Sunday, February 22, 2009

"Helmut" The Sled

I'm not one to have imaginary friends, but in this case it was fitting to name my new partner in crime...Helmut. Because from now on, if I go skiing, Helmut is usually not far behind!

With the Rock and Ice less than a month away, I figured it was a good time to start working on sled designs. My motto: Keep it simple, light and fast.

I have to admit that the thought of building some super lightweight machine that would hover over the snow and generate ooo's and aaahh's from the crowds did cross my mind, but with my busy schedule and lack of knowledge in this department - I figured I would keep it simple (at least for year 1).

A few years ago, I toured the
Bowron Lakes on skis and built a sled to help pull my gear over the 4-day winter camping getaway. The design wasn't great but it got the job done. As the trip developed, the 'relationship' between me and my sled evolved to the point where I named it: Helmut. The mostly one-sided conversation wasn't always pretty, and often spawned from a negative experience. Either way, Helmut and I were linked for 5 days and experience some truly memorable moments on snow, ice, water and various other debris.

Since then, Helmut - the sled has been sitting in my basement crawl space waiting...

Helmut I (see above picture):

  • Yellow kiddy sled
  • U-bolt screwed in both sides of the sled to provide a solid point of attachment for the poles
  • Static rope fed through 1/2" PVC pipe - about 6' long
  • Beaners holds rope to my harness (which in this case was my drink belt)
For my first sled test I gave Helmut a bit of a facelift based on my experience from my tour on Bowron Lakes. The feeling was actually pretty good but I encountered some sled control issues that definitely needed to be resolved. So back to the workshop...

Helmut II: The main upgrade here is the harness/pole system, which I simply poached off a Chariot model - With so many Chariots floating along the ski trails in Canmore, I simply hid in the bush on the side of a trail and pounced on the first innocent victim...It was like taking candy from a little kid! This upgrade makes a huge difference in both the harness comfort, and control of the sled. There is a slight weight gain but the trade-off is worth it.

After a quick burn in the CNC stadium, I was already convinced that this was the ticket - however, I still need to modify the point of attachment so that it's bomb proof. The last thing I want to do when I'm in the middle of a frozen lake with the windchill howling at -40C, is to screw around with mechanicals!

Helmut III is on the way...



Liza Pye said...

Hmmmm, Helmut seems to be almost as good looking as Mr.Pig. In fact, in one of those pics I almost though it WAS Mr.Pig!

T. said...

For a pulk we built, we used a light hardware belt from home depot- was easy to take on and off with gloves on and didn't move around much. Just an idea.....