Monday, February 23, 2015

First Look - Toko T18 Digital Wax Iron

The power cord exits from the side instead of the back.
Toko has a new digital T-18 wax iron that they're rolling out, with commercial availability scheduled for mid-2015.

I got my hands on one a bit early, and have been using it here in the shop at Ultratune, for evaluation, and thought I'd share some information and my impressions.

The new T-18 is a step up in performance and price from the Toko T-14 digital iron that has been very popular the past few years.      The new T-18 is clearly a different design and fabrication entirely.      In fact, it shares a lot of the design with the translucent blue Star digital iron, but is updated. 

The T-18 has a pretty stout aluminum base plate, smooth, with no grooves.    It's beveled along the rear edge for ramping up on wax (or powders) without "plowing", but the beveling is on the back edge only -- no bevels on the sides or front edge.

The T-18 is an 800W iron.   With the big base plate and a very good thermostat, I find it to be very well regulated and accurate, and in fact I feel that this is the biggest improvement in performance over the T-14.

In addition, the power cord exits from the side instead of the back.    If your wax bench is set up so that the ski tip is on the right side, and you drive the iron right-to-left (using the beveled edge), then  the cord hangs out the front, nicely out of the way.    I really like this little feature.   Not a huge deal, but if you're using an iron a lot, then little details like this make a difference.

The smooth face of the T-18.
Another feature that I like is that the T-18 remembers the temperature setting you're using.  

T-18 has a thick base plate.  Beveled back edge.
With the less expensive T-14 iron, every time you power-up the iron you need to adjust the temp setting.   This can be good or bad.   If you were cooking some high temperature top-coats into the skis (at, say, 160 C) and then shut down the iron, and then re-start it tomorrow to do a simple cleaning wax, then the T-14 will re-boot at the regular 130C setting, and you won't smoke your yellow hydrocarbon wax.     On the other hand, if you're commonly running the iron at 120C, then it gets a bit annoying to have to turn down the iron every single time you power it up.

Easy to read digital display.
With the T-18, the iron remembers the thermostat setting you were using when it was turned off, and re-starts at the same temperature.     For me, that's a very minor little detail, but here in the shop where I'm laying down a base layer of soft thermo-box wax on lots and lots of skis, it's handy that the T-18 remembers my basic setting.

What do I not like?    I think the front and side edges are abrupt, and could have a little bit of a bevel to make it easier to use the iron in a variety of orientations.   As it is, straight from the box, the T-18 really needs to be driven down the ski in one orientation only.      For myself, I will likely bevel the front and side edges myself with a bit of careful hand-tool work.    This is really minor, and I definitely plan to continue using the T-18 as my primary iron here at Ultratune at my wax bench.       

The T-18 is not an inexpensive iron.  It will sell for roughly two-and-a-half times as much money as the T-14 iron (yes, somewhere over $300 but exact pricing is TBD).    Is it a better iron than the T-14?  Yes it is.    Will it inherently make your skis faster than another iron?   No it won't. 

For me, the Toko T-18 digital wax iron is a very nice professional-level tool that I'll be using in the shop here at Ultratune, and I'll have a few on hand in the shop for sale, too.     But I expect that the T-14 will still hit the sweet spot on price and performance for most skiers.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Mid-Feb Methow Valley Skiing

The ski season here in Washington State's Methow Valley has been the best in quite a few years.   We've been very fortunate to get abundant early snow, and have kept it.    While much of Washington and Oregon (and NorCal) have been clobbered by repeated warm wet weather systems, the Methow Valley has gotten snow and cooler temps.   So far, the season here has had about 75 days of uninterrupted grooming, and the end is not near.

Here's a pic from my morning ski today.
Feb 13th.  A few high clouds, a little ground fog,
but fresh grooming.
At the junction of Powers' Plunge & MCT.

This weekend is the annual Tour of the Methow, and a Biathlon intro event.    If you're nearby, hop in the car and bring your skis.

New skis?

Are you looking for new skis to go along with your desire for improved performance? It doesn't matter what level of skier you are. We all want to hit the trails with skis and a grind & wax that are going to give us the best experience. Nordic Ultratune offers skis and world class grinds that help you achieve your best. Fortunately, we continue to offer our custom ski program tailored just for you this 2014-15 season.

Get the skis you want, selected just for you, from the best possible selection. Check out our available new skis from Atomic, Madshus, and Rossignol on our website!

I work closely with the ski companies, knowledgeable World Cup skiers, coaches and servicemen to get the best possible information on ski fitting for each brand and model that Ultratune sells.

All skis are selected using the Ultratune Digital Flex Press in our shop. Whether you choose a ski from Atomic, Madshus or Rossignol, you'll get a well-fitted ski with a fast base finish that will result in great performance.

Stone Grinding Schedule at Nordic Ultratune

You've been training this fall and winter to get the most from your skiing, so make sure your skis don't limit all of your hard work!

Prepare all of your skis to run their best with a fresh grind and hotbox service. At Nordic Ultratune, a grind batch starts every Thursday and those skis are ready for shipping on the following Monday - just 4 days later.

Return shipping is typically FedEx Express Saver, which is 3rd day delivery. So skis that are shipped out on Monday will arrive back to you on Thursday.

Here's the upcoming service schedule at Nordic Ultratune. Use these dates to make sure you get your skis ready before your most important races.
  • Skis in by Feb 12th will ship out on Feb 16th and arrive back to you by the 19th
  • Skis in by Feb 19th will ship out on Feb 23rd
  • Skis in by Feb 26th will ship out on March 2nd
  • Skis in by March 5th will ship out on March 9th
  • Skis in by Mar 12th will ship out on Mar 16th
  • Skis in by Mar 19th will ship out on Mar 23rd
    You can see that there are still service batches scheduled before the marathons. There is still time to get a fast grind on your skis before the season's biggest races! But don't delay! Fill out our Work Order and get your skis ready! Fast boards are a joy to ski on and they're a real advantage.