Richard’s Santa Cruz

I figured when I stopped all advertising for the Cave that I would only get happy smiling returning clients dropping off equipment that I had already sorted. It was going to be sooooo straightforward. So somehow I ended up with 3 new sets of skis and 2 new boards in the shop. Best laid plans and all that.

Richard dropped off his Santa Cruz board for some attention. “Edge and wax and the base might need some attention” were I think his exact words on the phone:

“Might need some attention”
There could well be some metal under all that rust…

So the board looks like it’s been helping to defend the rebels in Idlib for the last 6 weeks. Starting point once any remaining wax has been cleaned off (ha!) is to check the board is nice & flat. Oops! the board seems to have been designed with a prominent central ridge and wings, a bit like a Bataleon board. There’s plenty of marketing guff on the website about their various longitudinal profiles (“Go Big! Rocker” anyone?) but they don’t seem to have done this weird W-shape transverse profile on purpose. A few runs with the big SkiVisions planer indicated that taking down the centre to make the board flat would result in no P-tex in the centre. That would be a shame as, and I’m quoting directly from their website here, their bases feature: “Nano-additives boost acceleration up to formula one limits”.

Anyway, once I had stopped laughing at their badly translated marketing drivel it was time to try to fill in all those gouges. You’ll have spotted that the base is extremely fussy with loads of colours and narrow black lines separating various hexagons. So you start by filling all the black bits:

Half done

Then you use clear P-tex on everything else and give it all a good scrape. Sadly the weird base profile means that it’s damn near impossible to scrape the P-tex on the wings between the central plateau and the edges. So that’s another hour I’m not getting back.

Edging was fairly straightforward. When edges are as rusty as that you don’t need to colour them in with a Sharpie to figure out the bevel as the rust does that for you. The best fit was 1.5 degrees base, although with the wings raised up so far it’s questionable if you need to bevel as you could never catch an edge accidentally. As the base edge was 1.5 the side has to be at least 1.5 so they were taken to 2 degrees. The only problem with rusty edges and white bases is the way the rust & file-lubricating water combine to look like someone has dipped your board in oxtail soup. Anyway, edges much shinier now:

Three reflections as I have three spotlights in the ceiling of the Cave

You can probably imagine how nightmarish the wax scraping was based on the base profile. I don’t really want to relive the experience so I’ll just post the finished board next to a much better behaved Burton:

We three boards

It’s getting close to Xmas so a cheery festive heading. Martin dropped off a brand new Rossi and a used baby Burton while Stuart dropped off his big Burton for a quick edge & wax. Here they are before – note the brown rusty edges on the baby Burton:

And here they are after a good deal of rust removal. The Rossi had OK edges for a brand new board, pretty flat & even rather than the lumpy grinder marks some new kit has. Stuart’s board was in for the second time and was dealt with very quickly.

As the tops are quite attractive here they are too:

A Gnu or two

It’s December, the Cave is getting a bit parky so it must be time for snow bums & bunnies to dig out their rusty gear and get it sorted.

The annual multi-channel, multimedia, star-studded marketing blitz resulted in 4 sets of skis & 3 boards arriving to kick the season off. Here they are during the dullest part of any service – dewaxing/base cleaning.

Once they’re all clean the Rossi and white based Gnu needed some base repairs:

Neither of them was too bad but still needing some TLC. Once the bases were scraped and structured they drank immense amounts of base wax. In fact the white Gnu needed a third coat of wax to get to spec, something I’ve not had to deal with before – and I’ve worked with some pretty dried out bases. Both boards had pretty battered edges too but nothing terminal.


Eagle-eyed readers will recognise Susan’s blue Gnu. As it’s returning to the Cave for a freshen up it just needed a quick once over to get it back to perfect condition. Here they are all sorted and ready to be collected.


The Battle Weary Bataleon

Chris was too embarrassed to drop off his battered board in person so I picked it up from his mum’s place. There was lots of surface damage:

The gouge just left of centre has gone through the P-tex base, the underlying fibreglass and into the core of the board.


The other gouges are ugly but haven’t penetrated the fibreglass as this one shows:

The gouges tend to have raised edges so they need to be flattened and some of them opened up a little to give the repair P-tex something to stick to.



“What about the edges?” I hear you cry. Well not very nice either:

Quite a lot of quite deep scars which are too deep to be ground out entirely.



So once the anaesthetist & theatre nurses had been assembled we were ready to go to work. First off the broken ends of the fibreglass have to be cut and the edges of the big gouge smoothed off – both jobs for a sharp penknife. Although in theory the glass reinforces the resin, and therefore this piece of the board sandwich, the loss of integrity of a few broken fibres is neither here nor there so we can sweep along. One the cut is cleaned up it’s good practice to melt some metalgrip into the wound first as it is basically P-tex with a bit of glue and it should adhere better to the underlying layer. Once the metalgrip has had 15 mins to cure it’s time to melt the P-tex in over it – and the two thousand other gouges. Once that’s done the board is probably as ugly as it gets, covered in black & clear plastics:

However the excess P-tex is easily scraped off and soon looks flat but dull. It’s time to structure the base using the Ski-Visions ruby stone for a clean cut, non-hairy base. Obviously the kooky Bataleon 3-D base with its wings & bulges means I can’t structure the base using the ergonomic tool but have to use a bit of broken ruby stone instead. Anyway the base is relatively soft and it’s not a long job. The structure blends the repairs in with the virgin base and gives the base wax something to bite on as well.

Regular readers will know that Bataleon leave their base edges with no bevel, assuming that the kicked up wings on the board do the job of keeping the base edges out of trouble. Which is great until you have to try to grind out some deep scars, and then you realise that there’s no such thing as a zero degree file guide. However, we can reach back into the distant past of Alpine tuning, don a beret, light up a Gauloise and before you can say “Bof!” you’ve wrapped a bit of tape around your mill file and made a 1950’s back street low angle file guide.

I’m not going to pretend that the base edges looked like new afterwards but they are at least out of the woods.

As you can imagine the base drank a gallon of the base renew wax. Once it was scraped the Zoom Universal on top polished up nicely and the board is ready for its next skirmish.



Jonny’s bump

Jonny dropped off his K2 board along with his lady friend’s Salomon. Both of them had seen some base ripping action:

Jonny’s base is pretty mashed but most gouges are longitudinal. The photo doesn’t really show the washed out, scratchy white effect that he has managed to achieve. Take it from me it looks very tired.

Ms Jonny’s board just has slashes all over it in every direction. As you’ll know by now there are few things more likely to cheer up a tech’s day than having to fill gouges in a black/white/colour repeating base. Here it is with a kilo of repair P-tex in it:

And the next photo shows the base once it has been scraped flat. For once I nailed all the gouges first time and and the base didn’t need a second bite of the base iron to get it sorted:


Still looks dull because the base hasn’t been restructured and there’s no wax yet. However it’s nice & smooth to the touch. And I’m knee deep in P-tex shavings.



Jonny’s board mainly had longways scratches, which normally I leave as they just become part of the structure. However some of them were just too deep to leave so they got some clear & colourless P-Tex:

But Jonny’s main issue is at the end of the board, not the middle. Who knows what the impact looked like but the outcome was a comedy duck bill. Hard to photograph but check out the reflected light on the first snap to get a feel for the degree of bentness:






Now this poses a problem as it is only slightly delaminated and not falling to pieces. If it was more knackered it would be a case of cutting out the P-Tex, bending the edge back, reassembling and gluing. However, it’s not too bad so let’s see if we can just apply Araldite, brute force & wishful thinking:

In order to encourage the edge to roll back into a better angle the top sheet former is actually a spade handle.

It all seemed to be holding at first – here’s the excess epoxy waiting to be cut off:





However the snow gods weren’t smiling on this occasion and the edge managed to pull the scoop back open again, so the edge had to be taught a lesson. Edges are really easy to bend when they’re sitting on the bench – you can easily curl them up if you need to send a few metres to Aberdeen from the factory in Central Europe – but once an edge is glued into a sandwich of four or five layers of wonder material to make a board it all gets a bit harder. Finally the deed was done and the scoop re-glued, but the teeth marks from the various gripping tools can be made out by a discerning eye:

However it is pretty straight, tightly glued up and should withstand all but the roughest handling. As well as having slick, flat, waxed bases & lovely sharp edges, the bases have recovered the original colours that they had in the shop instead of the washed out look:

Weekly round up

In between the snowy weather and my recurring trips away from Aberdeen it’s all been a bit hectic and taking photos tends to be the first thing that is cut when it’s getting frantic. So I was pleased to see that I did remember to take a couple of snaps of things that caught my eye.

Brian’s F1 Rip’n’Wuds:

Brian bought these very expensive skis on a whim on holiday last season but felt they were a little bit flexy underfoot so he scoured the dark web for someone who could supply a couple of plates of woven carbon fibre. Our favourite tech guru Jon Coster at the Piste Office fitted them for Brian. To be honest it doesn’t really matter if they make any difference to the handling, the plates look gorgeous.

I can’t even remember what brand these skies were, but this comedy whisker of white P-tex cheered me up as I tried to sort out the rest of the base which had been sanded at some point in the past as part of an in-resort service. Sanding P-tex always results in fur on the base which is a pain in the neck to remove, so if you’re ever tempted to try it please don’t. The skis came up quite nicely in the end but I forgot to get the phone out for the “after” picture:






Lesley brought a load of equipment in for a service and all was going well until the edges on her Dynastars were subject to inspection. You can see on the left that the edges were waving in & out a bit. I sometimes wonder if there’s a ski servicing tool that is actually designed to leave this hopeless finish. Anyway it left the edge significantly hardened, and once through the hardening it became clear that the edge was less than one degree:

If the bottom of the edge (side nearer the base) doesn’t get touched by the file in a one degree edge guide then the edge must be less than one degree. You can see the dark strip next to the base bevel in this photo. Again, who knows what the last guy thought he was doing or if he applies any sort of quality assurance to the equipment before it goes out the door. Anyway, loads of elbow grease later the edge looked as its creator intended it to – straight, shiny and one degree all the way along:

Sadly another pair of the skis Lesley dropped off had suffered the same treatment. Not only is is a drag for me to break through the hardening – the first edge alone took 25 minutes to get back to a decent state – it means I have to take off more steel than I want to get back to the proper bevel. Anyway, they should be much better to use now.

Finally, these three boards were dropped off in varying states of wear. They all left in good shape, although Aidan’s Salomon has been “repaired” by someone with a black P-Tex drip candle in the past which has left it streaked with black as though it had been attacked with a sharpie.

I’m really not a fan of drip candles as you can’t warm the base first, the P-tex is extra soft and the person applying the P-tex gets lungfuls of toxic smoke. When you need to repair over an old drip candle repair the candle P-tex will start to boil before the decent quality, stiffer, higher melt point stuff techs use is even melted, which makes getting a good repair a pain in the neck. Apart from that, all three boards had good flat bases and came up very nicely. Tor’s Nitro is a lovely piece of kit, except for the silver foil that they decided would look good on the base but doesn’t make repairing scratches any easier.

That’s it for now, more entries when I’m back from my travels on 26th March.

Eddie’s Basic (again)

Eddie dropped off his Yes Basic for a repair recently, then spent about 30 milliseconds riding at Nevis range before yanking some more plastic:


So we’re down to the tabs on the edge here, usually better left inside the board.  Nothing too serious, but we’re working with coloured base P-tex rather than sensible old black, so whatever we do is going to look a bit rubbish – rather like someone getting a burn and needing a skin graft, looks OK unless you have a tattoo in the area of interest.

Anyway as we’re down to the metal we need to weld in some clear & colourless metal-grip followed by some clear & colourless P-tex on top – metal-grip doesn’t grab wax worth a damn. Let’s face  it clear P-tex repairs always look horrible as you can gaze right into the heart of the board:

I’d finished the repair & waxed the board up before I realised that I actually have a lime green P-tex repair strip lurking in the bottom of the repairs bucket. However, based on recent statistics it will only be a few days before Eddie is back at the door with more eye-watering damage to the board – we’ll get it next time.

It was interesting to see how the previous repair is holding up – pretty well if I say so myself. A tiny strip of Araldite has dropped out, but that’s better replaced with more flexible P-tex anyway:


Looking good despite the bashing the rest of the board has received

Martin’s Scottish Board and porridge for breakfast

Martin picked up his heavily scored K2 after it had received the fill, scrape, structure, edge & wax treatment – after on the left, before on the right…


Then when he picked up his “Scottish Board” he dropped off a rather nice Never Summer board for some TLC. More on that in another blog post sometime.
The other board in the after picture was caked in ?wax? when it was dropped off. Jon was so embarrassed by the white base and mysterious chemical coating that he told me he was dropping it off “for a friend”. Aye, right…

Anyway, once the base goo was scraped off it turned out that the edges had been tuned by hand at some point which made redoing the edges a pleasure rather than a trial, which goes to show you shouldn’t judge a board by its base.

Eddie’s wee bump

As well as lowering the tone of the Cave with his Scallywag (2nd right here) Eddie handed over a wee challenge in the shape of his Yes Basic.


Move along folks, nothing to see here – apart from a serious delamination and an edge bent in two dimensions. Not very pretty inside the gaping hole either – hard to say exactly what’s going on.

Let’s peel back the P-tex to have a better look:

So it’s not pretty but it’s probably saveable with a bit of TLC and the healing powers of Araldite.

First we scrub the wound with a wire brush to clean it up, then careful application of torque through pliers to straighten up the bent edge. Then undercut the edges of the P-tex base so that the patch is held in place.

Normally on the flat of the base you use a neat template to cut a perfect semicircle out of the base P-tex then use the same template to cut the new patch. However, life is obviously never as simple as the advert so we need to be a bit more creative here as the damage is on the scoop so it’s in 2 dimensions. So let’s do a bit of brass rubbing:

Once you have the shape on the paper you simply clamp the paper template to the P-tex sheet and use scissors to cut the patch to size. The patch here is held in place by itself, just rather satisfyingly clicked in place:

Once the patch is the right size, it’s a simple matter to mix up some Araldite, heat it up with a hairdryer and apply it to the base & patch. I would love to show some pictures of this process but if you’ve ever chased a pint of hyper-fluid glue around your living room, trying to avoid spilling it on the furniture and carpets, you’ll know that taking photos is the last thing on your mind. Here it is with the usual arrangement of plastic sheet to prevent sticking, thin wooden sheets to spread the force and a few clamps done up nice & tight:






Just leave it like this, perched over your hottest radiator, for 48 hours and hey presto – relaminated. Here it is restructured and with the base renew wax on but not yet scraped –






– and here is the board with top wax scraped & brushed, ready to go. All in all a nice wee repair and could only have been improved with some lime-green P-tex instead of boring old black.

Four boards

The early season rush included a number of boards, each with their own tale to tell.

Hogging the sofa

The Burton Custom on the left had been tuned by someone in the past who had changed the bevels from the Burton standard 1 degree base/1 edge to 1.5 degrees base & edge. In itself that’s not the end of the world, and indeed Capita and some other boards come from the factory like that, but it’s a drag to try to copy as no-one makes 1 .5 degree file guides for side edges. So now it is 1.5/2 instead. Jonathan had asked for a base grind but we like to preserve client kit if we can so it got substantial P-tex repairs and a restructure instead. By all means get a base grind if your base edges are really knackered, or you want to reset them to some new angle, but remember that P-tex varies from 1.2mm down to 0.6mm thick when new so there just isn’t much to play with. Techs are always happy to grind as it reduces the amount of filling they have to do but remember that you’re shaving life off your pride & joy.

Les’s RIDE looked innocent enough but someone had fitted tungsten carbide edges at some point. Seriously, I need my files to last for more than one board. Once the base edges were in some sort of order the side edges had another joker to play – not only were they brutally hard to file but they were set at zero degrees. That makes the edge profile 91 degrees – I’ve never seen a profile greater than 90 degrees. It’s easy enough to do if the factory simply forgets to bevel the side edges before firing the boards out of the door, but really? Anyway the edges are now set at 1/1 and I have ordered more files from the shop.

Eddie’s Scallywag exhibits the worst excess of snowboard design – the dreaded white base. It really is the mullet of snowboard bases – never acceptable in any social situation. They get dirty, go orange if your edges rust, never look good when scratches are repaired and you can’t see what you’re doing when you try to wax them. However I soldiered on and got the base into some sort of shape after a base plane, fill, structure, edge & wax.

Finally Ben’s Burton Custom – just a few gouges to fill, 1/1 edges as Burton intended and no machine hardening – a pleasure to work on. Which makes me feel even more guilty for finishing it well after the date I had promised – sorry Ben.