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Ski Skins - Homemade How-To

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MachJeff
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Sep 21, 2005 8:08 pm
Location: Mb. Canada

Ski Skins - Homemade How-To

Post by MachJeff » Fri Jan 04, 2013 10:40 pm

With the oversized monster motor in our kitty, plus the countless pounds of tin, fiberglass and bondo, it is a little front heavy. Thus, sticky snow almost stopped it in its tracks.

I'd been thinking about and looking for ski-skins for a while as I don’t have the funds to buy plastic skis. Didn't see any anywhere, so I decided to make my own. Here's how...

I made a mould out of 2x6's. Traced the shape of the ski, cut and sanded it. The middle board needed to be cut 1/4" narrower:
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I got a 2'x4' sheet of 1/8" puckboard (HDPE) for $20. Cut it a bit oversized and put it in the oven. It worked best with the plastic on a smooth pan so you don’t get marks from the rack, and some parchment paper to keep it from sticking. Heated the oven to 300, and baked for about 5-8 mins, watch closely for it to be soft, but not melting:
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Carefully pulled the plastic from the oven and placed it on the mould. Quickly placed the ski on top and pressed it down, stood on it, then clamped it. Tossed the whole thing outside to cool. Note that on the next tries I did not keep the parchment under the plastic, cause I think it caused wrinkles on the plastic:
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Here is what the skin looked like after it cooled. It shrinks quite a bit as it cools. It was a bit rough, but useable:
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Finally I trimmed them to size with a jigsaw and sanded the edges free of burrs. I also used a belt sander to remove any big bumps. I welded some fresh bar onto the runners and re-installed.
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I ended up not needing anything other than the runners to hold them on the skis, and they seem to be keeping their shape nicely. I have not had the right snow conditions to see how much of a difference they make. It will also be interesting to see how well they hold up.
They were trickier to shape than I thought. I had 3 useable ones turn out, and 3 that did not. The first one failed because the mould was not quite right and I baked it right on the oven rack - ended up with lots of grille marks and ridges. The other 2 fails were because I was not careful enough and the plastic folded over on itself while taking it out of the oven. It welds together instantly.
I have 2 blanks left, so hopefully I can make one more set for our 2nd kitty.

t-dub13
Posts: 89
Joined: Sun Feb 04, 2007 11:05 pm
Location: taxachusetts

Post by t-dub13 » Mon Jan 07, 2013 3:26 pm

Pure Genius lmao! I've been looking for ski skins as well and thinking about moulding my own. Thanks for the excellent Lab Notebook Report. Well done.

I want to attempt this too. I do a lot of plastic welding and shaping using my heat gun. So I'm wondering how challenging it would be to take it a step further and "curl" the nose of the ski skin up and over the tip of the ski as a secondary operation. Maybe use a heat gun for localized heating and forming?

Also, what steel stock did you use to augment the skegs? Looks like 1/4 cold rolled? Maybe hot rolled would be more wear resistant? I thought about just running a big fat weld bead and then using a belt sander to smooth it... Too tall of skegs around here just create sparks with the lack of snow...

MachJeff
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Sep 21, 2005 8:08 pm
Location: Mb. Canada

Post by MachJeff » Tue Jan 08, 2013 4:21 am

I'm sure you could leave the tip longer and curl it over either when forming the ski-skin out of the oven, or after as a seperate step. I've used a torch to bend this stuff before too. If you get too mch material or creases when folding it over the tip, you may be able to cut a couple sections out, fold them over, and melt them back together. I dont think it would look very pretty though.

The steel for the skegs was some real soft junk I had laying around - some kind of old peg-board shelf brackets I picked out of the garbage years ago.

I tried welding the bottom of a set of skegs one time; in the end I dont think they really make them any significantly more wear-resistant. Maybe if you weld on them and then cool them quickly it would have a hardening effect?

t-dub13
Posts: 89
Joined: Sun Feb 04, 2007 11:05 pm
Location: taxachusetts

Post by t-dub13 » Tue Jan 08, 2013 8:21 pm

Thanks for the update. I can't wait to try it!

Where did you get the Puckboard?

Also, I was thinking that coating the mould with parrafin wax might make it smoother and less sticky to the HDPE?

MachJeff
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Sep 21, 2005 8:08 pm
Location: Mb. Canada

Post by MachJeff » Wed Jan 09, 2013 5:05 am

I just found a local plastic supply/fabricator. They sell sheet stock, but also make all kinds of plastic things, from binders to display cabinets. Lucked out that they has this sheet as a cut-off.

I'm not sure on the wax. I had no problem with the plastic sticking to anything but itself. Perhaps some coating would allow the plastic to slide a bit more and may help it to form smoother?

t-dub13
Posts: 89
Joined: Sun Feb 04, 2007 11:05 pm
Location: taxachusetts

Post by t-dub13 » Thu Jan 10, 2013 4:43 pm

I've never heard of HDPE called puckboard before. Is that a hockey rink term??? I can source HDPE from McMaster-Carr and other places, but just wondering if it's available at Homey Depot or somewhere easy to access.

Smoothness on the bottom is probably a big deal considering the application. I guess I'll find out when I start playing with it. :lol:

MachJeff
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Sep 21, 2005 8:08 pm
Location: Mb. Canada

Post by MachJeff » Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:30 pm

Yup, puckboard is a general term for HDPE, where it is often supplied for hockey rink board liners.

Not sure where you'd buy it retail, I know Home Depot carries acrylic and polycarbonate sheets. They might have some kind of HDPE, I've never looked, but it would likely be more expensive than from a plastic shop. The clear acrylics or polycarbs are not durable enough for a ski-skin, they're more likely to break. You could also try a PTFE (Teflon), but its usually pricier and I think it might be a bit more difficult to thermoform.

t-dub13
Posts: 89
Joined: Sun Feb 04, 2007 11:05 pm
Location: taxachusetts

Post by t-dub13 » Fri Jan 11, 2013 2:53 pm

HDPE is by far the best choice considering price and ease of forming. TFE, PTFE, FEP...All those would be expensive and not as easy to thermoform. They're not thermoplastics, but flouropolymers. The difference in friction would be negligible anyway. Nylon would be the only other contender, but have fun finding a cheap sheet of that stuff locally!!! :lol: :lol:
I'll keep my eyes peeled for some Puckboard. 8) 8)

scotty1441
Posts: 8
Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2013 10:31 pm

Post by scotty1441 » Tue Dec 23, 2014 2:03 pm

I found a video on youtube regarding the installation of skins. Ironically from one of my coworkers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3fu-3klRQs

I ordered a set of generic arctic cat skins (in lime green) and will be fabbing them up next week. I am hoping the added width to the ski will help in the deeper snow. This is my son's first year driving by himself and he has already mastered it and is looking to break some new trails.

Will post up some pictures of the finished product in case anyone else is interested.

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