Featured Montana Crystal One Reviews

Discussion in 'Tuning Techniques and Tool Information' started by L&AirC, Oct 17, 2018.

  1. L&AirC

    L&AirC PSIA Instructor and USSA Coach Skier

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    I'm curious if anyone has any experience having their skis tuned by a shop using this. A local shop that usually does a pretty good job recently got one and there is a lot of chatter circulating on it but I don't know of anyone that has had their skis tuned and they have skied them since the tuning.

    I've always been a believer in "It's the magician, not the wand" when it comes to using tools, but technology keeps advancing and we have some amazing "wands" available to us. I'm also a little leery of people using new tools but they've been up and running for a few months now so I would things they've knocked the bugs out.

    I have a couple pairs of skis I need to get fixed after I botched the tune so bad I made the them unskiable and I'm getting two new pairs that I want to have set. All race skis; 2 SL and 2 GS. All I really want done is to have the base edge set, and preferably to .75 on all of them.

    I usually do my own tuning to include setting the base edge, but my time has become so limited, if I could save a couple hours and get them set right by someone else, I would like to do that. Plus, I drive by this place on the way home from work and wouldn't have to lose time to traveling.

    Thanks,
    Ken
     
  2. Doug Briggs

    Doug Briggs Making fresh tracks Pugski Ski Tester Industry Insider

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    I agree it is the operator that matters. The operator will decide what patterns to put on the stone, how many passes, when to redress the stone and otherwise use the tool to provide the tune.
     
  3. graham418

    graham418 Out on the slopes Skier

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    My local ski shop uses the Montana Crystal Glide machine. It gives excellent results, consistently. Another local shop uses the Wintersteiger machine. I haven’t any experience with it , but friends say it is consistently excellent as well.
    As with anything, the skill of the operator is the difference between success and mediocrity
     
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  4. Dwight

    Dwight Practitioner of skiing, solid and liquid Admin Moderator

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    Machines are like computers, they make bad users do it quicker. :)

    Go to the shop and request to see skis that have been done and inspect them.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2018
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  5. BGreen

    BGreen Out on the slopes Skier

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    It is absolutely the wizard, not the wand. I have seen horrible and race-ready tunes come off the same machine. As a couple generalities, assuming a perfectly calibrated and maintained machine, and an operator who knows what s/he is doing, the Montana robots do an exceptional job with base angles. They are IMO absolutely the gold standard. Side angles can vary a bit, especially at the tip and I don’t know why. I think Wintersteigers, particularly the Race NC cut a noticeably cleaner structure. Montana structures take some work to break in and always seem to leave some longitudinal scratches where a piece of debris got dragged along the base. I didn’t believe I could tell whether a ski was structured on a Montana or Race NC by looking at the base, but I could. Both skilled operators.

    Second, the Montana robot takes some of the operator out of the equation. It is easy to get a feed error on most Wintersteiger machines and spin the stone on the base or have an area where pressure was incorrect. That’s nearly impossible on the Montana.

    Third, to be blunt, I don’t believe you have the skill to properly set the base angles owing to the fact that you are human and tools are crude. You can easily put a 1.5 degree bevel on a base with a 0.5 degree tool by applying too much pressure. There is almost no difference between 0.5 and .75, or .75 and 1.0, but you can certainly feel the difference on the snow.

    Getting back to the wizard and away from the wand, make sure that the ski is ground flat before the base edge is set, and make sure that the operator has a very accurate, calibrated method to check the base bevel at several points along the base.

    Last, because of the way the Montana picks up the ski, there is no need to remove the plates and bindings, and that is a huge advantage to the Montana. To be honest, unless you are an athlete competing for hundredths of a second, the Montana is the way to go. If you are competing for hundredths, find a shop with a Race NC and have a plan to accurately set the base edge.
     
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  6. Thread Starter
    TS
    L&AirC

    L&AirC PSIA Instructor and USSA Coach Skier

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    This is great info. The reason I'm considering going this route instead of setting the base edge myself is after years of doing it successfully, and better than any of the local shops (exception is SkiMD in MA), I made a mistake at the end of last season setting the base edge and it cost my a rotator cuff.

    I've been having the local shops, many that hand tune the base edge on race skis, just do a grind and nothing else. Even the ones that use a WS to set the base, had a bit of variation and I was getting a more consistent result tuning the base by hand. Probably because I've been willing to go slow and make sure it was right each step of the way. I would set the base and side and with the fancysmancy gauge for checking the base and side edge and it showed I was delivering better results. Then I went through this process on a new pair of skis checked with the gauge and all is well. The base was consistently very close to .75 based on the gauge and my eyeballs ability to read it accurately.

    The issue was that I had asked the shop to get them flat and put in a nice race structure. When I was setting the edges and checking them, I was in a rush and didn't notice the bases were mostly flat but the center of the base was a little concave. This meant the reading I was getting of .75 was closer to 0.

    The next time I skied them was in a race and we had just gotten a bunch of snow and it was on the warm side. The skis were so aggressive that once on edge, they didn't want to let go. I ended up doing poorly and thought it was just the snow and the skis were too sharp for the conditions. At this point a didn't think there was anything wrong with the angles that were set.

    I was a little upset so I decided to take a leisure run after the race. I was going slow up to a blind spot that I always look down first (kids tend to just sit where you can't see them). I was going about walking speed, the coast was clear and I decided to go. Both edge dug in hard and I double ejected. If the area was flat I would have just fallen over. Because it was steep, I went about 30 feet in the air. Reaching out to catch myself and whamo! Felt exactly like the time I tore it 8 years earlier. I knew what happened as soon as I did it.

    A couple weeks later I'm at a race with my athletes (in a sling) and asked the race director to check out the skis. He took them for a run and said they are way too aggressive and considered them unskiable. That night I looked at them in my shop and is when I realized the base was slightly concave and was throwing off the reading on the gauge.

    I'll bring them to the shop and double check them with the gauge at the shop.

    Thanks for the
     
  7. Dakine

    Dakine Getting off the lift Skier

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    I think machines can set the base bevel angle accurately but have problems with the width of the base bevel.
    The amount of material they remove depends on the pressure, speed and feed rate of the wheel.
    It also depends on the hardness of the edge material which is an unmeasured variable.
    A good hand tuner who takes a lot of time and uses dye to see exactly where the file is hitting doesn't have this problem.
    The width of the base bevel is not frequently discussed in these tuning discussions.
    A very wide bevel can make skis very fast at the expense of precise turn engagement.
     
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  8. Philpug

    Philpug Enjoying being back on two skis. Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    I will add to the others findings, the machine is only as good as the person operating it. I worked at a shop that had a high end machine like this and I would not consider letting the monkeys that ran it touch my skis, thats when @smoothrides started working on them.
     
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  9. BGreen

    BGreen Out on the slopes Skier

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    Just to be clear, I have zero personal experience here, but I've been told the TrimJet 2 is a big improvement. I know our serviceman has been happy with the results, but I have not personally paid attention to those skis.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2018
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  10. Chenzo

    Chenzo At the base lodge Skier

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    We call them cat tracks. It’s very easy to avoid these, if you know what causes them.
     
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  11. smoothrides

    smoothrides Delivering Speed Industry Insider Pugski Sponsor

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    I guess I'm late to the party but hope I can clear a few things up.

    While the technician is ultimately responsible for the quality of the work, the tools must be capable of producing a quality finish. I would say it's generally 50/50 tools and technician. However, a great tech can do some pretty amazing things with dated technology, and at the same time the latest advances in automation over the last 10 years have really raised the baseline for most shops with even a relatively inexperienced ski tech.

    That said, at the highest levels you really need the best of both to have repeatable results and precision tuning.

    Montana and Wintersteiger have many similarities but also have some very distinct differences that can each be advantageous in various situations.

    The biggest difference is their approach to edge preparation. Wintersteiger is using ceramic disc technology for both base and side edges on all their automated machines. When calibrated properly these machines will produce a very accurate bevel in the range of +/- 0.1 degree. However, out of calibration or if the ski hasn't been ground completely flat, these discs can easily over bevel the base edge, and unfortunately these machines aren't routinely maintained in most shops. Also, the tip and tail on the base edge are polished with a hard abrasive rubber wheel, or finished manually after the ski exits the machine. Manual finishing would also be necessary when using the trimjet 1 or 2. Yes, the new trimjet is a much better machine, but still requires regular calibration and in my opinion a more experienced operator than the original.

    Montana on the other hand uses these polishing wheels for base bevel exclusively for the entire length of the base edge. They dress the wheels for radial tuning, where the bevel is variable from approximately 0.5 under foot growing to between 0.7-1.0 at the tip and tail depending on the width of the ski. This usually makes for a wonderful on snow experience for most skiers and makes it nearly impossible for an inexperienced tech to over bevel your skis. However, if you're looking for a precise base bevel it's difficult to do with this system. Some of the automated Montana machines have precise control over the pressure curve for base edge grinding, which allows you to get pretty close to what you're after with some trial and error, but repeatability is difficult. Also, Montana still uses sanding belts to grind side edges in their automated machines with few exceptions. As far as I'm aware the Crystal Race is the only exception. These belts are backed by a ceramic block to produce a very accurate side edge bevel, but the finish is inconsistent due to belt ware, and never measures up to a disc finish.

    Another major difference between these manufacturers is the use of a grinding stone that moves up and down to apply pressure to the base of the ski. Montana offers this technology on the pro version machines, and I think by default the Crystal One because of the narrow stone and base edge unit sharing a driveshaft, but many of the other Montana automated machines out there do not have this technology.

    Wintersteiger on the other hand uses this technology on all their machines. The importance of the pressure curve being adjusted from the stone in this way is that it allows the stone to come into the tip and tail softly as the ski passes over and produces a much flatter grind. On the Montana machines that do not have Pro technology, the technician has to set the height of the stone and continually adjust as the stone gets smaller with dressings. As the ski enters the machine it pretty much runs into the stone and flexes hard at the tip and tail. As the ski flexes in these areas it bends into a convex form, thus grinding the middle of the ski and not along the edges. When the ski straightens back out, you'll notice some serious concavity in the tip and tail. Generally this is okay and will not affect performance so long as the base bevel has been properly applied.

    At the highest level, the Crystal Race has full CNC control of the dresser, Pro technology, disc edge preparation on the side edge, and control of the pressure and speed curves to make some really amazing structures. As far as I know none of these machines have made it to North America yet.

    As for the Wintersteiger Race NC producing a better quality grind, that is a bit misleading. There are a few factors, and it's not an apples to apples comparison.

    The biggest difference is that the Race NC is a manual machine, and for great results requires that the bindings be removed. Any properly calibrated manual machine with a quality stone, diamond, and technician will produce a very flat ski with the bindings removed. Where the NC shines is it's CNC control of the dresser and variable pressure curve. With the right knowledge and ability this machine will produce amazing structures. That said, with the right stone, diamond, and operator any modern manual machine will produce amazing structures. While the most advanced structures today ARE coming from manual CNC controlled stone grinders, they are not coming from Wintersteiger or Montana, and are not publicly available anywhere in this country for skis with edges.

    To touch on another related comment from above, the idea that the structure from one type of machine needs more break in than another, or that one machine has more tics in the structure than another is completely false and determined solely by the stone, diamond, structure parameters, grind parameters, coolant temperature, and post dressing stone preparation. It has nothing to do with what name is painted on the side.

    So, the cliff notes would be, if you're looking for precision edges go with a Wintersteiger and great technician. If you're not sure about the quality of the tech, the Montana is a safer bet. Wintersteiger will have better side edge finishes. They are both capable of producing amazing and terrible grinds.

    Good luck!

    Cooper
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2018 at 12:46 AM
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  12. Philpug

    Philpug Enjoying being back on two skis. Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    If we had a way of featuring a specific post, this would be one to do that with.
     
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  13. Catskill carver

    Catskill carver Out on the slopes Skier

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    The shop at windham and especially Ms Cohane has extensive tuning experience with the shops Montana. 00A3B323-62E9-467A-AFF5-E19C448F2EF6.jpeg
     
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  14. Zrxman01

    Zrxman01 Putting on skis Skier

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    Great read!
    Thank you Cooper.
     
  15. ScottB

    ScottB Getting on the lift Skier

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    I use SkiMD in Framingham, MA. Mike DeSantis has allways done perfect grinds and bevels on my family's skis. He is not low cost, but you get what you pay for. He installed a new machine last year (Winterstieger I believe) and can now do base bevels as low as 0.25 deg. I tried it on a pair of skis and I actually like it very much. I measure my skis after having them ground and his work is always perfect tip to tail. He fixed my 140mm wide powder skis (ski logik) that had horrible factory bases. In the middle of the grinding process he called me just to let me know he couldn't get the base perfectly flat without removing too much material and was I OK with the base being a little concave. Since he couldn't deliver a perfect bottom, he wanted me to know it ahead of time.

    L&airC
    If you can have a chat with the grinding tech at the shop you are considering, you can usually get a sense of how skilled they are. Ask some questions and see what kind of response you get back. I talked to one shop tech I was considering and he kept talking about what kind of structure he could put in my bases. I finally forced him to talk about edge bevels and angles and he said "Oh, I don't want to grind down the base edges, that could ruin the ski if I take too much off". SkiMD has never disappointed me.
     
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  16. Dakine

    Dakine Getting off the lift Skier

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    Always beware the grinder monkey.
    I once watched a guy who was absolutely sure he knew what he was doing cut most of the chuck off of a $250,000 CNC lathe.
    I also took my Rossi Race Masters into a shop to have the bad factory grind reset to .5/3.
    He pushed the wrong button on his Wintersteiger and I got the rental 1/2 grind.
    By the time I had them flattened and I hand tuned them to .5/3 at least half or the fileable edge was gone.
    Beware....

    untitled.png
     
  17. Thread Starter
    TS
    L&AirC

    L&AirC PSIA Instructor and USSA Coach Skier

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    Cooper,

    This is incredible and I agree with Phil. Fantastic unbiased useful information. And if this is what you bring to the party, feel free to show up late whenever you want.

    Thanks for taking the time to put together such useful information.
    Ken
     
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  18. Thread Starter
    TS
    L&AirC

    L&AirC PSIA Instructor and USSA Coach Skier

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    ScottB,
    I am a fan of SkiMD, but between the drive, his price, and my need, I can't justify it. I would be hard pressed to find anyone doing a better job in New England. Might be some but no closer and I doubt less expensive. Last time I went there I left $600 poorer. Granted, I don't have my daughter's race skis to worry about anymore, but just for mine will be over $400. More if you factor in the hour + drive, diesel and time.

    At least the shops around here will work with me on price and what they actually do. SkiMD has always been very fixed in what he does. He won't (to his credit) let a ski leave his shop unless it is perfect. Nor will he accept a ski into his shop he can't make perfect. I can ask a local shop to just do a base grind and hand them back. SkiMD won't do that. Maybe he just won't for me because we don't have a strong relationship. When I brought him a carload of skis, he wouldn't discount one penny. His shop, his business model. On the skis he couldn't make perfect, did he charge less than his perfect price? I would bet not and I don't blame him. I work in an industry that the things you can't make perfect, you usually end up working longer on, so you have to put in extra effort and are losing money on things that are less than perfect.

    Don't get me wrong, I think Mike D is fantastic and incredibly talented but he's out of my price range. Especially since most of my skis are for coaching and aside from me screwing up my tune at the end of last season, the tune doesn't' have much of an impact on my race times. I'm just not that good in the gates...yet.

    If I wasn't such a cheap bastard or had "extra" money I'd be there. I don't see that happening for a while since my daughter is in year three of a 6 year degree program:(.

    Ken
     
  19. ScottB

    ScottB Getting on the lift Skier

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    L&AirC

    I hear you and have the same experiences. I live a lot closer to Mike and I limit the number of skis I give him to keep the cost down. I seem to get about 3 years out of his grinds, so the $ isn't too much.

    I don't know if you have tried Artech in NH near Lebanon. Our head ski coach uses them and recommends them. They are priced much closer to typical shops and they are willing to work with you. I was hoping to use a local shop in my area, but after a few tries I gave up and went back to Mike. Good luck.

    One thing I can pass along from my experiences. I regularly sharpen my side edges myself. Having a sharp edge is very noticable to me on the hard snow in the typical course. I have found NOT using the 200 and 400 diamond stones and just using the 600 stone and then a ceramic stone makes the edge a lot sharper and better grip when doing it by hand. I felt the standard technique is to start with a rough stone (200), then go step wise finer. I now only use the courser stones if I have dinged up the edge and need to remove a burr. After 3 or 4 stone sharpening, I use the file and then the 600 and ceramic stones.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2018 at 6:15 AM
  20. Philpug

    Philpug Enjoying being back on two skis. Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    FWIW, Members here in the past have sent their gear to @smoothrides to have tuned. That is always an option.
     

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