Michael’s vintage Salomons

Michael won the race to be the first Eastern European client at the Cave. Sadly he didn’t hand over a set of Soviet-era sturdy planks for attention, but instead some decadent western Salomon X-frees. These date from around 2001 and the Salomon sales blurb from that time calls them “shaped” (they are about 3 mm narrower at the waist than the tips) and “all mountain”. Now I know people used to ride powder in the black & white days on toothpick-wide skis because I’ve seen some grainy super-8 footage, but still, with just 62 mm under your foot it doesn’t feel like you’ll be floating across the soft stuff. Just a year later Salomon were offering the CrossMax Carve which had a properly shaped body but frankly old duffers, myself included, just weren’t ready for skis that turned all by themselves. And after years of lusting after 220 cm arrows who could seriously be seen on fat 160’s?

Enough nostalgia, what sort of shape were the X-frees in? Well, there was plenty of filling to be done and the edges seemed to have escaped any attention at all over the years. But that’s no bad thing – better than having endured endless base grinds & wobbly handheld grinder edging efforts.

This was the worst gouge – easy enough to deal with
Plenty of filling required. The MetalGrip is the black circle of wire under the base doc and the P-tex is the strips to the right

Once the bases were filled, scraped & restructured the edges were easy enough to sort out. The base edges were really scored but that’s to be expected if they had a hard life in a rental shop. The side edges were in reasonable shape and they came up nicely. The top sheet of the skis is made from some wacky metallic wrap that comes off like swarf when you plane the sidewalls but I guess it’s tough as the tops look like new.

Finally here’s a picture of them in their full 185 cm glory. Further proof that you can bag a bargain by buying used and refurbishing back to good condition.

Colin’s DPS ding

Regular readers of the blog, if such a class of person exists, will have seen these Wailers before. Colin likes an adventurous ski trip, which seems to involve putting some serious town miles on his planks. He’s also not frightened to pay a little extra for hand made carbon-rich skis.

So what does he get for his cash? Well, no fancy graphics – pale blue on top & proper all black on the base. The base is made of particularly tough P-tex which resists gouging (and resists repair, as we’ll see). The bases are perfectly flat, which is a challenge on such wide skis. The edges are narrow and tough but don’t seem to be prone to cracking like the stainless edges that were trendy for a few years – they also take a better edge than stainless. Edges are hand-sharpened at the factory (in the US as opposed to the People’s Republic) and very easy to tune again as the angles are true right from day 1. Finally the base doesn’t flex under the pull of the binding bolts – you see this very often on snowboards, hardly ever on thick & tough piste skis but quite often on touring skis due to the low height of the ski.

I’m always pleased to see gear back in the Cave for another service, as I can see how well the repairs have stood up and the edges are nice & easy to follow. All the existing repairs were in good shape but Colin had a wee present for me:

The corrugations are courtesy of a stone, the knife marks are mine

Normally a gouge this size needs to be cleaned out and new P-tex should be cut to shape and glued in. However, Colin was on a deadline, I don’t have any skinny P-tex on hand and anyway, once the corrugated bits were cut out the remaining wound had a very uneven base.

Who knows what DPS glue their bases with but my goodness it’s tough

At this point I should really have Dremelled the wound flat, Araldited in some P-tex and left it for 48 hours to cure. However the timetable didn’t really cater for waiting for the 0.8 mm P-tex sheet to arrive from the Junk Supply guys in Malmo (check them out, probably better not to do it from a work computer…).

So, the repair was completed with a base coat of Metal Grip, topped off with P-tex repair strips and although it’s not the ideal repair it will see out the next week jumping out of choppers in La Grave. Here is the repair once the skis are sorted & waxed:

It is there, on the right hand side of the right hand ski

I couldn’t see it either so after some hunting and reference to the earlier photos here it is:

Thar she blows