Welcome to my diatribe of a skateboard. Volume 2!
I haven’t updated much about the skateboarding side of my blog because no less than a few months in a suffered from a level 2 MCL tear which took me out for 6 months. However, I’ve been getting back to skateboarding again for exercise reasons. It’s more fun to skate than it is to run around the block stupidly. That and if we get bored (like what usually happens on most regiments of being a better human being.) we can practice other things than just skating around in a perpetual loop around the park.
Read on if you want to know more.
Well, it’s interesting because the last article was back in 2017 when we bought our first board off of eBay. Let me just say, although the board did serve its purpose of getting us back into skateboarding. It was horrific!
The “Owlsome” trucks bent from my weight of general skateboarding. We can’t even really olly so the stress on the trucks was just from the sheer weight of my fat ass riding aboard. I did start looking at things about skateboards and how they are rated for weight and it seems that they assume 250lbs is ‘fat’. Well, we’re beyond that by about 75 lbs! Now, the good news is we’re about 20 lbs lighter than when we bought this board. But it’s still not an excuse because we were hammering on these trucks by taking them down stair sets and the like. These things would’ve either bent or shattered. Given that we spent about $20-25 we got what we paid for.
As for the wheels and bearings. They worked, no complaints there. and the pads and hardware worked with no problem.
The experience gained.
Buying a shitty eBay board taught me a lot of things right away:
- We’re certainly not a 7.75 board kind of creature! Skateboarders will usually tell people to start with an 8″ deck if they’re new to skateboarding and work their way from there. But the thing is we’re not necessarily “new” to skateboarding. When we were young the decks we used to skate were considered “pool-school” decks. Think the 1980’s and 1990’s. A lot of these ranged from 8.5 inches in width up to a whopping 12 inches wide! The logic of a wide board is it’ll make it easier when your bomb or jump off of stairs.
- Hard wheels, Hard Trucks, HARD RIDE! – We skate in a city known as Milwaukee Wisconsin, U.S. A. Rated one of the worst roads in the Midwest. Don’t believe me here’s the graph. This type of skateboard configuration is great if you are inside an indoor skatepark or you are on a fresh parking lot. One little pebble and suddenly the boards stop but you don’t! pair this up with a city that is completely confused about how to handle skateboarding in general and you quickly find that your sport is always in a constant legal grey area.
- We probably shouldn’t be skating something where we’re hearing audible wood cracking from the de-lamination that is happening! ;D
New Board GET!!!
S, what the hell?!?
What? It’s my new skateboard! We wanted a board that screamed “HI! I come from the internet!” and thus some of the hardware that we got for it is a little on the “Special” side. Let’s go through some of it all.
Let’s start with the cheapest part of my deck which is the Mini-Logo 8.5″ that we picked up from Zumiez for $20. Why did we choose this deck you might ask? Well, we wanted a blank board that has some level of quality behind it. And the mini-logo did deliver on that. It didn’t instantly de-laminate as our eBay deck did! For those who are new to the world of skateboarding. Blank boards used to have this bizarre social stigma about them that you were a poser, you were cheap, and you flat-out didn’t support the skateboarding community. And somehow, buying a board that has silk-screened graphics or worse still a heat-pressed graphic is going to make the board 100 times more superior.
To which we have to kindly say “Fuck you” to that 1990’s attitude of skateboarding. I’m an artist, I wanted a blank board so we can draw on the board. When you start supporting me as an artist then we’ll start supporting the industry which is skateboarding. Mini-Logo was the best compromise to this situation as it left a lot of real estate for me to place stickers or whatever we want on the bottom of our board.
In the world of skateboarding your deck is going to be the most replaced item of your board. for $20 it serves that purpose. The (place stamp here) thing is a little laughable. They don’t understand how brutal carriers handle packages in general right?
For a company that keeps wanting to say that they are proudly made in Santa Barbara California. Mini-Logo is not the only company that suffers from a state of manufacturing identity crisis. If you are a very large skateboarding company it’s simple economics to outsource your skateboard building off to another country to get a competitive edge against your rivals. But it doesn’t come without its own set of problems.
Skateboarders tend to like to buy fresh maple wood because it has what is called ‘pop’. The ability of the wood to flex and move. It’s where a new board gets is true strength from where instead of the board shattering under the weight of a car it will flex! The problem with this style of manufacturing is the raw wood goes overseas to a Chinese manufacturing facility where it is cut and glue-pressed together. Then it is boated back to America to the distributor in Santa Barbara California to THEN go out to the stores and into the hands of skateboarders. That ‘back and forth’ to china is 3 months old minimum by the time it comes back to the distributor!
There have been talks of better solutions where China would grow the maple trees to cut and manufacture which could potentially bring the turnaround down to a month. Far more acceptable! But will the skateboarding community accept this versus getting American and/or Canadian maple? They’ll tell you “no.” However, if we take this from a vicious marketing professors approach:
With enough sponsors or if the price point is good it really doesn’t matter what the skateboarding community even thinks! You TELL people what they want because they’re too stupid to even know!!! – Rando marketing professor that circle jerks to “Mad-Men”.
Holy shit… That went to a dark place fast.
As a blogger. We are very self-aware that we’re “Part of the problem” when it comes to this type of shit manufacturing. But the skateboarding industry doesn’t help in this situation. A lot of your commercial decks such as Revive, Flip, or even Birdhouse. Go ahead and check out their websites. None of them go into detail about how their boards are made. In some cases, they are not really “manufacturers” by definition. Their “part” in manufacturing is a machine that presses the graphic onto the board and that’s pretty much it! Some of these companies don’t even have that! Just a warehouse of decks that you buy from. Technically, that is a distributor’s task.
With companies hiding their manufacturing processes, how is a consumer supposed to make an educated decision?
You ask us, the skateboarding customer to “Support the skateboard industry!” to which we can question what industry is it that we are supporting? It’s great that your hosting these young adults that want to run skateboarding as their career to which that is a part of the “Industry” but without a complete commitment to a local countries business or at least having the honesty to state that you did not manufacture the blanks then how genuine is your “Industry?” With that logic, we can give Mini-Logo “little” props for legally stating where the boards are coming from. But the industry has set up this perfect storm where if they don’t watch their asses; A foreign company can just walk on in with a cheaper board and wash everyone out.
Stop buying from the Internet! Support your local skate shop!
This is also why I have no problems shopping at Zumiez instead of “Supporting your local skateboard shop”. In part because of how the manufacturing chain works in this day and age. Especially in certain products that a shop sells such as shoes. Show me a skate shoe manufactured in the United States. Please! Leave it in the comments below if you know of a skate shoe that is made in my country of America! We went through a LOT of boxes so maybe there are a few out there! But in our city? No dice! Support local product manufacturing and we’ll talk about the skate shop down the road!
There’s a bigger problem, we are aware of at least three skate-shops in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin region. We visited them all! Let’s just say they need a lesson on how to conduct business! That you probably shouldn’t discriminate against the old overweight guy because that’s the kind of man that will spend hundreds of dollars at your store. Instead, we will walk out that door, Give Zumiez a few hundred in safety equipment. Also, give the internet a few hundred in parts for a complete board. Local shop with bad attitude gets to enjoy NOTHING! Maybe our situation is rare in the respect that the employees at Zumiez even call us by name when we stop in there. But the skate shops in our area are victims of their demise.
Whew! That’s a lot of words on just the deck! We promise not every part of the board will go like this! :D
We got this Grizzly Grip tape because it was on sale! At about $7 it was the same cost as Jessup Grip. Grizzly is aggressive and works! However, as colorful as this was there was something some of my friends found out in the city of Milwaukee Wisconsin. That having Tie-Dyed anything indicated that you had weed. It’s funny at first but kind of annoying when getting asked it all of the time!
Ultimately and for the sake of my shoes, I’m probably going to switch this out with DKL rubber grip-tape. Bring the skateboard back to its subdued black. Granted rubber grip tape peels easier but on the other hand, it’s $9 versus shoes at $50. I’ll accept a little ugliness to save some cash.
For this board, we picked up Shark Wheels. Yeah yeah, we know that these wheels seem Gimmicky. But they do what they’re supposed to do. The softer Durometer allows them to squish a little on some of the bad streets of Milwaukee. We’ve gone through our fair share of pebbles and we’re confident to say that it does repel about %90 of the rocks out there! There’s a handful where it will still wheel-bite the board a little! It does not kick away tree branches either! :D
The biggest thing we will say that shark wheels are great at is dealing with sand patches around beaches. It barely slows the board down where-as stock skate-park wheels would get stopped halfway through!
This is a cruiser wheel. It will probably make tricks like shuvits harder because if you don’t land perfectly it will grip the road instead of slide. You’re going to lose your board balance. Also, because of the size of the wheel if you like your truck’s loose be prepared for a wheel bite! You’ve probably seen a little bit on my board already! So, you either have to tighten the trucks, get bigger riser pads, or grind out some wheel wells in your board and take a gamble that it won’t break apart in those sections.
Within a matter of seconds, the letters were rubbed off of these wheels! I suppose if we were sponsored by these people we’d be worried! My skateboard isn’t a walking billboard for companies like Shark so we’re completely fine with that defect!
We did find it interesting from a manufacturing perspective that they decided to use half-and-half molding versus a standard skate wheel which is just molded in a single container and then lathed to perfection. We suppose that’s necessary to achieve the contours of the wheel.
Oh, since this is Wisconsin we’re talking about. DO NOT skate on ice with these wheels! It does nothing! Also, when you start dropping temp below zero the durometer of your trucks bushing and wheels change. We discovered we suddenly couldn’t turn our board and the shark wheels felt harder and had a bit of a bizarre vibration as they were being frozen. Perhaps we’re the few people that decide that it’s well below freezing and thus, a perfect time to hit the skate park! No one will be there after all!
Like our wheels, we dived headfirst into bleeding-edge technology and picked up these Avenue trucks. We have to say that the trucks in combination with the Shark Wheels made the cruising experience of the skateboard like riding on a cloud. We have the gen 1’s which frankly if we were to purchase this set again we would continue with gen-1 instead of going with lighter trucks. Although I’m just pushing around the city and not grinding on these bad boys I’m happy to say that they do perform their jobs.
There are a few things that worry me a little about my trucks. One of those worries is it looks like they MIG welded the kingpin onto the spring steel of the truck. this is a bit of a head-scratcher. In the early days of trucks when the kingpin got a little too rusty, you could at least replace it along with the bolts to give a restorative look to it. unfortunately, you can’t do that here. Not sure if there was even a good reason to weld the kingpin on. Except perhaps to save weight on a technically heavy truck due to the usage of spring-steel versus aluminum.
I remembered trying to weld onto spring steel in our time and found that MIG welding spring steel caused crystallization and resulted in an overall bad weld. Perhaps we were doing it wrong.
Bushings are important too!
Another thing that we removed is the green bushings as we believe the durometer was rather squishy at a 70 or 80a. and instead replaced them with some bones bushings to make the trucks handle a lot better. Especially for a person of our size and stature (320lbs and six foot three.) topped it off with a little wax on the pivot point of the hanger so I don’t hear rubber-on-metal creaking when we rock back and forth on my trucks.
The second most breakable thing on your skateboard is also important which is your 608RS style bearings to which you are supposed to have 2 of these bearings per wheel. For the past 5 years, we went with VXB bearings because their price point was reasonable, they were one of the few that made extended bearings, and finally, they were the only ones that made ceramic bearings in extended form.
The cool thing about extended (or built-in spacer) bearings is that if you have to change out your wheel there was virtually no mess. There’s no need to speed washers, no need for the spacer in between. The bearings pop-out normal with my skate tool that has the bearing extractor on it without any issue.
Some people like to use the razor they cut their grip tape with to also extract the shields. We get that it’s convenient but we found ourselves destroying the shields by accidentally cutting into them. We tend to use a sewing needle as it leaves virtually no damage on the outer seal as we pry it away.
The first sets of bearings we bought from them was around the end of 2017 and into 2018. They were their stainless steel series. To which I went through a lot of inspection down to taking the balls out of the bearings and inspecting the outer and inner raceways. We use a sewing pin to extract the shield away from our bearings. Then, we use a jewelers flat head to push the cage out of the housing. Finally, we move all of the balls to one side so that the inner racer can fall out. I do all this over two layers of a towel so that not only do we keep track of the balls but we can press down on the outer ring and the balls will slide back into the raceway a lot easier during re-assembly.
Buffing the raceway.
I doubt many skaters will break down their bearings to their raw parts. But I do. I’m going to take pictures from different angles as it’s a little hard to get light into the raceway to show you.
This is a standard 608RS raceway from VXB. It does look rather average in which you look at other manufacturers and how they loaded the bearings in. The raceway itself has a near-mirror like finish but the upper parts are still flat looking. This more than likely will be the area that will build the most rust and make your wheels stop and feel crunchy from rain or snow.
Because we have some serious trust issues with manufacturing companies; One of the things that we like to do with our bearings is taken them apart for inspection and buff them out even further then what the manufacturer has done. We’re using a rotary tool, some buffing compound, and a towel as the friction from us buffing is going to make the bearing rather hot to handle. If you have a steel ball bearing set you can get rust on those as well but the steel balls are always moving and thus they don’t build up rust like the outer and inner racers do.
Spending that little extra time on the raceways pays off big giving that near-perfect mirror finish and will also make the balls ride around the track a lot smoother. In later years we found the quality of VXB going down in respect that the ceramic balls are too stiff within the raceways. That the machining tolerance was unbelievably tight making the ceramic bearings not move around at all! On top of that, there was hardly any grease or oil within the bearing housing. If you try to downhill skate with a bearing that tight then friction will take over making it heat up within your wheel causing damage.
By buffing and re-working the bearing a little they were able to spin a lot nicer and we were able to bring the bearings up to 20,000 RPM using my rotary tool and not experience any friction-based heat coming off of them.
Out of the 4 packs of VXB bearings I purchased for friends in 2019 we had three bearings that presented defects like this. Where the forged steel doesn’t completely cover the radius of the racer. What does that mean to you the skater? It means that areas like this are more prone to building rust and potentially breaking the raceway over time losing the balls inside. To be fair VXB isn’t the only company that I had this happen to. I had a pack of Bones Reds that had the defect in the raceway itself! This is why it’s good to take this apart and check the craftsmanship of it all.
Shock pads and risers.
We made them out of a rubber conveyor belt. What? Don’t believe us? Smash that download button on the side to get the original vectors. All files are compressed to our website standard of 7-Zip. Inside you will find the original Inkscape SVG file, Adobe Illustrator file, and finally an Adobe PDF as well. These are based on the measurements of our trucks and to compensate for the nature of rubber when cutting it the holes were slightly larger at 6.2mm. But it worked for us!
I mean, you could spend 2-5 bucks at a skate shop. But since we had shark wheels the bite was real and thus we had no idea if he wanted to get risers or shock pads. With the help of Grandma’s CNC machine that she uses to cut up her infamous fruitcake. I decided to fire up the machine and cut up some conveyor belts. The Conveyor belt we cut them from had a thickness of 5.5mm which is almost double the thickness of a normal skateboard shock pad. I didn’t mind the thickness because it just means less vibration coming up to my board. We made a lot so if you want some of these pads contact us and we may ship some out! You never know.
Of course, you don’t need a thousand-dollar CNC machine to make your pads. If you just need risers a paint bucket from home depot and a carbide cutting disc on a rotary tool will work just as fine.
Skateboarding is one of those things that we probably should have stuck with for the medical benefits of exercise alone. However, the culture of the ’80s and ’90s was so completely self-destructive that no one wanted to skate anymore. If buying name-brand products got you called a poser. Buying generic products got you called a poser. Then why try at all? Find a new hobby that isn’t filled with a group of dicks.
Thankfully most of those people have probably died of meth overdose and now people can rediscover the sport once again. Despite my medical injuries on the board, it will not stop me from progressing. Perhaps we’ll be able to do a trick or so by the end of the year.
Until next time; That’s what server said.
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