It’s the first real snow day of the season and you’re rippin’ some floatyturns through the trees. All the sudden you bottom out and feel a gut-wrenchingpull under foot accompanied by a grinding scrape across the edge. With visionsof core-shots in your head, you unclip at the bottom and check out your base.
The damage isn’t as bad as you first feared, but still not a pretty sight.The gouge goes deep; not quite through the base material, but it’s closeto the edge which has also sustained some damage. Fear not-though it looksbad, the damage is repairable with a few basic tools and should be done beforeyour next day on the slope.
There are several ways to repair base damage. The one to choose depends onhow bad it is and what kind of equipment, experience and/or money you have.For a large gack, you may want to fix it by patching with actual base material.If it’s not large (smaller than a quarter) a base welder or a hot extrudergun will do the trick. However, unless you work in a shop you may not haveaccess to, or knowledge of these techniques. In that case you will probablyhave to settle for a P-tex candle or take your stick to someone who has theknowledge and experience to perform these tasks.
For our home repair we will employ a plain old P-tex candle which can bepurchased for about a buck. The draw-back to using P-tex candles is thatthe P-tex material has a higher concentration of paraffin wax and lesspolyethylene, causing it to crack, shrink and pop out much sooner than otherrepair methods. Because of this, repairs done with a P-tex drip candle areconsidered temporary at best. The advantage is that it is easy to do at homeor on the road with a few simple tools.
Here’s what you will need:
- P-tex candle (Many colors are available if you want to match the repair material with the base color.)
- Metal scraper (Remember, plastic is for scraping wax and metal is for base repair.)
- Fire (Matches or a lighter work well, while a hand-held propane torch will help light the candle and make it easier to relight when it inevitably goes out.)
- Medium grit sandpaper (About 180 grit should do the job.)
- Exacto knife or razor blade
With the board in a vice or on a stable platform, make sure the wound isfree of contaminants (this includes oil from your fingers so don’t touchit!). You will probably want to clean it out with some citrus cleaner orother such solvent. Just like preparing the board for waxing, let the solventdry out for at least 10 to 15 minutes or you won’t get the P-tex to bondwell with the base material. You may also have to use an Exacto knife orrazor blade to trim off any hang-nail type material around the wound.
Once the wound is clean, use your Exacto knife to score a cross-hatch patterninto the wound area (not any of the surrounding material). This will makelittle valleys for the P-tex to flow into and ridges of base material thatwill hopefully melt with the hot P-tex you are adding. This little trickwith greatly improve the bond between the base material and the P-tex.
With this done, it’s time to light the P-tex candle. Hold the end of thecandle directly in the flame until it lights. Always hold the burning candleover the metal scraper so as not to drip P-tex everywhere. Then drip justenough P-tex into the wound to fill it. If you roll the lit end of the candleon the scraper and then touch the end to the wound, you will hopefully driponly clean P-tex and not get any burned, black residue in the affected area.A clean patch will look and hold much better than a dirty one. The P-texshould cool and harden quickly, possibly shrinking and requiring anotherapplication over the top.
Once the P-tex cools and fills the gouge sufficiently, it’s time to scrape.Make sure the edge of your metal scraper is clean and smooth; you may haveto draw it across your multi-cut file creating a burr just like we did forour plastic scraper before scraping our hot-wax. With the scraper angledaway from you at about a 45 degree angle, pull the clean edge toward youacross the P-tex blob. Pulling scrapers and files toward you is the safest,most consistent way to cut down material. Don’t try to scrape all the materialoff in one pass; several small strokes will produce a clean, smooth surfaceon your repair. Also, be sure not to bow the scraper or you will end up witha concave patch that you may have to fill again.
After you have scraped the patched material down smooth, you may want tosand out any ripples with a fine-grit sandpaper on a sanding block. You areready to wax the board back to perfection when the surface of the patch issmooth and level with the rest of the base.
Using a P-tex candle to fill gouges is a simple, efficient way to repairyour stick at home. If you have multiple gacks in the base, you can fillthem all and then scrape them all in an assembly-line fashion. This way youhopefully won’t have to keep relighting the stubborn P-tex candle. Keep inmind P-tex is a low-budget fix that will soon shrink, crack and pop out ofthe hole. It’s a good repair to do when you can’t get your board into theshop, but you will eventually want to have a more permanent repair done inits place.