Rossignol FKS / Look Pivot Binding Repair

The Rossignol FKS/Look Pivot binding seems to me to be the "you either love it or you hate it" binding, what we British would call the "Marmite effect". Truthfully I have yet to actually ski this binding and so don't have an opinion on how well they work yet, I'll leave that discussion/argument to people with more experience in that department. What I do have is an insight into how to rip them apart and then hopefully put them back together again in as good, if not better, working condition.
For an introduction to these bindings there is a great summary on the NewSchoolers forum HERE.

As a simple introduction, these bindings have been around for years, either under the Rossi brand or the Look brand. Discontinued at some point in the late 90s early 00s, they were later re-born in 2009, either as "FKS" under the Rossignol brand, or as "PIVOT" under the LOOK brand. In recent years (2013?) the Rossignol branding of these bindings was discontinued again, and so today (2018) they are only available new as LOOK Pivot.

From what I have gathered their construction has changed very little over the years of their production, with the greatest difference coming in the Toe pieces, which in more recent years have been made available with the adjustable WTR/Alpine to height adjuster, to accommodate the thicker/cambered sole of WTR boots. There are subtle differences between different DIN rated versions, most notably the much coveted enitrely metal toe of the -18 rated bindings, compared to the composite construction of the 12's, 14's and 15's.

Web forums are scattered with questions about these bindings relating to how to change/replace brakes, how to bend brakes to larger sizes, how to fix odd behaviour in the bindings, what's that little white bit do, why does my heel twist funny.. etc.. and whilst there are many helpful replies there is nowhere a post/guide to fully dissembling and reassembling these bindings. There is one ancient and grainy vimeo video floating around that shows the basics, but it could do with embellishing. Rossignol/Look are also pretty unhelpful both with their guidance but also with their provision of spares, requiring most people and indeed ski shops to return bindings to them for repair and thus costing way more than it should. Now you could be optimistic and say this is because they want to ensure your safety and make sure you have the most reliable bindings possible, but I'm cynical and think its more of a marketing and sales ploy. Make your own decision.

In this instructable, and hopefully a few more to come, I hope to walk through everything I have done to a pretty beat pair of Rossignol FKS 140's and show step by step how they can be disassembled and reassembled with relative ease and a bit of ingenuity.. or perhaps ignorance.

Step 1: Why Disassemble?

Reasons why I wanted to disassemble the bindings:

  1. One of the half-moon pieces had cracked around the screw (pictured epoxied together but I don't for a second believe that would hold for long).
  2. When rotating the heel piece it often popped on top of the forward pressure indicator tab (white tab) as a result of a bent pivot plate (see image).
  3. Slight cracks where side-arms meet pivot plate (see image).

Other reasons why you might need to disassemble:

  1. To replace brake arms.
  2. To safely bend brake arms without breaking binding.
  3. To replace entire pivot assembly.
  4. Basically ANY sort of maintenance on these bindings.

In my case it was quite clear to me that the base unit of the binding should be replaced and therefore I wasn't too worried about stripping it down because I probably wasn't going to use most of it again.
The actual spring unit, affectionately referred to by many as "the dildo" seemed to function fine, however cracks and bends in the base unit and pivoting plates (to be discussed and pictured) made me none too confident in their use.

Fortunately for me, yet unfortunately for someone who just needs a new brake, LOOK only provide ENTIRE base units as replacement parts for this binding. This was perfect as it was everything I needed. If you only need to replace a broken brake arm then this is going to hurt.

In the UK you can get them from 'Anything Technical' HERE for £25 each (You get EVERYTHING pictured). In the US you can get them on EVO HERE for ~$90 each.

Step 2: DISCLAIMER

Before I continue it's probably apt to insert here the classic Ski maintenance disclaimer:

For insurance purposes you should always have you ski equipment fitted, serviced, maintained and repaired by qualified ski technicians at a reputable ski shop.

By working on your own equipment you take full responsibility for your own work and void any insurances, guarantees or warranties that may exist from the manufacturer or from work previously carried out by a technician.

This instructable is intended purely as an informative guide of my experiences, findings and opinions. I will not be held liable for anything that you do to your equipment or anything that results from work you do on your equipment following reading this post. If you are not confident in working on your equipment or not willing to take your own liability then do not do so.

If unsure about anything always seek advice or the services of a well qualified and experienced ski technician.

Step 3: Mounting Advice

Now with that out of the way, the very first thing I would say about these bindings before you do absolutely anything to them is think long and hard about how you are mounting them.

To do almost anything to this binding you need to remove it from the skis. Seeing as most guys and gals who mount these are gonna be looking for a solid, high performance binding to hit some big drops or land some switch tricks then it is highly probable that at some point in your ski's life you're going to break or bend one, some or all of your brake arms.

Not a big deal right? Not normally... most bindings it's a one or two screw job and they're replaced in five minutes.. but not these. NOPE. Firstly you can't even buy the brakes on their own.. that would be too easy, except it wouldn't even be easy because even if you could get hold of some second hand brake arm assemblies you still have to remove the entire heel piece from the ski to get them swapped out. Chances of finding those is slim, so you're next bet is gonna be to buy a replacement pair of base units as linked above in Step 1.

The bottom line is, you're gonna have to take the heel unit off every time you want to replace a brake, or make any other fixes, therefore it seems criminal to me that any shop would sell these bindings on a ski without using inserts.
If you are thinking of buying these bindings for your skis then please consider either "Binding Freedom" or "Quiver Killer" inserts. If you are repairing these bindings for a pair of skis where you have already mounted them, then inserts is really your only safe option when re-mounting them to the ski. It's never a good idea to just re-thread the original screws into the original holes with heaps of epoxy. However you will be able to fit inserts into the same holes (albeit after making those holes larger and tapping them to accommodate the inserts).

Either way, once you've got inserts in your disco-sticks then you can fit and remove those bad boys as many times as you need. This only really applies to the heel piece but might as well do inserts for the whole bindings, after-all the toe piece on the Pivot/FKS has the same mounting pattern as the toe piece on the Look SPX/Rossignol Axial 2/3 (please double check) so you could easily accommodate a change back to those bindings if you don't like the Pivots.

I will be installing "Binding Freedom" inserts in my skis for these bindings and will add another instructable when I have done this - stay tuned.

Step 4: Heel Piece Disassembly Intro

I'm going to assume you know how to remove the bindings from the ski. If you don't then please press Alt+F4 take your skis to the nearest ski shop and hand over all your money.

With the binding removed from the ski the metal "half-moon" piece will now be loose and can be removed from the base-unit. It may be held in place by the anti-friction device (AFD) of the rear brake, but by holding the brake in a closed position you can pull the half-moon out. At this point check to see what condition it is in, they seem very prone to cracking around the screw holes. Some people claim that these cracks result in the heel piece becoming looser and having more play in it, this isn't true as long as the screws are kept tight. All this half-moon piece does is contain the brake spring so that it can't escape under pressure. As long as the binding screws are kept tight then the pressure is maintained that keeps the whole unit together and reduces vertical play in the base unit. Therefore it stands to reason that you could still use the binding if only one of the corners of the half-moon has cracked, however you then risk the other side going at any point and risk losing the half-moon and eventually the spring from the brake.

The first image above shows the base unit with both the half-moon and the brake spring removed. Note that to remove the spring you need to follow the next step, but I've included this picture here because it best shows the metal plate that is under the half-moon.

The second image shows the entire assembly with the base plate and brake removed (see later steps). From left to right you have the base assembly in exploded view (minus base plate and brake), what remains is the plastic base unit and on top of that what I call the pivot plate - this is the plate that does all of the pivoting, some call it the turntable and it is this plate which the side-arms are connected to. To the right is a black plastic plate - this serves as the bearing in the pivot and it is this that the pivot plate slides against. To the right of that is the upper plate, this upper plate sandwiches together with the base plate (not pictured) to contain the pivot plate and the black plastic plate together, tabs on the upper and lower plates hold everything together and the tension applied by the binding screws add extra strength to keep everything tight together. This highlights the importance of keeping the binding screws tight, but that the integrity of the half-moons has little bearing on how tightly the unit stays together.

Step 5: Heel Piece Disassembly Part 1 - Base Plate Removal

Turn the entire heel piece over to look at the base plate.

There are three points of contact between the base plate and the rest of the assembly, labelled Mount 1-3 on the image above.

Based on these mounting points it is clear that the base plate needs to slide towards the camera to disengage from these tabs. There is however one small tab, nearest the camera which will resist the base plate sliding forwards. Using a thin instrument, like a blunt knife, or thing screwdriver slide it under the front of the base plate where marked on the image as "lever up first slightly". Don't bend the metal too much, you just want to get the tab to clear the plastic slightly. Once this is levered up (I left my knife there between the tab and the plastic to ensure it was clear) you can then begin to carefully lever the base plate forward from the back of the unit. Be careful not to break the plastic against which you are levering, also be careful once it begins to move that the spring won't fly out of the piece, perhaps wrap it in a towel whilst levering.

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE REMOVED THE HALF-MOON PIECE. Even with the mounting screws removed, if the half-moon is in place it still keep the spring under some pressure, granted there is still some pressure with the half-moon removed, but it is considerably less than when it is still in place.

With the plate levered fully forward it should simply pop off of the metal tabs (Mount 2 and 3), when it does pop off, the brake spring will come loose with it, see image 2, and can then be easily removed as it will no longer be under any tension.

Step 6: Heel Piece Disassembly Part 2 - Brake Removal

With the base plate and brake spring removed you can now get at the entire brake.

This still isn't simple, it requires a little bit of wiggling and some squeezing, but when rotated 90 degrees to its normal working position the brake, or more specifically the AFD/heel plate, will just fit through the elongate hole in the unit.

Congrats, you now have the image above. If you're just here to bend or replace your brake arms then now you can. Unlike a lot of bindings the FKS/Pivot brake arms are not one continuous metal bar from one side to the other, instead they are two separate arms that meet in the middle under the AFD/heel plate. So you'll need to clamp and bend each one separately on each side to avoid damaging the AFD/heel plate assembly or risk ripping one of the arms out of it. See second image showing separate arms beneath the AFD.

Step 7: Heel Piece Disassembly Part 3 - Pivot Disassembly

By now you have your base plate removed and brake assembly removed. What remains is pictured in the first image above.

Now at this point I would say that there isn't really any need to go any further. If you suspect there is something majorly wrong with the rest of your heel piece then you should probably just straight out swap it with the replacement units linked earlier. For example if the pivot action is no longer smooth or you suspect that any of the plates are bent or cracked as I did. Also you'll be wanting to replace it if you've badly bent the threaded connecting arms, or if you've stripped the threads off of those arms.

You may however want to just strip it down and clean it and give it a re-grease, probably not a bad idea if its a few years old but still working well.

You may also be looking to re-attach the rear plastic heel block, that is mounted on top of the pivot plate/turntable. This is only held in place by melted plastic rivets and seems to regularly come loose. You could re-attach this using small screws, glue or using a soldering iron to make your own plastic rivets. This could probably be done without disassembly but by simply rotating the pivot plate 90 degrees from its normal position, however disassembly would give you best access.

The next step is surprisingly easy. If your entire assembly completely fell apart into individual plates as soon as your removed the base plate, then it's likely that the securing plastic tabs have already broken, in which case again you should probably replace the entire unit.

Assuming your unit didn't self destruct then image two identifies two small black plastic tabs that if carefully pressed inwards release the upper metal plate from the base plastic assembly. Once you have released these, being careful not to snap them off, then the unit will now disassemble into four pieces as shown in the third image.

Step 8: Heel Piece Disassembly Part 4 - Notes on Forward Pressure

The base plastic assembly, now separate from the rest after the previous step, contains the Forward pressure indicator.

I have seen people wrongly claim that this spring "sets forward pressure and without it you have NO forward pressure".. well that is rubbish. This is the smallest spring going. All this white plastic piece and it's spring is doing is giving an indication of the forward pressure. The small spring simply holds the plastic indicator in place, it applies no real force on the binding.

The forward pressure is actually set by how much you tighten the threaded arms that attach the actual sprung heel piece "the dildo" to the base unit. The more you tighten those the more the heel piece engages with the boot, pushing it forward into the toe piece and thus generating "forward pressure".

When you apply this pressure forward onto the boot then an equal and opposite pressure is applied onto the binding (cheers Einstein). The pivot plate of the binding has some tolerance for movement designed into it, and so as that pressure is increased the pivot plate slides backwards slightly relative to the rest of the binding, therefore the back of the pivot plate (where the black plastic is attached) presses backwards against the white tab moving it backwards too. Based on the original spec' of the bindings there is sufficient forward pressure applied once the white tab is pushed far enough back that it lines up with the two black tabs on either side of it on the black plastic base unit (visible at the top of image one). This movement is only a few mm's in total, but is enough to take all of the play out of the unit, thus tightening up the pivoting motion so that it only occurs in a fall.

From what I have read the safest action is to take the bindings to a shop to precisely test the release values for your boot and rider profile. Second best would be to go easy the first few times you test the binding and dial in the best amount from your own feel and test releases.

Step 9: Heel Piece Re-Assembly - Brake Spring Difficulty?

Re-Assembly of the entire rear unit is just the repeat of the disassembly.

I would strongly advice cleaning all parts and contact surfaces and then applying some lithium based grease, although most greases will be suitable as long as they don't react to the plastic. Key places to add a little grease would be wherever the brake arms make contact with the assembly and on both sides of the pivot plate/turntable.

The previously mentioned video about brake removal on these bindings recommends re-assembling the entire unit without the brake spring, and then hammering the spring into the binding under tension with a screwdriver and hammer. I would not recommend this.

For me, and it may well just be that my spring is particularly soft from age, but it went back together incredibly easily with the spring included in the process.

With all of the upper plates replaced in order, greased, and the majority of the unit clipped back together using the two plastic clips that connect the base plastic unit to the upper metal plate; I then weaved the break assembly back through its hole, again remembering that it only fits through at 90 degrees to its normal operation and then has to be rotated back into its correct position. Then looking at the whole unit from below I was able to hold the spring in place (see first picture).

It's important to note that the closed/bent end of the spring rests against the base of the AFD/Heel unit, whilst the two pronged open end of the spring faces forward in the binding (as pictured). With the unit held in this way (again note that the half-moons are still removed here because without them the brake can sit more open, i.e. under less tension), the metal base plate can be simply slid back onto the unit in the same way that it was levered off. Making sure that all of the tabs relocated properly and that it is bent back to flat if you got a bit too excited with it on removal. For me this slid on with no issues, and no need to do anything special with the brake spring except hold it in place (second image again shows disassembly instructions for reference).

Step 10: Heel Piece Reassembly - Voila

Voila! You have a reassembled heel piece... super. Re-mount it to your new binding inserts and off you go (pending correct setting of forward pressure/din/correct mounting tecnique etc etc etc) but essentially you are over the worst of it... or are you?

So what if you've decided to just replace the entire base unit? Should be easy right.. let's see.

Step 11: Base Unit Replacement - the Easy Bit

Yes; in principal just replacing the base unit is easy.

  1. Get yourself one or two new base units from one of the online shops that stocks them.
  2. Sort out how you're going to mount it (strongly recommend inserts).
  3. Take the entire unit off your skis.
  4. Slowly back off each of the forward pressure adjusting screws (image 1). Take one of or two turns on each side then swap to the other side and repeat to ensure you remove them evenly. Trying to undo one side completely before the other will wreck everything.
  5. Throw away old base units, or remove the brakes and keep as spares for a rainy day.
  6. Slowly re-screw the new base unit onto the heel spring unit by reversing the process and gradually tightening one adjuster screw after the other, making sure that each is advanced gradually and evenly with the other.
  7. Success, your existing heel spring piece has been reattached to your shiny new heel base unit.
  8. Re-mount and enjoy.

But, what if I've knackered the threads inside the threaded adjusters? If a quick clean out with the correct sized tap bit doesn't fix it then probably need to replace those. Or perhaps like mine they just look completely knackered, and you happened to notice that when you ordered the replacement base unit kit it comes with NEW adjusters and you really really want to use those instead of the ruined old ones.. well then read on, but be warned it gets more difficult.

Step 12: Base Unit Replacement - Removing Adjustment Arms (Part 1)

Those with keen eyes amongst your, or those who have met this road block before will notice that the adjustment arms on the heel spring unit are held in place by a rivet. At first glance (image 1) it appears like it could be some form of hex bolt, in fact it feels like it really should be because SURELY it should be possible to easy remove this part of the assembly if it is being provided as part of the replacement unit. Well Shirley, you are wrong.

It is indeed a rivet. A rivet which I believed was perhaps just attaching the lower metal support bar to the main axle of the spring unit; how wrong I was.

For clarity the "lower metal support" bar (in image two my thumb is resting against it), is a 5mm thick piece of steel bar. This bar's purpose is to hold the sprung heel piece in place when you step into the binding. Once the binding is engaged it serves no purpose - so structurally it is not significant to how the binding performs when skiing or indeed it has no bearing on how well it releases. It is however important, as without it when you step into the binding instead of engaging the binding the rear sprung heel piece would simply get pushed down against the ski and would not engage with your boot.

It is important and so I knew it was needed, however in order to attach my new adjustment arms we need to remove it. I thought that I could simply grind off the head of the rivet, or drill out the top of it. Thus allowing me to remove the support bar from the axle and therefore remove the other pieces of plastic that hold the adjustment arm in place. What I did not realise is that the rivet itself is actually part of the support bar. The support bar is fed through the axle of the unit and then the top of the bar is riveted/hammered down to form the rivet that we see in picture 1. Therefore in my attempts to drill out the rivet I was actually drilling into and thus shortening the support bars. After a fair bit of drilling and then some hammering with a centre punch the support bar came free of the axle on both sides, and allowed all other parts to come free (Photos 3 to 5 show progress). Success, kind of... I could now replace my adjustment arms and clean up the whole lot and re-grease it, but I was going to need new support bars to put it all back together.

Step 13: Base Unit Replacement - Quest for New Support Bar (Part 2)

As noted the support bar is a 5mm thick steel bar bent into roughly a U shape.

Each end of the bar reduces to 4mm diameter.

Where it enters the axle of the sprung heel unit on either side, there is a 2mm deep recess that is 5mm diameter, thereafter the remainder of the hole through the axle is 4mm diameter. It it is the 4mm diameter part of the bar that holds in place the adjustment arm and also holds in place a small plastic plug.

I've seen people asking whether this plug is important as it has been known to remove itself from the binding and simply head off into the snow to start a new life. From what I can see it is not important, it is there for looks but also to plug the gap in the end of the axle to keep it clean and safe. It is the 4mm section of the support bar that keeps the adjustment arm located. Perhaps if this end plastic piece wasn't there then the adjustment arm would feel looser and would not "click" with every half turn.. but it certainly wouldn't pull out of the axle.

Anyway, it occurred to me that it was utterly ridiculous to have riveted this support bar in place, when you then offer replacement adjustment arms as part of the replacement unit. Presumably when bindings are sent back to the factory the bar is removed and a new one fitted with new arms.. however I want a binding that I can service in future, that I can replace the arms on again if they fail, so for me re-riveting a new support bar in place was not an option.

In the wise words of Baldrick, I had a "cunning plan".

I got hold of a new length of 5mm drawn steel bar (In the UK easily available from the likes of Wickes). I also picked up an M4 thread cutting die.

Measuring around the existing remaining support bar I worked out the length of new bar required and added a bit of contingency length to the end. Before bending any of the bar I reduced each end of the bar to 4mm. This would be really easy with a small metal working lathe, but I don't have one, so instead settled for using a power drill and two metal files - difficult but it got me there.

To calculate the required length for each end to reduce from 5mm to 4mm, I measured up the diameter of the axle through which the 4mm rod needed to pass. As noted there is a 2mm deep recess at 5mm which allows the steel rod to locate in the axle securely, the 4mm rod passes through the rest of it (picture 4).

I then put an M4 thread on half of the 4mm length and got hold of some M4 washers and M4 Nylock nuts.

Step 14: Base Unit Replacement - the Bending (Part 3)

Picture 1 shows the finished result compared to the original end.

Then using a vice and a big wrench I bent the rod into the required shape. Note I plan to do this again, but instead use a metal tube to get a more precise bend. Picture 2 shows the final bent piece next to the original, pretty close in terms of bent shape but could be refined.

Picture 3 shows it offered up into place to confirm it is the right size and shape (note it is on backwards here).

Step 15: Base Unit Replacement - the Reassembly (Part 4)

Picture 1 shows reassembly with new adjustments arms and plenty of lithium grease.

Picture 2 shows further reassembly with nylock nut and washer. I have trimmed the remaining thread down so that not too much protrudes from the nut (note that the support bar is still backwards here).

Picture 3 shows final reassembly with new base unit, I have now corrected the direction of the support bar. The heel piece now sits correctly at the right height when the heel piece is disengaged (shown in engaged position in image).

Step 16: Base Unit Replacement - to Be Continued (Part 5)

So I now have one complete working binding with a new replacement base unit assembly and new adjustment arms and self-fabricated support arm: winning? Time will tell.

I need to repeat for the other binding and if the support bar comes out better second time around then I will make a third and replace this first one - but at least it is functional if not pretty.

Things I still need to do include mounting on my Soul 7's with some "Binding Freedom" inserts, and final adjustments. Before final mounting (although with inserts it's never a final mounting!) I may well attempt to strip the battered paint off the heel piece and restore it.. but I'm still researching the best paint to do this with. Given the effort I've gone to thus far I feel they might as well be made to look good and new also!

BTW the toe pieces are in near mint condition and need no work. They use the exact same mounting pattern as Look SPX and Rossignol Axial 2/3 bindings, and from comparing them to a pair of SPX that I have I can see any difference, so I would wager if you are looking for a replacement toe piece you could probably mix and match as long as for similar DIN ratings. Again don't take my word on that seek advice from a professional if not sure.

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