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Author Topic: Where figure skating blades go when they die  (Read 889 times)

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Offline AgnesNitt

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Where figure skating blades go when they die
« on: December 06, 2015, 02:07:50 PM »
This guy has an 'unlimited' supply of used figure skating blades, including blades of national, olympic and world competitors. He makes them into knives

http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/showthread.php/1000233-Knife-out-of-Ice-Skating-Blade
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Offline riley876

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Re: Where figure skating blades go when they die
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2015, 02:25:00 PM »
There must be good money in reconditioning "worn out" high end blades.

i.e. Reprofile, reharden, resharpen.   et voila - Like new.

Clearly high end skaters won't be interested (blades are minor cost compared to coaching+ice time obviously), but mid-range skaters might be well interested in having a cheap high end blade.

Offline AgnesNitt

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Re: Where figure skating blades go when they die
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2015, 05:21:19 PM »
Eventually the blade loses so much edge you have to chop off part of the toepick. That's why they don't get reconditioned.
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Offline riley876

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Re: Where figure skating blades go when they die
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2015, 05:31:31 PM »
Sure the teeth have to be ground in deeper to match, but how is that a problem?

Offline AgnesNitt

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Re: Where figure skating blades go when they die
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2015, 06:23:31 PM »
If you're doing doubles and above you need the extra teeth.
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Offline Query

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Re: Where figure skating blades go when they die
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2015, 07:34:23 PM »
>riley876 wrote:
>There must be good money in reconditioning "worn out" high end blades.

You can re-condition slightly worn blades that are only slightly messed up. Really good skate techs do this all the time, fixing what someone else messed up a little.

(BTW, many skate techs try to repair somewhat warped blades - but sometimes they break when you try.)

But it isn't so easy to re-condition seriously worn or messed up blades.

When you trim the toe pick teeth, that effectively moves the toe pick further forward. You would have to re-profile the whole blade, and grind off a bit of the tail, and re-shim the mount, to restore the original full effective profile and front/back tilt, and restore the original distance over the ice. And don't forget to resharpen the toe-pick edges. Combined, that's a LOT of work. In effect you are virtually making a new blade.

I did much of that on a pair of old MK Dance blades, for a while, just to see if I could. I also tried to change Ultima Dance blades to resemble an MK Dance blades, though I gave up on that.

But, by the time you need to make such major changes, you have removed a lot of the hardened steel. There is possibly more left under the plating, but you would have to mill off some of the nickel or chrome plate. I'm not a machinist, but I think that is serious precision machining, if you want to do it evenly and symmetrically. And when you are all done, you would end up with a little bit softer steel, whose edges wouldn't last as long as on a new blade.

There is more precision milling to do if the blade has a parabolic grind, or is tapered or side honed. (MK and Wilson say they sell some blades that are both parabolic AND tapered - I'm not sure what that means, since it sounds contradictory.)

Could you re-harden the edge? I can't tell you how. There is a good reason why the major blade makers are all very knowledgeable about metallurgy, sometimes more knowledgeable than they are about skating! Maybe a blacksmith would feel up to trying... I discussed doing this with a steel worker (who wasn't afraid of working with very hot metal), who was trying to make his own blades just for fun; he said that each steel alloy needs to be hardened at it's own proper temperature and conditions. If I understand correctly, MK and Wilson may do it with a combination of heat and electrochemistry, over a period of days.

What I'm basically saying is that, on a one-off basis, it is a lot of work, and may require a fair bit of expertise and experimentation.

:) In the end, most skaters are more interested in skating than in buying and learning to use machine tools, metalurgical tools, and skills.

But if you you love machine tools and metallurgy, I would love to hear about your experiences trying.

Does that answer your question?

Offline tstop4me

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Re: Where figure skating blades go when they die
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2015, 02:37:51 PM »
I’m in basic agreement with Query:  reconditioning worn-out high-end blades is not viable.  In particular, rehardening the edge.

(1) Proper heat treatment is complex and depends on the specific alloy composition. Wilson and MK keep their alloy compositions under wraps.  Even if a manufacturer specifies a nominal grade such as 420 stainless steel, there are still variations among suppliers.  The link that AgnesNitt gave at the start of the thread contains another link:  http://www.heattreatinfo.com/ice_edge_knives.htm.  That guy discusses turning used hockey skates into knife blades.  That guy is a metallurgical engineer who specializes in heat treatment.  The first step he took was analyzing the alloy composition with a mass spectrometer.  That’s not a piece of equipment most techs have.

(2) If we are discussing traditional carbon steel blades, then (a) the blades are chrome plated (nickel plated for low-end blades) and (b) the blades are brazed onto the toe and heel plates.  Therefore, you simply can’t throw the entire blade assembly into a furnace or quenching bath.

(3) If you want to heat treat only the edge, typically you use an RF induction coil (or array of coils) for localized heating.  Again, this is a specialized piece of equipment most techs do not have.

(4) Japanese master swordsmiths can produce extraordinary sword blades by hand.  This takes a decade or so of experience.  Commercial production of skate blades requires specialized equipment, as would reconditioning worn-out skate blades.

Offline Query

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Re: Where figure skating blades go when they die
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2015, 05:08:15 PM »
Three nitpicks:

1. I think I am correct in saying that when you chrome plate, you probably nickel plate first.

2. Also, MK and Wilson used to advertise (maybe still do?) that they used "silver solder" to hold their high end blades together - rather than brazing or welding. M.C. says that is because if you get the blade too hot, it probably warps too much - already a problem with silver soldered figure skates.

3. I am pretty sure (not certain) that Ultima Matrix blades (their top end) do it differently. They advertise that the use "E-X-T" technology. One person told me that is a "hardened nickel" plate, which possibly doesn't need to be ground off at the bottom, because, unlike ordinary nickel and chrome plate, it won't flake off irregularly when sharpened. And instead of soldering, they appear to use a combination of adhesive and screws. Paramount apparently only uses adhesive.

-------------------------------

Wouldn't you keep trade secrets if you were turning a few pennies worth of raw materials into something that retailed for (in some cases) hundreds of dollars? So a lot of this thread is speculation.

I though for a while about trying to buy fancy brand seconds and returns, reconditioning them, and reselling them to people who didn't need perfection, but there are a lot of gotchas, as well as not knowing what I didn't know I had to know. :) Besides, I'm not sure if the fancy brands would sell the seconds and returns.

A lot of people donate their hardly-used skates (and skating outfits) to the Kids On Ice charity at the Fort Dupont Ice Arena, in Washington, DC, for the kids to use. That's a different form of recycling. But, aside from the tax write-off for the donors, not a way to make a living.

Offline tstop4me

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Re: Where figure skating blades go when they die
« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2015, 07:22:37 AM »
Three nitpicks:

1. I think I am correct in saying that when you chrome plate, you probably nickel plate first.

2. Also, MK and Wilson used to advertise (maybe still do?) that they used "silver solder" to hold their high end blades together - rather than brazing or welding. M.C. says that is because if you get the blade too hot, it probably warps too much - already a problem with silver soldered figure skates.

3. I am pretty sure (not certain) that Ultima Matrix blades (their top end) do it differently. They advertise that the use "E-X-T" technology. One person told me that is a "hardened nickel" plate, which possibly doesn't need to be ground off at the bottom, because, unlike ordinary nickel and chrome plate, it won't flake off irregularly when sharpened. And instead of soldering, they appear to use a combination of adhesive and screws. Paramount apparently only uses adhesive.

Well, one good nitpick deserves another. ;)

1.  When a top plating of one metal is applied to a substrate (base structure) of a second metal, sometimes the top plating does not adhere well to the substrate.  In these instances, one or more interfacial layers are first applied to the substrate before the top plating is applied.  These interfacial layers promote adhesion to both the substrate and the top plating.

When we say “chrome plating”, we are usually referring to the top plating.  Whether chrome-plated skate blades use an interfacial nickel layer, I don’t know.  But it’s not relevant to my discussion.  What I originally wrote was that low-end blades are nickel plated.  By this I mean that the top plating is nickel, not chrome.  For example, Wilson at one time sold introductory blades (Mercurio and Jubilee, both now discontinued) advertised as nickel plated.


2.  “Silver soldering” is a common popular term.  But industry standards now discourage use of that term and actually declare it to be incorrect.  “Silver soldering” is in fact a subset of brazing.  If the filler metal has a melting point above 840 deg F (450 deg C), then the process is brazing, not soldering.  As far as I know, commercial silver-based filler metals used for high-strength joints all have melting points above 840 deg F (450 deg C).  If this is not correct, please let me know.

American Welding Society.  BRH:2007.  Brazing Handbook, 5th Edition, Chap 1, pg 2:

"The term brazing refers, in fact, to a group of processes.
The American Welding Society (AWS) defines
brazing (B) as a group of joining processes that produce
the coalescence of materials by heating them to
the brazing temperature in the presence of a brazing
filler metal that has a liquidus temperature above
840ºF (450ºC) and below the solidus temperature of
the base materials. The brazing filler metal is distributed
between the closely fitted faying surfaces of the
joint by capillary action.1, 2 The term brazing temperature
refers to the temperature to which a material is
heated to enable the brazing filler metal to spread
and adhere to, or wet, the base metal and form a
brazed joint.3

This definition serves to distinguish brazing from
the other joining processes of soldering and welding.
Brazing and soldering share many important features,
but the term brazing is used to refer to the
joining processes performed above 840ºF (450ºC),
while soldering refers to the joining processes performed
below this temperature. Brazing differs from
welding in that in brazing the intention is to melt the
brazing filler metal, not the base materials. In welding,
both the brazing filler metals and the base metals
are melted to effect the coalescence of materials."


<<Note:  There are welding processes that do not use a filler metal.>>


American Welding Society.  A3.0M/A3.0:2010.  Standard Welding Terms and Definitions.

"brazing (B). A group of joining processes producing the
bonding of materials by heating them to the brazing
temperature in the presence of a brazing filler metal
having a liquidus above 450°C [840°F] and below the
solidus of the base metal. The brazing filler metal is
distributed and retained between the closely fitted
faying surfaces of the joint by capillary action. See
Figures A.1, A.3, and A.6."


"silver soldering. An incorrect term for brazing or soldering
with a silver-containing filler metal."  (Emphasis added)


<<By the way, several websites state that high-end MK blades (such as Phantom and Gold Star) are “hand brazed with bronze” instead of being "silver soldered".  I don’t know whether this is true.  I could not find it on the official MK website.  From the nearly identical wording, I suspect one site posted it, and other sites copied it.>>

3.  I used the term “traditional carbon steel blades”.  The Ultima Matrix blades are not traditional.  Neither are the Wilson and MK Revolution blades.  But again, not relevant to my discussion.  The point I was trying to make with respect to traditional carbon steel blades still applies to nontraditional blades.  When you have a completed blade assembly that contains materials [whether they be chrome, nickel, silver alloy, aluminum, or adhesive (especially adhesive)] that would degrade at temperatures required for heat treatment of steel, heat treatment becomes real difficult.






But let’s not get bogged down in metallurgical minutiae.  Let's return to the key point

There must be good money in reconditioning "worn out" high end blades.

i.e. Reprofile, reharden, resharpen.   et voila - Like new.


This comment implies that reconditioning a worn-out blade would be a straightforward process.  I believe you and I are in full agreement that reconditioning a worn-out blade would not be a straightforward process.   Possible?  Yes.  Viable for a profitable business?  No.

Offline Query

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Re: Where figure skating blades go when they die
« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2015, 02:15:16 PM »
tstop4me, you win. I'm not a metallurgist, or a welder, and will defer to your knowledge.

>I used the term “traditional carbon steel blades”.  The Ultima Matrix blades are
>not traditional.  Neither are the Wilson and MK Revolution blades. 

In what respect are Revolution blades not traditional carbon steel blades?

>When you have a completed blade assembly that contains materials [whether they be chrome,
>nickel, silver alloy, aluminum, or adhesive (especially adhesive)] that would degrade at
>temperatures required for heat treatment of steel, heat treatment becomes real difficult.

Makes sense. But there are non-heat techniques to temper and harden steel. Might any of them
be practical?

Also, do you think you could put a heat sink on the part of the blade that is plated, and just heat the tip?

BTW, I suspect that for those that have the tools, knowledge and skills, it might only cost a few dollars per blade pair to mass produce blades - which would make reconditioning them silly and economically disadvantageous for someone who had the tools, knowledge and skills. Both because it might cost less to make a new one, and because it might reduce the selling price of the new ones you could make.

For making your own, an interesting question might be whether a steel mill or heat treatment plant could deliver pre-tempered, edge hardened and plated sheet steel, which you could cut to shape using a laser or water cutter to produce runners. Searches like this suggest you might be able to, if you order in quantity.

You could then bolt the runners, into a suitable blade holder, in a convenient interchangeable fashion - something that you can find references to doing since the early-to-mid 20th century (I know at least one skater who used "Perfecta" [sp?] mount interchangeable runner blades, in the days when hockey and figure blades were similar), which was also used in Ultima Matrix I blades (though with junky quality bolts, and without washers), and which is still common in the hockey world. I honestly don't know whether a bolted connection alone is capable of being strong enough for triple and quad jumps. But hockey players are pretty hard on their blades too. (Hockey skate techs keep straightening blades that are bent in blade collisions.) If it isn't strong enough, adhesive could be added, though that loses the interchangeability. Besides, we don't all do triples and quads.

With your knowledge, tstop4me, maybe you could make your own blades? And sell them cheaply (or not :) ) to the figure skating community? MK, Wilson and Ultima would either hate you, or buy you out...

Offline tstop4me

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Re: Where figure skating blades go when they die
« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2015, 03:18:04 PM »

>I used the term “traditional carbon steel blades”.  The Ultima Matrix blades are
>not traditional.  Neither are the Wilson and MK Revolution blades. 

In what respect are Revolution blades not traditional carbon steel blades?



They are not traditional carbon steel blades in the sense that the blades are not brazed onto steel heel and toe plates; they are attached to a carbon fiber support structure (not sure what the proper term is). How they are attached, I don't know.  As I cleared up in another post, the steel in the Revolution series is the same as the steel in the traditional series (Wilson and MK nomenclature).  Sorry for the confusion.

Offline AgnesNitt

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Re: Where figure skating blades go when they die
« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2015, 05:20:45 PM »
The Riedell carbon steel blades are 1075 carbon steel.
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