I can remember being a youngster with my new baseball glove and diligently oiling it and packing baseball’s in it, tying it up at night to form the “pocket”. It took a while but the end result was a glove that felt good and I had confidence in snagging a hot ground ball with it! To my 12 year old peers and I the breaking in of a new glove was serious business.
Probably the most diligent project of breaking in new gear was hockey skates. When I played it was common to lace up a new pair of skates and soak them in the shower or by pouring warm water into the tops to soak them. Then you would have to keep those things strapped on until they dried to form to your feet! The ultimatum was to use them as they came right out of the box, which created painful blisters and made it difficult to skate.
Wearing in the new toboggan is necessary to get the best performance from it. However all that is required is that it gets used.
Wearing in a new trapping toboggan is really not an issue as these are usually pulled with a snow machine today. The toboggan wears in without much friction felt by the trapper driving his machine through the bush. With Hand Toboggan’s and Downhill Toboggan’s it’s a different scenario.
I have had calls from folks who just received their new Hand Toboggan, and like anyone they were anxious to get out on the trail with their camping gear, snowshoes and new sled! Sometimes they are concerned… “Man, that thing pulls harder than I had expected”… “Do you think I should wax it?” The story is that after they received the toboggan they packed it up for a trial run and this is their first reaction. Once they get some use into it and the snow gets a chance to polish the bottom surface the comments are more like: “Man that thing pulls beautifully…just glides along like a big ski!”
It’s the same with the Downhill Toboggans. I’ve gotten similar calls or emails from folks that just received their new toboggan and report that after Christmas they took the kids out to the toboggan hill and they were disappointed that the toboggan didn’t slide very well! I usually try to set the appropriate expectations with each new customer… “I recommend that you don’t place bets with the neighbor kids on your first toboggan run. New Wooden Toboggans require a ‘wearing in’ process. With a little use on the snow the bottom surface will polish and it will get quite slick. You’ll be up to speed in no time, promise!”
Over the years this bit of communication up front has been a good practice as it eliminates these false alarms and keeps my customers from having a tough first day on the hill! It makes sense that many people don’t think about wearing in their new toboggan. Most likely because their recollections of tobogganing go back to fond memories using the old family toboggan that had been well “worn in” over the years.
Wearing in a new toboggan is a simple process… use it for a day on the hill! If the snow conditions are good you will soon start to notice it speeding up with each run. What happens is that sliding the wooden boards over the frozen snow polishes the bottom wood surface against the snow surface. Excess finish on the bottom surface is polished off as well as the wood itself.
The outside temperature and conditions of the snow make the difference how long the process will take. In warmer weather and wet snow there is less abrasion and the bottom surface will polish much slower than in cold temperatures and dry snow…more abrasive. If you think of sanding wood with 150 grit or 220 grit sand paper and how smooth a sanded board can feel…think of how fine a grit snow is and how smooth it will polish a wood surface!
Once the toboggan is polished by the snow it wears at a much slower rate. The snow polishes the wood like glass…or ice. Once the wood is that slick it slides on snow with little friction. I can remember the first time I unhitched my dog toboggan from the back of my snowmobile after a longer trip and gave it a shove with my foot…it glided across the yard into the lilac bushes! “Wow…that thing moves like nothing!”