Monday, 9 December 2013

The Beginning of Two Cobras

The round tailed hollow single fin is a board that's been on my schedule for a while. I love the feel of a big turn on the nine foot single fin, just not the feeling of terror when my 12 stone wooden longboard takes to the air above me, so I've settled on a nice performance six foot version for my next hollow board.

The preparation for this board began in the summer when the strips were cut, the board designed and ribs traced and cut out, but now that it's too cold and dark to get out into the shed it's time to begin construction of the Cobra in the comfort of my conservatory.

Incidentally, the name Cobra has come from the intended design of the board which will have two racing stripes down the top and bottom of the board in the style of the Shelby Cobra. The other Cobra referred to in the title is the model I picked up on sale in a model shop that was closing down. Seeing it looking lonely on the shelf it felt like too much of a premonition to not buy it.

I'll just have to see which Cobra comes out the best at the end of winter.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Long time no post

Well it's been a while since my last post but I haven't forgotten about it, two holidays, some great surf and too many things on the go put me into a spiral of not posting I've struggled to get out of but the motivation is here again! 

After a week of blasting around the Alps I took a trip to Colorado to visit the lovely Katie and incredibly just one month after returning home I've already finished sorting out the holiday snaps.

              Europe photos                         Colorado photos

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Few More Paipo Snaps

Couple more pictures of my new bodyboards before I cover them in wax and put them into active service.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Same Same But Different - Development of my Bodyboard Concept

Been playing around with this design on three previous occasions now and it has come a long way from the first heavy, bulky version. This time around I wanted to finesse some of the finer details of the design so thought the best way would be to create two boards, both similar in design but with some slight differences to compare their effects. 

The outline for both is based on the original Little Patriot shape but for the green board I've pulled the tail in a little.

Concave's for both are pretty similar, though I went slightly deeper with the yellow board and I chamfered the rail down more as the intention is to ride this board finless only while I've added two fin plugs to the green board to give it the option of fins should it require more hold. 

The profiles are quite different but both are far more aggressive in rocker than previous Patriots which was a result of building my own blanks from a block of foam and pre-cutting some paulownia stringers to glue between them. They both have considerably less volume than previous models, I never found catching waves an issue before so these boards should feel a lot less corky. The addition of paulownia stringers means there's no reduction in strength and now feel considerably lighter.

The yellow board having more volume throughout as well as slightly more nose rocker and slightly less tail rocker. The green board has more volume removed from the tail and also a slight kick to it, the intention being that by keeping my weight back on steep take-offs I can keep the nose from pearling. Will be interesting to compare the two to see which approach proves more successful.

Tail shape is something I haven't played around with much so I've mixed it up a bit with a crescent tail and a diamond tail, the fin plugs an obvious addition to the green plugs with matching fins to follow when I have time to glass them.

They both share the same belly in the nose to allow easy entry into the wave, always seemed to be quite successful on my previous boards so felt no need to change for these.

Finally the rails; both are hard edged, similar to the Patriot 3, but both much thinner as a result of the boards having a lot less volume. The yellow board has slightly more angle cut into it but forgot to mix it up too much when I was shaping so the difference probably isn't so much to make a difference.

Well now the photos are done I guess the only thing left is to try them out. 

Saturday, 31 August 2013

About time I made a decent attempt at an alaia

I can't imagine how anybody who has watched footage of alaia surfing could not want to have a go. Had a crack a couple of years back but it was not too successful. It wasn't the prettiest of boards, the concave was too shallow so it had absolutely no traction on the wave and it was too long. At least I had a target for what to achieve this time round!

The peanut alaia, as popularised by Rob Machado, isn't not the easiest to ride by all accounts but it is the prettiest in my opinion and as I've always been a big believer in style over substance, that was the shape I went for. 

The eagle eyed amongst you might have noticed that it looks like the board is made from planks that are too short and you would be right. Being that the longest strips of paulownia I had were 150cm long I had to biscuit joint them together, this was the one aspect of the last alaia that I was quite pleased with. By staggering the joints the board seems to stay strong, and test bends show that it doesn't seem to affect the flex to any degree.

Still got a bit of the graffiti bug which inspired the design and to protect the paint I've applied a couple of coats of varnish which has given it a glossy finish. Haven't had an opportunity to ride her yet but she looks an awful lot more manageable than the last one!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

J-Lo 3 Finally Ready to be Launched

Well it's taken the best part of a year longer than I originally intended but the new J-Lo is ready to roll! Incidentally J-Lo the first was a 6'6 Surftech Geoff McCoy Nugget and so named because of her large rear. J-Lo 2 was my attempt at making a shorter, more manoeuvrable nugget that wouldn't try and kill me when I tried to duck dive large waves (J-Lo was a big girl). She didn't go to plan and looked horrendous, so I won't be showing pictures, but she was a surprisingly competent board, and the quad set-up was a winner for me. 

Since J-Lo 2 I'd also made the Jubilee Sim, an unqualified success who has been my go-to board for the last year in all manner of conditions. For J-Lo 3 I wanted a board that would live in the van for the foreseeable future so wanted to bring together my favourite aspects of my last three boards and this is the end result. 

The outline is very close to my nugget but with a wider nose, more reminiscent of McCoy's Astron Zot. I used the same blank as for the Jubilee Sim so the main planing area is very similar but at 5'8 she has more rocker in the tail and I shaped a lot more into the nose to allow for steeper drops, an aspect of the Sim that puts some hairs on your chest when the waves pick up. 

The round tail is a copy of the Nugget except that it has a bit less thickness so I could add a touch more rocker, this being a fish blank so was quite flat originally. I like having a lot of volume in the tail just because it makes it easier to paddle into waves, but the round tail is more conducive to carving than the square tail of the sim.

Being that this board is half a foot longer than the sim I took an inch off the width to keep volume broadly similar. I also kept the sims hard rails which I was quite pleased with before, this time though I added a bit of a step in it to make them a bit thinner and so easier to bury in wave when carving. This was an idea I stole after reading some reviews of Firewires new Baked Potato. I also copied the Baked Potato's twin concave in the tail instead of the sims single concave, the twin seeming to have favourable reviews.

J-Lo 2 hasn't been totally forgotten, I kept the fin set up the same so it will be strictly a quad. I also kept J-Lo 2's 'S-Deck', basically I've scooped a lot of volume from the deck side of the nose from just above chest level up. This is to counter act one of the worst aspects of the original J-Lo, that she was a bitch to duck dive. I'm hoping a lot thinner nose along with a more parallel nose shape should help with this but there's only one way to find out.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Been watching 'Exit Through the Gift Shop' again

Haven't got the nerve to go out in public with a spray can so I've had to release my inner graffiti artist in the safety of my garden on the new surfboard. 

'Exit Through the Gift Shop' incidentally, being Banksy documentary film about Street Art. Naturally after watching that film for the second time I needed to start cutting out some stencils and wielding a spray can and JLo3 was the perfect candidate. 

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Summer board, better late than never

Originally planned as my Bali board, and hugely regret that she wasn't, this board has long been on my agenda but it's just taken till today before I got around to shaping her. Essentially this is a shortened 5'8 version of my Geoff McCoy Nugget but with elements of Geoff McCoy's Astron Zot and Firewires Baked Potato, along with what I've learnt from hugely successful Jubilee Sim and the poorly implemented (but surprisingly adept) J-Lo 2. It'll make more sense when I explain the finished board. Fibre glassing to come next weekend hopefully, the less time I have to ruin it the better but anyway some development photos follow:

Monday, 8 July 2013

How to Make the Low-Tech Skateboard in Your Garden!

A vacuum pump or am industrial press would be nice but I don't have either of those so I have to find another way to make a skateboard more effectively than my last poor effort. As it happened though I finally decided to fill in the trench I'd dug in the back garden so thought I'd kill two birds with one stone. 

Step 1 - Block of Foam

To form the right shape for the board a nice block of foam is easiest, this one was a block of xps insulation foam from my local hardware store which luckily was the same length as my maple ply.

Step 2 - Add Concave to the Deck

A nice concave in the deck will allow you to have more control under your feet, it'll also add strength to the board, more concave will mean less flex. 

Step 3 - Add Rocker 

If you plan on having a lot of flex in your board you might want to consider adding a healthy rocker to your deck to avoid bottoming out or catching your wheels when turning.

The benefits of using a block of foam is that you can dial in your design in future models. For this particular board I was far to conservative with both the concave and the rocker, going to hack a lot more foam away next time.

Step 4 - Choose an outline

Pick your board design just remember that this is your board so be as radical as you like. For my board I'm attempting a replica of my next surfboard so it might look a little conservative but it will all make sense later.

Step 5 - Glue plywood sheets together

Now it's time to glue your wood together. I chose seven layers of 1mm maple ply but I suspect most ply will work, just remember that weaker wood will require more sheets to obtain the same strength.

Get yourself a nice flat platform and get to work with a foam roller and some wood glue, Titebond III is good; I was cheap and went for some common wood glue and regretted it. Important tip, be generous with your glue.

Step 6 - Seal glued plywood in plastic

Once you're glued, tape it to your foam jig and seal it in plastic to stop it getting messed up in your next step.

 Step 7 - Bury the glued board

You're going to bury it. Of course it would be expensive to buy a load of dirt every time fortunately I'd been meaning to fill in the moat I'd dug (failed attempt at levelling it) so this was killing two birds with one stone for me. Any way ensure you bury it good so all the ply sheets are pressed tight together. Leave to dry for about 12 hours or so.

 Step 8 - Cut outline

So dig out your board, trace your outline onto it and carefully cut the sucker out with your jig saw, or regular saw, whatever works for you.

 Step 9 - Round off shape

Once you've got your shape, clamp it up and tidy up the outline, make sure it's got a nice smooth square edge with no lumps before you take the edge off it so it'll feel nice under the hand. Skateboardy.

Step 10 - Drill truck holes

Trucks are important and they are attached to your board with bolts so obviously you'll need to drill some bolt holes. Using a rubber spacer to align the bolts is a handy trick. Pencil outlines to mark where your trucks will be positioned can be sanded off later.

 Step 11 - Sand in arches

Big wheels, wide deck and low riser pads mean the wheels might be prone to catching, resulting in pretty dramatic braking. To give yourself a bit more space sand in some arches, I used an angle grinder with a sanding pad to do the business work before tidying it up with an aerosol can wrapped in sandpaper. 

Finish your board off with some high grit sand paper to give it a nice smooth finish before your next step.

Step 12 - Painting your design

Your board, your design. Go nuts! Like I mentioned earlier, this board is going to be a mini replica of my next surfboard, there is a reason behind it honest (mainly coming from my recent watching of Banksy's film 'Exit Through The Gift Shop')

Step 13 - Applying grip tape

This bit isn't fun but is important. Start by peeling the backing off completely, then starting from one end hold the tape at a 45 degree angle and push the tape down along the deck, pressing down flat as you go. If you do get some air trapped, burst with a razor blade and press flat.

Using a blunt instrument, such as a screwdriver, press around the the edges to get a nice white line. Then using a razor blade, held at a 45 degree angle, pull along the white line all the way around your board. Using some of the scrap tape, sand around the edges to tidy it all up. Lovely.

Step 14 - Attach the hardware

I can't stress how important this step is. Without hardware your skateboard is just a board. With that in mind attach wheels to your trucks and trucks to your board, not forgetting to stick some spacers between them for a nice fit.

Now go and show all your friends your shiny new board before you ruin it, have fun.