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Preparing new skis for use

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
I remember seeing quite a bit of discussion on this forum about tuning and waxing your skis, but doing a search, I couldn't find anything specific about preparing a brand new pair (last year's model, still in plastic) for use.

The reason I ask is because I just bought this pair for my kid, and the manager of the store swore up and down that nowdays you don't need to do any base preparation at all - you just mount the bindings on them and go.

He claimed that the new bases were completely "impregnated with wax".

I ran my finger over the bases, and there was no hint of a smear or smudge through a thin layer of wax, so as far as I could tell, there wasn't even any shipping wax on these, and the bases were starting to get patches and streaks of grey oxidation.

I asked if, as part of the included price, they were going to put a straight edge on them, check the bevels, fix anything that was needed, and then wax them.

He claimed that even if I offered to pay, there was absolutely no need to do these things and that his head tech would scold him if he took an order to do so. He further went on to say that the head tech was a former tech on the WC circuit.

He claimed that he had about 40 hours of training per season from the manufacturers on how to prepare skis for sale.

I think he was either blowing smoke or else his boss is telling him to push products out the door with as little extra effort as possible.

What do the experts here say? As I may send this thread to the GM of the store, could I ask people to state their qualifications. Unless I'm way off base, I'm probably not going back to this place after I pick up the skis.

Thanks folks,

FMS

PS - I did get a very good deal, and have been waxing my own skis for years, so it's no big deal that they are not doing it. I almost rather that than take off a half a mm of base by giving them an unneeded base grind. On my 2nd visit to look at these skis, I came equipped with a straight edge, and they looked flat.
post #2 of 38
All I can tell you is that some race skis need a TON of work before you can ski them. I've heard that the volkl race stock skis need a lot of edge work and a lot of structuring and waxing before they are ready to hit the snow. I'm not sure how old your "kid" is, but if he is on junior skis and isnt racing I really wouldn't worry about it too much. But if he is in his teens and the skis are adult skis, they could probably use a little prep. If they are full on race skis, then they need some love and attention.

If you are really concerned about it, it wouldn't hurt to wax 'em a few times and maybe check out the edges to see how they look. You obviously won't be hurting the skis at all.

edit: there is an article on this page: http://tognar.com/volkl.html that talks about how to treat new skis. I can't find it right now, but I know it's in there somewhere. It's probably worth digging through all the pages to find it....
post #3 of 38
I'd give them a good waxing before hitting the slopes. Thats what I've always done. I may not have had to, but what can it hurt?

duke
post #4 of 38
PM Ski Doc as he could give you some answers to your questions.

I know he has told me that bases do not oxidize, they become burnt from abrasion. I am not sure why a brand new ski would have grey sections on the base.

I have never been to a shop that preps the ski out of the wrapper. They just mount them and then they go out the door. Most good shops will tell you to ski on it out of wrapper and see what you think before they tune it unecessarily.

I would at least wax the new skis since you already know how to do it.
post #5 of 38
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dipstik
I'm not sure how old your "kid" is, but if he is on junior skis and isnt racing I really wouldn't worry about it too much. But if he is in his teens and the skis are adult skis, they could probably use a little prep.
Sorry - 14 y.o., on adult skis, is technically good and is always placed in the top level adult group lesson that's going out, usually a 7 or 8, but doesn't race or like to go blazingly fast. Has been asked to join the local racing team and become a "junior instructor".

FMS
post #6 of 38
We prep every new pair that goes out the door with atleast a hand hot wax. The stuff the factory puts on is junk and does not penetrate into the base. As stated above real race room skis need alot work before they are skied. Sounds to me like the shop is just rushing through things and the tech is not a a WC tech. The skis should at least be checked for flatness and waxed.
post #7 of 38
I read this when I got my Lunars... (Fischer Website)

Quote:
How do I prep my new Fischer skis?

You hardly need to. Fischer skis are made from the most state-of-the-art ski machinery in the world. Fischer has just recently completed a multi-million dollar upgrade to their finishing equipment in a room larger than two football fields. The skis come from the factory with the appropriate base (0.5-1.0) and side (2.5-3.0) bevels, and a coat of universal wax, as well as a new structuring technique known as base embossing to ensure a consistent base pattern per ski category. For optimum performance, you may wish to apply the exact temperature wax needed for the skiing conditions before you take them onto the slopes.
Race skis, of course, are an entirely different beast...

-T
post #8 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by FamilyManSkier
Sorry - 14 y.o., on adult skis, is technically good and is always placed in the top level adult group lesson that's going out, usually a 7 or 8, but doesn't race or like to go blazingly fast. Has been asked to join the local racing team and become a "junior instructor".

FMS

I suppose it wouldn't hurt to throw a few layers of wax on the skis then. Probably a good idea to start him off waxing/tuning on a new pair of skis so he can see/understand the effects of regular maitenance over a long period of time.
post #9 of 38
FMS,

New adult skis come edge prepped from the factory.

Are they right on the money? Probably not.

However, I'm sure they are adequately tuned so that your son or daughter will thoroughly enjoy them.

BTW, please tell me the name of the World Cup Tec working in your shop. It seems so many people throw that credential around a bit much these days.

Skidoc www.precisiontuningcenter.com/ptc.php?page=ptc

Wax is not the major difference between someone loving or hating their skis or becoming a better skier.

It's main function is as a protectant from the onset of base abrasion.

If your ski has an extruded base, you can wax it until you're blue in the face, as it will still abraid. Extrudued bases do not absorb wax.

Go to www.alpineskituning.com and look for the Wax Wizard. It's new school waxing that truly works. I have thoroughly tested this product in many real world situations.

You won't be disappointed.

Skidoc
post #10 of 38
A close friend of mine worked for years at Option (snowboards, but similar nonetheless) - they do apply a wax, but he would always re-wax whenever he took a board out - he believed factory waxes to be pretty cheap, and not nearly as good as you might do yourself at home...

From that, I've always waxed skiis once purchased...
post #11 of 38
I agree that the wax wizard works much better then a cork.

I started using it last year when Mike had Summit Ski & Snowboard carry them.
post #12 of 38
"I have never been to a shop that preps the ski out of the wrapper"
unbelievable! then you have never been to a good shop.
on a side note i see elan has a sticker on their race skis this year stating " not to be skied without tuning"
post #13 of 38
Well I guess if they have I didn't notice.

What do the shops do to prep it?

If all they do is wax it then it is no big deal either way.

I doubt a shop is going to grind a brand new ski for free.
post #14 of 38
Thread Starter 
I guess I would expect any decent shop to at least check every pair of skis with a straight edge before selling them, and then spend the 2 min it takes to run them through/over their little "hot wax" roller widget, especially in pre-season like this when there aren't exactly crowds lined up for ski tuning.

What bothered me about this store is that the guy acted like I had never seen a waxed and scraped base before. These things were dry as a bone, yet he insisted that they were "totally impregnated with wax".

Also, he acted like there was no way that bases could ever be anything but perfectly flat, and I know from my own experience that skis sometimes come from the factory with a slight bit of rail or, the opposite, outward bow, when they come from the factory. If they were flawed, I guess I wasn't really expecting them to run them through the grinder for nothing, just tell me and let me pick another pair off the rack. It seems like nothing more than Customer Satisfaction 101.

I got the distinct feeling that this 25 y.o. kid thought he could say just about anything to John Q Public and not only get away with it, but lord it over the customer. I'll try to find out who their "WC experienced" tech is.

Thanks,

FMS
post #15 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by FamilyManSkier
I guess I would expect any decent shop to at least check every pair of skis with a straight edge before selling them, and then spend the 2 min it takes to run them through/over their little "hot wax" roller widget, especially in pre-season like this when there aren't exactly crowds lined up for ski tuning.
FMS
I'm a little anal about these things. However, assuming the base is flat* and the edges properly beveled, then I would use a soft wax like Swix CH 10 or their special Base Prep Wax, wax, hot scape and brush (repeat process at least 2x). This will remove the factory wax and any contaminents.

Follow with a hard wax like Swix CH4 or CH6 and scape and brush. Then add Swix CH3 along the edges of the ski base to protect against base burn and apply the wax appropriate for the conditions you will ski on scape and brush.

You can subsitute Ch (hydrocarbon) for low flouro, high flouro etc. depending on conditions, whether racing or how much $ you are willing to spend. Or you can buy the Swix wax manual (Toko has one too) which covers new ski base prep and more.

The little "hot roller machines" you mentioned are more cosmetic than of any real help. The wax is quickly gone after a few runs.

* How flat at tips and tail a ski should be is a subject of some discussion. You can find a lot of threads here on the subject and pick the conclusion that seems best to you.
post #16 of 38
What I will do is if the ski is in bad shape from the factory is to give it a full tune and charge it to the ski company. The way I see it they need to make the ski right in the first place, why should the customer pay for this. Sounds like the Familyman should find another shop.
post #17 of 38
Perhaps things have changed in the last few years, but the explanation for new ski tune that I have heard/read many times is this: the ski factories do a final prep on the ski before the ski has "cured". As the glues used cure, the base will change shape, often shrinking in spots, leaving the ski railed in spots.

Skidoc and others in the industry: is this still the case? In previous decades I would always flat file my new skis and would usually find them edge high. LewBob
post #18 of 38
1) Hot Wax it (rub on's whether they're applied w/ a cork, panty hose, Ray's thingy, whatever, do not last more than a few runs and are absolutely not a recommended way to prep the ski base.

2). Make sure they're flat - no brainer

3). Check the base bevel - I have seen radical base bevels from production skis fresh off the line - if the factory isn't callibrating their machines it's hard to say what the ski will show up with.

4). Sharpen the side as you see fit.
post #19 of 38
I have noticed that some companys skis seem to be in better shape than others when new. What LewBob said above may the cause in some cases. I still check new skis before they go out the door, it's a small step that just makes sure my customers will be as satisfied as possible.
post #20 of 38
My Kastles came with a sticky foil protecting the base and a note that they had been prepped at the factory. I peeled the plastic off , checked the bevels which were good to go, and went skiing. They were great.
Maybe the company spent too much money delivering slope-ready skis; they went under.
post #21 of 38

Factory Tune

I don't know about messing w/ a new ski just because you can. Every time I have gotten a new Volkl or Atomic I felt the best tune was out of the wrapper.

Not that a susequent tune didn't help, but that the Factory Tune had never been equaled.

Especially w/ Volkl skis.
post #22 of 38
2 years ago I purchase a pair of race stock Stockli's from a racing intructor, and he said they'd last longer if you apply 7 layers of wax before they first go out. By this I think he meant apply 1 layer, scrape bag, and apply a second layers scrape back, etc, so that it all gets compeltely absorbed into the ski.

I don't race, just love the feel of these skis. I didn't bother adding anymore wax to the ski's just left them as they were, and I can't see anything wrong with them so far.
post #23 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gotama
I don't know about messing w/ a new ski just because you can. Every time I have gotten a new Volkl or Atomic I felt the best tune was out of the wrapper.

Not that a susequent tune didn't help, but that the Factory Tune had never been equaled.

Especially w/ Volkl skis.
Some companys are much better at quality control than others, still you should wax them when they are new, the factory wax is just rolled on.
post #24 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by BootDude
I have noticed that some companys skis seem to be in better shape than others when new. What LewBob said above may the cause in some cases. I still check new skis before they go out the door, it's a small step that just makes sure my customers will be as satisfied as possible.
I like this philosophy.

What do you do about the cheapie kids skis that are perma-railed? Just send em? Or spend boatloads of time flattening them?
post #25 of 38
our shop does'nt sell the really low end stuff, the cheapest skis that we sell are the Elan whisper 4 and Volkl 320, they are pretty flat out of the box. If we get junkers in for a tune we do the best we can and tell the customer up front that the skis may come out perfect, most times those people don't care anyway.
post #26 of 38
A good ski shop will at least hot wax a new pair of skis. Never heard of a shop that did any grinding on new skis. The factory wax job is often not that good. While factory base prep and tuning have improved in recent years I have found that some skis need base work and I generally inspect and then hand tune the skis and give them good hot waxing.

Someone mentioned that Volkls and Atomics come with good factory tunes and that has been the case for many years. However, I have noticed that more Volkls need some work than was the case in the past.

If your kid is not an elite racer I would inspect the base, edges and bevels and tune if necessary. Of course, hot wax them. Even a recreational skier benefits from properly tuned skis. Anyone who has skied with high edges can attest to their unruly behavior. In short, a few minutes of inspection and tuning is a worthwhile investment for an enjoyable ski experience for anyone.
post #27 of 38

New Skis

Gotama say what!

Factory tune never equaled!

Ouch that hurts!

So anyway. as I have said in previous threads, factory concavity is rarely going to stand in the way of performance.
In fact to this day I don't remember it ever being a problem. Often times what one see's and what one feels out there on the snow, often times diverge.

In fact, skis I prepared for Hilary Lindh that won the World Cup opener at Vail in 95' were concave. Those skis went on to lead the World Cup standings in DH throughout half of the 95-96 season.
They stopped working when I realized I had over-waxed and brushed these skis, which successfully limited thier range of use.
In Saalbach, Hilary was 13th and the coaches wanted answers. Did I mention the word stress?
Fortunately Hilary landed squarely in 2nd place in the WC DH standings just behind Picabo on a different pair of skis, but with the same structure.. But the US women had the best season ever by beating the Austrians and of course German wunderkind Katja Seizinger.
It was an amazing thing to be a part of.

The Bottom Line? I stopped beating the piss out of fragile base material with excessive heat and brushing. More is not better.

The point is, (sorry for the tangent) that a concave base resulting from construction, curing, or hardening out, is generally not going to keep your skis from functioning well.
It is the 4 edges, and it is the rarest of occasions you find a pair of skis between .5-1.0 degree base. Finding a 2-3 degree side is fairly common. Unless of course it's a Rossi which you'll be hard pressed to find anything above .5 on the side.

However, a base edge residing at no more than 2 degree out of the wrapper will still be just about decent enough to let the average skier enjoy their new skis.
Waxing is not the key to unleashing overall performance. But it is critical for protecting the bases from the onset of abrasion. Trust me, it will come, as it's just a matter of how quickly.
Ironing wax on to concave bases is not good. The majority of heat comes into the edges and will eventually lead to base delamination, particularly in non-epoxy skis. Atomics are famous for this. Trying to get that wax to completely melt on the base will always do more harm than good.
One must use good ironing technique and a great deal of wax to cushion that hot piece of metal from a plastic base.
I don't care what anyone says, a hot piece of metal applied to a piece of plastic is a precarious situation that most people don't realize. Over time one will compromise the bases longevity, versatility, and the bases ability to actually absorb the wax one so desperately thinks a ski needs to function in the first place.

If one wants to spend time being concerned about insuring proper performance, then spend it thinking about edge angles and their effect on your quality of life out there on the hill!
I always believe that if one is going to commit a given amount of time to doing something, it's better to fill that time doing the right things, as opposed to things that generally have little effect on procuring the desired result. It was precisely this philosophy I developed on the World Cup. Time is extremely valuable and one must use it wisely if your trying to, well.....win.

Get a Wax Wizard, a good tru bar, and a diamond stone. When you've identified that your edges are above 1 degree, find someone who can accurately recreate a one degree tolerance so all you have to do is maintain it.

Do it yourselfers get a good base grind, and base file guide and do the best you can. No amount of blah blah that I can provide with proper filing technique will substitute for experience, and good old dexterity. 10 different people who think they're awesome with hand tools normally will yield 10 different results using the same tool.

Unfortunately it is proven that proper disc finishing is far superior to hand filing on the base edge. It is this type of finish that will always yield maximum lateral movement with optimal edge response.
I just wish the factories would do it consistently correct, instead of consistently incorrect. This way everyones expectations of their skis' performance would be substantially raised, resulting in no place for bad ski service to hide. That would be a good thing. Many shops unwillingness to comply with proper tuning for todays technology seems to be a major issue in this forum. I still don't know why this occurs to such a large extent, and it's what prompted me to leave Volkl to try and set a new standard in ski service. I say bravo to those who are trying to move in this direction and just how lucky your customers are!. Do everything you can to make them realize it. To those who are not, all I can say is that if you really think about it, it's just as easy to do the right thing as it is to do the wrong thing.

Guess what? When people buy skis these days, they keep them for a VERY long time. What impact might that have on the ski service industry? Soon the "backshop" is going to be moving closer to the "front" than ever before.
Do car dealerships survive on selling cars or servicing them?

BTW, there is no such thing these days as "high end tuning," it is actually called "proper tuning." Unfortunately it's a rarity.

Did I rant? Sorry, if i did.

Skidoc
post #28 of 38
skidoc,

Thanks for the interesting post. I'll be a lot more careful with my iron from now on. I'm just barely able to sharpen a knife, I wouldn't try to sharpen my skis.

BTW, When I bought my kastles many years ago, shops were bragging about their new expensive tuning machines. Now that I'm looking at new skis, I haven't noticed any such thing.
post #29 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost
I'll be a lot more careful with my iron from now on. I'm just barely able to sharpen a knife, I wouldn't try to sharpen my skis.
Ghost, ironing properly without burning is alot harder then maintaining a good edge tune. Where do you live? Try to find a good ski tuner that will gives you a hands on demo of how to tune a ski. It makes a big difference.

I know Mike is giving some tuning demos this year at Summit Board & Ski http://www.summitskishop.com/eventli...e=Event%20List

I wouldn't try to sharpen some of my $600 a set Wustof knives but I do tune my $1000 Atomics.

I would crayon wax on the base first, drip 2-3 lines of wax up and down, and make like 3-4 passes fast passes and still slightly burn the base.

I took my crappy $35 wax iron to Mike to watch him hotwax a ski.

He took a truebar to my iron and the stupid thing was concave. Just a small problem like that will put too much heat on the edges and not allow a proper hot waxing. Mike ran it over a belt sander and now the iron is slightly convex which will make it work better.

In the past I have used both methods of using the wax wizard and hot waxing every once in a while, but this year I am going to iron less.
post #30 of 38
I, too, have found that a slightly convex wax iron works best.

I don't know that I'd agree that edges are easier than waxing. Perhaps simpler...but the fine motor skills required are greater.

Disc edgers are great, but are not impervious to user error. This is why choosing your tuneguy/gal is important.
-Garrett
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