The other day our friend Tom came to visit with his battered and bruised wakeboard after a heavy season of riding. Without knowing much about wakeboarding but always up for a good challenge, we set about seeing how sugru could give his kit a new lease of life.
What we did to Tom's kit:
1: Repaired the lining in the binding (see step 1 to 5)
2: Repaired damage to the tongue of the boot (see step 6)
3: Built custom risers on the binding (see step 7 to 9)
4: Repaired the grip on the pull cord (see step 10)
5: Customised the board with a bit of Swarovski bling !!!! (see step 11)
Phew !!! check out Tom's feedback (see step 12)
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Step 1: Wakeboard Binding Lining Repair
The fabric inside the binding had become ripped and torn over time which made getting in and out of the boots very difficult.
The foam structure behind the lining became exposed and was being worn away as well.
In fact, Tom had a shoe maker stitch up the lining before but it tore again the first time he tried them on :(
To fix these boots, we decided to remove all the torn fabric and to build up a thin layer of sugru instead.
I would recommend that you repair a problem like this as soon as it occurs as the longer you leave it the worse it gets. This damage on these boots was very advanced.
TOP TIP: When dealing with areas within boots like this it is best to use tape to hold down the tongue and give you full access to the inside. Also before getting down to this hack make sure that all the equipment is fully dry before starting.
Step 2: Sugru Lining
At first we thought creating a sugru lining in the boot could be quite tricky but once we started it we realised it was a complete joy. There was a harmony between the two materials that made the sugru application smooth and satisfying. Imagine the joy of writing on a banana with a ball point pen and you'll get an idea (give that a go if you haven't got a clue what we're on about, you wont be disappointed).
When approaching a hack like this it is always best to work with small pieces of sugru at a time to make it more manageable.
Press then rub the sugru into the fabric. Spread the sugru as thin as possible, basically until it begins to tear under your finger in which case just apply a bit more to the damaged area. You will soon get a feel for how thin the sugru should be.
TOP TIP 1: Start from the bottom of the torn area and work your way up. This way you don't risk damaging or dirtying the work you have already done.
TOP TIP 2: If your fingers become too sticky and applying the sugru becomes difficult it is probably because you have too much sugru on your fingers. Dry tissue paper is great for getting sugru off your fingers, rub them clean regularly to ensure a straight forward hack.
Step 3: Filling in Gaps
We found that there were a few gaps and indents in the foam from wear and tear.
In such instances use sugru to build up the gaps until you have a level surface that you can spread into the rest of the lining.
Step 4: Edges
When your sugru lining reaches the remaining fabric you have to be especially careful to ensure that the sugru is securely bonded to the surface.
Work the lining into the foam right up until the edge of the fabric.
Then press sugru over the join between your sugru lining and the fabric. Work this into the sugru lining and the fabric. Add extra sugru if it appears thin. It is important that these areas stay strong.
Once your lining is complete leave it for a good 24 hours before getting back on the water.
Step 5: Rips
It is important to keep your eyes peeled for rips forming in your sugru lining. A rip, if not dealt with quickly can soon develop into more serious damage.
Simply place a small blob of sugru over the rip and rub into the lining as before.
Keeping a close eye on the condition of your kit is a good habit to get into. As they say, 'a stitch in time saves nine.' If you notice a rip early on it is far easier and cheaper to fix. This repair took quite a lot of sugru (around 50g per boot) but this is because the damage had become quite extensive. If Tom had come to us when the rips had begun then we would have been able to fix the problem with minimal time and sugru.
Step 6: Tongue Damage
As well as damage to the inside there was also external damage to the bindings. You fix these worn areas in much the same way as the internal damage.
Working with small pieces of sugru at a time, press it into the surface of the boot.
Rub the sugru into and around the damaged areas, forming a thin layer.
It was slightly less simple to apply the sugru to the outer material. If the sugru becomes sticky, again make sure that your fingers are cleaned. Use dry tissue paper for this.
TOP TIP: If the applying of sugru to a fabric becomes a bit more difficult like in this instance, use your fingernail to rub the sugru into place. Sugru sticks less to your fingernail, giving you greater control of the hack.
Step 7: Loose Bindings
Another problem Tom had found with his kit was with his bindings coming loose with time.
Over the course of the season the binding would become more flexible, causing too much movement underfoot and resulting in a loss of edge control when riding.
Apparently this is a common problem amongst wakeboarders, often meaning that bindings need to be replaced every season and when a decent pair costs around £350, this makes for quite an expensive hobby.
Step 8: Creating a Riser
To reduce the movement under foot, with Tom's bindings we decided to build a riser made of sugru to fill the gap and give him back some control.
We created a riser by making a large sausage of sugru, long enough to sit on the back of the heel of the bindings.
We pressed the sugru sausage into the heel, making sure that there was a good strong bond.
We finished the riser by squaring the sides.
To get a uniform, flat base we put some soapy water on a flat smooth surface, placed the binding riser down and gently moved it over the surface. This gives a uniformly flat base to the sugru. Be careful not to apply too much pressure to the binding, you just want to flatten it, not squash the sugru.
When you have finished both bindings, take the time to make sure that the risers are the same size.
Leave 24 hours to cure.
Step 9: Adjusting Your Risers
It is worth overbuilding the sugru riser as it is super easy to cut the sugru if it is too big. It would be more difficult and time consuming to try to add more.
Simply use a sharp blade to cut off a layer of sugru for your desired height.
Again, it is best to cut off small strips at a time and continuously check it on the board. It is easier to remove than add more.
Step 10: Making Your Fastenings More Comfortable
It is important with wakeboarding to have your bindings kept very snug and tight. There are number of fastenings that need frequent adjustment. However these fastenings aren't all that comfortable and when your trying to ride in October it becomes quite a pain with cold hands. So we tried to make the fastenings on Tom's board far more user friendly.
We started with the lace fastenings. Tom's were all ripped and torn and not very comfortable so we decided to change this. To make the best possible grips with the least amount of sugru we decided to make them in two parts.
Cut away any torn or damaged material.
Open your sugru and make a large flat piece. We used one mini pack per grip.
Wrap the flat sugru around the lace fastening and press it in until there is uniform cover.
With your fingers gently rub and smooth the sugru until it has formed a thick sausage around the lace.
Hang the grips vertically to cure overnight, this way there is no risk of them bonding to anything else as they cure.
To make the grips more ergonomic, we looked at how they were tightened. Tom would use two fingers to tighten his laces and we wanted to aid this.
Use one mini pack to make two long sugru sausages that will wrap around the middle of the grip you have already started to build.
Wrap each sausage around the grips.
Press the sausages into the grips to ensure a secure bond.
Rub the sides of the sausage into the already formed grip to get a smooth together.
Again hang the grips vertically to cure overnight.
We also added some padding grips to the binding screw locks to make them comfier as Tom said he was continuously tightening these.
Step 11: Customising With a Bit of Swarovski Bling
Fixing stuff is fun but there is nothing quite like adding a bit of customisation to really make your kit stand out.
We decided to add some sparkling Swarovski crystals to give Tom's ride some sophistication.
We used Swarosvski round stone crystals with silver mirror coating on the back, as we thought that they were best suited for use with sugru. - they have a conical back that is coated in metal - this makes the crystals look deeper and the metalised back is reflective making the crystal more sparkley.
We bought them online from SWAROVSKI CRYSTALLIZED. You can buy loads of different crystals in different sizes and colours and they are not as expensive as you might expect. This is the type we used which are available in 3 sizes (and loads of colours)
Pack sizes and prices:
Small - 3.1mm = £4 for 50 crystals (!!!)
Medium - 5.4mm = £6 for 30 crystals
Large - 8.3mm = £6 for 10 crystals
We made use of the binding screw holes that Tom wasn't using. The benefit of doing this is that the pointy base of the crystals could be sunk into the board, making for a firmer and more stylish hack.
Create a small sausage of sugru and push into the hole until the hole is filled with sugru.
Then insert the point of the crystal into the sugru filled hole. Push until the dull base of the crystal is fully sunk into the sugru.
As you push the crystal in, sugru will squeeze out the sides. Remove any excess and press the rest into the sidesof the crystal to get a more secure bond. Gently rub the sides to get a smooth finish. Gently wipe the crystals with dry tissue paper to remove any unwanted sugru residue.
Alternatively, if you do not wish to fill the binding screw holes, you could just mount the crystals directly onto the board. You will need to use more sugru than if you did it in the holes.
Start by creating a small cone of sugru and press the point into the surface of the board until it has become a small blob. This blob must be large enough to have the dull base of the crystal submerged in it. By making the sugru a cone shape you ensure that there is a firm bond as you push it against the surface of the board.
Insert the base of the crystal into the blob of sugru until the dull underside is completely sunken in.
Press the sides of the blob into the base of the crystal to ensure a tighter bond.
Gently rub with your fingers for a smooth finish and use dry tissue paper to get any sugru residue off the crystal.
Step 12: Tom's Feedback
After all our tinkering, Tom dropped by to see what we had done to his beautiful board. After trying it on and jumping around our kitchen for a bit he seemed pretty happy. Here's what he thought:
- It was easier to get in and out of the bindings when loose.
- Once tightened the bindings felt very snug and comfortable.
- The risers stopped the movement underfoot and it was good that he could cut away at them if needs be.
- The grips made it far easier to tighten the bindings.
- He was over the moon with his sparkling swarovski crystals.
Tom went wakeboarding the weekend after and came back to us with positive feedback. The hacks held up and he said that the riding felt great. He even took some photos for us at the lake. All in all a successful sugru experiment and one happy wakeboarder.