Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Menu Updates

There are some updates to the Nordic Ultratune grind menu.

With the addition of the new Mantec grinding machine, and also as a result of collaboration with serviceman Stefano Vuerich of Val di Fiemme, Italy, the grind menu has been updated with 4 new offerings.

I've been working with team Slovenia at World Cup events since 2005. Through these channels I first became familiar with the quality of the base structures produced by the Mantec equipment. It was Gianaluca Marcolini who suggested that I get in touch with Stefano Vuerich, the leading World Cup ski serviceman who grinds a big percentage of all the skis on the World Cup circuit.

Since late winter Stefano and I have been working to get the new Mantec Ski Numericontrol 140 arranged for Nordic Ultratune. The machine went in last week, and along with the machine are some of the successful World Cup grinds from Europe.

Here's a brief summary of the changes:

Updated World Cup Structures:

  • D5 - universal layered cross structure; typically 0C to -5C
  • i5 - angle-biased structure for medium conditions, typically -2C to -10C
  • S2 - fine, symmetrical pattern for cold conditions; typically -5C to -20C
  • M1D - warm, wet, transformed conditions. Skate or classic klister grind.

Linear Structures from Ultratune will remain unchanged:

  • LJ03 - linear grind for temperatures near 0C.
  • MVL - general purpose linear grind for classic skis, finer than LJ03
  • XC02 - for cold & dry snow; linear grind with a secondary polishing stage
  • XC01 - for extreme cold conditions; linear grind with a secondary overgrind

The grinds that have been added to the menu are proven structures that are fast and also very versatile. Some of the new World Cup structures are good on classic skis as well as skate skis. These structures are all grinds that I've used and tested on the World Cup, and the performance data and race results attest to their quality.

Download a workorder form, and send some skis! Racing starts in less than a month, and with the SuperTour schedule featured in the early part of the season, there's no time to waste.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fine Tuning the New Mantec


Wednesday is usually the day that the shop is closed. Today, though, it was humming all day.

Stefano and Giuseppe and I were working to get the Mantec stone grinding machine fine tuned and completely dialed in. Stefano and Giuseppe are here from Italy for just this week, so there's no time to waste.

The plan is for Stefano and Giuseppe to spend the week carefully walk me through every conceivable maintenance and operational procedure. Everything from cleaning things to replacing and repairing pneumatics, filters, pumps. In general, the division of duties is that Giuseppe handles all the maintenance and software and systems items, while Stefano passes down the "right way" to operate the machine from his perspective as an expert World Cup serviceman (Stefano has worked 6 Olympics and at least a dozen world championships).



This arrangement works for me. As an engineer myself, I appreciate the priorities, the analytical clarity, detail and perfection that Giuseppe imparts. As a ski grinder, I also really like the perspective and tips and tricks that Stefano has - he's an absolute encyclopedia of useful, precise, practical knowledge .

For me, the learning process isn't about how to "grind a ski" nor how to "tune a ski", but instead it's about how to fully utilize this particular Mantec grinder. It makes it much simpler for Stefano and Giuseppe that I already have a thorough understanding of how the machine variables and parameters affect each other, and how they're manipulated to get the structures that are needed.

By the end of the day today, we began loading some of the standard structures into the program memory on the Mantec. Progress. Lots of progress.

Funny stuff happens, of course. Today we stopped at the hardware store in the morning on the way to Ultratune, looking for some M2 metric machine screws. No luck; this is a small town hardware store, way out west. Lots of horse grooming supplies and not many metric screws. But it was funny to watch Stefano and Giuseppe make a bee-line for the cowboy hats! A perfect photo-op!


That's Stefano on the left, and Giuseppe on the right. Cowboys? Or city slickers?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Installation


It took all day, getting the machine in place and waiting while the electrician routed wires to all the right places. But by 3:30 the new Mantec grinder was up and running at Nordic Ultratune. Boy howdy, does it run. The picture of me doesn't look exactly ecstatic, but it's there. Inside.


Okay, that's a case of getting ahead of the story. Going back to the beginning, the day started with coffee and fresh pastries at the Mazama Store at 7:30. By 8:30 we were using some well-worn wrecking tools to ungracefully disassemble the big packing crate. There was a frost on the ground, and the cool temps were perfect for some physical effort.



Special thanks go out to Flash Clark, Robert Courtney, Skip Smith and Pete Dickinson for showing up and helping to get the new Mantec grinder out of the crate and into the shop.


Some disassembly required. We had to remove the front door of the shop, un-install some counters, and move the whole front-end of the shop in order to make room to navigate to the right spot with the grinder on a pallet jack.


The new Mantec machine definitely takes up a lot more shop space than the old grinder, but the capablities of the machine are amazing.

As a note, after the machine was in place I took Stefano and Giuseppe for a burger at The Duck Brand (if you've been to downtown Winthrop WA, you've been there). I almost spewed my first bite as I watched these crazy italiano guys trying to eat cheeseburgers with a knife and fork! I had to teach them to eat a hamburger with their hands.... . ...it never even occured to me that there could be any other way.



Success! I think it was the proudest moment of the day for Giuseppe and Stefano -- the moment when they realized that they could meet, greet, and eat meat like americanos.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Arrival

The new Mantec stone grinding machine arrived today from Italy!

The shipping crate weighs 2900 pounds, and is 5 ft x 5 ft x 8 ft. About the size of european economy car, only heavier.

Only in a very small town could you possibly call on friends at the lumber yard to drive a forklift a mile down the road, and through downtown, to unload the crate at your doorstep!


Here's a picture of me standing on top of the shipping crate in front of the shop. (Photo by Dave Chantler)

Tonight I'll drive down to the airport to pick up Stefano Vuerich and Giuseppe Moroni. They're flying in from Milano to help with the installation of the new Mantec stone grinder. We'll be un-crating the machine and getting it installed in the morning.

A big thanks to Skip Smith for unloading a rack of hay bales and using the hay trailer to haul the machine the final mile. And thanks to the crew at North Valley Lumber!

I'll post something again tomorrow evening. Hopefully the machine will be in the shop and running by that time. Stay tuned. Ultratuned.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Snow Storm & Power Out

Last night we had our first snowstorm of the season, and it left the entire Methow Valley covered with snow by morning.    At the same time, there was a power outage in the upper valley (Winthrop to Mazama, WA) that provided an opportunity to pause.

The power outage occurred just at dusk, shortly after the snow began to stick to the ground.   For Margaret and I, it was the perfect chance to put a couple logs in the wood stove, and sit back on the couch and watch the snow falling outside as it got dark.   It was the perfect thing to do; the right thing to do.    But without the power outage, I doubt we'd have taken the time to do it.

I didn't get any photos of the new snow.     But here's a great picture of Anna Hansson Haag taken in La Clusaz last December, courtesy of ATOMIC Austria Gmbh / Felix Roittner.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

New Ski Picks

Most of the new skis arrived in the final week of September at Nordic Ultratune. I started selecting skis from the pre-season pick list on Oct 1st, sorting through the skis by brand, by technique (skate skis and classic skis) and then down the pick list in the order that they were received .

Skis are all tested for flex and camber characteristics on the Ultratune Digital Flex Press, and fitted to meet the needs of each client. If I don't have the right ski, I order more skis.

By now, the 2nd week in October, I'm not even close to half way through the pick list. For a few people delay will be a little longer if their skis haven't yet arrived, or if I've had to order more skis to fill holes. For instance, I'm still waiting for the arrival of several Madshus skate skis.

The inventory in the shop consists entirely of Rossignol Xium, Atomic World Cup ("Red Cheetah"), and Madshus Nanosonic skis. There are nearly 200 pairs of Xiums, Cheetahs and Nanos still in stock, and Ultratune's pick list is a moving target, since the list continues to grow on the bottom even as they get checked off the list on the top.

It's still a month-and-a-half before the ski season starts in most places, and there are a ton of skis in the shop. Ski enthusiasts always smile and comment on the big row of exclusively top-end skis on the rack. Stop in sometime if you're in the Methow Valley!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October 2009 Nordic Ultratune Newsletter

A lot more than I can post here... ...it's a twelve page newsletter with lots of good information. Take a look.