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Sludge Skiing

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Just had my last ski day of the year. Skiing at crystal mountain (Crystal Mt. in Michigan, that is) on a 60 degree wamt day, I noticed that there were pleanty of spots where the snow was extremely slow, almost grabby adn yellow orange in color. When the color is really thick, I can almost detecta faint odor of oil, but I figured skiing is skiing and kept turning all day enjoying the comfort of T-shirt skiing. towards the end of the day, I realized on the flats, I was extremely slow, but just chocked that up to the wet state of the snow, that is until I got home and discovered black, oily sludge STUCK to the bottom of my skis!!! : Imagine my dismay of finding my beautiful atomics literally coated in the junk. It is as thick as a conservative hotwax, before scraping and unfortunatly on the ride home, it attracted every article of lint and fuzz in my car. Does anyoen knopw what it is? I theorize it is either leaked hydraulic fluid from the groomers, or lubricant from the snow making machines that is now concentrated due to the fact that most of the snow has melted, leaving this thick sludge sitting on top of the slush snow that reamains. Also, has anyone any thoughts on how o remove it? I am considering scraping as much off as I can, and then using a light colored wax and hotwaxing immedialty followed by a hot scrape, repeated until the wax comes off clean. Any thoughts/suggestions are appreciated, thanx.
post #2 of 20
I would start by removing the oil / grease with a weak sovlent, such as Rubbing Alcohol which won't hurt your skiis.
post #3 of 20
Get some citrus based degreaser or "Simple Green" and remove the sludge and base wax using a well saturated rag first and then one of those green "scotch brite" pads. Then do the hot wax and scrape routine you mentioned. Base wax is parrafin based and will absorb the oil from the sludge and change the wax properties. This isn't so bad you'll be OK.

Your hydraulic oil leak is probably right.

Good Luck.
post #4 of 20
For what it's worth, I found exactly the same phenomenon at Bittersweet, early in the season when it was colder than bejesus and snowing hard. I assumed it was oil dripping from lift rollers, since I found it mostly under the cables, but I don't know for sure.

I didn't hit it badly enough to have to clean anything afterward, though - it just made skiing more exciting for me.
post #5 of 20
Tree pitch? like what you get on your car when you park under a tree?
post #6 of 20
Citrus based cleaners are the best for cleaning your bases but be sure you get the real thing. There are many citrus cleaners that are actually mineral oil with citrus scent added. Mineral oil is horrible for your bases.
post #7 of 20
Talisman has the answer for the sludge. Be SURE you do the hotwax/scrape part, though. And if you're hanging 'em up for the season, rub some wax on the sides of the edges too. Helps prevent rust.

The black gunk is a combination of mostly air pollution and stuff in the water that snow crystals form around. You can get the same stuff on your skis at areas that never made snow.
post #8 of 20
>...Mineral oil is horrible for your bases...

What's the story? I hadn't heard that.

Tom / PM
post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanx all, I think I will definatly go with the citrus cleaner and then the hotwax/scrape routine.
post #10 of 20
The more things change the more they stay the same. Got the exact same gook 30 years ago at Crystal Mountain. It is the oil used in the compressors that drive the snowmakers. As you suspected when it gets warm and the snow melts two things happen. The oil is thinner and the snow has a lot of water content so the oil "floats" to the top ready to coat your skis and your clothing. Luckily on that day I was wearing just a pair of jeans.
post #11 of 20
Originally posted by PhysicsMan:
>...Mineral oil is horrible for your bases...

What's the story? I hadn't heard that.

Tom / PM
I'm not exactly sure what the real story is here. All I know is my most fanatic racing friends say don't use anything but citrus cleaner. They claim the petroleum cleaners 'dry' the base. I've had the 'drying' explained as everything from oxygenating the P-Tex to cleaning the wax out of the pores thus making it harder for wax to adhere to the P-Tex. To avoid 'drying' their preferred method of cleaning is wax & scrape but when they have to clean to do a repair they use citrus based solvents.
post #12 of 20
Weird. My place closed a week ago with 60's temps and while the snow was sludgy, I didn't experience any of this! Does it depend on the type of snowmaker?
post #13 of 20
> ...I've had the 'drying' explained as everything from
> oxygenating the P-Tex to cleaning the wax out of the
> pores thus making it harder for wax to adhere to the P-Tex.

Ahh. Those explanations sound pretty reasonable to me. They all sound like they're based on a presumption that mineral oil does a better job of removing every last bit of wax from the pores than the citrus cleaners.

The "oxygenating" that he is talking about is certainly not any sort of direct oxidation by the mineral oil, but just the mineral oil dissolving and washing out all the wax in the microscopic pores in the P-Tex, thus leaving a high surface area of P-tex exposed to atmospheric O2 and prone to oxidation.

On a related topic, just a few weeks ago, I started using applying a light coat of vaseline with my fingers as an easy-to-apply material to protect my edges from surface rusting when I leave a bunch of skis up in my car top ski box from one weekend to the next. I only have a month or so of experience doing this, but as far as I can tell, it looks like any sloppily applied vaseline that extends beyond the metal edge onto the P-tex may indeed dissolve a bit of the wax, but certainly not all of it. In addition, since vaseline doesn't flow freely like mineral oil, it seems to redistribute the wax rather than removing it. Not being a racer, re-distributing it on the ski is of little consequence to me. Anyway, have you heard anything negative about long term use of vaseline (ie, similar to the mineral oil comment)?


Tom / PM

[ March 17, 2003, 11:29 PM: Message edited by: PhysicsMan ]
post #14 of 20
When people refer to 'dry bases' it actually means lack of wax which gives the bases a whitish or 'dry' appearance. P-tex is full of plasticizers which take a long time to oxidize. Compressor oil, hydraulic oil and vaseline aren't good for the base wax on your skis or snowboards.

Wether or not to lightly coat the edges of your skis with vaseline to prevent rust is a personal decision. Rust isn't good for the edges, but can be prevented by wiping the skis down with a towl and keeping them in a dry place. If you must keep them in a ski box all week, I'd wipe them down with a towl and rub wax on the edges in lieu of the vaseline.

Waxing skis is easy to do yourself, cheap and preserves the bases from the abrasive effects of snow and ice. Most people are suprosed how easy it is to wax skis when shown for the first time and if you have minor wood working skills, a jig to hold skis can be fabricated in about 35 minutes.
post #15 of 20
HEHE, just posted this same thing on another forum. Excuse some of the language, different forum, different attitude...



post #16 of 20
Spring time and warm temps also cause tree sap to start running. I find at our resort, there are several tree lined runs that tend to get "sticky" cleaning the bases after a day of teaching under the trees smells like pine tar or pine sap.

I usually use orange or citrus cleaners to remove these residues before a hot wax scraping.
post #17 of 20
Talisman:> ...If you must keep them in a ski box all week...

You're right, I don't "have to" keep them up there, but it sure saves time when I am packing up for myself and the family, want a couple of different pair along for myself and kid, she wants her snowboard, etc.. I love using the box as my "locker on wheels".

>...I'd wipe them down with a towl and rub wax on the edges in lieu of the vaseline...

Not only do I wipe them dry after skiing, on the way home, I usually put the skis that we used that day inside the car where it is warm and any residual snow will melt instead of immediately putting them back up in the ski box where the resulting wetness will get on other skis. When I get home, I wipe them again with a dry rag, put the vaseline on and then put them back in the box.

For years, I used the method of rubbing wax on them (usually, the white, "universal" stuff), but it doesn't seem to go on uniformly, and doesn't do as good a job as the vaseline at preventing surface rust when they are in the ski box. That's precisely why I switched over to trying vaseline.

>...Waxing skis is easy to do...

Yup, and this definitely stops all rusting, protects the base, etc. However, it still takes a few min per ski compared to the few sec it takes with vaseline or simply rubbing a bar of wax bar over the edges. With a bunch of skis, this time differential adds up, and often, re-waxing simply isn't needed.

Tom / PM

PS - sorry for the mini-hijack. Back to the regularly scheduled program on sap and gunk.

PS#2 - BTW, with respect to the question of gunk, I've run into this a bunch of times over the years, and it never seems to be exactly the same. I've come to the conclusion that almost anything oily that hit the snow during the season will rise to the top during the spring melt and be concentrated there. Add in a tiny bit of dust/dirt that got blown in on the wind, and you have your gunk. It doesn't matter if it started as sap, pollution, drippings from the lift or groomers, whatever. There probably isn't one unique source.
post #18 of 20
You could try that Toko edge protect stuff that comes in a magic marker like container. It's a lot more expensive than vaseline but probably not as messy and easier to use. I've never tried it though.
post #19 of 20
Tom -

I have a better solution. Move to Bozeman. The combination of dry air and altitude keeps your edges from rusting. I can't remember the last time I dried my edges.
post #20 of 20
Tog:> ...try that Toko edge protect stuff that comes in a magic marker like container...

I've seen it but have been too cheap to buy some. Maybe I better bite the bullet and try it out. If I do, I'll report back.

Rio:> ...I have a better solution. Move to Bozeman...

Don't tempt me. If you knew how work has been going for the last several months, you might actually wind up with me as a new neighbor

Rio:> ...The combination of dry air and altitude keeps your edges from rusting...

The only problem is that under those conditions, my nose feels like it is rusting from the inside out.

All the best,

Tom / PM

[ March 19, 2003, 02:13 PM: Message edited by: PhysicsMan ]
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