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Wax Week Day 6 - Pure Fluoro Topcoat Application

Posted by Josh Doebbert on Jan 23rd 2014

Over the last week, we’ve covered nearly every facet of race waxing from your initial base preparations to selecting and applying all the right waxes to give you the fastest skis come race day. But for high level races, there is one more step you can add for even more speed: a pure fluoro topcoat. These fluorocarbon based waxes are certainly expensive and more difficult to apply, but the performance increase is self evident in any speed tests.

Topcoats come in three different forms: solid blocks that are rubbed onto the base, powders that are ironed in, and liquid/paste waxes that are either dripped on or rubbed in using an applicator.  In general, blocks are the most economical option and easiest to apply, but trade some durability for their ease of use.  Powder fluoros, conversely, are more expensive and tricky to apply, but will provide the highest and most consistent performance for most conditions. Finally, liquid fluoros are the ultimate warm weather waxes, although they only last for a few kilometers at best.  We’re going to cover application of the first two types today.

A word of caution before we begin: pure fluoro application of powder waxes requires using very high iron temperatures that can easily damage skis.  You should not attempt to apply fluoros unless you are highly practiced at ironing in glidewax and own a mid-priced or better wax iron.  Entry level irons such as the Swix T-75 or T-74 DO NOT maintain a consistent enough temperature to reliably heat the powder into the base.   We also recommend working in a well ventilated area and wearing a respirator as long term exposure to pure fluoro fumes has been linked to lung cancer.

Block

  1. Begin by making sure the previous layers of wax are thoroughly polished and brushed out. 
  2. Rub the pure fluoro block back and forth up the entire length of the ski.  You will see fluoro marks where the block has been rubbed; almost like a crayon.  
  3. After the block has been rubbed all over the ski, begin to use a cork or roto cork to buff the fluoro into the base.  To prevent contamination, the cork you use should only be used for fluoro application.  The friction of the cork helps the fluoro to adhere to the base material.  With this in mind, any hand cork needs to be extremely aggressive to generate as much heat as possible.  If you are using a roto cork, however, it is possible to overheat the base, to make sure you never you let the roto cork stop moving down the ski.
  4. Use a dedicated horse hair or other fluoro-specific brush to polish the ski base.

Powder

  1. Begin by making sure the previous layers of wax are thoroughly polished and brushed out. 
  2. Cover the ski base with powder by repeatedly tapping the side of the container as you run it up and down the side of the ski.  Fluoro powders can tend to clump, so be careful to not let too much out in any one spot, but also make sure that you aren’t missing any spots.  You can ignore the last 20cm of your ski as your iron will push enough powder down the ski to cover this section effectively. 
  3. After ensuring that your iron is set at 155 degrees Celsius and giving it time to warm up, iron in the powder by using one 5-6 second pass on either side of the groove.  
  4. Allow the ski cool for about 20 minutes – you can use this time to apply the fluoro to your other ski.
  5. Using a dedicated horse hair or other fluoro-specific brush, pull the loose fluorocarbon chains up from the base by using short (2-3cm) back-and-forth strokes.  The goal of this is not to brush the fluoros off the ski, so you don’t want to brush down the ski, but rather do the ski in sections with an equal amount of forward and backward strokes in each section.
  6. Finish the ski off by corking in the loose fluoros the same way you cork in a fluoro block (see above).  

-Posted by Josh Doebbert on Jan 23rd 2014

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