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Powerslide Rant: Inline Skate Frame Axles, Boot & Frame Repair, Bolt Thread Repair, Expected Life of Skates

So I've heard others complain about the Torx bolts on Powerslides, axles coming loose, etc.  I've always let stuff like that go in one ear and out the other, because until recently I hadn't had a single problem with my Powerslide R4s.  They've always worked great.  Fit well, very comfortable.  Performed as advertised.

However, I've had some problems recently.  Skates are approximately 1.5 to 2 years old.  Powerslide R4s with 4x100 frames.

1. Front right axle came out approx. 40 miles into the July 4th Silver Comet skate.  Never happened before to me.  Wheels had been rotated prior to the skate, axles recently tightened, same as I've always done.  (right skate)

2. Upper part (fabric/plastic) of skate is coming loose from the molded bottom part.  Some glue that a shoe repair place said would help didn't work.  Other suggestions on how to bond these parts of the skates together?  (right skate)

See this picture, blue plastic part is just starting to separate from the carbon-looking plastic on the heel:
http://nettracing.com/htm/complete/Powerslide_2008_R4_Venom_Skate.htm

3. Front bolt holding the frame to the boot came loose last night on my skate home from work.  First time this had ever happened to me.  (left skate)

4. Stripped threads on the right frame, second axle.  After re-tightening the bolt holding the frame to the boot on the left skate I checked tightness on all the bolts.  Without applying much pressure (believe me, I'm careful to not overtorque given the soft metal being used) that axle just turned freely.  (right skate)
http://nettracing.com/htm/frames/Powerslide%20V-Type%20Frame.htm


Okay, I'm done venting.  But I have some serious questions:

1. How long do you get out of a pair of skates?

2. Any brand of skates that are known for higher quality?  (I've heard gripes about other brands, so I realize the grass may not be greener ere.)  Life is too short to worry about this crap.  When I rode my motorcycle to California and back I put new tires on, new brake pads, hanged oil, and went.  This was a 15-year-old bike, by the way, 6000 miles, much of it in the middle of nowhere on my own.  I didn't have o worry about it making it or not.

3. Recommendations on boot repair (with regard to item 2 above)?

4. Recommendations on repairing a stripped thread on a frame?  Or are there other solutions to this issue (item #4 above)?  Or must I bite he bullet and buy new frames ($225)?

Comments

roadskater's picture

Some thoughts on Powerslide frame thread fix, inserts, helicoils

Here are some ideas... 

  1. Check eBay for someone who has a single side frame instead of a pair. Any of us that have single undamaged frames might consider putting them out there. Too bad eBay fees make this perhaps not feasible over the long term it might take for the seeker to find.
  2. You might be able to drill or drill and tap (put new threads into) the hole to a larger size and use some other kind of axle from a stock K2 or RB skate (Sun&Ski Sports at Duluth has 4 big multilevel tackleboxes full of skate hardware with some cool stuff like longer axles to use with brake assemblies) or if willing to Frankenstein further you could even use a carriage bolt and nut if buying a new frame kills ye (and it would me) and you don't mind funny looks (I loiks 'em mesef).
  3. My favorite thought here: You might be able to fill the hole (at least partially) or at last cover the old threads on the frame with a metal mending epoxy then retap it the SAME size. Be sure to get the tap with the correct size (like the m6 part of m6x1.0) and pitch (like the x1.0 part). SEE * below for notes on that. (Either JBWeld or one of the putty stick kind with metal in it...Omnisteel?...marine epoxy with steel powder mixed in. I got Omnisteel or whatever similar name at walllofchina-mart in the boating and automotive section to fix my HP Pavilion laptop hinge problem). Also, I saw some aluminum repair epoxy (i think it was) in the Harbor Freight store last weekend. Harbor Freight has the tap & die sets cheap or you could perhaps find just the size you want in an automotive store like Auto-Zone (I know they have the thread inserts/helicoils). Mine was m6x1.0 metink. I retapped the threads in several old Verducci boots. Once, I got by with just cleaning the threads with the tap of the right size; other times I used thread inserts/helicoils.

[For those with stuck bolts who can't get them out no way whatsoever even with heat carefully applied, you can use a screw extractor (HF has these too). Drill a hole (try a reverse drill bit and you might get lucky) then insert the screw extractor and pray or hope or wish as you prefer.]

You probably know this but for those who don't, to do thread inserts, you drill the old threads out and make new, larger ones, then put an insert in that has the new larger size threads on the outside of it and the old smaller size threads on the inside. then you get a NEW bolt at a specialy shop (either a skate rink or usually an "automotive fasteners" store, but you might get lucky at Lowe's or Home Depot...but take your wrench with you if you want to be sure to get the right thing. I got some great m6x1.0 deep head allen bolts but when i got home they needed a wrench size other than the standard 4mm. I took them back because I only want to carry 1 size wrench (sometimes I have to carry 2 of these anyway to be sure to get things loose with the dual-bolt brake assembly.

* I seem to recall hearing the thread pitch (the part after the x in the thread description, like m7x1.0 or whatever) is different on the Powerslides, which keeps one from just swapping in standard hex (allen) head skate axles, but I don't recall where I saw it. They of course explained (Powerslide) why their axles are better. I think this is in a faq doc I ref'd on roadskater.net but I am not sure. If I find it I'll try to comment the link here later. I think it was from a powerslide.de site.

Oh yes. Some Loc-Tite blue (the temporary kind) should help with the bolts chattering loose. I'm trying Teflon pipe thread tape for sticking bolts and to see if it helps with chattering as well. I'll follow up on that later.

Those are what I can think of. I think I like the Omnisteel/JBWeld one best. A little on the threads, let it harden, tap it out. I'm willing to bet KenO is knowlegeable in this. I bet you are too.

Hope this helps.

eebee's picture

Life of skates

TomB: "Okay, I'm done venting. But I have some serious questions: 1. How long do you get out of a pair of skates?"

Great question! I'd love to see everybody's answers.

I managed about 6 years on second hand Verducci speed boots, and about 7 years on a Verducci 5x80 frame that I bought brand new at Skate Escape. However, I'm not a spendthrift, and am not easily tempted by the latest, greatest material possession. 

I'm on my second pair of second hand Verducci speed boots and about 3 years into a brand new Salomon 3x100+84 frame. Of course everybody wants to know how I consistently break speed records and win all events ;-). 

Anyway, it was a real eye-opener for me a few years ago at Cowtippers after A2A, with several Triangle-area skaters, Johnny from TX and three or four fast Empire skaters from Manhattan. Spanky NY skater Jesse announced that he goes through a new pair of boots every 6-8 months or so. I concluded that I had been too polite to my skates all these years and that maybe I'd be faster if I stomped the devil out of them instead.

I'd say the life of people's skates varies wildly based on the wide range of skaters: rich, poor, aggressive, gentle, light, heavy, healthily interested, obsessive...ok we're all obsessive...

timv's picture

Definitely consumer-grade

It's impressive how much the cost of speed boots has come down in the past decade, and Powerslide seems to have had as much as anyone to do with this development. But I think that serves to show just how price-sensitive this market is. For sure you can still spend a many times more for a pair of boots, but my impression is that the premium in that case goes mainly to paying for features such as custom fitting and lighter weight. I'm not noticing anyone making a big noise about their super-bulletproof quality as justification for a several-times-higher price.

Re stripping axle bolts, I had this problem on a pair of Mogema M55 frames and never came up with fix that really fixed it. I didn't pay all that much for them myself (eBay purchase) but I thought of them as being positioned in the upper part of the market. My solution was to pull out a very old and very much loved pair of Mogema Diamond frames and put them on the newer boots instead. I've never had any problems with those frames and very much hope that the trend continues.

My general impression from goofing around with all sorts of mechanical devices over several decades is that threading one piece of aluminum into another piece of aluminum is for the most part a losing gamble. (Even threading steel into aluminum can be troublesome.) Aluminum tends to be sticky and not very strong, and it's very common for threads in aluminum to sieze and tear out. I think this is why there is such a well-developed market in thread insert and thread-repair kits!

But there's aluminum and then there's aluminum. That element is unbelievably sensitive to alloying and heat-treating, so any two pieces that weren't cut from the same piece of raw stock are pretty much unlikely to have exactly the same physical properties. The aerospace and Formula 1 folks go to enormous trouble to test and verify every piece that they use, but I don't think it'd be practical for skate frame makers to follow their lead. It seems that we'll get away with a not-so-great mechanical practice some of the time and other times we won't, and maybe there's not a lot more to say about it than that.

Nevertheless, I use blue Loctite religiously. It didn't help things on the M55 frames once the threads had gone away, but it definitely does help to keep good threads threaded. I even put a drop under the washers of the frame mounting bolts to keep my frames from slipping out of alignment (Katherine G's suggestion--she actually does this stuff for a living!) and so far so good there too.

Data point: My Hyper boots are probably about the same quality as Powerslides (maybe even from the same factory--we've noticed several mass-market boot brands with too-close-to-be-coincidence similarities) and they're mostly fine after a bit more than two seasons, skating regularly but not super high miles. The only real problem so far is one broken ratcheting buckle.

As for the loosening pleather upper, I wonder if that's just one of those Monday morning/Friday afternoon assembly-line things. Dunno what kind of glue the shoe repair place recommended but I'd be trying a general-purpose cement, Duco or the like. Follow instructions, make sure everything's nice and clean, give it the time it needs to set; it shouldn't be that tricky.

Thanks for starting the discussion! It's an interesting topic and something we all deal with. (Your comment about your cross-country motorcycle ride in this context reminds me of Robert Pirsig.) And good luck with the skates.

 

Update

The saga continues. Apparently this has as much to do with incompetence as it does quality. Nettracing sent me the wrong axles! I didn't even know Powerslide has two different size axles! I recently ordered some new axles because I have had some attrition. One axle got stuck and I mangled it trying to get it out. Another got mangled because I tried tightening it with various rocks when it came out during the Silver Comet skate on the 4th. And so forth. Plus Sam wanted a few extra axles. Yes, it's all Sam's fault! Anyway, point is I ordered a bunch of 8 new axles (why not get a new set?). I was sent a 10-axle kit (standard packaging, apparently). This web site appears to show two kits: Powerslide uses both M6 and M7 axles (apparently the difference is that M6 is a 6 mm diameter and M7 is 7 mm diameter). http://theskateshop.home.att.net/inline-tools-parts-hardware.html So the 6 mm axle I put in that slot stripped the threads, but not so much that the right M7 bolt won't hold. Still, some damage has been done. P.S. Yes, I've read Pirsig. The return motorcycle ride was ... difficult. Lots of horrible weather. Worst was when crossing the Rockies, the Vail Pass and Eisenhower Tunnel. Approx. 11,000 ft. elevation, heavy rain, heavy wind, road construction, looking at snow in the valleys below me. Front tire wandering 5-6 inches back and forth, probably most due to the grooves in the road due to the construction but who knows. I had to slow to 20 mph or so at times, which only made the ordeal take longer. Couple days later, riding through torrential rain, tornado warnings, gusty winds, and lightning in western Kentucky. There was hail reported, too, I later found out but I didn't catch that, luckily. There were also fun times, too, when I explored the top speed of my VFR in Nevada but I probably shouldn't talk about that here! But overall I don't think I'll do another cross-country ride again for a little while!

Follow-up

For the record: Richard at Nett Racing (http://nettracing.com/) did refund the money for the incorrect axles. He and I talked and he said that from his point of view Powerslide has one axle kit and that's what he sent when I placed my order. If at some point Powerslide changed axle bolt sizes in the past, or if the frames they sold me are unique in some way, they didn't inform their resellers. I don't want to tarnish the image of Nett Racing because I've had nothing but good experiences with them. Only reason I waited to post this for so long is because I hadn't had a chance to check my account to verify that the refund had been posted. So I ended up corresponding with Powerslide (their importer in Tampa, actually). I sent pictures comparing the original axles that came with my Powerslide skates (complete skate: boot, frame, wheels) with the new axles. They are clearly different sizes. No response since I sent the pictures. My Powerslide skates have worked very well for me, I'm not disappointed with my purchase. But I am disappointed with the customer service at this point. Fact 1: Their standard replacement axles don't work. Fact 2: Their importer hasn't yet specified which axles can be used. You be the judge... By the way, I'm not posting this because I'm angry or have some vendetta against Powerslide. On the contrary, I've been very happy with their skates--they fit my feet very well and they simply work. I'm just informing others what to expect and, yes, venting a little bit. If I have to go to replacement frames to keep using these skates, that's what I'll do.
timv's picture

Thanks for the follow-up

I'm glad that you've passed along your experiences thus far with Powerslide and Nett Racing. I think you've been more than fair, and getting information like this out helps everyone. Btw, here's a retailer who has figured out that there are two sizes of Powerslide axle kits: http://theskateshop.home.att.net/inline-tools-parts-hardware.html 7mm axles are listed under "Skate Tools" and the 6mm ones under "Bolts, Slide Nuts, Axles, Spacers," but both are there. (I have no connection to that vendor, not even as a customer. Google found it for me.) That webpage also has a listing for "Standard M7x1 Axle: Fits most BONT, RAPS, POWERSLIDE, and MOST OTHER Inline Frames," for whatever that's worth. It looks like they're hex head instead of Torx at the same price, which is a potential plus.
roadskater's picture

Yeah What He Said

Google found that site for me back when I was looking for axle and brake parts and tools. Looks like a nice homebrew site. The Bont tool looks like it might have a steel bearing puller, and the Zandstra definitely does. I note they have the buckles listed too. I imagine they don't stock most of this but drop-ship, but that's fine, too. Anyone have experience with this vendor? Anyone have experience with either of these tools? Any experience with the Cado Motus aftermarket brake? I know skateymark has had the Powerslide add-on brake and I think he felt it was not as well designed as the formerly available add-on Gatorbrake. (I think that's right.) Anyone have experience with Matter Image 100s or Explore Triumph Premium Race 100s? (Explore are usually great except for their clear formulation for the Escalade...don't go there.) How about bearings? What have you used that you think was worth the money for outdoor skating? Anyone see products there that they use and like?
roadskater's picture

Thanks for the Follow-Up on Axles and Richard Nett

Thanks tomb for keeping us up to date. It's good to hear how things turn out along the way. I agree that Richard Nett is very helpful and certainly always tries to be, even on the odd occasion where he may not have the answers. He's been helpful to me even when he knew I didn't have the funds to purchase what he had for sale at very nice prices, even. It's good that you got in touch with someone at Powerslide. Keep us posted as we may be able to get another contact together if the Tampa one doesn't come through. I take it you held off on any repairs for now, and that the correct axles are working? As for my C4 Powerslide boots, I'm happy too, especially since I bought them barely used. I note that the collar around the top of the ankle has disintegrated from being entirely soaked for long periods I guess, but this is not bothering me (yet?) and perhaps even eases my Achilles a bit. I can't or don't choose to sacrifice to get the latest and greatest, so these Powerslides have been great for me. A great follow to my Verducci V-Teks...very similar but more stable since newer and less traveled. At this point I would hope to be find exactly the same thing again and that's a good compliment to any pair of speedskating boots. Again, thanks for the follow-up and I'll look forward to hearing more.

Hello skaters abroad I just

Hello skaters abroad I just stumbled upon this thread the other day, and thought that you might want to hear a bit of info from someone that works for a company that has powerslide gear. I cant vouch for the USA branches of powerslide, but i know that the european branches are very very helpfull and if there is a product that you would like to know anything more about, its just a question of you asking them for more info, or going through the info that they supply you with. so for a retailer to "blame" powerslide for not giving any info on a specific part, thats really a fault of the vendor, not the company, and yes, i do know this sounds like free powerslide commercials, but its more to put into perspective the info that is available. to "end" this, ill say, if there is anything anyone here would like to know about a powerslide product, please ask :) and ill get to work on it right away. As for the cado-motus brake, the pad is quite soft, if anyone remembers the early 90's quad brakepads without a metalring in them, thats what comes to mind when you use it. its annoying because its an otherwise good product. and in regards to the "change" of frames and bolts, the vision series of frames 5*80mm / 5*84mm for sure are both with a different bolt than the frames after that period. take a look here fx http://www.skatepro.dk/en/23_37-3838.htm these i know for a fact fit on the old frames (got a pair of hardcore boots with the 5*84mm frames here) Cheers Dean

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