Winter is around the corner, are you ready for a skiing tour or did you shelve your skis after the composite layers peeled off? Cross country skis are made of fairly light material which when not maintained can easily peel off or break.
If you are new to the sport and are yet to push your new skis to their breaking point, ski delamination might still be new to you. But, if you are an ardent cross country skier, you must have experienced this.
How did you handle it? Did you repair them or you just shelved them and rushed to your local ski shop for a new pair?
Whatever action you took at the time does not matter because now, you can put all you know aside and read this delaminated ski repair guide, and maybe next time, you’ll know what to do.
How To Repair Delaminated Xc Skis
Hold the ski on a clamp or similar tool and identify the affected area. Clean the peeled layers to remove any unwanted dirt or dust. If you can, apply alcohol or base cleaner to the separated layers to clean them further. Now, mix the epoxy and apply it to the damaged part and finally press the two parts together.
With all this done, now all that’s left is to allow the job an overnight dry, don’t remove it from the vice until the next day. After drying, use a razor blade to cut out excess resin from the the edges and your ski repair job is done.
What Are Cross Country Skis Made Of?
Cross country skis are made up of several layers of different materials assembled to form one strong, flexible and durable item. The most basic material in the manufacture of cross country skis must be the wooden core- this is the innermost material onto which all other materials involved are built into.
Ski manufacturers are spoilt for choice when it comes to materials since almost every lightweight, flexible and strong element can serve in this space. The most common are fiberglass, carbon fiber, Kevlar, and sometimes titanium.
The various materials are usually glued together using a very strong type of glue; epoxy resin. If you are not the DIY type you might never have heard of epoxy resin but this is among the strongest glue types- when combined with an appropriate catalyst, epoxy can easily deliver a near-permanent connection.
Epoxy, even with its strength properties faces one malady, an irony in fact; it can withstand chemical attacks from different elements but water is its weakness- when repeatedly subjected to water, epoxy resin can only hold on for so long.
This should tell you something about cross country skis; throw anything at them except water.
How Do Cross Country Skis Get Delaminated?
The delamination starts the moment water seeps into the ski’s core build- the water mostly penetrates from the base up or the uppermost part going down.
When skiing, we slide our skis over expansive grounds of snow; this snow could be laden with anything from metal objects to sharp rocks.
These objects sometimes scratch out skis’ bases or front edges but we rarely look at the scratched area twice as the scratches are most of the time trivial and not so scary.
What we do not know however is that these seemingly small cuts are actually access points for moisture. Once in, the moisture will slowly eat into the epoxy joining the various layers that make up the ski base, and before long, the wooden core will bear the brunt as well.
Water can run through even the smallest of openings and within no time penetrate through every layer in a cross country ski. When the water hits a layer, it weakens the epoxy, that’s why it separates from the rest of the ski.
All this can be explained through the process of capillarity. This is when water slowly gets into surfaces either horizontally or diagonally through the slightest openings and with time spreads through the subject entirely- it does this through a combination of the forces of cohesion and surface tension.
To understand capillarity, perform this simple experiment. Push a small part of a larger cloth into water and watch how moisture slowly spreads to other areas of the cloth, even the dry ones.
Cross country skis are subject to the same process- when water gains entries into the ski’s build, it creeps up or down through the layers by capillary action until it dislodges one of the main epoxy joints, that’s when you notice the damage.
This separation of composite layers within the ski is called delamination and when not curbed early enough, it could render the ski useless.
Since the process starts with water creeping in through an opening, the most prone parts are those with direct contact with sharp objects- these include the tips, tails, and front edges. When you hit a rock, the front edge will bear the impact, and if it’s not well-built you’ll have a cut ready for capillary action.
Repairing Delaminated Cross Country Skis?
We’ll look at the repair processes based on the affected area; the topmost sheet or the metal edge.
Mending Delamination In The Top Sheet
This is the topmost layer on the ski’s base. It is made of clear plastic but with a little bit of branding to make it more appealing.
Being the ski’s outermost part, it’ll definitely come into contact with moisture. Although the water rarely gets in, when it does, you’d better fix it real quick.
- Clean the separated layers to remove any dirt or debris. You can use a cloth or a metal scraper- the objective is to remove any unwanted material.
- Clean the layers again but this time, dip the cloth in alcohol or base cleaner. We do this to ensure the surfaces are clean and ready for epoxy application.
- Mix the epoxy based on manufacturer instructions. The amount of epoxy you mix will depend on the size of the affected area. Ensure the mixture will coat the peeled layer completely.
- Apply the mixed epoxy resin to the peeled surface using a clean piece of wood or whatever the manufacturer provides. When the resin is adequately spread, firmly press the peeled layer back.
- Rub a strip of masking tape around the repaired area to hold the resin in just in case it leaks.
- Hold the resin joint firmly pressed; you can place wooden blocks over it or use G-clamps.
- Leave the job for a night (while still in the clamps)- that’ll let the resin harden and gain some grip.
Mending Delamination On The Edge
Just like in all other delamination cases, edge delamination occurs when a crack on the steel edges or sidewall allows moisture to creep in.
When water enters through the steel edge, it is actually creeping from the side and this is the most dangerous form of delamination for cross country skis.
We used the term dangerous because from the side, the water is very close to the ski’s core which when reached by water, renders the ski unusable.
- Hold the damaged ski firmly using clamps or whatever you have. The affected side should face upwards for easier reach.
- Using a screwdriver head, open up the damaged steel edge to expose the separated layers further. Create an opening wide enough for the epoxy to flow in as deep as possible.
- Mix the epoxy and remember to follow manufacturer guidelines to get the best out of the product.
- Withdraw the screwdriver head, drip the epoxy into the opening, and leave it to settle for a short while. You’ll need a short stick to get the epoxy deep into the expanded steel edge.
- Leave the repaired ski in the vice to dry overnight. You should not alter the vertical position as we want the air bubbles trapped inside the resin to float on the surface.
- Release the ski from the clamps or vice. Here, you can use a razor blade to cut off any epoxy leaks on the surface and then fine-tune the aesthetics using sandpaper.
How to Choose the Best Epoxy for Ski Delamination Repair
By now, it should be clear that epoxy resin is your best bet when it comes to ski delamination repairs. If it’s so important, it is only wise to use the best there is, but then, do you know how to select the appropriate epoxy resin for your damaged cross country skis or you have your hopes on p tex?
If your answer is no, worry not for below is a list of a few considerations you should look into before walking into your local ski shop
If you expect the glue to hold for the entire season then you better get the strongest. A proper epoxy resin should hold the joints together no matter the snow conditions; temperatures tend to shift real fast during the winter.
If the epoxy cannot serve in both extremely cold and warm temperatures then we believe it’s not worth the time or money.
Even as we stress the need for strength, we must take into account the need for flexibility because cross country skis are usually subjected to bending as you make turn and shift terrains- for the epoxy to serve under such conditions, it must itself be flexible or else the slightest bend will render your repair work null.
You apply epoxy by spreading it over the subject surfaces, this is only possible if the resin is moldable. A rigid epoxy will only frustrate you as you try to get it into the deep areas of the ski without expanding the joints.
Another thing, when applying the epoxy, there needs to be an allowance before it sets unless you want it to set with you still working on the joint- this allowance is only possible in moldable epoxies.
If you value your time you’ll most likely go for the epoxy that dries the fastest or use a heat gun to hasten the process but note that, in the world of resins, a too-quick dry usually results in weak and brittle joints.
Yes, the best repairs are done using slow-curing epoxy as the extended period allows the molecules to bond without rushing.
We are not trying to discredit fast-curing epoxies but if you want your repair job to last longer, you’d better get the slow cures. We leave the fast-curing epoxies and heat gun tricks for emergencies and short-term repair tasks.
Water is epoxy’s worst enemy and the best way to protect your repair work is to use glue that will keep moisture out.
Unfortunately, there’s no perfect trick to identify this property in the various epoxies on the market because every brand claims to sell waterproof products but from our experience, not all deliver on advertised promises- you might have to search around before you come across an honest brand.
Real waterproof epoxies are usually so well built, you can even use them on damp surfaces or out in the snow and they’ll still work.
How To Prevent Delamination In Cross Country Skis
As we’ve stated above, the most prominent cause of delamination in cross country skis is the water that creeps into the ski through scratches and other openings on the surface.
You can prevent moisture entry by shielding your skis from damage- if they don’t get damaged, there won’t be openings, and that way, you’ll have curbed the water problem entirely.
Other ways include;
- Select your skiing locations more wisely. Avoid areas with stagnant water as much as possible and if you spot rocks on the track, put them away. Water and sharp rocks can easily eat into your ski’s core.
- Work on your cross country skiing technique. Try not to cross your skis as you push.
- Act on the slightest sign of damage. Immediate repair prevents further damage to the core and reduces the amount of work required to get the ski back in shape. A normal ski shop will serve just fine for slight repairs.
- Embrace ski servicing to prolong the pair’s life. You don’t need to be an expert at this, just drive to your ski shop they should have the relevant skills and tool.
- To reduce the effect of water on the ski’s surface, wax the surfaces regularly. Wax adds a waterproof layer on the ski’s underside.
Cross country skis are built of multiple materials which when combined deliver the firm skiing gear we all appreciate. The materials include carbon fiber, steel, and wood. Wood is the base material while the other materials are attached to the wood to enhance its shape and look.
When water creeps in, it weakens the joints between these layers- this is usually the first sign of ski delamination. When this happens, the best countermeasure is the application of resin to the separated layer to rejoin them.
This article expounds further on the ski repair process and also sheds light on other aspects of ski usage, repair, and maintenance.