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irons - cost v durability

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I've gotten a little over 1 years' use out of a cheap Wintersteiger iron - like this: http://www.reliableracing.com/detail...&category=2200 . A lot of places carry it for a few dollars more or less and it seems like the same design shows up with a different brand name. I liked the design and portability, and it worked great -- until it didn't. Now its dead, won't power on (yes I tried it in different outlets) and I'm looking to replace it. It did bounce off the floor a few times several months ago but it continued to work fine, and I bought a little stand to hold it on the work bench so no more knocking it off the bench. Now I'm looking to replace it and would like to assume this was just a fluke and the next one will last more than a year.

On the other hand, if I can expect the cheapo irons to burn out like this after a year or two, I'd rather spend for more durability. Has anyone used the pricier irons on this page: http://www.reliableracing.com/catego...FACCESSO RIES
e.g., Swix "econowax" iron ($59), Toko wax iron ($79), or Swix "world cup" ($99) ?

This is just for consumer use - four skiers in the family but many pairs of skis in rotation (its a habit, not an addiction). So I'd assume the consumer model is fine but just wanted to check other people's experience.

PS -- bonus question: what is the clip for on the front of the Toko and Swix econo wax irons? Swix catalog blurb says its "for attaching Fiberlene paper when using the 'Fast Clean Iron Method'."
post #2 of 25
I have the Swix WC iron. Unfortunately it has been bounced off the floor a couple times, but without any issue. The higher priced irons usually have a thicker base plate which transfers heat more evenly (in theory) and usually have a smaller temperature swing as they heat and cool.

The clip is to hold Fiberlene (which is a paper like cloth which absorbs wax) Different techniques to using it, some like to clip it to the iron, some like to roll it onto the ski- it's made to pull wax and debris out of the base.

Like anything- spend as much money as you reasonably can to get the best product. Think of what paying for waxing would cost you for a season for a family of four and then it becomes a no brainer.
post #3 of 25
Durability comes down to one main issue---if you drop an iron when it is hot, chances are good it will croak. Hot elements are really brittle---ever knock over a lamp? Put it down some place secure (the floor?) after waxing.
post #4 of 25
Thread Starter 
Newfy - you're right of course; I got a rack that clamps onto the side of the bench. I have one of those portable swix tables which is a little narrow and unstable so the rack makes it much more secure. The weird thing though was it kept on working for many months and just decided yesterday to give out.
post #5 of 25
Forgot, after my iron hit the floor the second time I took it apart and put an eye hook sticking out the front of the iron. I now hang it from the ceiling using a bungee cord so its within reach, but impossible to knock off the bench. It also saves you from reaching around a hot iron. This works great if you have a workshop or basement. I will try to post a photo when I get home tonight.
post #6 of 25
I'd say forget the expensive ski irons and save your money. I have just been using an old steam/dry iron meant for clothes for years with no problem. It has a fairly thick base as well, so the heat is even. I keep the switch on dry, the thermostat on LOW, and the temp is just right.

You could probably pick up an old clothes iron at Value Village or a similar recycling store for $5, or a new one on sale at a big box outlet for $20.

I just put the hot iron on a small, raised, wire grille on the floor. Basic, and I have to bend over, but safe.
post #7 of 25
At my shop we use a Dakine iron, just the basic consumer model that we pulled right off the floor. It's been through hundreds of hours of waxing by now, and hasn't had the most gentle life. I'm pretty sure it retails for less then $50, I would have to double check that though.

For me personally, I have a $2.50 'Travel' Iron from Value Village, it's got a flat base (no holes) basic temperature control, and seems to heat fairly evenly. I don't use it often(just take the skis to the shop) anymore, but it works in a pinch.
post #8 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thanks folks - sticking with el cheapo, if it's good enough for the shop then I assume I just had some bad luck and with better care a new one should last longer.
post #9 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by empressdiver View Post
I'd say forget the expensive ski irons and save your money. I have just been using an old steam/dry iron meant for clothes for years with no problem. It has a fairly thick base as well, so the heat is even. I keep the switch on dry, the thermostat on LOW, and the temp is just right.

You could probably pick up an old clothes iron at Value Village or a similar recycling store for $5, or a new one on sale at a big box outlet for $20.

I just put the hot iron on a small, raised, wire grille on the floor. Basic, and I have to bend over, but safe.
The problem with clothes irons are the holes, which tend to accumulate wax and overheat it. If you're not waxing a lot, fine. If you are a ski iron is the way to go.
post #10 of 25
The other problem with clothes irons is way, way too much power in general. My cheap clothes iron is 1.2KW, my econo Swix I've had for 10 years is 400W. With the cheapo temperature controls irons use that means the clothes iron is going to be less stable.
post #11 of 25
Like any nice tool (and your gear), if you take care of it, it'll take care of you. The arced base plates of smaller and lighter waxing irons direct the wax to the center versus flowing out he edges using clothes irons and makes hot waxing easier and quicker with less waste.

Having said that, you can get the job done with a clothes iron and filling the holes with JB Weld or covering the base with thick foil is an option. Beveling or rounding the edges with a grinder or file might be worth doing as well.

FWIW, here's a shot of a waxing iron & clothes iron base side by side:

post #12 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by SJB View Post
The higher priced irons usually have a thicker base plate which transfers heat more evenly (in theory) and usually have a smaller temperature swing as they heat and cool.
There are cheaper ones with thin plates but the lower priced irons I sell have the same wattage and base plate thickness as the higher priced irons.
post #13 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doctor D View Post
There are cheaper ones with thin plates but the lower priced irons I sell have the same wattage and base plate thickness as the higher priced irons.
And that is exactly what I ordered, and you already have shipped! Thanks Doc for the quick turnaround.
post #14 of 25
When I finish waxing with my steam/dry clothes iron, I put it down resting horizontally on a wire grille on the floor. So that is probably why the wax never clogs up the steam holes in my iron.

My old iron will use 1100 watts at maximum heat, but I keep the control on LOW, and the temp is just right - its below the temp at which the wax would start to smoke.

I try to use the minimum amount of wax necessary to get the job done, so this method also has the benefit of avoiding large amounts of wax dripping over the sides of the ski.

Bevelling the edges of a clothes iron is an interesting idea, but so far I haven't really had a problem spreading the wax. I just start by touching the wax bar to the iron to drip the wax along the ski. Then I go back over it remelting the drops and spreading it with the iron.

Normally, I do ongoing wax jobs on about three pairs of skis, so for this volume my old iron works just fine.
post #15 of 25
I've had the same iron for at least 20 years - an ancient pre-steam (no holes) clothes iron I found in my Grandma's basement. It weighs about ten pounds and works great.
post #16 of 25
How hot does the wax need to be? i got this idea from my other hobby (rc airplanes) this is an iron we use on planes i wonder how it would do on waxing skies full temp control from 100 to 350 degrees umm i don't think drooping them would break them as im pretty rough with mine and its still going strong... it has a semi beveled edge and no holes on the bottom plate....

You think it would work?? http://www3.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin...?&I=LXL499&P=7

(13$)

Steven
post #17 of 25
Depends on how much time & effort you want to spend, the grade of the wax, whether it is high melt or not and the heat capacity & wattage of the iron. ie:

Quote:
We recommend the following iron temperatures to melt Maplus ski or snowboard waxes:
-120°C (248°F): Universal;
-130°C (266°F): (Soft – Soft Graphite)Racing Base, (P1-P2-P3) Hot;
-140°C (284°F): (P1-P2-P3) Med;
-150°C (302°F): (P1-P2-P3) Cold;
-160°C (320°F): (Hard – Hard Graphite)Racing Base, P4.
If used improperly, the waxing iron can damage the ski or snowboard construction.
post #18 of 25
The wax needs to be hot enough to melt, but not so hot that it starts to smoke. I think the working range is about 225-275F.

The handle seems quite long in relation to the length of the heating area. For convenience, the heating area should be long enough to melt the wax for the full width of the ski in one pass. If its not, it will still work, but it will take more passes.
post #19 of 25
FWIW, I forgot mention I have an old clothes/waxing iron just sitting around taking up space. The $5 plus $6 shipping covers the real shipping charge....

An easy way to hang an iron under a bench or shelf is to use a garage hook.

I like the overhead idea, maybe with a piece of shock cord as a safety on a hook above.
post #20 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by empressdiver View Post
The wax needs to be hot enough to melt, but not so hot that it starts to smoke. I think the working range is about 225-275F.

The handle seems quite long in relation to the length of the heating area. For convenience, the heating area should be long enough to melt the wax for the full width of the ski in one pass. If its not, it will still work, but it will take more passes.
For those that have no numbers on their iron, or can't remember numbers, or can't be bothered remembering numbers (me actually) you can follow this rule of that is on our ski and snowboard tuning tips list.

If your iron isn't calibrated, what you dial in may not be the exact temperature of the iron. Use these numbers as a guide and adjust down to the lowest temperature that will maintain the wax in a liquid state at a length of 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) behind your iron. Using your judgement is always preferred to relying on the dial setting.

So, if the trail of wet wax is too long, you are too hot, too short and the iron is not hot enough. You never need to know the temperature.

I learned this trick from Willi Wiltz in a Wintersteiger World Cup Tuning Class.
post #21 of 25
I'll take the other route here. I have the Swix digital iron which is the top of the line iron they make. I picked it up at a shop on sale for $150. You enter in the temp you want and it then displays the actual temperature. I have had a couple of less expensive irons prior to this, but they did not heat up as quickly and they did not maintain a constant temperature. I have a lot of tuning equipment since I do this part time, but since I bought this iron, I've never looked back. Also temp changes for various waxes are very quick. I also made sure that I bought the iron holder that it sounds like you have since I dropped previous irons on the floor. At the price, this iron needs a holder. The first few times I used it, I couldn't believe that I had used anything else. It's that good!
post #22 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by quickk9 View Post
I'll take the other route here. I have the Swix digital iron which is the top of the line iron they make. I picked it up at a shop on sale for $150. You enter in the temp you want and it then displays the actual temperature. I have had a couple of less expensive irons prior to this, but they did not heat up as quickly and they did not maintain a constant temperature. I have a lot of tuning equipment since I do this part time, but since I bought this iron, I've never looked back. Also temp changes for various waxes are very quick. I also made sure that I bought the iron holder that it sounds like you have since I dropped previous irons on the floor. At the price, this iron needs a holder. The first few times I used it, I couldn't believe that I had used anything else. It's that good!
at that price, the holder should be made of at least 14 karat gold!
post #23 of 25
I got an old iron cheap at a charity shop. I plugged the 3 holes in the base with grub screws (recessed well below the base). To avoid overheating I fiddled with the temperature control while I measured the base temperature with a thermocouple( School science teacher, so lab equipment no problem), checked it by ironing a couple of beater skis & epoxied a nut onto the control so I can't over crank it. It seems to have done the job over the last 3 years. Total Cost $8 plus about 4 hours of my labor which at $20 means it would have been cheaper to buy a proper one. Ahh but then I wouldn't have had the satisfaction factor !
post #24 of 25
I have the Swix WC Iron and have been very happy with it for the two years I have used it. I used a regular clothes iron before (no holes), but I like the swix much better, temp control etc. I put my iron toward the back of my bench on an old piece of scrap granite. My bench has a back so the iron never gets knocked off.
post #25 of 25
I got my iron so long ago I forgot where. It has no steam holes. Settings are "off ray silk wool cot and lin" There's a notch between "ray" and "silk" that is at the right temperature. It says General Electric on the top and on the bottom it says
"CAUTION USE WITH WALL OUTLET ONLY
CAT. NO. F80-1000W-115 V AC ONLY
CANADIAN GENERAL ELECTRIC CO LTD
TORONTO CANADA
PAT.1928-29 OTHER PATENTS PENDING CSA APP. NO.8044
MADE IN CANADA 15 01"
It's been going strong for decades.
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