Late nights are old news for salty ski techs. When a mountain town is packed to the brim with visitors, an inevitably haggard assortment of used-and-abused skis find their way into repair shops. And back before all of these newfangled machines entered the picture, even the most lightly used skis racked up the man-hours. For years it has been commonplace for night crews to be still hard at work well past 2:30 AM. Old machines were unreliable at best, rocker skis and snowboards overwhelmed antiquated equipment, and unlucky techs were sometimes only able to catch a few hours of sleep in their car before starting the morning shift.
I know nothing of those days. This winter is my first season working the night shift at our tune shop, Rennstall. It received a full overhaul this past summer, and we have all sorts of brand new, reliable, and incredibly efficient automated tuning machines:
The Wintersteiger Basejet is a mechanized P-tex machine capable of repairing the bases of two skis at once, and upwards of 30 pairs in an hour. It features a pivoting dual chamber melting head, and automatically adjusts to the geometry of a ski or snowboard. You know those stylish (and pointless) bases with a combination of clear and black P-tex? The Basejet will change colors accordingly to maintain that never-hit-a-rock look. This machine is fast, effective, and makes the ensuing scraping far easier.
After a quick pass on the belt, the skis are loaded onto the feeder for their journey through the Wintersteiger Discovery machine. Sometimes referred to as the carwash, this machine does it all. Structure, edge angles, polishing and finish, the Discovery handles any rocker profile and any snowboard with ease. When the finished product appears on the exit feeder at the other end, all it needs is a quick detune and some additional wax before it’s ready for the hill.
Just need an edge touch up? The Wintersteiger Trimjet is a self-feeding edger that grinds in both directions. Edge angles are set on a control panel, and the rest is a task of observation. In just a few passes, both side and base angles are ground, and a perfectly edged ski is spit out the other side.
This is not meant to take anything away from the skill of the seasoned Rennstall techs. From complex edge repairs, to extensive base welds, to the secret structures and hand-edging of the race tunes, there is an elite level of work taking place by expert ski technicians throughout the day. But thanks to the advancements in tuning equipment, the process of an overnight, standard tune has become incredibly streamlined and efficient, while the quality of the finished product has only improved.
I understand completely that all of this makes Rennstall sound more like a soulless, robotized factory than a trusted local tune shop. But nothing could be further from the truth. We offer overnight turn-around on our Basic and Full Tune packages, and take pride in staying true to our word. Will we guarantee a race tune or sidewall repair overnight? Absolutely not. That level of work is not something done in mass, and requires many hours of personal attention. But if what you’re after are fresh bases, sharp edges, and the right wax all in time for you to hit the hill the following morning, the night crew has you covered.
The point, then, in ranting about our fancy new tuning machines all comes down to this: 73 pairs of skis and 8 snowboards in a mere eight hours. All with full structure, all edged to their requested angles, and all waxed with the current snow conditions and temperatures in mind. These numbers are from December 26th, and took the concerted effort of only five ski techs. It is an outrageously quick turn-around, and something very few tune shops in the country could successfully pull off.
The era of the night shift running until 4 AM may just be coming to an end at Rennstall. High quality tunes are being cranked out with incredible efficiency, and more and more people are beginning to realize that Rennstall is the most reliable operation in town. If you’re a competitive athlete in need of custom tuning, then you’ve probably already heard of Rennstall and the elite work being performed. But I’m here to tell you that with a revamped shop, all new machines, and a few diligent ski techs, Rennstall is now offering the best overnight tune in Park City. So if your skis need some attention, drop them off at the end of the day – they’ll be ready long before the lifts start running in the morning.
**For any ski techs that have read this blog and may have developed a raging contempt for my privileged introduction to a tune shop, take solace in knowing that no matter how fancy the machines, there is no mechanized alternative to the thumb-shredding task of scraping P-tex and wax on 80+ skis and snowboards. And given my rookie status on the crew, you all know how my nights are spent.
Nate Tomlinson, Content Writer