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Author Topic: Eclipse Aurora Blades  (Read 1416 times)

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Online tstop4me

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Eclipse Aurora Blades
« on: October 05, 2015, 05:38:40 AM »
I've skated on Wilson Coronation Ace for many years.  Eclipse has a recent clone called the Aurora, fabricated from 440C stainless.  Has anyone here switched from Coronation Ace to Aurora?  If so, was the feel the same, and did you require less frequent sharpening? 

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Re: Eclipse Aurora Blades
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2016, 10:14:40 PM »
Update:  Here's my review.

The Riedell Eclipse Aurora blade was introduced in early (Jan/Feb) 2015.  So far, I have found no reviews on it.  That’s not too surprising, I suppose, because figure skaters are conservative and are reticent to try out new products, especially given the time it takes to get used to new gear; furthermore, coaches naturally recommend tried-and-true products that they are familiar with.   

Riedell markets the Aurora as an intermediate freestyle blade, a category long dominated by the John Wilson Coronation Ace and the MK Professional.  Intermediate freestyle blades typically sell in the ~$200 range.  The Riedell website lists the Aurora as comparable to the Coronation Ace.  A survey of several online stores indicates that the price of the Aurora is slightly higher than that of the Coronation Ace ($229 for the Aurora vs. $219 for the Coronation Ace standard parallel model).  I’ve skated with the Coronation Ace for many years, but I recently decided to try the Aurora, even though there’s plenty of service life left in my current pair of Coronation Ace.  Why?  The potential for substantially longer edge retention. 

Both the Coronation Ace (standard model) and the Aurora have a traditional blade construction.  Each blade is fabricated from three piece parts:  (1) the blade body, including the edges, the toepicks, and the stanchions; (2) the sole plate; and (3) the heel plate.  The stanchions are attached to the sole plate and the heel plate by brazing.  The braze joints on both the Coronation Ace and the Aurora are smooth and uniform.

The Coronation Ace is fabricated from carbon steel.  Carbon steel blades are susceptible to corrosion (rust) and are typically chrome plated to protect against rust.  Since chrome is relatively soft, the chrome plating is removed in a region on the sides of the blade body along the edges (and, of course, there is no chrome plating on the sharpened hollow).  This region is referred to as the chrome relief.  Typically, the entire blade body is not hardened; only a region along the edges.  The chrome relief further demarcates the portion of the blade body that has been hardened; that is, it indicates the usable portion available for sharpening.

The Aurora is fabricated entirely from Type 440C stainless steel.  Type 440C stainless steel has a well-tested track record in the manufacture of high-grade knife blades:  it has a good combination of hardness, toughness, and corrosion resistance.  Knife blades fabricated from Type 440C stainless steel can be sharpened to a sharp edge and can maintain the sharp edge under hard use.  Therefore, it is also a good choice for skate blades.  Some write-ups imply that stainless steel is inherently harder than carbon steel and that stainless steel will inherently provide a longer lasting edge than carbon steel.   Not quite.  The physical properties of steel depend not only on the composition but also on the mechanical and thermal treatment.  The edges of the Aurora blades are hardened to Rockwell C 55 – 57 (this information was supplied to me by a Riedell representative and is being disclosed with permission); I have found no published hardness values for the Coronation Ace or similar carbon steel skate blades.   For some knife blades, Type 440C stainless steel is hardened up to Rockwell C 60.  Manufacturers, however, need to balance hardness, toughness, and processing costs:  as the hardness of steel increases, it tends to become more brittle, and edges become more susceptible to chipping; maximizing hardness, while maintaining toughness to reduce susceptibility to chipping, requires more expensive processing.  For the target application and price point, the hardness range of the Aurora is a reasonable choice.

No chrome plating is needed or used on the Aurora.  The sides of the blade body and the bottom (exposed after mounting) surfaces of the sole plate and the heel plate are polished to a mirror finish.  In particular, the sides of the blade body are mirror polished all the way to the edges.  Since there is no chrome relief to demarcate the hardened portion of the blade, Riedell provides a simulated chrome relief by laser etching a profile boundary on the outside surface of the blade body.  The profile boundary runs along the entire length of the blade body from the drag pick to the end of the heel.  This is a clever feature, providing a reference profile for the skate sharpener and the skater; that is, the skater can readily determine whether the sharpener has maintained the design profile.  According to a Riedell representative, the depth of the hardened region is at least 4 mm, providing for a long service life; on both of my blades, I measured 5 mm out of the box.  A sharpener, though, will likely need to touch up the drag pick and the spin rocker to maintain the proper profile when a significant depth has been ground down.

The Coronation Ace is available in a parallel edge geometry (standard) or in a parabolic blade geometry.  The Aurora has a parallel edge geometry.  According to a Riedell representative, the blade thickness (distance across the flat sides of the blade body from inside edge to outside edge) has a design value of 0.150 inch.  I marked off 13 spots along the length of the blade from the drag pick to the end of the heel.  I used a micrometer (resolution 0.0001 inch) to measure the thickness at each location.  Along both of my blades, the thickness is within +/- 0.001 inches of the design value.  This indicates good manufacturing quality control.  Uniformity of blade thickness is particularly important if you use the Pro-Filer hand sharpener, since that sharpener uses the sides of the blade as a guide for the sharpener.

The Aurora has a 7 ft radius main rocker; same as for the Coronation Ace.  The pick design on the Aurora is also similar to that of the Coronation Ace:  a pronounced straight-cut drag pick, a pronounced straight-cut top pick, and an array of cross-cut intermediate picks.  The intermediate picks on the Aurora are much sharper than those on the Coronation Ace.  They are razor sharp; be extra careful when you wipe the picks or when you stretch soakers over the picks.  The spin rocker on the Aurora is flatter than that on the Coronation Ace (this is by visual comparison; I don’t have instruments to measure rocker profiles).  The Aurora comes out of the box with unsharpened edges.  Prior to your first skate, you must have the blades sharpened.  The recommended radius of hollow (ROH) is 7/16” (same as the recommended ROH for the Coronation Ace).  I have mine sharpened to 3/8” ROH, however.

I have skated on the Coronation Ace for many years.  I concentrate on edge work and spins; I don’t do jumps.  For edge work, I didn’t need any transition time after switching to the Aurora.  For spins, it took me about ten sessions to get used to the flatter spin rocker (this will vary with the individual skater). 

Now for the key advantage.   I like my edges almost razor sharp.  With the Coronation Ace, after a fresh sharpening, I would touch up the edges by hand after ~15 hours, and resharpen after ~30 hours.  With the Aurora, I have gone about twice as long.   This is an isolated data point:  frequency of sharpening will depend on many parameters such as the skater, type of skating activity, ice conditions, radius of hollow, desired degree of sharpness, and conscientious use of skate guards off the ice.

If you are upgrading from a beginner blade to an intermediate blade, you should definitely consider the Aurora on your short list of candidates.  If you are already skating on an intermediate blade, but are unhappy with frequent sharpenings, and do not plan to soon upgrade to an advanced blade in the ~$500 range, you should also consider switching to the Aurora.  In my area, sharpening for figure skate blades runs from $20—$30; fewer sharpenings can result in substantial $ savings, greater convenience, and greater consistency.  The Aurora comes with a 60-day full refund guarantee if you are not happy with it; that reduces the risks of trying it out.

If you are considering switching from the Coronation Ace to the Aurora on an existing pair of boots, note that the geometry of the sole plate and the heel plate are different in the two blades.  You will probably need to plug the old mounting holes in the boot and drill new ones.  Also, the angle between the sole plate and the heel plate is shallower in the Aurora than in the Coronation Ace.  For my boots (Jackson Elite Suede Men), the angle in the Coronation Ace was a better initial fit.  When I mounted the Aurora, I had to progressively torque down the screws over the course of ~6 sessions before the boot conformed to the blade.  Which blade is a better initial fit will depend on the boot.






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Re: Eclipse Aurora Blades
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2016, 05:52:11 AM »
This is a great review! I got the Eclipse Auroras a few weeks ago. I was upgrading from the Crescents that I came mounted on my Riedell Strides. I would highly recommend that if you have Riedell boots with a pre-mounted Eclipse blade that this is a perfect alternative because the mounting is identical from eclipse blade to eclipse blade. I actually mounted my own blades, which I plan to write up that experience another day, but aside from an issue that stemmed from me being new to boot maintenance, it was very easy to change out the blades without taking them to a proshop. I had about a 30 minute adjustment period, literally my first chance to get on the ice after changing my blades was group lesson and by the end of the group LTS lesson, I was able to go into the group jump and spin lesson without any trouble. This shorter transition time is probably because I was upgrading and not making a lateral change. I did notice that upgrading made a substantial difference in my jumps (probably because I can find my toepicks) and my spins are noticeably better (though still a struggle to not drop my shoulder, but I wasn't expecting miracles). So far I am loving these but I haven't used the Aces so no comparison there  :P.

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Re: Eclipse Aurora Blades
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2016, 07:00:19 AM »
That's a very thorough writeup. This should serve as a model for others doing reviews. A lot of work went into finding facts here, not just vague impressions.

Thanks!

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Re: Eclipse Aurora Blades
« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2016, 11:23:28 AM »
I agree, it is a good, thorough review.  Thanks a lot, Tstop4me for taking the time to do that!

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Re: Eclipse Aurora Blades
« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2016, 11:48:49 AM »
Carbon steel blades are susceptible to corrosion (rust) and are typically chrome plated to protect against rust... Since chrome is relatively soft, the chrome plating is removed in a region on the sides of the blade body along the edges

According to what I've been told, some blades are Nickel plated instead. Sometimes the nickel is hardened, and there is no need to remove it. Some people say Nickel is mechanically better than chrome. But MK and Wilson love Chrome because it is shinier, and figure skating is an appearance sport.MK and Wilson do very pretty engraving too.

I have found no published hardness values for the Coronation Ace or similar carbon steel skate blades.

Mike Cunningham told me that empirical measurements for THE EDGE (not the whole blade) of high end MK and Wilson blades, both of which were high carbon steel, not stainless, were about Rockwell 60 - I don't know if that was the Rockwell C scale. (BTW, those measurements were done before MK and Wilson Revolution series blades came out.) (He didn't do the measurements himself - he took the blades to a steel heat treating business for the measurements.)

It sounds like you like the Aurora better than Coronation Ace - right?

I have noticed that Ultima Matrix blades have sharper factory edges, including on the toepicks, than MK and Wilson blades. Given that few skate techs ever re-sharpen toepicks, that might be significant. Is that true on the Eclipse Aurora blades too?

I wonder what kind of record Eclipse has for how often they ship significantly warped blades, and how that compares to other brands. Did your skate tech say?

It's rather interesting that Riedell Eclipse started out as a discount price line, but has been moving upscale. Perhaps there is more profit in that market.

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Re: Eclipse Aurora Blades
« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2016, 05:05:17 PM »
According to what I've been told, some blades are Nickel plated instead. Sometimes the nickel is hardened, and there is no need to remove it. Some people say Nickel is mechanically better than chrome. But MK and Wilson love Chrome because it is shinier, and figure skating is an appearance sport.MK and Wilson do very pretty engraving too.

I believe I’ve discussed this issue before.  Low-end blades are often plated with nickel only.  “Chrome-plated” blades typically are first plated with nickel as an interfacial layer, and then chrome is plated over the nickel.  For chrome relief, typically both the chrome and the nickel layers are removed.  In the Jackson E-X-T process, only the chrome is removed, and then the nickel layer is hardened. 


It sounds like you like the Aurora better than Coronation Ace - right?

Yes.  For me, it’s the right choice because I’ve extended the time between sharpenings by a factor of two.  So it’s well worth the time I spent readjusting to the different spin rocker.   It would be great to hear the experiences of other skaters who switch from Coronation Ace or Pro (also a chrome-plated carbon steel blade) to Aurora.  I’d like to see what their experience with edge life is.  I’d especially like to hear from skaters who do a lot of jumps.  Concerns about rust in carbon steel is not an issue for me, since I dry my blades and boots scrupulously. 

I have noticed that Ultima Matrix blades have sharper factory edges, including on the toepicks, than MK and Wilson blades. Given that few skate techs ever re-sharpen toepicks, that might be significant. Is that true on the Eclipse Aurora blades too?

As I mentioned, the Aurora comes unsharpened out of the box.  As for the picks:  the drag pick and the top toepick are about the same as on the Coronation Ace; i.e., slightly blunted.  As I mentioned, the intermediate picks on the Aurora are much sharper than those on the Coronation Ace.  I believe (not entirely sure) that’s partly (or entirely?) due to the chrome plating on the picks of the Coronation Ace; the chrome plating tends to smoothen out surfaces.  For their carbon steel blades, Riedell Eclipse highlights the fact that there is no chrome plating on their toepicks.  I haven’t handled an Eclipse carbon steel blade, so I don’t know whether the toepicks on them are razor sharp due to absence of chrome plating.  I’d like to hear from jumpers whether there’s any advantage to razor sharp intermediate toepicks.

I wonder what kind of record Eclipse has for how often they ship significantly warped blades, and how that compares to other brands. Did your skate tech say?

I’ve discussed quality control of various brands with several techs.  But I won’t repeat their unconfirmed anecdotes here.  Some things I’ve been told later turned out not to be true.

It's rather interesting that Riedell Eclipse started out as a discount price line, but has been moving upscale. Perhaps there is more profit in that market.

I’m hoping that with Jackson and Riedell designing and producing both boots and blades that we’ll see better products integrating boot and blade designs.  I think progress in the past has been severely hampered because boot makers and blade makers didn’t work together enough.  The analogy I use often is that hotdogs come in packs of 7 or 9, but hotdog buns come in packs of 6 or 8.  What gives with that?


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Re: Eclipse Aurora Blades
« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2016, 07:01:22 PM »
In the Jackson E-X-T process, only the chrome is removed, and then the nickel layer is hardened. 

Do you have a source for that? It's different from what my source said, that E-X-T blades included no chrome at all.

It would be great to hear the experiences of other skaters who switch from Coronation Ace or Pro (also a chrome-plated carbon steel blade) to Aurora.  I’d like to see what their experience with edge life is.

I did use Cornoation Ace, as well as MK Dance, both high carbon steel blades. After running into initial rust issues, I always dried them, but I did not usually clean and oil them, unless they were going to be unused for many days.

When I switched to Ultima Matrix I (with Supreme, Dance, & Synchro runners), a stainless steel blade, my edge lifetime increased by at least 2 - despite that I became somewhat more careless about drying them, and I never clean and oil them. I don't know what the alloy was but the videos at http://www.jacksonultima.com/en/ContentPage.aspx?SitePageId=2d1ZskY3p6rUg7jY6fEfPQ1A2B3C4D5E1A2B3C4D5E indicate that the alloy used in Ultima Matrix II is comparable to 440 i.e., a "high carbon stainless steel" - except that the Matrix II Legacy, their answer to Cornoation Ace and MK Pro, uses 420, a somewhat lower end alloy.

Since I've never used Ultima Legacy, I can't compare it. For that matter, I can't compare anything to the performance of Coronation Ace, because it's been a long time since I used them - and it turned out that my Coronation Ace blades were warped.

The only think that I remember about Coronation is that the MK Dance were much faster, and much easier to avoid crossing tails, than Coronation Ace. I'm not a good enough skater to justify the higher end blades, but they are so better. I loved them instantly. Adapting to the rocker profile of any of the Ultima blades took a lot more time (years), and I initially hated them.

The Ultima rep in the videos makes claims about Matrix II edge lifetimes (2x traditional high carbon steel, 1.5 times other Ultima), but it is always uncertain whether to trust a company rep.

For myself, I greatly prefer stainless steel (Matrix I) to high carbon steel (Wilson Coronation Ace, MK Dance), though I did love the rocker profile of the MK Dance. Both because the edges last longer, and because I feel very little need to be super-careful. Drying the blades by towel, followed by an air dry, is always enough, and I usually stop after just one pass with the towel. (If I skated on dirty lakes and canals, or that were salty, I might feel they needed more care than that. But I don't.)

I originally did sometimes seen rust on my old high carbon steel blades. That's how I learned they needed more care. A few extra dollars for stainless is so worth it.

I assume you don't really mean "razor sharp". If you can shave using your skates, you will prove me wrong. :)

Have you seen the gorgeous razor edge SEM micrographs at https://scienceofsharp.wordpress.com ? I'd love to have his microscope!


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Re: Eclipse Aurora Blades
« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2016, 07:48:42 PM »
Do you have a source for that? It's different from what my source said, that E-X-T blades included no chrome at all.

Here's the Jackson video explaining their E-X-T blades (I think there used to be a more comprehensive write-up, but only the video appears to available now).  Strikes me as a lot of work.  But apparently they can do it economically.

http://www.jacksonultima.com/en/ContentPage.aspx?SitePageId=w8omNN1tpKI9ZU7rBF5bmg1A2B3C4D5E1A2B3C4D5E

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Re: Eclipse Aurora Blades
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2016, 02:20:39 PM »
I got Auroras on my new Riedell 255 Motion skates. I really like them so far. I find them easier to spin on than the old MK Select Classic blades I had on my old skates (20 year old Silver Stars). I am re-learning my single jumps and like them very much for that. The toe pick is good enough without being too big.