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Introducing Pilote Custom Skis

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

This thread is to be a continuation of the FS: Custom Prototypes from a New Builder thread.

 

I've decided that I want to go about this venture in a more organized manner and professional manner, starting with a name. Pilote is my last name, it's French, but my family typically pronounces it "Pilot". I am also planning a website, but am currently looking into a web designer.

 

I'm a 23 y/o student who will be graduating in February of 2010 from 5-year mechanical engineering program. At this point essentially all I need to graduate is a few technical electives, and will be taking the following courses to effectively create a composites material concentration; Finite Element Analysis, Vibrations, Composite Materials, Advanced Vibrations. These courses will allow me to further improve my ski designs, as well as giving me an excellent start in the Composite Materials/Vibrations fields.

 

I've always enjoyed designing building things, from simple woodworking projects to complicated mechanical assemblies. I've recently turned my focus to composites, starting with a few lightweight canoes, and now skis. I'm willing to make just about any ski you can imagine, from a basic no-frills kids ski to an advanced materials hard pack ripper. Several people have requested info on my existing designs, so I will start with that.

 

*Lengths are measured tip to tail on an un-cambered ski

*I need to find where I wrote all the weights down

 

Mind's Eye

Length:172cm

Tip:114mm

Waist:75mm

Tail:104mm

Radius:~15.75m

Core: Ash and Cherry

Sidewalls: Cherry

Graphics: Red cotton fabric with silk decals

Topsheet: 4 oz fiberglass, UV protected with spar urethane

Weight:

 

Comments:

 

This was my first foray into the world of ski building. My goal was to make a pair of skis as cheaply and portable as possible, so my tooling was made small and out of recycled wood. The woodworking was done in Maine, and I transported everything back to my apartment in Rochester and made the skis in my living room one at a time. I learned a lot, like don't use someone else's cost-cutting techniques! While pressing the second ski, my vacuum system failed, rendering the second ski useless.

 

These felt very stiff when flexed by hand, likely due to the primary ash core at 13mm thickness.

 

 

 

Blue Cheese

Length:172cm

Tip:114mm

Waist:75mm

Tail:104mm

Radius:~15.75m

Core: White Pine and Cherry

Sidewalls: Waxed Cherry

Graphics: Blue cotton fabric

Topsheet: 4 oz fiberglass

Weight: Scary light

 

Comments:

 

This is my second pair of skis, the same design as Mind's Eye. For these skis I took into consideration the difficulties and observations encountered on my previous attempt, and rebuilt my entire mold as well as changed my technique. They are a HUGE success!

 

I have skied these for two season now, and have done everything I can to break them down. I ski them hard, over rocks and logs, off of things and intentionally jam the tips into submerged objects while in the woods. Aside from a few scuffs the look and function like new. I've even dropped them off the car a few times onto pavement and left them outside in the snow, rain and sun for a week straight with no noticeable effects.

 

These are on the softer side, great for trees, bumps and moderate powder. I suspect a similar construction in a longer ski would be great for powder. With the pine core these are very light and "poppy"

 

 

 

 

 

"American Smoke" (red pair)

Length:178cm

Tip:134mm

Waist:100mm

Tail:125mm

Radius:~19.9m

Core: Maple and Poplar

Sidewalls: oil Treated maple

Graphics: Custom printed

Topsheet: Sublimated Plastic

Weight:

 


 

"Purple Haze"

Length:165cm

Tip:114mm

Waist:82mm

Tail:104mm

Radius:~19.9m

Core: Maple and Poplar

Sidewalls: Oil Treated maple

Graphics: Custom printed

Topsheet: Sublimated Plastic

Weight:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments:

 

These two pairs were made for LeeX and his wife. Aside from the first photo, credit goes to LeeX for the pics.

 

This was my first experience using printed topsheets, and overall i was very pleased. The quality of the print is amazing, and the material is very easy to work with. i am told by Lee that these appear to hold up and scratch just like most commercial skis.

 

Both pairs are designed to be more powder oriented, and were designed to mimic the performance of two commercially produced skis. I would rate the flex on the stiffer end of a medium flex, and the skis are also somewhat heavy due to the dense maple core. LeeX can comment on their performance, and has a TR somewhere about his Taos trip last winter.

 

"Naked Kneedrop"

Length:186cm

Tip:130mm

Waist:90mm

Tail:115mm

Radius:~23.5m

Core: Maple and Ash

Sidewalls: oil Treated maple

Graphics: none

Topsheet: Clear Plastic

Weight:

 


 

 

 

Comments:

 

Designed for telerod15. This ski has threaded inserts for a telemark binding, notch in the tail for skins and a clear topsheet to show off the wood core. These are the largest skis I have made so far. The bases came out just very flat, and have been ground and sharpened by a former WC tech. i attribute the fantastic base finish to the the tech and to the advanced 4001 "Race Base" material, which finishes smoother and holds wax better then the standard 2001 material.These skis are heavy and stiff due to the maple and ash core combination, but should ski rock solid. Due to a small core shift the inserts can not be used (the bindings would be off center) and thus the fate of these skis is yet to be determined. I made a similar pair the day these came of the mold, using the same techniques, and the core did not shift. Regardless, further fixture improvements are planned.

 

 

"Green Things"

Length:186cm

Tip:130mm

Waist:90mm

Tail:115mm

Radius:~23.5m

Core: Cherry and Ash

Sidewalls: oil Treated Cherry

Graphics: Green Cotton

Topsheet: Clear Plastic

Weight:

 

Comments:

 

Same design as the Naked kneedrops, but made for myself. Pics to come.

post #2 of 9
Thread Starter 

There are other builders out there offering skis at low prices. I could sell mine at a similar price, but they wont be as nice as what I want to send to you. I take a lot of pride in my work, and if it doesn't look or feel right to me I will do what I need to until it does. This summer I am planning on using one of my existing designs to optimize the torsional stiffness of the ski and increase the damping to eliminate chatter.

 

Last year I offered all possible combinations of base material, core, epoxy and top sheet. After working with these various materials, I have determined a few things. They are:

  1. The black 4001 base material is vastly superior to the colored base material. It is easier to work, giving cleaner cuts and tighter fits. From a finishing standpoint, it looks 100% better when stone ground. Lighter bases also show shadows from the VDS strips. According to the manufacturer, it also has better wax retention and is harder.
  2. West Systems epoxy, while convenient, is too thick to work with. I prefer something that wets out (soaks through) the composite materials faster, resulting in thorough saturation and less potential for air bubbles. It is also highly inconvenient to use multiple brands of epoxy, leftovers from one ski cannot be use if a different brand is spec'd out for another ski.
  3. The "clear" top sheet material I have access to is not really clear, it is more milky white. It is also very soft, which makes it difficult to lay into the top of the skis and it feels as though it will chip and scratch very easily.

 

 

As a result of these revelations, I am going to have 2 major price groupings for this year, $525 and $575.

 

Existing Ski designs-$525

 

These will be skis that I have already done the design work on and already have templates and molds cut.

 

They will include, standard:

 

  • Grade 4001 Black Base*
  • VDS Damping strips
  • Heat Treated Edges
  • 22oz Triaxial Fiberglass
  • System Three or QCM Epoxy
  • Core Woods of your Choice**
  • Sublimated Graphics Top sheet***
  • Hard Maple Sidewalls, Oil Treated
  • Full Tune, Including Base Grind, Polished Edges and Wax
  • 1 Year Warranty

 

 

New Ski Designs-$575

 

These will be skis I do not have existing designs, templates or molds. Having new scale prints plotted and cutting templates takes money and time, as if these are not right the rest of the ski will not be. I typically also have to make changes to the mold to accommodate longer or shorter lengths.

 

They will include, standard:

 

  • Grade 4001 Black Base
  • VDS Damping strips
  • Heat Treated Edges
  • 22oz Triaxial Fiberglass
  • System Three or QCM Epoxy
  • Core Woods of your Choice**
  • Sublimated Graphics Top sheet***
  • Hard Maple Sidewalls, Oil Treated
  • Full Tune, Including Base Grind, Polished Edges and Wax
  • 1 Year Warranty

 

 

*I will entertain other color choices, but would really recommend and prefer that you go with black. This is truly superior.

**Ash, Maple, Poplar, Beech, Pine. Other species may be available, ask for pricing

***I prefer that you supply the graphics, but I may have a graphic design student who is willing to do these.

Check Here for more pricing and Special Deals!

 

Ways to Decrease Cost:

  1. No top sheet option, $25 off: In place of the sublimated top sheet, I will use either cloth to give a graphic or bare wood, both covered in 4oz fiberglass. This makes a lighter, but slightly less durable ski.
  2. "His and Hers" Discount, $100 Off: By 2 pairs with different designs at the same time and get $50 off each ski. I might even offer discounts for more pairs, please e-mail to discuss.
  3. 2-Pair Discount, $150 Off: By 2 pairs of the same design at the same time and get $75 off each ski.
  4. Lil' Ripper, $? Off: The shorter skiers in your life might like a special ski too, price depends on size.

 

Ways to Increase Cost:

I can not say for sure that these will increase the cost, but there is the chance so I am letting you know ahead of time.

 

  1. Reverse Camber: This will likely require more design time and significant changes to my mold. We can talk about what you want, and if it is not too drastic the additional cost will likely be $0.
  2. Exotic Material: I can probably include small amounts of carbon in the prices above, but large amounts may add to the cost. Titanal is very hard to source, and to the best of my research I have found that is only a 7000 series Aluminum Alloy, but the brand name Titanal is treated and primed for bonding.

 

 

I am also offering a 1-year warranty on these skis. Basically, if anything happens to the skis that is a result of their construction you are going to get a new pair. After that one year is up I will work with you, either in the form of a repair or a discount for a new pair of skis.

 

I can not say for sure at this point, but the price may also include shipping within the lower 48. I will need to see how the first few pairs come out and how hard it is to get shipping materials. Last year the shops were not willing to part with boxes, and bubble wrap is not very cheap.

 

I must give first dibs to those who are on the wait list from last year, I will be contacting you soon.

This is all pending a few things working out here in Rochester over the next week, mainly the availability of a wood-shop. The owner of the shop I was in last year has just built a new house, and I am not sure when his shop will be set up and if I will still be allowed to use it. I am going to help him move, as well as offer assistance in setting up the shop equipment, so hopefully all goes well.

 

Please contact me via e-mail, and include “Custom skis” in the subject line of any e-mail that you send to me.

 

Thanks guys/girls!

 

-Kyle


Edited by krp8128 - 10/9/09 at 5:27am
post #3 of 9

!!!

post #4 of 9
I'm looking for that other thread you referenced in the first post.  How did the torsional stiffness optimization  build go?
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider View Post


I'm looking for that other thread you referenced in the first post.  How did the torsional stiffness optimization  build go?

link from OP:

http://www.epicski.com/forum/forum/thread/73434/fs-custom-prototypes-from-a-new-builder

Actual thread:

http://www.epicski.com/forum/thread/73434/fs-custom-prototypes-from-a-new-builder

Don't know what was going on there, it worked at one point...
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
As far as the torsional stiffness optimization it is still a work in progress. I wanted to do it as part of an independent study to satisfy a required technical elective, but the professor who was to be my mentor wanted me to take a few classes before he would allow me to enroll.

I am currently enrolled in Intro to Composites (and kicking it's you know what) and Engineering Vibrations. next Quarter will be "Advanced composites" (ski design!) Independent Study and Vibrations II.

In my opinion, the skis that I have been producing are just as torsionally stiff as what you can buy off the shelf. There will always be a limit to how stiff a wide pow ski can be, but at the same time there is a limit to how torsionally stiff it must be. In the narrower, groomer specific skis there is less of a torsional issue (less of a moment arm) and therefore it is easier to design for.
post #7 of 9
Nice topsheet graphics!

I'd like to see an Emperors Haze model.
post #8 of 9
Very cool Kyle!  They look great.Hope to see you out on the local slopes with them. Skis actually made in Rochester.
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
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