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Since we started skiing, in my case at a fairly advanced age (I was in my forties), we had always been keen to buy our own equipment. Our first purchases were ski boots: there is nothing more important than getting a perfectly fitting pair of boots; my wife can testify to the pain of a bad choice where this is concerned.
After that we bought skis. Our first pair were described as "Starter" skis; they were Rossignol V2Gs and served us for a few seasons until we discovered "Full Fat" skis. They were a revelation and we wasted no time in acquiring a pair of Head Cyclone Carve each. I wrote a review of them some years ago. You can't buy them any more as ski designs change with every season, for those enthusiasts who just have to have the latest design every year. That's not us. We are still using those very same skis.
Of course, in use, skis frequently suffer a fair amount of damage and wear. Initially I would take them to Snow & Rock or a similar specialist store, to have them serviced for the new season. Although there is no doubt they do a good job (I can particularly recommend Bartlett's in Hillingdon) the cost of a ski service is quite high. Consequently I started looking around for the equipment to do the job myself. I found what I needed at Snow & Rock in Chertsey.
Servicing a pair of skis is not particularly difficult, just time-consuming. Mostly it consists of repairing the gouges that inevitably appear in the base of the ski from the odd stones which poke through the surface where the snow has been worn thin, and the nicks in the edges of the skis from similar causes. Repairs consist of filling in the gouges and sharpening the edges.
For skis to slide smoothly over the snow (or ice!) the plastic base alone is not sufficient. In fact, un-waxed skis will behave more like sandpaper. It's not just racing skiers who need to apply wax to the base of their skis; recreational skiers need to do this as well if they are to get full enjoyment from a day on the slopes. That's one of the main reasons why I avoid hired skis as they tend to get hammered by being hired out week after week with little maintenance applied between users. The rental shops throw them all out after a season and replace them with new; that shows how much profit there is in ski hire!
So, the first stage in repairing a pair of skis consists of removing the old wax. For this I have been using a spray can of Toko Wax Remover. First, a warning, do not under any circumstances use this stuff indoors! The can contains a formidable solvent that is not unpleasant to smell but certainly won't do you any good. The wax that is used on skis appears to me very similar to Finnegan's Waxoyl, if anyone's ever used that. It used to be very popular as a rust preventer for cars, before they started making them to a much higher standard of rust resistance. Waxoyl is mixed with White Spirit, a solvent, in order to render it liquid so as to spray on a metal surface. Toko does smell very different though, and is far more volatile.
Before you start you need to make sure the ski is firmly held in place. I have one of the original Black and Decker Workmates and its ability to close the clamp bars together asymmetrically is perfect for clamping a ski. I also have some rubber straps with which to hold back the prongs that drop down when the boot is removed from the binding and which act as a brake and prevent your skis disappearing off into the scenery if they come off in a crash.
Spray on the Toko Wax Remover and leave it for a minute or so to soften the old wax. Then, just take a clean rag and wipe off the softened wax. You may have to do this a couple of times but I usually find that once is sufficient. You will know when the base is clean of wax because the plastic base will look matt, may even look like having a whitish coating (the colour of the base of our skis is black) and will feel noticeably less slippery. Once you've reached this stage you are ready to carry out repairs.
The can of Toko Wax Remover that I bought some nine or ten years ago is 250ml and it's still going strong. A can, today, will cost you around £9 on the Web; I can't remember how much I paid for it back then but probably not much different.
To be continued...