actually this thread brings up an interesting slant on appearance and perception.
would you trust a 15 YO patroller to get you safely down the hill after an accident?
would you trust a 15 YO patroller skiing on equipment that is in some cases either at least as old as he is or older to get you safely down the hill after an accident?
would you trust a 30+ YO patroller to get you safely down the hill, knowing that they had just started skiing, but had successfully passed a course on first aid?
would you trust a 30+ YO experienced patroller to get you safely down the hill if they were skiing on 30 YO equipment?
i think the perception angle is interesting.
honestly, when i first read some of Ham's posts about being a patroller at 16 I was amazed. I was further amazed that he would consider patrolling on antiquated equipment.
I fully understand the money issue, but I would think that next to having a serious set of skills (i.e. being able to get down just about anything from a steep couloir to icy moguls with or without poles, dragging a sled, etc) one would want to have somewhat current gear for the job.
This isn't to say that some OG skiers wouldn't be able to rock ancient gear, but I would feel a lot better if a young patroller was helping me and he/she wasn't skiing on equipment that my dad had used back when he was on patrol in the 70s.
as several folks have pointed out, you can score relatively new bindings for well under $100. you can score some relatively new skis for about $100.
perhaps you and your buddy should consider taking a loan out from the folks to purchase relatively new equipment or look for supplemental jobs so you can save up and buy something that's a little more up-to-date.
when ski shops won't work on your stuff it's usually not because they're trying to sell you new stuff.
and believe me, i've been there (duct tape on gear, etc). using old hand-me down gear is okay to get started, but if you guys are serious about patrolling I'd really seriously consider scrapping together enough money to get some decent gear (boots, bindings, skis).
heck, if you guys are similar sizes you could even spring together for a set of boots, skis, and bindings and then swap!
best of luck regardless, but again i'd seriously consider looking into better gear than bindings that are well past their born-on date.