How bad for performance are scratches on bases?

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JeffOYB
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How bad for performance are scratches on bases?

Postby JeffOYB » Fri Mar 01, 2013 8:30 am

I tend to ski in all conditions on a pair of skis. Around here 'rock ski' is the normal condition. I haven't worn out a pair yet in doing this. Nor have I noticed them getting slower. I lose a lot of p-tex.

Would people who like to ski notice a problem from scratches?

(I'm not talking about racing. But I can't say I've noticed scratches hurting me there, not since I've gotten slower, anyway. Midpackers can get as anal as an elite and are often desperate for all the performance they can get so I don't want to emphasize them in this study.)

My hunch is that base scratches are psychological in their wounding.

If they're deep, one could fill with p-tex. We used to do that. Does anyone anymore? P-tex candle dripping, ironing and scraping. I haven't done it in decades. No need. I just don't care.

My daily ski fun has never been affected by base scratches. Nor have scratches meant an early grave for any of my skis ever.

Is there some weird ski culture going on that's so hateful of base scratches? What's behind it, ski shops? Just the general dislike of imperfection? Seems like that should be moderated by reality. ...That is: does it matter?

In short, what I see happening over and over again is that PEOPLE JUST DON'T SKI IF THEY'RE WORRIED ABOUT SCRATCHES and they only have one pair of "good" or "new" skis. I think the rule should always be A SKI WOULD RATHER BE SKIED THAN NOT! WHEN IN DOUBT: SKI!

In our state, 'rock skis' is the new norm for everyday skiing. And that's fine! There's no harm! Sure, if you live near grooming, keep a pair of freshies, but if you don't, just SKI ALL THE SNOW YOU GET. If it glides and you really don't hit rocks that often don't sweat it.

So what's my rock/scratch standard? If the skiing is fun, I ski -- THAT's my standard!

I've crunched'n'munched skis and damaged sidewalls -- those I epoxy and they've never let me down. Just a flesh wound. But that's different from scratches. OK, some scratches are exceptions -- big gouges. But that's not what these naysayers are whining about. "I don't want to scratch my skis." -- C'mon!

Sure, I've broken and worn out skis, but scratches haven't been the problem.

I suppose I hear this justification mostly from newbies, or casual (non)skiers who've spent a lot on skis, or from folks who tend to the anal/fussy anyway. I just heard it today -- and we now have GREAT crust skiing! Nobody is hitting any rocks. They just don't want the fresh air fun bad enough. The skiing is about the peak in quality of the season right now: no grooming needed. (Just stay away from where folks have skied or walked lately -- that's ice.)

So do your skis get slower when they're scratched -- I mean, enough to notice in everyday skiing? Is their usefulness noticeably shortened or impaired from scratches?

(OK, I'm going skiing...)
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Re: How bad for performance are scratches on bases?

Postby osloskier » Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:34 pm

JeffOYB wrote:So do your skis get slower when they're scratched -- I mean, enough to notice in everyday skiing?


Oh, yes, very much so. I have a dedicated pair of rock skis, and they're OK if it's really wet, but horrible in dry snow. I think I'm going to buy another used pair for cheap so I can have one pair for non-ideal conditions and one for truly bad conditions.

Good skis in dry snow at about -5 C should feel as silky smooth as skates on good ice. If they're scratched, the lubricating water escapes into the scratches, and you can feel the snow grind and creak.

(OK, I'm going skiing...)


*thumbs up* :)

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Re: How bad for performance are scratches on bases?

Postby JeffOYB » Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:45 pm

Good explanation. Maybe I don't notice it because our snow is humid. Also I rarely skate. I wonder if perfection of grooming relates. Does a skied-in trail notice scratches as much as a perfect, fresh-groomed one?

So is skating more relevant to scratches than classic?

Is an expert more likely to notice? Or is it something even an intermediate skier would detect.
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Re: How bad for performance are scratches on bases?

Postby osloskier » Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:24 pm

A scratched ski is less bad in icy tracks, otherwise I don't think there's much of a difference.

Skating skis are even more vulnerable, because the kick wax will always cause some drag which skate skis lack. But it's easily noticeable with classic skis too.

If you try to go fast at all, it's easily detectable. If you just use them as snowshoes, you might not notice. The difference is almost like washing your hands in pure versus soapy water. But it depends how scratched they are, you probably won't notice a couple of scratches, but lots of them make a big difference, and it's worse the colder the snow is.

Try to get a good second hand pair and compare, I'm sure you'll notice the difference :)

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Re: How bad for performance are scratches on bases?

Postby squawky » Tue Mar 05, 2013 7:58 am

My waxless Triple Crown that are ten years old have started to lose their glide and I would have to say that the scratching is the cause. We tried in filling and general waxing but when I got a new pair of the same model the difference was very noticeable.

I am saving the old ones for the UK where inconsiderate folk chuck salt and grit about the minute there is a hint of snow....

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Re: How bad for performance are scratches on bases?

Postby JeffOYB » Tue Mar 05, 2013 12:26 pm

This is quite interesting to me!

Seems worth some real testing.

I wonder if metal-scraping or stone-grind could restore scratched bases... S'pose it depends on how deep the scratches are. But fewer might be better...do what ya can...
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Re: How bad for performance are scratches on bases?

Postby nxski » Tue Mar 05, 2013 10:10 pm

squawky wrote:My waxless Triple Crown that are ten years old have started to lose their glide and I would have to say that the scratching is the cause. We tried in filling and general waxing but when I got a new pair of the same model the difference was very noticeable.

I am saving the old ones for the UK where inconsiderate folk chuck salt and grit about the minute there is a hint of snow....


If you ski a fair amount, it could also be that your camber has worn out and you're dragging the structure and that's reducing your glide. Have you tried applying liquid wax to the structure on top of hot waxing the tips and tails?
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Re: How bad for performance are scratches on bases?

Postby squawky » Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:41 pm

Thanks for your advice !
We tried the waxing thing but it was not much better. Given how little each year I get to ski I think it was the scratches as I ended up on some rough stuff a few times and the undersides look roughed up.

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Re: How bad for performance are scratches on bases?

Postby osloskier » Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:26 pm

Scratches can be fixed or improved in various ways:

A few deep scratches in an otherwise good ski base can be fixed with p-tex repair sticks. First warm the ski base with a hair dryer or heat gun. Take it easy, you don't want to melt it... Then set fire to the p-tex stick and let the molten plastic drip onto the scratch. Let it cool and set for half an hour or more, then scrape away the excess plastic with a steel scraper. You need to pre-heat the ski base before dripping p-tex onto it, otherwise the p-tex will not bond properly.

Small scratches can be fixed by steel scraping or re-grinding the ski. If you want to scrape it, I recommend Kuzmin scrapers, they create a structure which make the skis faster than if the base is completely smooth.

Lots of deep scratches require re-grinding or a huge amount of scraping. Better scrape and brush to get rid of any fibers or loose plastic strands and use them as rock skis, get another good pair for good conditions.


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