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When a shop tune is worse than nothing (Footloose in Mammoth)

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

First, some background: I'm a (former) mechanical engineer with a moderate degree of shop training and some metrology background. I also have been tuning skis for a couple decades, and know how to get "mirror finish" tunes at desired angles when I care to spend the time. I had recently taken a core shot to my Volkl Kendos, and weld/gun/iron repairs weren't holding. I therefore fixed the core shot for good with an inlay patch [*], and having done so I wanted to get the bases re-ground both to make everything flat and to put structure on the patch material.

 

To accomplish this I went to a ski shop in Mammoth that I trusted (Footloose, which is widely recognized as a first-tier establishment) and asked for a 1-degree base bevel and a grind [**], but no side-edge work.

 

The 20-something saleskid who took my order proceeded to lecture me about how I would ruin my skis by doing my own side-edge work, and how much more accurate their ceramic disk edger was than any hand tool (actually false. The ceramic edger is more productive and cost-effective for a high-volume shop, but it registers to the ski base in exactly the same way as a high-quality bevel guide and isn't intrinsically more accurate. It all comes down to operator skill either way). I basically had 4 options at that point

 

1. Go somewhere else

 

2. Debate the intricacies of edge-tuning with a salesperson (NB: this typically falls into the "don't argue with a pig" category of life experiences)

 

3. Ask said salesperson why a tuning rock-star like him was working sales during skiing hours instead of the back-shop at night.

 

4. Give in and let them do what they wanted, reasoning that the worst that couple possibly happen is that I'd be out $10 extra and have to polish out the side-edges afterwards as I'd originally planned.

 

Being a lazy sort of fellow I couldn't muster the energy for 1-3, and money isn't high on my list of priorities, so I went with 4 and asked for a full tune, with no detuning and 1/3 base angles.

 

Upon retrieving my skis, I observed the following:

 

1. They had indeed ground the skis and had hit the requested 1/3 angles, to the best of my ability to tell with my SVST bevel gauge. This is both the start and end of the good news.

 

2. The side-edges were a bit "wavy" as though the ski had wandered slightly on the edger base, though this was minor and I was able to easily polish it out with a 120-grit diamond file.

 

3. The bases were concave through the shovels. These skis had been flat after their previous grind. Typically this happens when the tech operating the grinder works a bit too fast and lets things overheat. Picture of one ski below:

 

 

4. The ceramic edger had bored "through" the right shovels on both skis just forward of the contact points. Ceramic edgers reference to the ski base, so what this means is that the tech running the ceramic edger worked from tail to tip on the right sides of the skis (not unusual for a right-handed tech), and failed to disengage them before the base "rose away", thus causing the disc to bore through the edge. See pictures below. The smooth finish to either side of the "ceramic disc hole" was applied by me, using a 120-280-400-800 grit diamond sequence. The original finish was much more striated in addition to having waves as noted above.

 

 

 

The bottom line is that this shop tune didn't even deliver what I really needed (a simple, flat stone-grind), and they took a bunch of edge life away by botching a side-edge sharpening job that I didn't really want at all. I estimate that getting rid of the concavity will cost about 20% of the base life of the ski, and filing out the divots in the shovels will take about 10-15% off of the side edges. I basically payed them $50 to steal $120 or so of pro-rated ski life, so my "net" is about minus $170. I claimed that I don't really care all that much about money above, but like everybody I have a threshold...

 

If you ski Mammoth and need a tune, I suggest Kittredge. Their somewhat arrogant attitude of years past seems to have been largely corrected, and their back-shop has always been well run. Footloose by contrast seems to have lost their way.  They still have the best boot fitter in town (Corty Lawrence, the only person I would trust to cram my 98 mm wide knobby feet into a 96 mm plug-ish boot) and one other fitter (Craig I think - Short-ish, wiry guy with somewhat high voice and dark, curly hair) who's as good as anybody at the other shops. Other than that they seem to have decided to coast on pure attitude and good reputation. I actually feel sorry for Corty at this point.

 

[*] An inlay patch is where you use a template to cut out a regularly shaped piece of base material, create a matching piece of new sintered P-Tex, and glue it in with Hysol epoxy. I have a hot-box, so I typically cure for 4 hours at 55C/130F and then scrape the repair down after cooling.

 

[**] Most shops require you to get the base-edges bevelled at the same time as stone-grinding, because the bevel keeps the edges off of the stone and thereby allows them to go longer between dressings of the grinding stone. This is entirely normal and reasonable, provided that they do a good job of it.

post #2 of 28

   Patrickchase--judging by those pictures it looks like you may have an isolated area of hardening where those divots are as well...which would be consistent with over-heating. I wonder if the next time you file if you might not have some problems with your file skipping over that spot...very common in new skis fresh from the factory...

 

   zenny

post #3 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by zentune View Post

   Patrickchase--judging by those pictures it looks like you may have an isolated area of hardening where those divots are as well...which would be consistent with over-heating. I wonder if the next time you file if you might not have some problems with your file skipping over that spot...very common in new skis fresh from the factory...

 

   zenny


Yep, I more or less took that as a given, which is why I worked the surrounding area with diamond files instead of risking a perfectly good chrome file on it.

 

I'm actually used to seeing and dealing with this sort of thing to a certain degree. I considered this instance particularly egregious both because it's rather severe (the divots are quite palpable if you run a finger along the edge and appear to be at least a couple tenths of an mm deep) and because of the amount of lip/attitude the shop staff gave me about the quality of their edge tunes compared to hand tuning.

 

The best part (which I omitted from my original post in the interests of brevity) was when I pointed out that ceramic disc edgers have control problems in the tip or tail. The saleskid replied with something to the effect of "unlike OTHER shops, we finish the tip and tail by hand to avoid that". Their results beg to differ...

post #4 of 28

did you talk with the manager?

post #5 of 28

   Yeah, that's sketchy for sure! I've also seen shop tunes which were supposed to be 1/3 end up being more like 1.5/2...with lot's of de-tuning for good measure. How far does that edge high go down the skis??

  The nearest shop where I live that does a quality grind is 7-8 hours away in Sun Valley--local shops tend to hack it up. In fact,  I took a chance one time and asked a local shop to flatten my GS boards...the results were less than stellar. So it's either drive 8 hours, or flatten them by hand. Labor intensive, to say the least! 

 

  zenny

post #6 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jzamp View Post

did you talk with the manager?


Not yet. I hadn't skied the Kendos in the 3 weeks since the tune and didn't find out they were hosed until I went to wax them the other night. I'll take it up with them when I get back up there for sure.

post #7 of 28

My experience with Footloose has been very positive. I have had my skis tuned at Kittridge before and prefer Footloose. My last full tune I had, my skis came back in like new condition. Obviously somebody goofed on your skis, but I think that was the exception not the rule. They guarantee the fit on all their boot sales, plus if you  only want to work with Corty you can make an appointment with him. Was just in Footloose Wednesday and Corty's son did a great job tweaking my Fischer Vacuum Boots.

post #8 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pud View Post

My experience with Footloose has been very positive. I have had my skis tuned at Kittridge before and prefer Footloose. My last full tune I had, my skis came back in like new condition. Obviously somebody goofed on your skis, but I think that was the exception not the rule. They guarantee the fit on all their boot sales, plus if you  only want to work with Corty you can make an appointment with him. Was just in Footloose Wednesday and Corty's son did a great job tweaking my Fischer Vacuum Boots.


Yeah, I'd had pretty good experiences up to this point. It was the combination of the arrogant/clueless saleskid followed by the bad tune that really got to me. Put another way, if you're going to simultaneously disparage your customers (the bit about how I'd ruin my skis if I did my own side edges) and brag about the superiority of your shop like that, then you're not going to get much margin for error in return. In this case the errors were egregious enough that I'd had objected even without the obnoxious behavior, but I probably wouldn't have been motivated to post the photographic evidence for all to see.

 

I'll probably give them a second shot at ski tuning at some point in the indeterminate future. As I clearly noted in my original post I've had nothing but good experiences with Corty and the boot shop in general.

post #9 of 28

Humm, I was under the impression that many modern skis have a slightly concave base near the tips and tails intentionally.  Several of my skis are. It helps them track straighter and be less squirrelly when not turning on edge.  I do agree that grinding or filing them totally flat would eat up a lot of edge and base material where it is needed most.  I'd leave them like that if I were you.

post #10 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post

Humm, I was under the impression that many modern skis have a slightly concave base near the tips and tails intentionally.  Several of my skis are. It helps them track straighter and be less squirrelly when not turning on edge.  I do agree that grinding or filing them totally flat would eat up a lot of edge and base material where it is needed most.  I'd leave them like that if I were you.


This doesn't sound right to me, since modern skis also tend to have tight sidecut radii and therefore rather divergent edges in the tips and tails (i.e. the left and right edges point at very different angles in the tip and tail). When such a ski edge-high it will tend to be more squirrelly, as it will pull in radically different directions as a result of fairly modest weight/angle shifts. In my experience deeper-sidecut skis are more sensitive to base flatness, not less.

 

I'll certainly take my Kendos out and ski them before trying to flatten out the tips, though. The Kendo is a relatively straight ski by current standards (~24m sidecut in 184) so it may be able to tolerate the flatness issue. If it were the newer tip-rockered Kendo then I wouldn't be concerned at all since the impacted part of the ski would be off the snow when running flat.

 

Thanks,

 

Patrick

post #11 of 28
post #12 of 28

    Well, it depends. If it's fully concaved  edge to edge--tip and tail (width)  then it's not a good thing,as  they will tend to be "hooky" and not want to "release".  Crgildart is correct in that most modern skis are this way (edge high, tip and tail), and that it is mainly due to the thinness of these areas combined with the curing process. And in many cases it will not be possible to bring them to completely flat. BTW, ever scope an Atomic Metron for flatness with a truebar, for instance??? eek.gif

   

   But,  if the concavity is confined to the middle 2/3rd's width wise, tip and tail (thereby having the base material flat 10-15 mm's near inside edge and outside edge), then that is in fact just fine--as long as it's tip and tail...not the whole ski. This can be achieved with a decent grind...

 

  Edit: I just realized that I parroted some of what Crgildat said...sorry!

   zenny

post #13 of 28
Thread Starter 

 

I would ordinarily agree with this point, but for 2 things:

 

1. The Kendo isn't a cap, and it doesn't have laterally non-uniform internal design features such as tubes. It's a very conventional vertically-laminated wood-core metal laminate. Those can be made VERY flat if the materials are good (especially the core) and if the moulding process is done properly (read: s-l-o-w-l-y, especially during cool-down before mould ejection/release). I've seen what you describe with Atomic cap skis in the past, and that is why my metal-laminate 210 SGs are the only Atomic ski I've bought in the past 15 years - Atomic's non-race-ski constructions are inherently prone to dish, and IMO their factory processes leave something to be desired. I've also seen dished bases and weird camber "kinks" where the ribs taper in and out in AC50s from Volkl's China factory, but their German-made and especially laminate stuff tends to be very flat.

 

2. I've had these skis for quite some time, and I checked them with a true bar and a bevel gauge when I first bought them. I recall being pleasantly surprised by the quality of the factory tune (consistent 1/3 bevels tip-to-tail, minimal detuning, good edge finish, flat bases, good intermediate-depth structure, etc). I honestly think these skis were flatter in the tips then than they are now. Of course skis do change shape over time and I don't recall the last time I checked the tips, so to be completely honest I can't absolutely rule out that they'd gone dished by the time I brought them in.

post #14 of 28

If you want something done right, do it yourself.

post #15 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post

If you want something done right, do it yourself.

......or, if it's not right, at least you didn't have to suffer the 'tude and then pay for the mess  wink.gif

post #16 of 28

I would love to have my very own Wintersteiger Race NC base grinding machine but I think that would be a bit of a stretch for me.  Hell, my wife thought I was nuts for purchasing a hot box, she'd have me committed if I tried to buy a base grinder....  :)

 

It would be great if I could do EVERYTHING myself but sometimes, unfortunately, it's just not practical.  :(

post #17 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by MoJo23 View Post

I would love to have my very own Wintersteiger Race NC base grinding machine but I think that would be a bit of a stretch for me.  Hell, my wife thought I was nuts for purchasing a hot box, she'd have me committed if I tried to buy a base grinder....  :)

   If only I could win the lottery I would have one!!!!  Just imagine the possibilities.......biggrin.gif

My wife already thinks I'm nuts. wink.gif

   

    zenny

post #18 of 28

I posted a photo of a stone grinder in the "show off your tuning set up" thread for a joke a couple years ago..

post #19 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post

I posted a photo of a stone grinder in the "show off your tuning set up" thread for a joke a couple years ago..

  Yeah, I saw that a while ago...biggrin.gif If I get around to it I'm gonna post some pics of my shop in that thread...

 

 z

post #20 of 28

Take it easy on the kid, it is not entirely his fault.  

 

I would guess that the ski was processed on a Trim 71, or Trim 91, or possibly on one of the robotic models by wintersteiger.  This type of damage is very common, even with new skis out of the factory.  The divots in the skis edge are caused by the incorrect adjustment of the disc application process.  It looks like it is adjusted to come in to fast, and with too much pressure.  The problem is that there are many different widths and sidecuts these days in skis, and unless you have pre-programmed edge finishing for every type of ski - aggressive cutting in will happen.  Adjusting the rate of the disc movement is usually not an easy task, this should be performed by the in-house machine expert-usually the shop manager/owner, or the factory field tech.  Some of the older disc machines weren't designed for skis with less than 35m sidecuts.  Although they still can process modern skis, you will notice more edge material removed at tip/tail by these machines.

 

Not all non-cap skis are flat.  Generally the wider the ski, the more prone to being railed or base high in the shovel/tail.  Go to a shop with a true bar and check some new skis for flatness - in particular SL race skis.  You'd be surprised at how many of them are not flat at tip/tail.

 

As far as owning your own stone grinder, many good compact grinders have become available on the market for pennies.  You just have to search and wait.  For home use, I find that the Fontaine machines are the ticket.  Stay away from grindrite stone grinders (belt grinders are ok).  The euro machines are excellent, but you will need 3 phase power.  VFD's have come down in price, and its now very economical to convert single phase in to three phase out in a residence.

 

 

New member of the family - single phase 220v, variable dress speed, variable stone speed, 320mm stone, consumables still available.

 

post #21 of 28
Sweet!^^
What brand is that?

Good info in this thread.
My take is unfortunately this is par for most shops but a double bogey at that shop. Really you should speak with the manager. The kid needs a little training at least to work on a high end shop.
This isn't just the ski industry, nor the young. Most people will give you all sorts of lines when they reallly should just say they don't know and not make up stuff.
post #22 of 28

Fontaine - made in USA  haha

 

 

Quote:
Most people will give you all sorts of lines when they reallly should just say they don't know and not make up stuff.

 

 

So true...

post #23 of 28
Go to the Start Haus!
post #24 of 28

I sympathize with the OP. I had a similar experience with bad tunes, at least I didn't get the attitude with it. I worked all season to get a pair of Ullr's Charriots flat and properly base beveled by hand. By the end of the season I had them skiing great. To start the new season I took all my skis to a shop my friend recommended. Price was good, by the tunes weren't. They used an old Winterstieger machine that puts a base bevel on by pushing the edge into a wide belt on a rubber roller. My Chariots skied like they had an inconsistant base radius not a bevel. Man I was not happy. l spent lots of time trying to fix things, and this year I will shell out lots more $$ to a shop that knows what it is doing.

post #25 of 28

To varying degrees this is a pretty common problem  Also had a very bad experience years ago with Granite Chief at Squaw.  To solve this problem I do the following:  No stone grinding by anyone or any shop.  Bought two #12 bastard files and do it all myself.   Do not take my good skis into bad terrain where I will need major base work.  Have a dedicated pair of rock skis for that purpose.

post #26 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by patrickjchase View Post

First, some background: I'm a (former) mechanical engineer with a moderate degree of shop training and some metrology background. I also have been tuning skis for a couple decades, and know how to get "mirror finish" tunes at desired angles when I care to spend the time. I had recently taken a core shot to my Volkl Kendos, and weld/gun/iron repairs weren't holding. I therefore fixed the core shot for good with an inlay patch [*], and having done so I wanted to get the bases re-ground both to make everything flat and to put structure on the patch material.

 

To accomplish this I went to a ski shop in Mammoth that I trusted (Footloose, which is widely recognized as a first-tier establishment) and asked for a 1-degree base bevel and a grind [**], but no side-edge work.

 

The 20-something saleskid who took my order proceeded to lecture me about how I would ruin my skis by doing my own side-edge work, and how much more accurate their ceramic disk edger was than any hand tool (actually false. The ceramic edger is more productive and cost-effective for a high-volume shop, but it registers to the ski base in exactly the same way as a high-quality bevel guide and isn't intrinsically more accurate. It all comes down to operator skill either way). I basically had 4 options at that point

 

1. Go somewhere else

 

2. Debate the intricacies of edge-tuning with a salesperson (NB: this typically falls into the "don't argue with a pig" category of life experiences)

 

3. Ask said salesperson why a tuning rock-star like him was working sales during skiing hours instead of the back-shop at night.

 

4. Give in and let them do what they wanted, reasoning that the worst that couple possibly happen is that I'd be out $10 extra and have to polish out the side-edges afterwards as I'd originally planned.

 

Being a lazy sort of fellow I couldn't muster the energy for 1-3, and money isn't high on my list of priorities, so I went with 4 and asked for a full tune, with no detuning and 1/3 base angles.

 

Upon retrieving my skis, I observed the following:

 

1. They had indeed ground the skis and had hit the requested 1/3 angles, to the best of my ability to tell with my SVST bevel gauge. This is both the start and end of the good news.

 

2. The side-edges were a bit "wavy" as though the ski had wandered slightly on the edger base, though this was minor and I was able to easily polish it out with a 120-grit diamond file.

 

3. The bases were concave through the shovels. These skis had been flat after their previous grind. Typically this happens when the tech operating the grinder works a bit too fast and lets things overheat. Picture of one ski below:

 

 

4. The ceramic edger had bored "through" the right shovels on both skis just forward of the contact points. Ceramic edgers reference to the ski base, so what this means is that the tech running the ceramic edger worked from tail to tip on the right sides of the skis (not unusual for a right-handed tech), and failed to disengage them before the base "rose away", thus causing the disc to bore through the edge. See pictures below. The smooth finish to either side of the "ceramic disc hole" was applied by me, using a 120-280-400-800 grit diamond sequence. The original finish was much more striated in addition to having waves as noted above.

 

 

 

The bottom line is that this shop tune didn't even deliver what I really needed (a simple, flat stone-grind), and they took a bunch of edge life away by botching a side-edge sharpening job that I didn't really want at all. I estimate that getting rid of the concavity will cost about 20% of the base life of the ski, and filing out the divots in the shovels will take about 10-15% off of the side edges. I basically payed them $50 to steal $120 or so of pro-rated ski life, so my "net" is about minus $170. I claimed that I don't really care all that much about money above, but like everybody I have a threshold...

 

If you ski Mammoth and need a tune, I suggest Kittredge. Their somewhat arrogant attitude of years past seems to have been largely corrected, and their back-shop has always been well run. Footloose by contrast seems to have lost their way.  They still have the best boot fitter in town (Corty Lawrence, the only person I would trust to cram my 98 mm wide knobby feet into a 96 mm plug-ish boot) and one other fitter (Craig I think - Short-ish, wiry guy with somewhat high voice and dark, curly hair) who's as good as anybody at the other shops. Other than that they seem to have decided to coast on pure attitude and good reputation. I actually feel sorry for Corty at this point.

 

[*] An inlay patch is where you use a template to cut out a regularly shaped piece of base material, create a matching piece of new sintered P-Tex, and glue it in with Hysol epoxy. I have a hot-box, so I typically cure for 4 hours at 55C/130F and then scrape the repair down after cooling.

 

[**] Most shops require you to get the base-edges bevelled at the same time as stone-grinding, because the bevel keeps the edges off of the stone and thereby allows them to go longer between dressings of the grinding stone. This is entirely normal and reasonable, provided that they do a good job of it.

What ski are you referring to?  Are they by chance Atomics?

post #27 of 28
post #28 of 28
OP, have you learned to do your own tunes from now on ? I have been doing mine and some demanding friends for the past 13/14 years, I have never had a bad tune since. I had a Atomic Rep buddy who brought me his skis after the shop he works at screwed them up. My Kendo's have about 80 -90 day's on them and still have the low spot in them. They still ski great. Never been to shop except for mounting. My AC40's still feel good after about 140 day's. Learn to do your own tunes, you'll be very happy you did. You don't need perfect bases, the edges are important and the wax in the bases.
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