The Downhill Toboggan - Part II

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Our Mission Statement was: “To build High Quality, Practical Sledding Equipment at a Value”…Hmmm…why not scale down our 12’ 3-Board Dog Toboggan? Make it to fit the family for coasting down the hill…and build it the same way! There are none that are better made after all!

So that is what we did. The 7/8” thick oak boards used in building dog toboggans were split and planned to 13/64”. Instead of using 4’ of the board length to make the curl we shortened it to 3’ of the toboggan board, to make a smaller curl for the shorter and narrower toboggans.

We kept the laminated crosspieces and like the dog toboggans no staples or wood screws are used in making these family toboggans. Everything is bolted together with ¼”-20 machine screws (bolts) held with propel nuts along the flat and halfway up the curl. The bumper crosspiece and caps at the tip of the curl are bolted as well with flat washers and locknuts. These toboggans are not coming apart!

In the north a toboggan with a true circle bend in the curl is undesirable. It is too clumsy plowing into drifts and obstacles on the trail. What is most desirable rather is a “slow bend”. The curl should begin coming up gradually until it is well off the ground before it wraps around 180 degrees.

All our toboggans have a tapered edges going up the curl as well. For the Downhill toboggan a 1 7/8” measurement is made “in” from the outer edge at the tip of the curl on either side. Next a pencil line is traced from this mark down the curl tapering back out to the outer edge. These tapering lines are cut out with a circular saw. When this is done the toboggan width gets narrower in the curl as it rises from the ground. This is done to protect the curl should the toboggan tip over on its side with a heavy load lashed to it while traveling. The narrowing of the curl protects it from “catching” or “snagging” the ground and potentially damaging the toboggan. It also makes the curl look cooler!

Red Oak is the preferred wood for toboggan making in the north. It is durable and wears well sliding on the snow. Probably most important is that red oak “moves” more than other hardwoods with moisture content (swells and shrinks). Dry oak boards will take on moisture from the environment making the boards more limber. The primary reasons “flat sleds” (toboggans) are so well suited for hard and heavy work on the northern landscape is that they “flex” with the load over the frozen ground. It is most desirable that the toboggan stays limber…also the old sled maker himself! J

Another feature of our toboggans is that the tie-around rope passes through holes drilled horizontally through the toboggan crosspieces and is knotted with a half hitch knot at the top of each crosspiece it passes through. I’ve never seen this done on this side of the border? This technique is also a most practical solution to the actual function of the tie-around rope. The usefulness of the toboggan would be greatly impaired without a tie-around rope. It is there to secure the load to the sleigh as well as for kids to hang on to when coasting down a hill. It should be a good quality rope attached securely to the toboggan. It is knotted at each crosspiece so that the shifting load of cargo will not pull all the slack into one spot allowing the load to move off the toboggan. Knotting the tie-around rope at each crosspiece keeps everything in its place.

With all of this in mind our first recreational coasting toboggans were made and we had to name them? So what are they?…”Lightweight Dog Toboggans”?…or perhaps…”4-Board Family Toboggans?… we have a product line with other specific toboggans to distinguish. I thought of “Coasting Toboggans”…but then we wanted our toboggans to stand up to towing with ATV’s and snowmobile like many families do. Maybe I should have called them; “All Purpose Family Heirloom Toboggans”?

They are coasting toboggans, and they are made to stand up to towing with ATV’s and snowmobiles. How about…“The Downhill Toboggan”… to identify this one? Ours truly came from a line of toboggan makers tracing back to the original Canadian toboggans about the time of the onset of Canadian Fur Trade. There aren’t any other toboggans out there that embrace all of the tradition, function, and quality of our toboggan. There is none other like it. So perhaps it is appropriate that we named it Downhill Toboggan, because it is unique, and we created it and added it to our product line.

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