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Old 10-01-2012, 04:29 PM   #21 (permalink)
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During the winter that wasn’t I did quite a bit of reading on this subject, and there seems to be some confusion persistent here.

First let me state that sintered P-Tex, or UHMWPE, is a pretty awesome material for the purposes of snowboard bases. It has very low friction, doesn’t really absorb moisture, resists impacts, and is incredibly abrasion resistant (10 times more than carbon steel).

The idea that sintered bases are porous and absorb wax like a sponge is a myth (or at best a “poor” analogy). UHMWPE consists of crystalline lamellae and amorphous (disordered) regions. The crystalline lamellae are the ordered regions that give the P-Tex the whitish, dry appearance (sometimes incorrectly called “oxidation”). Wax simply binds to the surface, filling the amorphous regions and binding the lamellae. Wax does generally measurably increase the hydrophobicity of the surface, which improves glide on snow (as everyone with a freshly waxed board has no doubt experienced to some degree).

Interestingly, Leonid Kuzmin’s PhD thesis “Interfacial Kinetic Ski Friction” demonstrates that it is even possible to produce a lower friction surface on UHMWPE without any wax, through structuring alone. I know he has been widely criticized on the internet, but based on the critiques given I think few of those people actually bothered to read his thesis. I read it in its entirety. He simply demonstrates that it is possible to get optimal glide without wax, if the surface is correctly structured. This does not mean simply not waxing is faster. In fact, he clearly shows that an unwaxed stone ground base is slower than a waxed base (as everyone has experienced). His findings are really about showing that wax is not necessary if a different structuring technique is used in place of stone grinding. Unfortunately for us, I think his method only readily applies to edgeless cross-country skis, since it involves scraping the base with a steel scraper (also, personally, I have no desire to sacrifice base material in the name of performance).

For my own views on the original post, I’m with BA on waxing. That is, I don’t do it anymore. I didn’t wax all last season and noticed no detrimental effects, aside from a little less glide in the flats. I’ve haven't experienced any increase in unpredictability on snow or jibs. The only time I might even still consider waxing is during spring mashed-potato snow, but last season here on the ice coast we pretty much missed that altogether. I used to wax every few days on the snow, but I found it didn’t last long. My advice is, unless you’re a die-hard racer, give a try to going waxless. It won’t do any damage and you may save yourself a bit of money, hassle, and even reduce potential health/environmental risks from PFCs. On the latter point, if you do prefer to wax, consider a PFC-free wax if possible.

Last edited by herzogone; 10-01-2012 at 04:32 PM.
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Old 10-01-2012, 05:12 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by herzogone View Post
During the winter that wasn’t I did quite a bit of reading on this subject, and there seems to be some confusion persistent here.

First let me state that sintered P-Tex, or UHMWPE, is a pretty awesome material for the purposes of snowboard bases. It has very low friction, doesn’t really absorb moisture, resists impacts, and is incredibly abrasion resistant (10 times more than carbon steel).

The idea that sintered bases are porous and absorb wax like a sponge is a myth (or at best a “poor” analogy). UHMWPE consists of crystalline lamellae and amorphous (disordered) regions. The crystalline lamellae are the ordered regions that give the P-Tex the whitish, dry appearance (sometimes incorrectly called “oxidation”). Wax simply binds to the surface, filling the amorphous regions and binding the lamellae. Wax does generally measurably increase the hydrophobicity of the surface, which improves glide on snow (as everyone with a freshly waxed board has no doubt experienced to some degree).

Interestingly, Leonid Kuzmin’s PhD thesis “Interfacial Kinetic Ski Friction” demonstrates that it is even possible to produce a lower friction surface on UHMWPE without any wax, through structuring alone. I know he has been widely criticized on the internet, but based on the critiques given I think few of those people actually bothered to read his thesis. I read it in its entirety. He simply demonstrates that it is possible to get optimal glide without wax, if the surface is correctly structured. This does not mean simply not waxing is faster. In fact, he clearly shows that an unwaxed stone ground base is slower than a waxed base (as everyone has experienced). His findings are really about showing that wax is not necessary if a different structuring technique is used in place of stone grinding. Unfortunately for us, I think his method only readily applies to edgeless cross-country skis, since it involves scraping the base with a steel scraper (also, personally, I have no desire to sacrifice base material in the name of performance).

For my own views on the original post, I’m with BA on waxing. That is, I don’t do it anymore. I didn’t wax all last season and noticed no detrimental effects, aside from a little less glide in the flats. I’ve haven't experienced any increase in unpredictability on snow or jibs. The only time I might even still consider waxing is during spring mashed-potato snow, but last season here on the ice coast we pretty much missed that altogether. I used to wax every few days on the snow, but I found it didn’t last long. My advice is, unless you’re a die-hard racer, give a try to going waxless. It won’t do any damage and you may save yourself a bit of money, hassle, and even reduce potential health/environmental risks from PFCs. On the latter point, if you do prefer to wax, consider a PFC-free wax if possible.
What are the consequences of not waxing? Only that I might go slightly slower? Or will the base dry out and crack etc. BTW I ride a K2 Parkstar with a 4000 sintered base if that makes any difference.
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Old 10-01-2012, 05:26 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by herzogone View Post
During the winter that wasn’t I did quite a bit of reading on this subject, and there seems to be some confusion persistent here.

First let me state that sintered P-Tex, or UHMWPE, is a pretty awesome material for the purposes of snowboard bases. It has very low friction, doesn’t really absorb moisture, resists impacts, and is incredibly abrasion resistant (10 times more than carbon steel).

The idea that sintered bases are porous and absorb wax like a sponge is a myth (or at best a “poor” analogy). UHMWPE consists of crystalline lamellae and amorphous (disordered) regions. The crystalline lamellae are the ordered regions that give the P-Tex the whitish, dry appearance (sometimes incorrectly called “oxidation”). Wax simply binds to the surface, filling the amorphous regions and binding the lamellae. Wax does generally measurably increase the hydrophobicity of the surface, which improves glide on snow (as everyone with a freshly waxed board has no doubt experienced to some degree).

Interestingly, Leonid Kuzmin’s PhD thesis “Interfacial Kinetic Ski Friction” demonstrates that it is even possible to produce a lower friction surface on UHMWPE without any wax, through structuring alone. I know he has been widely criticized on the internet, but based on the critiques given I think few of those people actually bothered to read his thesis. I read it in its entirety. He simply demonstrates that it is possible to get optimal glide without wax, if the surface is correctly structured. This does not mean simply not waxing is faster. In fact, he clearly shows that an unwaxed stone ground base is slower than a waxed base (as everyone has experienced). His findings are really about showing that wax is not necessary if a different structuring technique is used in place of stone grinding. Unfortunately for us, I think his method only readily applies to edgeless cross-country skis, since it involves scraping the base with a steel scraper (also, personally, I have no desire to sacrifice base material in the name of performance).

For my own views on the original post, I’m with BA on waxing. That is, I don’t do it anymore. I didn’t wax all last season and noticed no detrimental effects, aside from a little less glide in the flats. I’ve haven't experienced any increase in unpredictability on snow or jibs. The only time I might even still consider waxing is during spring mashed-potato snow, but last season here on the ice coast we pretty much missed that altogether. I used to wax every few days on the snow, but I found it didn’t last long. My advice is, unless you’re a die-hard racer, give a try to going waxless. It won’t do any damage and you may save yourself a bit of money, hassle, and even reduce potential health/environmental risks from PFCs. On the latter point, if you do prefer to wax, consider a PFC-free wax if possible.
Where do you read these papers? What structure does he advocate? a lattice of sorts? Are there any experimental materials being used?
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Old 10-01-2012, 05:56 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Rookie09 View Post
What are the consequences of not waxing? Only that I might go slightly slower? Or will the base dry out and crack etc. BTW I ride a K2 Parkstar with a 4000 sintered base if that makes any difference.
Just that you might go slightly slower. It will not damage it. The "dry" appearance is simply the normal appearance of the base material without wax.
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Old 10-01-2012, 06:04 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Bingo dude nailed it. Structure sure that makes sense wax eh you're not going to notice it. My friends that are pro opening day at Breck were talking about how they waxed the night before so they could clear the jumps, dudes were making it to the knuckle I was taking it to flat every time unless I drastically speed checked.

The only time I wax anymore is if I'm trying to remove sludge from the base of my board like when I go to Bear.
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Old 10-01-2012, 06:56 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by BurtonAvenger View Post
The only time I wax anymore is if I'm trying to remove sludge from the base of my board like when I go to Bear.
Don't lie we've all see you with your bucket spackling sludge into your bases.
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Old 10-01-2012, 07:14 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by herzogone View Post
During the winter that wasn’t I did quite a bit of reading on this subject, and there seems to be some confusion persistent here.

First let me state that sintered P-Tex, or UHMWPE, is a pretty awesome material for the purposes of snowboard bases. It has very low friction, doesn’t really absorb moisture, resists impacts, and is incredibly abrasion resistant (10 times more than carbon steel).

The idea that sintered bases are porous and absorb wax like a sponge is a myth (or at best a “poor” analogy). UHMWPE consists of crystalline lamellae and amorphous (disordered) regions. The crystalline lamellae are the ordered regions that give the P-Tex the whitish, dry appearance (sometimes incorrectly called “oxidation”). Wax simply binds to the surface, filling the amorphous regions and binding the lamellae. Wax does generally measurably increase the hydrophobicity of the surface, which improves glide on snow (as everyone with a freshly waxed board has no doubt experienced to some degree).

Interestingly, Leonid Kuzmin’s PhD thesis “Interfacial Kinetic Ski Friction” demonstrates that it is even possible to produce a lower friction surface on UHMWPE without any wax, through structuring alone. I know he has been widely criticized on the internet, but based on the critiques given I think few of those people actually bothered to read his thesis. I read it in its entirety. He simply demonstrates that it is possible to get optimal glide without wax, if the surface is correctly structured. This does not mean simply not waxing is faster. In fact, he clearly shows that an unwaxed stone ground base is slower than a waxed base (as everyone has experienced). His findings are really about showing that wax is not necessary if a different structuring technique is used in place of stone grinding. Unfortunately for us, I think his method only readily applies to edgeless cross-country skis, since it involves scraping the base with a steel scraper (also, personally, I have no desire to sacrifice base material in the name of performance).

For my own views on the original post, I’m with BA on waxing. That is, I don’t do it anymore. I didn’t wax all last season and noticed no detrimental effects, aside from a little less glide in the flats. I’ve haven't experienced any increase in unpredictability on snow or jibs. The only time I might even still consider waxing is during spring mashed-potato snow, but last season here on the ice coast we pretty much missed that altogether. I used to wax every few days on the snow, but I found it didn’t last long. My advice is, unless you’re a die-hard racer, give a try to going waxless. It won’t do any damage and you may save yourself a bit of money, hassle, and even reduce potential health/environmental risks from PFCs. On the latter point, if you do prefer to wax, consider a PFC-free wax if possible.
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Old 10-01-2012, 11:05 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Where do you read these papers? What structure does he advocate? a lattice of sorts? Are there any experimental materials being used?
The underlined portions in my post are links to several of them. Here's one more: Friction characteristics between ski base and ice and here is Kuzmin's thesis, just for convenience. It details the structures he found most effective (it has been too long since I read it for me to recall the details) and he also analyzes P-Tex with additives like graphite and PTFE.


Quote:
Originally Posted by BurtonAvenger View Post
Bingo dude nailed it. Structure sure that makes sense wax eh you're not going to notice it. My friends that are pro opening day at Breck were talking about how they waxed the night before so they could clear the jumps, dudes were making it to the knuckle I was taking it to flat every time unless I drastically speed checked.

The only time I wax anymore is if I'm trying to remove sludge from the base of my board like when I go to Bear.
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Originally Posted by davidj View Post
Thanks guys


Also, in the interest of completeness, I forgot to add that the same general characteristics apply to extruded bases as well, since they are the same basic material (UHMWPE), just a little softer form due to manufacturing technique.
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Old 10-01-2012, 11:23 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Is it still good to wax once before the season starts or is it really not required at all? And how does this fit with people who say that if you don't wax your board much the pores start to close up and it can't hold wax anymore.
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Old 10-02-2012, 12:27 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Great info. Thanks for sharing. I used to be a "waxing fanboy" too but in recent years have moderated my stance on the issue. For awhile now I have maintained that waxing need is really predicated on weather and snow conditions. Your research seems to back that position up.

Here in the PNW where we have warm, wet snow (Cascade Cement we call it) because of the high water content in our snow (average 8" of snow for 1" of moisture), wax definitely does make a difference here that you can feel ( despite BA's feeding me that bag of mushrooms last time).

Your research seems to back this up as well. More than the actual wax, I believe it is the high Flouro contact we use around here for the water reppelency. In spring and summer, we ride a lot on volcanoes and dust is a major issue. As a result a very popular wax here is OBJ Black Magic with graphite. The theory being (as I understand it) is this combats the added friction of the dust on the snow surface. I again feel the difference when I am riding off of the actual 11,254 foot summit of Mt. Hood on a hot summer day.

90% of East coast riders with their shit snow don't benefit much at all from waxing. Additionally, the cold dry conditions of the Rockies I suspect limits any performance benefit. But if you ride in this slop we all love in the PNW, you might want throw a coat of wax on!

Your research also touches upon the value of structuring. I am a huge fanboy of this and I have all of my boards structured. It makes your base look and feel like fine Courdoroy with the grooves running longitudinally to help channel water. This far more than waxing improves your glide in off piste conditions in our snow. Waxing can be a good substitute for a structured base though if you brush after scraping. Using a stiff nylon brush and aggressively brushing longitudinally down the length of the board will create thousands of micro channel grooves that allows water to channel out from under your base. This is very similar to the way a so called "aqua tread" pattern on a car tire works to prevent hydroplaning on wet pavement.
According to this, would you say wax is more or less useful for riders in the midwest (Minnesota, to be specific)? And do all sintered bases come structured? How often do you have to "restructure" them? And is that the same thing as getting a base grind? Thanks!
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