Roto Tool Cookbook

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The Roto Tool Cookbook is a set of examples to help explain which roto tools to used, in what order and how to use them. You'll find that using roto tools for a team's skis or just your own skis will save you time and energy. You'll also discover how technically easy it is to use the roto tools.

Initial Prep

When you return from a day of skiing and have eaten some good healthy food it is time to wax your skis. The assumption is that you have a ski bench to attach your skis to, a variable speed drill, protective eyewear, a respirator, the roto-shaft, roto brushes and roto velcro with fibertex. The protective eyewear and respirator are safety precautions. A corded variable speed drill will give you the best results. If you are going to use a cordless variable speed drill be sure to have at least two battery packs; the higher the cordless drill's voltage the better.

Let the ski warm to room temperature (20°C). Wipe the ski clear of any water or foreign bits.

Pre-Wax Brushing

If you have the steel roto-brush it will be the first roto-tool to use. [If you have one of the fine, steel brushes it may be used instead of the steel roto-brush.] Place the steel roto-brush on the shaft noting this brush has an arrow indicating the direction of spin. You will want to have the brush so that the lower part of the brush when it is touching the ski will move away from you. You will work with the spin of the brush going from tip to tail (for all brushes). Insert the shaft into the drill as far as it will go. Now lock it in tight. Set the maximum speed on the drill to below 1000 RPM. For the steel roto-brush the maximum RPM is 1000. Setting the drill RPM to 800 or 500 is just fine too. When starting out, a slower RPM speed is the way to become comfortable with the roto-tools. The big reason for keeping the RPM low on the brass roto-brushes (and the steel roto-brushes too) is that you want to clear the micro-structure of the base, without changing the base's structure.

Start the drill and place the brush on the tip of the base and move slowly and steadily toward the tail. The pressure on the ski from the roto-brush should be no more than the weight of the drill. DO NOT PRESS DOWN! Keep the roto-brush level so that the entire width of the base to evenly brushed. You want just the very tips of the brushes bristles touching the base. One pass, the entire length of the ski (or snowboard) should take you about 10 seconds at a steady pace. Make two to three passes.

The steel roto-brush is used to clear the micro-structure of the base and remove a nano-amount of the base to expose fresh base. This will allow the wax to penetrate into the base maximally. This action is achieved by the tips of the brush bristles. This is why you do not want to press down. Press down will bend the bristles so that the side of the bristle goes across the ski (not very useful). Also by NOT PRESSING DOWN you will not heat the base material by friction.

Now remove the roto-shaft from the drill with the brass roto-brush. Take the roto-velcro and wrap either the coarse (green) or fine (white) fibertex around it snugly. Then place the roto-velcro on the roto-shaft and the roto-shaft in the drill. Remember to secure the drill tightly. The speed (RPM) setting for the drill should remain the same as previously. Starting from the tip and moving to the tail you will now roto-fibertex the base. This will remove any "hairies" from the base that have occurred due to skiing or that were raised by the brass roto-brush. Use no more pressure than the weight of the drill. Be sure to keep the tool level. Again, each pass should take about 10 seconds. Make several passes until the base appear glossy. Then you are done.

The first ski is now ready for waxing. Switch skis so that you can use the brass roto-brush and roto-velcro with fibertex on the second ski (or board). Then the second ski (or board) will be ready for waxing.

Post-Wax Brushing

Now wax the skis as you would normally and allow for the regular cooling period. Once the wax has cooled sufficiently scrape the skis. Remember that you want to scrape the skis with light pressure. Too much pressure will force wax out of the ski base. With the scraper you are looking to remove the bulk of the excess wax. The roto-brushes will remove the remaining excess wax gently while exposing the ski base's structure. After scraping the skis allow them to sit for another 15 minutes. This extra sitting will help improve the up take of wax into the base (especially if it's is a nice warm room). The excess wax on the surface delays the wax sinking deeper into the base.

Now switch out the roto-velcro (with fibertex) from the drill and switch in the horsehair roto-brush. As with the brushes used earlier start at the tip and move toward the tail. REMEMBER: DO NOT PRESS DOWN! The drill should still be spinning the roto-brush so the bottom moves away from you. Make one or two passes. It should take about 10 seconds to go the length of the ski. The brown brush is the stiffest brush and is used for removing the final layer of excess wax from the ski base. By moving the horsehair brush slowly, yet constantly from tip to tail, with no downward pressure the bases will be prepared safely, quickly and effectively.

The final pass is to polish the ski base. This will expose the fine structure of the base. If you have waxed with a highly fluoronated wax then switch now to the soft horsehair roto-brush. For low and medium fluoronated waxes switch to the grey brush. With softer non-fluoronated wax switch to the black nylon brush. Switch to the white nylon brush for hard, non-fluoronated waxes.

Now polish the base with the above selected brush. REMEMBER: DO NOT PRESS DOWN! Keep the brush level and let the tips of the bristles do the work.
Again each pass should take about 10 seconds. You should make at least three passes. Ideally you want to make polishing passes until no more wax is being removed (no wax powder) and then do 1 to 2 extra passes. These extra passes allow the ski (or board) to be fast immediately. You may have heard that after waxing some skis need to be "skied in" before they acheive their best glide. This is a result of the snow crystals brushing or polishing the last bit of excess wax off the base. Instead of taking 5 to 10 minutes to "ski in" the wax, take an additional one or two 10 seconds passes with the finishing brush!

You're done!
Roto-brushing makes the process of brushing so much easier. Where you would have spent 2-4 minutes brushing with each brush by hand it now takes just seconds per brush! Plus you aren't tired and your arm muscles can be used on the course.

Advanced Tip: As the ski base cools after you place it outside it may contract slightly causing some wax to squeeze out. The larger the temperature difference between outside and the wax room the more significant this will be. You can let the skis get cold outside for 15 minutes and then roto-brush the skis while they are very cold. Do this quickly if you bring them back into the wax room as you do not want the skis to warm, or do this brushing outside. Make one slow, light, no-pressure pass with the polishing roto-brush.

Roto-Corking Fluro Powders, Blocs and Gels

Cork roto-tool

One of the fastest, safest and effective methods for getting flurocarbon powders, solids/blocks and fluids into the ski base is by using a roto-cork. The spinning of the roto-cork warms the wax into the base. The fine control that the roto-cork with your variable speed drill provides helps ensure even coverage with overheating the wax or ski base. Often irons will overheat a wax and thus change the wax's physical properties. This of course can mean the wax won't perform optimally.

note: remember to prime the roto-cork before use (see below).

Attach the roto-cork to the drill securely. Now apply the wax:

Start the drill slowly so that the wax is not spun off the base. The slow drill should warm the wax enough to have it stick to the base. Make one pass at least across the base at this speed. Once the wax is sticking you can increase the drill's RPM. Remember, NO DOWNWARD PRESSURE! Move the drill with roto-cork from tip to tail. You can oscillate the drill from side to side a few millimeters as you go down the base. This will help even the coverage on the base.

Now let the ski cool for 15-20 minutes. Then polish the base as you would normally with a horsehair brush (roto or hand).

Priming the Roto-Cork

Before using your brand new roto-cork for the first time you need to prime it. The new cork is "dry"; devoid of wax. If you use an unprimed cork it will absorb a large part of the wax you are applying. At the end of the corking your cork will be primed, but you may be misled into thinking that the base has absorbed all of the wax. Your base may actually be underwaxed at that point.

A primed cork will already be coated with wax and will not absorb the wax you are putting into your base.

The easiest way to prime the roto-cork is to use a pure fluro wax bloc or a high fluro wax bar. The 0°C temperature range is a good selection for wax. Take the wax and crayon the entire surface of the roto-cork. Be sure to cover the entire roto-cork edge to edge. Do not worry about placing excess wax on the roto-cork. When crayoning the wax on use firm force (about 5 lbs or 2.2 kgs). Then let it stand in a warm place for a couple of hours so it is absorbed.

Building Your Roto-Brush Collection

If you are just starting with using roto-brushes the best brush for Nordic skis is the combi-brush with matching handle. This brush has a combination of the horsehair (brown) and the white nylon on one shaft. Before waxing you can use a fine steel hand-brush and fibertex. Then after waxing and scraping you can use the horsehair half to remove the final excess wax layer and the white to polish the base. And you can do it without switching the drill at all! We recommend this for recreational and light fitness skiers.

The Skigo roto-handle comes as a double handle only. If you have just one 100mm brush use the spacer. With the double handle you can have two standard (100mm) brushes on the same shaft so that you do not need to be switching brushes as frequently. With this the brown (horsehair) roto-brush is the first to have followed by the white nylon roto-brush for finishing.

After the horsehair brown and white nylon roto-brushes the best one to get is the steel roto-brush. These brushes are very instrumental in exposing the base structure for waxing. This improves base structure for waxing. This improves the uptake of the wax and raises any small micro-hair material on the base. The small micro-hairs add drag to the ski and being raised allows the fibertex to easily remove them. If you are a racer then this brush is a must to have; no discussion, no arguement!

The Skigo roto-tools order list:

  1. Handle (Double with spacer),
  2. Brown (Horsehair) for initial bulk removal,
  3. white nylon finishing,
  4. Steel for exposing base structure to new wax,
  5. Roto-Cork for applying pure fluros and fluids,

Cleaning Your Roto-brushes

After a while your roto-brushes will start to accumulated a lot of "wax dust" on the bristles. The following recommendations for cleaning are for roto-brushes.

The nylon-based roto brushes can be cleaned in 80°C water. This means you can use the dish sink you hand wash dishes in or use the top rack of a dishwasher without the water heat enhancer. Do not use chlorine or other strong chemicals when washing them. A small amount of mild soap or no soap at all. The nylon-based brushes are Black, Grey and White.

The natural-based roto brushes can be cleaned in 40°C water. This means you can use the dish sink you hand wash dishes. Do not use chlorine or other strong chemicals when washing them. A small amount of mild soap or no soap at all. Do not use a dishwasher with the natural-based roto brushes. The natural-based brushes are Brown Horsehair.

For clean the roto-handle wipe the surface with a dry cloth to remove as much wax and dirt as possible from the shaft and both sides of the protective shield. You may use a cloth dampened with wax remover to remove difficult wax accumulation; be sure to allow the roto-handle to dry thoroughly before using. DO NOT place the handle in water as this may damage the ball bearings.

There is, of course, no reason to clean the roto-cork. You want to keep the roto-cork primed with wax. However, over time the roto-cork surface may become rough resulting in too much heat and/or the cork burning. You will want to take #120 grit sandpaper and smooth the roto-cork. We recommend you do the sanding while the roto-cork is NOT attached to the drill. Spinning a roto-cork over sandpaper will generate a lot of heat. if you are holding the sandpaper with your hand you may get burns. BE CAREFUL. Home

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