Hugo’s Dynastars

Hugo dropped off some skis a couple of seasons ago so he qualified for the satisfied returning client discount. I happily took in his Dynastar Chams (supposed to be “born in Chamonix”, not sure what that means). Sharp-eyed readers will have spotted that the cover photo for this site was taken high above the Chamonix valley and I’m not going to pretend that I don’t have a soft spot for the area.

Suitably softened up by fond memories of my daughters learning to ski while staying at the Club Med in Chamonix (tip: just tell the ESF that your kids are 5 years old, they don’t check) I took the Chams to the Cave only to find that they had suffered an amateurish disc grinding edging at some point in the past. You need to look closely but you can see the dark areas every centimetre or so:

Look for repeating dark/light bands on the nearest edge
Look closer!

Anyway the damage to the edge in question was much easier to see than to photograph. Regular readers will already know that crap edging jobs don’t just leave you with dodgy angles, they harden the steel from which the edge is made, so when the next tech comes along they’re left with the thankless task of breaking through the hardening before they can apply a nice, smooth, stylish edge. Which takes ages. But it’s worth it 🙂

Here are Hugo’s skis following a bit of base repair, edging & waxing:

Ben’s Atomics

You know those adverts for DIY stores, where a guy in spotless white overalls is standing painting the centre of a big, perfectly flat wall? It makes it look easy, and glosses over (see what I did there?) the hassle of stripping the old wallpaper, filling holes, skimming, letting it all dry, sanding, priming, letting it all dry, clearing up all the dust, then painting the fiddly corners, high parts of the wall, low parts of the…you know what I mean. I’ve seen a few YouTube vids of ski techs tackling base repair jobs without any meaningful discussion of what process they went through to decide exactly how to sort the repair. For instance, take a look at Ben’s Atomic Backlanders which have clearly suffered a wee ding:

Nasty gouge. Note the blobby candle repair on the other ski in the background
Yes, down to the fibreglass all right

So there are a few ways you can approach core shots like this. If it’s a big area it’s worth cutting a P-tex patch to fit, aralditing it to the base, giving it a day or two to get really strong then blending it in with repair P-tex and your base doc iron. However we have a long narrow gouge and it’s thin gauge P-tex (common on touring skis to keep the weight down) and I’m out of skinny P-tex so it needs to be filled with repair P-tex. P-tex doesn’t stick to fibreglass so you either glue a bit of cotton fabric into the hole, to give the P-tex something to grab, or you can line the fibreglass with Metalgrip – basically P-tex with added glue. This is handy as you can fill the remaining gap with P-tex the same day rather than waiting 24 hours for the glue to set. It doesn’t work on big holes as the heat to melt the P-tex tends to re-melt the Metalgrip and give depressions that just can’t be filled. However a narrow gouge like Ben’s is a good candidate.

So once that’s done we can take a look at the edges:

Hmm, lightly oxidised…

Although the edges looked horrible they were still the original 1 degree base and 3 degrees edge like all Atomics, and they had never been brutalised by a cack-handed service so they came up a treat.

Here are the Backlanders filled, structured, edged, with base & top wax and ready to go:

And here’s a quick snap of the unbranded foamy velcro-ey ski straps that you can add to your order for only £3 a pair if you want to keep your bases shiny on the way to the slopes:

£3 a pair but only if you pay for work on the skis as well

Alex’s K2s

Alex dropped off his well-used K2s for a proper repair & service. The bases had seen some action:

Plenty of stories to tell

Fortunately K2 put proper thick P-tex on their bases so there was plenty to work with. An hour or so with the base doc soldering iron and many P-tex strips and we were back on track:

Also in the Cave a the same time were a typical pair of lightweight tourers, in this case John’s new Factions. John has previous form on bringing in horribly damaged skis and these were no exception. Take a look at that extra-thin P-tex which put up no resistance to the first rock it saw and stripped straight down to the edge tabs – twice:

The base is about 0.6mm thick instead of the healthier but heavier 1.2 or even 1.6mm
The black P-tex comes from a hot knife repair job on the chalet balcony apparently

John has had the lecture about coloured bases more than once but some people simply have anarchic tendencies so he keeps on going back to whacky colours which look rubbish when you fill them with black P-tex – which is why there aren’t any photos of the finished skis.

Tender Loving Care

When Dave picked up his planks a couple of days ago he asked what he should do to keep them in good condition. It turned into a bit of a list but there may be some value in recreating it here to save me some breath next time. So here it is, not necessarily in order:

  1. Once you get to the end of your trip dry your gear off. Properly. Remember that your bindings will have some packed snow in them. You’d be horrified at how much steel you have to remove from your edges to sort out rust damage.
  2. Use velcro & foam straps to keep your skis together without scraping the bases. I have a supply of unbranded ones at £1.50 each or you can spend £5 at well-known outdoor stores.
  3. Ski don’t slide. If you’re on hard snow/ice/stones skiing means you should only get longitudinal grazes which aren’t too damaging. Those 60 degree gouges in your base edges are a nightmare.
  4. If the surface is bad consider getting in the gondola to go down. For some reason this seems to have negative connotations but there’s nothing big or clever about gubbing your skis in the last 10 minutes of the day’s sport just so you can boast that your chalet is ski in/ski out.
  5. Carry a 200 grit diamond file in your pocket to tidy up any dings on the slope. Remember to wet the file surface before using.
  6. I’ve never done this myself but apparently some people stick old bits of hose pipe on their edges before they stick them in the bag to prevent transit damage and to stop the edges cutting the ski bag. Worth a try I suppose.
  7. Finally lots of people ask how often skis should be serviced. Obviously the answer is “when they need it”. Certainly after a week in the Alps you’ll probably need fresh wax and might need edges tidied up. If it’s been lovely soft snow all week the edges won’t need any attention. Conversely 15 minutes at Glenshee can reduce the best prepared kit to a shocking state. If you feel a little burr when you slide the flats of your fingers down the side edge from the top of the ski it’s probably time to do the edges. If you’re actually skiing (see 3) the burr should build up in the same plane as the base. Don’t mistake a burr (which feels sharper one way than the opposite way) with a nice sharp edge (which should be equally fine in both directions). Remember always check sharpness with the flats of your fingers and perpendicular to the edge to avoid slicing fingers.

Hope that was helpful.

Winter update

So as is often the case January is the month when it all kicks off. I’ve mentioned before that it’s easier for everyone if you remember to drop your planks off in August so I can service them in the garden in glorious sunshine but for some reason the message simply doesn’t stick.

As I took four weeks in Spain from mid-December, to help build up vitamin D stocks before another Scottish winter, there was an understandable build up of demand in January so I didn’t really get many photos as I toiled away in the Cave.

Here are a couple of photos so everyone can understand that I wasn’t sitting with my feet up watching Oprah all month:

I think this was the biggest ding in Iain’s board…
A nice selection getting shampooed to get the old wax off
Colin’s other DPS ski getting the probiotic Araldite treatment
About half of the January skis & boards in the vestibule waiting to be picked up

So thanks to Scott, Claire, Steve, Colin Evan, Alyssa, Martin & Emma for these shots and to Mark, Dave & Lewis who got their gear in before Xmas:

Busy weekend

It’s that time of year where I’m too busy working to take photos, so if you see your gear in the pictures and would like to leave a comment please do. Just a note to Susan – the 90 minute turnaround on the Gnu was an artifact and not a promise for future performance 🙂

Sitting on the sofa with pizza & beer

Martin’s NeverSummer

As noted earlier, Martin handed in his good board (“Alpine Board” rather than “Scottish Board”) a few days ago. It was interesting in that it’s a banana board, all rocker rather than camber:

All rocker?



Or is it? Maybe a bit of hybrid going on there? Very hard to see/photograph:

Or a bit of hybrid going on?



Anyway it was a pleasure to work on, with very few little base nicks that were sorted in a few seconds. The edges had been either hand tuned at the factory or else someone had done them properly sometime, so they just required a bit of diamond filing and gummi stone to bring them to (nearly) mirror finish. Very satisfying. Even the bases just took a polite sip of base wax, rather than gulping down gallons of the stuff, indicating that the board might even have been waxed sometime.

Here it is after a good polish. And Martin explained when he picked it up that it is hybrid rocker, not pure banana. Lovely piece of kit.

Scott’s Blades

Scott showed some initiative in getting his ancient Salomon blades into the cave for a short back & sides before the tidal wave of gear starts later in the year (here’s hoping…).

Tops were in good nick, considering they must be 14 years old. Bases scored top marks for flatness, but they were a bit more used-looking, completely lacking wax and with a few wee scratches.

However the scratches were mostly superficial, and as the dead white bases needed a good seeing-to with the structure stone to try to bring them back to life I had another look after the treatment. Each base had five or six minor scratches that deserved attention:

So these tiddlers were quickly filled and scraped flat, then structured again to blend them in.

The edges had never been sharpened, as they still had the usual factory inflicted grinder 45 degree striations and the sidewalls were virgo intacto. However Salomon had managed to make an intriguing pattern on the side edges; presumably they ran the blades past the grinder once, turned them around, let them get halfway through the grinder again then changed their minds.


I had a hunt around the internet to see if the blades were given a different tune from the standard Salomon base 1/edge 2, and sure enough the tech manual suggested base 1.5 and edge 1 – unusual as most people normally maintain an edge angle of 90 degrees or less. Anyway 5 mins with the Sharpie revealed that these blades had left the factory with a 1/2 tune so that is what they got.

Regular readers (I use the plural here optimistically) will know that I tend to sharpen skis to the tips then leave it to the owner to detune the tips if they wish. For the blades I saw a couple of stern warnings of certain death if the tips aren’t detuned so I buckled under the pressure and brought them down a little.

Following some tidying up of the nicks on the tops, time for some Zoom pink base renew and green universal top wax:

After a bit of elbow grease the bases came up nicely, ready for the next 14 years…