly and there isn’t much smoke and you’re away. And wear a proper half face respirator with A1 or A2 filters. Matt is planning to head to Braehead with his Nordicas so it was a quick rummage in the wax bucket and out popped the Datawax graphite & fluoro “indoor snow” special wax.

Once the wax is scraped a quick & careful waxy brass brushing to push it into the structure…

…then some serious elbow grease with the nylon brush and hey presto – another delighted customer who knows how to maintain his own kit.



Neil’s K2s – down to the metal

Neil’s clearly been enjoying his backcountry skiing. His K2s were full of gouges but this one caught my eye – through the P-tex, through the fibreglass and down to the metal:

You can also see an existing repair along the edge. Anyway the gouge had to be opened up, metal-grip applied in the bottom of the gouge then topped off with P-tex to get it slick. The bases needed a complete re-structure with the SkiVisions tools to blend all the repairs in and give the wax something to grip on.

Edges are (I suspect) stainless as they were rust-free but battered to hell. They took ages to get sharp again but they finally capitulated.

Here they are awaiting waxing with the rest of that day’s batch:

And there they are awaiting collection once they’re finished. Not many photos this time, too many skis to process.

Robyn’s lesson

Robyn came round for a lesson on board tuning after her dad told her what a great idea it is.

Her K2 board looked nice but had a crazy concavity that was as bad as any I’ve seen – you could have slipped your pinky under the true bar at the worst bit. However flattening board bases takes much too long for a lesson so we patched and scraped a couple of gouges, edged & waxed the board and hey presto – ready to set a new speed record on the nearest hill.

The Lazarus Custom

A doctor friend of mine worked in Papua New Guinea for a couple of years, learning about tropical diseases. He said it was very liberating in that the expectations of the local population were very low. They would take the patient to the tribal witch doctor, and if that didn’t work they would let Andy try his white man’s magic. If he cured the patient that was great; if not then that was only to be expected and no-one complained – a shrug of the shoulders and off they went.

Marc had a similar fatalistic view when he dropped off his venerable Burton Custom for a review. The board was really only fit for the mortuary slab but he figured that letting me try the ManCave magic wouldn’t hurt. He might get a “Scottish Board” out of it and if not then it would make a nice garden bench.

If you are of a sensitive disposition you might want to look away now.

You’ll see some of the gouges have exposed the tabs on the edges. If you look closely you’ll see that there are a number of cracks in the edges:

This one has been repaired:

You can see the principle for replacing short lengths of edge – clamp a template to the board, cut out a regular shape of P-tex, pull out the knackered edge, glue new edge in, then use the same template to cut out a P-tex cover for the hole. This repair folded over soon after it was done (it was an overnight in-resort repair so maybe failure was to be expected) so Marc just cut the fold off. Unfortunately for us, the damaged part of the edge was around 80cm long so no templates that size exist, leaving us to cut the P-tex freehand then chisel it out. Like I said, look away now if you are easily shocked:

Once the edge is fully exposed it needs to be cut at 45 degrees so the repair won’t be plucked out by stones. Time for the baby diamond disc:

Once the edge has been cut it is simply a case of pulling it off the board. That really exposes the number of breaks in the edge and raises an interesting point. Burton have used narrow edges made of stainless steel for the board. Narrow to save weight presumably, although narrow profile edges are sometimes sold as “racing profile” as the edges drag more than the bases so you might want to reduce the area on the snow. They have also used thin grade P-tex so I think weight loss was the objective. You might think stainless edges are a good idea, especially if you store your gear in a wet roof box between seasons. However they have never really caught on, and a bit of web searching reveals that they are a bit more expensive than carbon steel, slightly harder to form when you’re making your skis/board, definitely harder to sharpen/file/tune and finally somewhat prone to cracking. Well I can verify that last bit – the first photo is the edge pulling away then the photo below is just some of the pieces the edge came away in:

Needless to say stainless edges have receded in popularity in the last decade or so. So it’s boring old carbon steel that’s going in as a replacement.

Here is the new edge with a couple of baby screws already in. The screws are there to resist anything that tries to pull the edge out and are really an admission that we can’t form & glue the repair as well as we can a brand new board. For this repair I added a screw every three or four tabs. At 6mm long they are a barrel of laughs as you drop two screws on the floor for each one that actually goes in the hole.

Once the holes are all made it’s time to apply araldite, fit all the screws and clamp the edge up good & tight. The board gets to sleep next to a radiator for a night to help the glue to set:

Once the epoxy is set it’s time to cut the new P-tex to size. Start with a rectangle of P-tex, clamp it to the board above the repair area, very carefully mark the shape using your daughter’s compasses, swear a bit, cut out the new shape, swear a bit more, trim to size, pop it in the hole. At this point I realised that my repair sheet (of fancy-dancy A4000 P-tex) was a good bit thicker than the slimline soft stuff that Burton had chosen. And a good bit harder too.


Next job has to be the most satisfying – time to chop the heads of the screws. Remember the baby diamond disc? It fairly whistles through the baby screws and leaves the shaft in the board, anchoring the edge but with no protruding head to get in the way:

Then it is a simple matter of fitting the P-tex patch, gluing, clamping, leaving overnight:

The join between the new edge (left) and old edge. Note the new edge is wider and the 45 degree join to prevent the join catching.

OK it doesn’t look pretty so we fill the tiny gaps around the edges and would normally just scrape to get everything even. However my thick P-tex is standing well proud of the rest of the base so it needs a good seeing to with the SkiVisions cutter to get anywhere near level. Once it is good and the rest of the gouges are filled, scraped and the base is structured it’s time to blend in the repaired edge which was very easy as the existing stainless edge is harder than the replacement edge. Then base & side edges are applied as per the recommendation printed on the board – base 1 degree side 1 degree. The hardest part was definitely trying to get a meaningful edge on the side that wasn’t repaired – it took 5 or 6 times longer to get the stainless to take an edge than the brand new carbon steel.

Here’s the board ready for waxing:

The board won’t be mistaken for new but Marc is hoping to get it up a hill asap to see how it performs. If it’s worth keeping we’ll tidy up some of the cosmetics and double check the blending of the new P-tex to make sure it doesn’t go the way of the previous repair.

And if it doesn’t perform on the hill it will still make a great bench for telling tall tales over a beer in the garden.