VH Speed Skating - Blade Maintenance

Blade Maintenance

Blade basics

It is important to ensure that your skates are completely dry before storage or transporting your skates.

Best practices include:

  • The use of an absorptive rag. A rag with oil on it will not fully dry your blades.
  • Use cotton blade covers to transport and store your skates. Plastic guards retain moisture and will rust your blades.

Fig 1

2. Plastic guards should be used to properly protect your skates when walking to and from the ice. As dirt can accumulate in plastic guards, we recommend that you rinse them out from time to time. This will assist in maintaining a sharp edge on your skates which will improve your performance.

Fig 2

Klap Skate Cone Maintenance

Klap cone maintenance- gluing

Your Klap skate cone on your blade can come loose due to extreme cold weather conditions or due to a crash. If you find the cone has come loose there is a easy solution to fix it using super glue. Click on the video icon "Klap Cone Maintenance Gluing" for instructions on this easy solution.




VH Boot Hardware Specifications

This list is designed to provide VH customers with the information to purchase replacement or spare parts for their VH equipment from any nut and bolt supply shop in your area. The following items will work with all VH model stock short track boots as illustrated below, along with the VH Titanium Blade (Ti1) and the VH Ti2 blade.

Click on the pdf icon below to download a 1 page parts list that can be printed and used when going to the nut & bolt shop to get replacement parts

PDF icon

VH Hardware list

To view this list in the FAQ section click here

Maintaining your bend

As a bend in blades is a critical component to skill development and performance, it is important that the following process is followed after a skater falls or clashes blades.

 

How does a bend change from a fall or clashing of blades?

When a skater falls or clashes blades together it can cause a torque in the blade with can affect the amount and/or the smoothness of the bend in the blade.

Fig 3

 

Fig 4

The first step to restoring your bend is to loosen and then re-tighten one of your bolts on your skates. Only one bolt on each skate needs to be loosened and tightened. Either the front or back bolt can be used.

This is an excellent intervention to use during a practice should you experience a fall or clash blades.

This is also an excellent option during a competition if a collision occurs during the start of a race and the race is called back. If the ice is being repaired and time allows, this may be a quick fix to restore the bend in the blade before the race restart.

As the loosening and retightening of the bolt on your skate may not totally restore your bend we recommend that you review your bend using a gauge.



The following information will provide you with the best practices to monitor the bend and rocker of your skates using a gauge.

What is a gauge?

The gauge is an instrument that was developed in the early 1990’s, which revolutionized the ability to monitor and adjust both the bend and rocker in speed skate blades. The accuracy Fig 5of the gauge is 0.0001”-.05” of an inch.

Gauge Components

  • Indicator
  • Base
  • Pins
  • Indicator screw
  • Straight edge
  • Indicator set adjustment screw
  • Indicator face
  • Indicator pin

Zeroing the Gauge

It is recommended that before any measurements are taken that the gauge is “zeroed”. Gauges will also need to be re-zeroed periodically between usages as the gauge zero can be affected by temperature or if the gauge has been bumped.

To zero a gauge you will place it on the straight edge (5) and adjusting the indicator face (7) so that the needle reads zero when resting on top of the straight edge. To adjust the indicator face (7) the indicator screw (4) must be loosened, which will allow you to spin the indicator face.

Fig 6

Which side of the edge do you measure for bend?

Firstly you must understand the difference between the concave and convex side of the blade. Historically the gauge was used measuring the convex side of the blade. Due to some imperfections that can occur in blade thickness, high performance skaters started to measure the concave side of the blade as it is the effective side of the edge, which is in contact with the ice.

Fig 7

Measuring the concave side of the blade

When measuring the bend on the concave side of the blade, you will be able to establish a blade that is bent into the corner, out of the corner, and that is straight.

  • A zero (0) reading indicates the blade is straight in that location
  • When the needle travels right (red), 10-20-30 etc. it indicates the bend is going out of the corner.
  • When the needle travels left (green), 90-80-70 etc. it indicates the bend is going into the corner.
  • The further away from zero indicates the degree (amount) the bend is either going into or out of the corner

Fig 8

Best practices for holding the gauge when measuring bend

  • The blade should be checked for burr and removed if found. A burr can greatly affect the readings of the bend as the pins will ride on the burr as opposed to the blade, which will inaccurately be reflected in the measurements. 
  • Sitting in a chair cross one leg over the other resting the ankle/shin on the opposite knee.
  • Holding the skate by the boot, rest the end of the blade on the knee.
  • Using the hand (left), the blade should be adjusted so the gauge sits flat on the blade.
  • Using the opposite hand (right), run the gauge along the blade.
  • Ensure the pins are resting flat on the blade and the blade and/or gauge is not tilted.
Pic 1

Fig 9

Bending Range

The bend in blades is very individual and there are numerous theories which exist. The following illustrations indicate the basic range of bend for short and long track. This example is measuring on the concave side of the blade. Please note bend and rocker work together and impact one another.

Fig 10

Measuring Rocker

What is a rocker?

Rocker refers to the radius of the blade, which is measured in meters. The radius can be consistent or variable, which can enhance a skaters gliding or turning ability. Short Track rockers are rounder (smaller radius) than long track rockers because of the tighter turns [8 meter radius vs 22 meter radius]. The following example will assist in understanding what a rocker is. If you where to put the bottom of the blade on an 8m radius circle it would follow the arc of the circle.

Fig 11

Best practices for holding the gauge when measuring rocker

  • Pic 2The blade should be checked for top burr and removed if found before measuring. Top burr can have an effect on the readings as the pins will be riding on the top burr and not on the blade, which will inaccurately reflect in the measurements.
  • Rocker can easily be measured in a jig before sharpening.
  • Best position for reading rocker is to mimic the same position as the skate would be in a jig. This can be done by sitting in a chair and clamping the boot between your legs
  • Using both hands steady the gauge on top of the blade
  • Ensure the gauge is not tilted and that it is held firmly and square to the blade.

 

Fig 12

Gauge Readings for Rocker

Rocker can be read with the end of the blade pointed in either direction. It is our recommendation that it is pointed in a direction that allows the skater the ability to see the recording increments on the tube. For information on recording bend and rocker please see below.

When measuring rocker the conversion chart is used to convert the gauge readings into a rocker reading, which is measured in meters. The following example shows a rocker indicator reading of 6.3 (sometimes referred to as 63). Using the conversion chart the radius in meters can be identified at this point in the blade (6.3 = 8 meter rocker).

Fig 13

Radius MetersIndicatorRadius MetersIndicatorRadius MetersIndicatorRadius MetersIndicator
4.0 2.7 10.0 5.0 16.0 3.1 22.0 2.3
4.5 1.3 10.5 4.8 16.5 3.0 22.5 2.25
5.0 0.2 11.0 4.6 17.0 2.98 23.0 2.2
5.5 9.2 11.5 4.4 17.5 2.9 23.5 2.16
6.0 8.4 12.0 4.2 18.0 2.8 24.0 2.11
6.5 7.8 12.5 4.0 18.5 2.7 24.5 2.07
7.0 7.2 13.0 3.9 19.0 2.67 25.0 2.03
7.5 6.7 13.5 3.7 19.5 2.6    
8.0 6.3 14.0 3.6 20.0 2.5    
8.5 5.9 14.5 3.5 20.5 2.4    
9.0 5.6 15.0 3.3 21.0 2.41    
9.5 5.3 15.5 3.2 21.5 2.36    

Rocker Range

The rocker in blades is very individual and there are numerous theories which exist. Short Track rockers go from a standard 8m rocker (63 gauge reading), to complex variable rockers which incorporate multiple radius’s throughout the blade. Long Track rockers are generally consistent (22m-25m) throughout the blade. Variable rockers are more common in Short Track vs Long Track.

Fig 14

Set-Up For Monitoring Bend & Rocker

  • Skaters should start by marking their blade in one inch increments.  This can be done using a ruler to mark the runner of the blade with a felt tip marker.
  • The blade should be marked on the concave side of the blade runner so that both bend and rocker can be recorded using the same marks.
  • Measurements should be taken starting at the same end of the blade (ie toe to heel) each time.

Fig 15

Using a recording sheet, identify which end the measurements will start from and which mark the measurement will start at. This is done because the first mark that the gauge accurately starts reading at is when both pins make solid contact with the blade. The illustration below shows the first reading will start at the 3rd mark for both bend and rocker.

Fig 16

Recording Bend & Rocker

What to record in your  equipment log:

  • Date
  • Left and Right Blade
  • Plot each recording mark
  • Comments
  • How your blades feel
  • Training phase (End, Speed, Recovery, Build)
  • Results (Personal Best, Records)
  • Ability to perform different track patterns and execute different skills ( ie defensive track, outside and inside passing)
  • Location (ice rink, indoor or outdoor (LT specific))

When should you record your bend and rocker?

Readings should be taken periodically throughout the season. Skaters should work with their coaches to identify specific days within their yearly training program (YTP).

VH TIP:

You need to record your set-up when you feel good as well as bad. A common mistake for skaters is to only look at their equipment when things are not going well. Without recordings from when you feel good, it is difficult to know what to change and by how much. 

Rocker Templates

10 meter Variable/Compound Rocker

The short track rocker below is a basic template of what is known as a compound or variable 10m rocker. A variable or compound rocker can be used with any skater. General guidlines/ theories are:

  1. Stronger, faster, technically sound skaters can increase the flat spot of the blade.
  2. For younger skaters that are not as technically sound you would decrease the flat spot on the blade

There are always new theories being discovered, you will develop your own templates that work for you and/or your skaters. This template provides a basic guideline.

Please note that the numbers shown are Gauge Readings and not meters

Short Track 10m Variable Rocker Template

Long Track Rocker

Hand Rocker Flatten Center

Hand Rocker Round Blade Tips

Blade Tip Maintenance

Why?

Personal injury prevention

Properly maintained blade tips (specifically the front of the blade), will greatly reduce the chance that the tip of the blade will catch when pivoting and changing track patterns/direction in ruts.


Reduce injury to others

Properly maintained blade tips will greatly reduce the chance of injuring other skaters. A common occurrence of this is a lower leg kick during the start of a race.

To avoid disqualification from racing

Speed skating rules require all skaters to maintain their tips to a specified radius. Blades not meeting these requirements will be required to be fixed before being allowed to compete.

How are bad (square) blade tips created?

Blade tips will eventually become square and sharp through sharpening. The illustration below shows how a blade tip becomes square from the removal of steel through sharpening.

Fig 17

How do you determine the radius of the blade tips?

  1. Place a Canadian dime on the tip of the blade.
  2. Using a felt tip marker trace around the dime on the blade

Fig 18

After you have traced out the radius you need to grind this material away. Blade tips can be ground down many ways:

  • Side of sharpening stone
  • Dremel tool
  • Bench grinder

The most efficient way is to use a bench grinder. Please note the directions for using a bench grinder, as improper blade direction could damage the blade.

Fig 19