Tuesday, December 2, 2008

"Gear Guy"

Ok.... I'm known as the "gear guy". Years ago the original Crazy Canuck Jungle Jim Hunter called me a "toy boy". I'll accept both of these monikers willingly. In fact, it’s kinda fun having gear, planning on getting gear and new to me....making gear.

That’s right. I’ve been trying to make some stuff. My latest creation: carbon fibre ski pole baskets. Nat’l luge team coach (and very good friend) Walt Corey has provided a lot of his experienced advice on where to get materials and which ones, plus how to use the stuff. My reasoning in making the baskets was that for rando racing we’re often plowing through ungroomed pow. A bigger basket makes tonnes of sense, but a heavy plastic unit on the end of your pole is definitely going throw off the pole’s swing weight.

Here’s how I did it: I used modelling clay for a mould, plugged a basket with a design I liked in there. Formed a little expansion to the mould, making it bigger, then coated it with vaseline for my mould release agent. I then cut a paper pattern that fit the mould. Used it to cut my carbon fibre. I cut 2 layers of carbon fibre. I brushed out the epoxy resin in the mould. Laid down the first carbon layer. Brushed in epoxy, then repeated for the second. An important step was that I used roller ski tips. I made a hole in the mould, then placed the tip in there. R. Ski tips are over made and hence kinda heavy, so I drilled and sanded some of the material off. This also roughed up the surface giving the epoxy more to grip.

It took about 3 days for the resins to fully cure. I could see that on one of them there wasn’t a good bond with the rs tip, so I shored it up with some carbon strips and more epoxy. On my first outing it was going good until ½ hour in when the non shored up basket seperated from the rs tip. It made for kind of a bummer of a ski. I was skiing out to Skoki Lodge behind the Lake Louise ski area. As soon as I got home I repaired and reinforced it. The previously reinforced basket seemed to really hold up well, so I think in the long run they should work. However, I’m going to really use them in training to make sure I’m good to go in the races. I don’t want to be hammering away (especially in the European champs this Feb.) and have a pole basket failure like I did last week.

What else am I making? Carbon fibre wise, I’m going to make a base plate for my new Pierre-Gignoux binding heel piece. The sucker weighs only 49 grams!!! Amazing. My skis and bindings now may actually be a few grams under the minimum weight limit. I guess I’ll have to put an extra heavy coat of wax on.

Finally, just like the kids on High School Musical (1), I’ll have to sheepishly admit..... I sew. Yes, I’m putting my grandma’s sewing machine into use that I inherited. Lately I’ve made 2 super cool racing tops, soft shell pants, tights and some hats. In the works is a rando race suit, but it looks like I’ll be getting a Nat’l team suit soon and I’m hoping we decide on the red, white and silver Crazy Idea (it’s Italian....which explains the weird name) suit . It looks super cool and has all kinds of bells and whistles...perfect for a "gear guy toy boy".