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Sparx Skate Sharpener - At home sharpener

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11 minutes ago, shoot_the_goalie said:

I'm sure it's been mentioned in the thread, but don't feel like searching through.  What's the closest, equivalent Fire radius to an FBV 100/50?

Probably 1/2".  But I'd go with 3/8" to get that bite.

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3 hours ago, shoot_the_goalie said:

I'm sure it's been mentioned in the thread, but don't feel like searching through.  What's the closest, equivalent Fire radius to an FBV 100/50?

From the comments in this post on Sparx Website https://blogs.sparxhockey.com/how-to-choose-your-grinding-ring-infographic

Here's a chart that shows how the FBV and FIRE measurements match up:

90/50 = 3/4" ROH (more glide)
90/75 = 5/8" ROH
100/50 = 1/2" ROH
100/75 = 3/8" ROH (more grip)

 

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26 minutes ago, cjpritch said:

From the comments in this post on Sparx Website https://blogs.sparxhockey.com/how-to-choose-your-grinding-ring-infographic

Here's a chart that shows how the FBV and FIRE measurements match up:

90/50 = 3/4" ROH (more glide)
90/75 = 5/8" ROH
100/50 = 1/2" ROH
100/75 = 3/8" ROH (more grip)

 

I believe that chart is FBV to ROH not Fire. 

I normally skate on a 3/4 ROH. When I switched to the Fire ring I went 3/4. They did not feel the same or even close. I had to drop down to the 5/8 Fire to get the same grip I got with the 3/4 ROH. So rule of thumb when switching to a Fire ring, drop down (aka go sharper) to maintain comparable grip to your ROH. 

Probably been mentioned. The Sparx Fire is nothing like a Blackstone FBV. It's closer to Blademasters version of the Flat Bottom.

Edited by stick9
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Thanks all.  I think I'm finally going to pull the trigger on a Sparx.  Does anyone know if the Sparx cycles are different with Step steel?  (i.e do you need to run more cycles due to the harder steel?)

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1 hour ago, shoot_the_goalie said:

Thanks all.  I think I'm finally going to pull the trigger on a Sparx.  Does anyone know if the Sparx cycles are different with Step steel?  (i.e do you need to run more cycles due to the harder steel?)

I didn't notice any difference in that regard 🙂 

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1 hour ago, shoot_the_goalie said:

Thanks all.  I think I'm finally going to pull the trigger on a Sparx.  Does anyone know if the Sparx cycles are different with Step steel?  (i.e do you need to run more cycles due to the harder steel?)

It depends on how you use it. If you sharpen and use them until they are dull, the Step would likely require some extra passes. If your maintaining an edge, then no. 

Edited by stick9
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Does anyone know how much steel one pass removes? I’m curious to know the lifetime of my runners compared to hand sharpens. Previously they (Step steel) lasted about 6 months. I currently have Bauer LS5 runners. 

I have been doing one pass before each session, and noticed a slight tilt to the edges at the rear which was cured by an extra pass,  so an occasional two passes may be needed. I still think this device is phenomenal. 

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Wow, how can you only get 6 months from a pair of Step? They should keep their edge and need minimal sharpening, right?

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5 hours ago, 218hockey said:

Wow, how can you only get 6 months from a pair of Step? They should keep their edge and need minimal sharpening, right?

I skate at least six hours a week, lots of sideways slides, lots of sprints with deep cuts, generally before the Sparx I liked to get them sharpened every two weeks to maintain the edges. I'd have done more but it meant a morning driving. I have a 7/16" hollow. With the Sparx I can do one pass before every session, as I really like the feel of fresh edges. 

Edited by Leif

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Sure, lots of variables. And what people consider worn out is completely subjective. Kind of like tires on a car.

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1 hour ago, 218hockey said:

Sure, lots of variables. And what people consider worn out is completely subjective. Kind of like tires on a car.

Of course it is completely down to personal taste. Many reckon ~15 hours between sharpens: 

https://medium.com/@number9hockey/when-to-sharpen-skates-fc95f12de7f6

Our ice is quite hard, and after ~8 hours I do feel my edges sliding during crossovers. This might be poor technique of course. I happen to like the feel of fresh edges, a luxury that costs very little (~25 cents per pass) once a Sparx is available. 

I don’t sharpen my car tyres, but then again us Brits are often behind the times. 🙂

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On 11/6/2018 at 2:36 PM, IPv6Freely said:

As somebody who probably gets worse nicks than most (thanks to the goal posts) it's not that big of a deal to me. Granted I still have a cross-grind ring, but have only ever used it once when I changed hollows. My weekly sharpen is 2 passes. If I go longer than a week for some reason its 4. If I have a bad nick its 8. I've never needed more than that. 

How many cycles is your cross grinding ring good for? The regular ring is 320. How many passes do you make with a regular ring after using the cross grind ring.Thanks

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6 hours ago, damian said:

How many cycles is your cross grinding ring good for? The regular ring is 320. How many passes do you make with a regular ring after using the cross grind ring.Thanks

No idea how many. They don't make it anymore anyway so it doesn't matter. 

I was usually doing whatever the maximum was on the machine, which I think is 8? 

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I got my Sparx two days after ordering it.  That was fast!  Impressive machine.  Skated on 1/2 FIRE; previously on 100/50 FBV.  Gotta say, it's not as good as FBV, but when you factor in the convenience (even though I have my own Blackstone X01), I think it's worth it.  I would say I now get about 10% less glide, with maybe 10% more bite, but it still feels pretty good. (and I actually like that I get a bit more bite)  Maybe I'll try a 5/8 FIRE.  FYI...I got a metal dust tray as opposed to the white plastic ones I've seen online/in videos.  The machine also now has a screw on the top that you only use when moving the machine, which I haven't seen before.  I did notice that the Sparx does burr blades much more than using my X01.

Edited by shoot_the_goalie

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19 hours ago, shoot_the_goalie said:

FYI...I got a metal dust tray as opposed to the white plastic ones I've seen online/in videos.  The machine also now has a screw on the top that you only use when moving the machine, which I haven't seen before.

Interesting. I wonder why the metal dust tray...

Does the screw replace the plastic piece that you're supposed to install when moving the machine? 

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47 minutes ago, IPv6Freely said:

Interesting. I wonder why the metal dust tray...

Does the screw replace the plastic piece that you're supposed to install when moving the machine? 

Presumably because a metal dust tray is more durable. Mine came with one too. The plastic one did look a bit flimsy. 

The locking screw is in addition to the locking guard. 

Nice to see improvements after launch. 

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On 4/17/2019 at 3:28 PM, Dante2004 said:

Anyone "travel" with the Sparx?  Did you buy the case from them, or get something on your own?  They want $399 for theirs and I can pick up a Pelican case for half the price.

 

Thoughts?

The Pelican 1650 case is identical, just doesn't have the specifically molded padding....but that can easily be cut out and you can buy harder foam at Home Depot.  Got my Pelican case for $180 on Ebay new.

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On 3/20/2019 at 1:34 PM, bflohcky said:

OK, I've been thinking about purchasing a Sparx. I still skate 1-2 times a week, but my 5 year old is a hockey nut and skates 2-3 times a week, sometimes more during the season. We also have a rink in the yard during the winter months that he will spend 4 hours skating on any given day before his mom or myself drag him in the house to eat something and thaw out for a few minutes. I find that I am sharpening his skates far more often than I sharpen my own as the little guy tends to abuse the blades quite a bit while stepping on sticks, banging into the boards, etc. I also suspect the backyard rink dulls them quicker as the ice is often considerably harder than you'd find in a climate controlled rink. If his compassion for the game sticks and he's playing for the next 10+ years I could see real value in this machine. However I'm concerned about it's durability over the long haul. We have a number of shops around but the the cut is inconsistent and there's always someone different sharpening. I've never seen some of the guys dress the stone. We've had a couple bad sharpening's this year resulting in uneven and flat inside edges which my son is quick to call out.

During my competitive playing years, The same guy sharpened my skates for as long as I can remember and I can't remember a bad cut. Can't seem to find that anymore.

Obviously the price is quite a hit to the wallet when raising 3 kids. He has 2 younger sisters and our middle one is already starting to skate and showing some interest in the game.

I've gone back and forth between a Sparx and a Wissota. I've never sharpened a pair of skates in my life however. I like the cleanliness of the Sparx and the greatly shortened learning curve.

Any input is greatly appreciated. Having a hard time pulling the trigger (being in the middle of a bathroom gut job doesn't help).

I bought it for myself and my two kids, never looked back.  I also bring it to tournaments and teammates pay me $5 to get their blades tuned.  After a weekend of hockey I have almost made enough money for a new grinding wheel.

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On 8/23/2018 at 2:55 PM, Santos L Halper said:

So, I've had my Sparx sharpener for just over a year now and I figured that, since we are at the start of a new season, I'd go ahead and post my observations, praise for, and, yes, gripes about my Sparx...

(TL/DR - It's an awesome machine.  I'd almost definitely buy it again.  That said, removing the cross-grinding capabilities from the consumer model was a horrendously stupid decision and I still struggle with getting the sharpener to go consistently high enough on the toes of skates.)

The Good:

  • Consistent edges.  Every.  Single.  Time: 
    • I simply cannot overstate how much this means to someone that (a) doesn't have access to consistent, predictable manual sharpening; and (b) relies on his skates to make a living.
  • Convenience: 
    • As a coach, I am on the ice between 8 and 12 hours a week - sometimes much more, depending on private lessons, sticktime groups, etc.  I also have a son that is on the ice upwards of 6 hours a week.  Since I won't allow the guys that work at the rink shops to touch our skates AND I live over 30 minutes from the box stores (which don't do a good job, either); having access to sharpening on an 'as needed' basis is invaluable.
  • Ease of use: 
    • I'm over 40 years old and I work full time as a hockey coach.  I do NOT have the time to become an expert on a manual Wissota or Blackstone machine.  I.  Just.  Don't.  I'm willing to stipulate that someone that IS an expert on those machines MAY be able to give me a sharpen that is as good as, if not better than I get on my Sparx...but I don't have access to any of those guys and, since I have neither the time nor the inclination to become one of those guys, I love that I can give my skates a great sharpen without needing to invest an additional 30 years of my life towards mastering a manual machine.   
  • Profile Maintenance:
    • I understand that guys that know what they're doing with a manual sharpener can properly maintain a profile, but guys that know what they're doing aren't available in Southern California...and the ones that DON'T know what they're doing can wreck a profile in 2-3 sharpens; so I love that having a Sparx means that the money I've invested in profiling my kid's steel wasn't wasted.
  • Portability:
    • This year alone, my Sparx has sharpened skates in California, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming.  THAT'S awesome!
  • Micro-Adjustability:
    • I love that, using the edge checker, I can really dial in perfectly even edges.  It takes manual sharpeners hours of dicking around with their equipment to make sure stuff is lined up.  I can do it in a couple of minutes with my Sparx.
  • No "Wheel Dressing" or Other Nonsense:
    • With a Sparx, you never have to ask yourself if 'it's time to dress the wheel'.  You just sharpen your skates and get on with your day.  Freaking awesome.
  • Additional Income Stream:
    • While I don't make a TON of money, the fact that I can save the hockey families that I work with from lousy (and expensive!!!) rink sharpenings while also making a few bucks isn't a bad thing....

The Not so Good:

  • No Cross Grinding Capability:  
    • Dumping the cross-grinding ring was a monumental mistake by Sparx (are you reading this, Russ???  MON!YOU!MENTAL!). 
    • Look, I get that the filter was getting clogged.  I get that people were chewing through their steel.  But when you have an even marginally damaged blade that you need to contend with, running 10+ passes with a $60.00 grinding ring is FUCKING IRRITATING!!!
    • Apologies for the cursing, but damnit, both the reasons that have been given for, and the practical effect of, the elimination of a cross-grinding ring are giant piles of solid waste from a male of the bovine species.  Hockey is a rough game and edges routinely get damaged.  The fact that I have to suck down 1/10th of a grinding ring's life when my kid goes feet-first into the boards ONE TIME just pisses me off.  
  • No Provision to Attach a Shop-Vac (or other dust removal system):
    • I love the portability of my Sparx (see above...); but when it's in my garage at home, I'd ALSO love to attach my shop-vac to the system so that I can suck out all of the mess as it occurs.
    • "But the aiiiiiiir filter!" you say.  Mmmmhmmm.  My shop-vac has a HEPA filter.  It works great.  Plus, it has a huge amount of suction.  This seems like a total no-brainer and one that should have been thought of when designing the machine.

(A note on the two above "Not so Goods". Yes, I could have purchased the PS100, but that runs at a $350.00 premium to the the ES100.  Which is patently ridiculous...)  

  • Getting the Wheel Consistently High Enough on the Toe:
    • I've dicked around with this to no end - toe right, toe left, goalie risers, no risers, small tip forward in the clamp, etc, etc, etc - I just can't seem to get the wheel to consistently hit where I want it to on the toe without a huge amount of chattering/jumping/skipping.
    • I understand hockey players don't skate on the toes of their blades...but we DO start on the toes of our blades and we have to trust that we have SOME edge on our toes so that we can start explosively and efficiently.
  • Doesn't Like Fancy 3rd Party Steel:
    • Part of the benefit of the Tuuk LightSpeed and CCM SB systems is that you can easily replace your crap stock steel with good steel (Tyden's etc...).  However, good steel seems to burr horribly in the Sparx and I have found myself taking these fancy-steeled skates out of my Sparx every two passes to de-burr.  Is this difficult?  No.  Is it a pain in the ass?  Absolutely.

Observations:

  • Traveling with a Sparx attracts lots of attention and questions - almost everyone's HEARD of the Sparx, but not many have seen one 'in the wild'.  Once you sharpen their skates, they're (usually) believers.
  • I've spent a bunch less at our local big-box stores - not just on skate sharpening, but also on random useless hockey stuff I don't need.  It used to be impossible to get out of HockeyMonkey or PureHockey without at least $25.00 of crap IN ADDITION to the skate sharpening - now, since I'm never there unless I need something specific, I'm not spending unnecessary money there!
  • I sharpen my skates WAY more often than I used to - not just due to the convenience factor; but also due to the fact that I'm not afraid of dropping my skates off and returning to a crappy sharpening job.  
  • A $90.00 800W power inverter means you can sharpen skates in your car....
    • As the sharpener only draws 200W, you could probably get by with a 400W inverter, but they're not much cheaper and you want to make sure that you have enough 'start up' wattage capacity that you're not tripping fuses in your inverter.  Plus, who knows when I'll want to run a 70" TV off my truck battery?
    • Also, local rink pro shops hate me now.  I've become 'that coach that has the sharpener in his truck' and I love it.
  • I thought the grinding wheels would be a pain - but I actually like them.  They're easy to store, portable, and easy to swap out for a different wheel - no dressing or tedious alignment necessary.  That system is pure genius.
  • The option for the Fire/FBV hollow is awesome.  I wasn't sure anyone would like it, but it's really caught on and nearly everyone that's tried it has loved it.  

Anyway.  That's about all I can think of as far as my thoughts after 'a year with a Sparx'.  Hopefully this will answer some questions people who are still on the fence may have about the pros/cons...or, at least generate some discussion, here.  In the end, I'd definitely buy a Sparx again - but I'd probably give strong consideration to saving my pennies for a 1/2 year or so and getting the PS100 instead of the ES100....

Dead on!

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12 hours ago, IPv6Freely said:

Being a kickstarter backer I’ve had mine longer than most. And nope, no issues at all.

 

Also in on the Kickstarter - at $549 USD. Mine shipped May 26th 2016. Been using it multiple times a week since then with no issues.

colins

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13 hours ago, colins said:

 

Also in on the Kickstarter - at $549 USD. Mine shipped May 26th 2016. Been using it multiple times a week since then with no issues.

colins

ditto.

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What is the main difference between the standard retail model and the PS100 specifically? I know you can attach a vacuum to the PS100 but is there any other significant differences? 

Our store is considering doing a loaner/lease program to the hockey association for the 16U and 18U AAA teams where they rent the Sparx units from us for a month payment and are responsible for the costs of the rings which the cost will be shared between the parents. Would the standard retail machines be able to handle this type of work load? I assume they would be sharpening about 20 pairs of skates multiple times a week between the players and coaches. 

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