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Sparx Skate Sharpener - At home sharpener

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1 hour ago, Nicholas G said:

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. 

 

I've never seen a PS100, but other than the extra filtration that allows Sparx to sell/support the cross grind rings on it (and not on the consumer ES100), there's also two other key differences listed on Sparx's website:

Consumer Grade Safety Features  (ES100)

Unlimited Cycle Warranty & Service Plans  (PS100)

So if you want warranty on the machine to cover >1000 sharpenings per year you'd want to go with the PS100.

Then again, if you'll have kids and parents potentially using the machine themselves, it sounds like he safety features on the ES100 would be a safer choice. Again, not having seen the PS100 I don't know what specific differences in safety features it has, but it may have modified firmware that has less lockout situations to make it more efficient to use in a commercial setup.

If Russ doesn't chime in you would probably want to contact their sales and verify exactly what those differences are just to be sure you're making the best choice.

 

colins

 

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2 hours ago, Nicholas G said:

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. 

Now if Sparx was smart they could have worked with shops to start and had them on board to start and done this from the beginning.  Then Pro shops could have got the steel and profiling business as well as maintaining the machine and made money off the locals that may not have come to them in the first place. This is actually a good idea.  I would also bet they would have made a Pro Model long ago and worked with shop owners that actually know what there doing to better the machine to work on heavier loads and do more than it does already. 

 

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1 hour ago, oldtrainerguy28 said:

Now if Sparx was smart they could have worked with shops to start and had them on board to start and done this from the beginning.  Then Pro shops could have got the steel and profiling business as well as maintaining the machine and made money off the locals that may not have come to them in the first place. This is actually a good idea.  I would also bet they would have made a Pro Model long ago and worked with shop owners that actually know what there doing to better the machine to work on heavier loads and do more than it does already. 

 

I agree with this 110%

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2 hours ago, oldtrainerguy28 said:

Now if Sparx was smart they could have worked with shops to start and had them on board to start and done this from the beginning.  Then Pro shops could have got the steel and profiling business as well as maintaining the machine and made money off the locals that may not have come to them in the first place. This is actually a good idea.  I would also bet they would have made a Pro Model long ago and worked with shop owners that actually know what there doing to better the machine to work on heavier loads and do more than it does already. 

 

It's a logical place to take it to the next level. But if they had started with that business model, where's the money coming from to create yet-another-skate-sharpener to compete with the Blademasters and Blackstones of the world?

It was the folks that put money up for the kickstarter that believed in the concept enough to bring a consumer level skate sharpener to the market. 

I don't disagree with your points, but it's a chicken vs. egg thing - the Sparx wouldn't exist today had it not been a consumer focused model that got funded by home users.

colins

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4 minutes ago, colins said:

It's a logical place to take it to the next level. But if they had started with that business model, where's the money coming from to create yet-another-skate-sharpener to compete with the Blademasters and Blackstones of the world?

It was the folks that put money up for the kickstarter that believed in the concept enough to bring a consumer level skate sharpener to the market. 

I don't disagree with your points, but it's a chicken vs. egg thing - the Sparx wouldn't exist today had it not been a consumer focused model that got funded by home users.

colins

Simple, in the beginning go to the top Pro shops and get them on board to help promote the product give them sample machines and get the feed back how to improve it. Then build a pro model and home use one. Have the better shops sell them as well even train them to repair If needed  (same as they do now in Boston) and the shops can carry wheels and so on. Then those shops could rent them as well as sell extra steel profiles and so on. Instead the initial sales pitch was that shops all suck and this is a far better mouse trap than any human. So kinda hard as a shop now to embrace a company that says you suck. 

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Howdy,

You may not like it, and that's totally understandable, but to the average guy that wants to get his damn skates sharpened, most shops _DO_ suck.  And there's no way, as a regular consumer, to reliably find the ones that don't.  Particularly when its the standard thing like "Joey is the guy at Pure, but Billy sucks and Jill isn't bad but can't deal with weird stuff either.  Good luck!  May the odds ever be in your favor".

Oh, and then Joey leaves anyway because, surprise, working retail isn't a destination career for most folks.

Meanwhile, despite your obvious dislike of these machines, lots and lots of people are happily using them very successfully.  Because they do a pretty good job and do it consistently.

You sound _EXACTLY_ like the typical machinist from 20 or 30 or 40 years ago when CNC machines were taking over.  Manually sharpening a skate is an admirably skill.  And, done well, you can get an extremely good result.  But that takes lots of training/practice/feel and at the end of the day, there's not enough folks around that do it well vs. a hack job that destroys profiles, has edges so uneven you can see it with the naked eye, that nods their head when someone requests a roh and uses "the standard" anyway, etc. etc. etc.  This is a process that begs for automation.  The stuff about consistent travel speed, consistent pressure, etc. that it takes a while to get the right feel for is exactly what automation is good at.

edit:  And in the beginning, where was the money for Sparx to build those free sample machines for the shops?  I would imagine they weren't doing a kickstarter project because they decided to turn down big money investors.  They saw a need, had an idea for a product that filled that need, and were able to successfully market it to the people that wanted to fill that need.  And guess what... Those people were mostly consumers, not pro shops.  Or at least they were, until pro shops realized "hey... Wait a minute.  You mean I can teach someone to sharpen skates in 30 minutes?  And the results will be good?"


Mark

Edited by marka
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15 minutes ago, oldtrainerguy28 said:

Simple, in the beginning go to the top Pro shops and get them on board to help promote the product give them sample machines and get the feed back how to improve it. Then build a pro model and home use one. Have the better shops sell them as well even train them to repair If needed  (same as they do now in Boston) and the shops can carry wheels and so on. Then those shops could rent them as well as sell extra steel profiles and so on. Instead the initial sales pitch was that shops all suck and this is a far better mouse trap than any human. So kinda hard as a shop now to embrace a company that says you suck. 

 

I don't recall seeing the promotional material that claimed pro shop professionals suck. The Sparx advantage is consistency, and for a very large portion of the average consumer base in need of skate sharpening service, consistency is hard to achieve. As is convenience. That was the Sparx value proposition. 

I can see how that could be seen as a threat to the traditional established pro shop model, with heavy investments in equipment, processes and skills developed over decades.

But I still don't see then how Sparx would have gained any traction in the pro shop market during the initial launch of the product. For the first year or two, even when I first had my machine, most established pro shop commentary was skeptical trending towards negative towards the company and the product. It took a mountain of evidence and happy customers to overcome that. It's taken 3 years to establish the credibility they have now, and from my perspective at least - I don't buy into the idea that pro shops would have jumped on board and helped shape the product had Sparx just approached them early in the cycle to get them on board.

Just my personal opinion oldtrainerguy28, and I'm strictly speaking to their business model, not the value that pros like yourself can or could have added to the product. But better late than never - and I'm just glad the path they chose was successful in bringing this to market, with a healthy business model that allows them to continue to support and grow the product.

colins

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On 8/23/2018 at 1:55 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.)

 

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.

Observed. When sharpening something with a lot of heel and toe, the wheel stops for a fraction of a second when it hits the steel.

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I doubt Sparx said shops suck, but I find most are poor, and the good ones are 25 miles away. Anyway, if a shop buys a Sparx, it requires far less attention and concentration, so they can serve customers more quickly at peak times. My LHS has one of two top staff members sharpening at the weekend. I’d rather they were serving customers because they kniw what they are talking about. 

Curiously they have a ProSharp SkatePal, looks like an aluminium camera case, but it sits unused. The wheel clogged up with steel and customers apparently preferred the hand sharpening. That said, my Sparx is incredible. 

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8 hours ago, Nicholas G said:

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. 

I guess there’s two issues. How many grinds can it do before failure, and how robust is it when knocked about. It looks like it can do oodles of grinds, but can it survive regularly being carried, and potentially dropped albeit in the carry case, or even accidentally dropped 6” onto a bench? These things are heavy. 

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11 hours ago, marka said:

Howdy,

You may not like it, and that's totally understandable, but to the average guy that wants to get his damn skates sharpened, most shops _DO_ suck.  And there's no way, as a regular consumer, to reliably find the ones that don't.  Particularly when its the standard thing like "Joey is the guy at Pure, but Billy sucks and Jill isn't bad but can't deal with weird stuff either.  Good luck!  May the odds ever be in your favor".

Oh, and then Joey leaves anyway because, surprise, working retail isn't a destination career for most folks.

Meanwhile, despite your obvious dislike of these machines, lots and lots of people are happily using them very successfully.  Because they do a pretty good job and do it consistently.

You sound _EXACTLY_ like the typical machinist from 20 or 30 or 40 years ago when CNC machines were taking over.  Manually sharpening a skate is an admirably skill.  And, done well, you can get an extremely good result.  But that takes lots of training/practice/feel and at the end of the day, there's not enough folks around that do it well vs. a hack job that destroys profiles, has edges so uneven you can see it with the naked eye, that nods their head when someone requests a roh and uses "the standard" anyway, etc. etc. etc.  This is a process that begs for automation.  The stuff about consistent travel speed, consistent pressure, etc. that it takes a while to get the right feel for is exactly what automation is good at.

edit:  And in the beginning, where was the money for Sparx to build those free sample machines for the shops?  I would imagine they weren't doing a kickstarter project because they decided to turn down big money investors.  They saw a need, had an idea for a product that filled that need, and were able to successfully market it to the people that wanted to fill that need.  And guess what... Those people were mostly consumers, not pro shops.  Or at least they were, until pro shops realized "hey... Wait a minute.  You mean I can teach someone to sharpen skates in 30 minutes?  And the results will be good?"


Mark

Nailed it. 

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11 hours ago, 218hockey said:

Observed. When sharpening something with a lot of heel and toe, the wheel stops for a fraction of a second when it hits the steel.

 

I use the risers for tall steel. The machine was designed and calibrated for the large majority of steel that existed before the recent LS4, CCM +2mm, StepSteel taller steel trend. I just leave the risers in and find I have no issues with heel/toe or getting that sweet spot for pressure on the blade that way.

colins

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Just now, colins said:

 

I use the risers for tall steel. The machine was designed and calibrated for the large majority of steel that existed before the recent LS4, CCM +2mm, StepSteel taller steel trend. I just leave the risers in and find I have no issues with heel/toe or getting that sweet spot for pressure on the blade that way.

colins

You shouldn't need to, those are for goalie skates with cowlings. Goalie skates without cowlings don't even need them. You should be using the height adjustment knob instead. 

Though, whatever works for you 🙂 

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9 hours ago, Leif said:

I guess there’s two issues. How many grinds can it do before failure, and how robust is it when knocked about. It looks like it can do oodles of grinds, but can it survive regularly being carried, and potentially dropped albeit in the carry case, or even accidentally dropped 6” onto a bench? These things are heavy. 

They are heavy but also sturdy, the plastic casing is strictly for cosmetics as explained in one of Sparx's videos that covered the development of the unit. The glass viewing door is probably the main weak spot in terms of something that may get busted if you toss the unit around.

In the travel case it is nice and secure. Sparx published this video of them testing the cases when they first got them: 

 

 

colins

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3 minutes ago, IPv6Freely said:

You shouldn't need to, those are for goalie skates with cowlings. Goalie skates without cowlings don't even need them. You should be using the height adjustment knob instead. 

Though, whatever works for you 🙂 

Yes, I could use the height adjustment knob, but the spring tension and the sacrifice you make for toe/heel coverage - I find tall steel is easier to dial in with the risers in place. 

Using the risers vs. using the height adjustment knob are not equivalent, because of the spring tension.

I only have StepSteel Black, CCM +2mm and LS3 in my house at the moment so I just keep the risers in all the time unless I'm sharpening someone else's skates that have worn or "not tall" steel.

colins

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1 hour ago, colins said:

They are heavy but also sturdy, the plastic casing is strictly for cosmetics as explained in one of Sparx's videos that covered the development of the unit. The glass viewing door is probably the main weak spot in terms of something that may get busted if you toss the unit around.

In the travel case it is nice and secure. Sparx published this video of them testing the cases when they first got them: 

 

 

colins

Yes, I know the Sparx is made with a solid steel frame and the case is tough. My concern isn’t damage while in the case, it’s concern at what happens if it drops on the floor while putting it into or taking it out of the case. I find my Sparx hard to lift as it is so heavy, hence easily dropped if I slip. That’s why I’d opt for the ProSharp if portability was a key requirement. 

Regarding the glass, I know someone with Sparx machines that have taken a hard puck shot to the glass, it’s tough. The exterior metal case is tough too, although the cosmetic plastic ends might break more easily. 

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1 hour ago, Leif said:

Yes, I know the Sparx is made with a solid steel frame and the case is tough. My concern isn’t damage while in the case, it’s concern at what happens if it drops on the floor while putting it into or taking it out of the case. I find my Sparx hard to lift as it is so heavy, hence easily dropped if I slip. That’s why I’d opt for the ProSharp if portability was a key requirement. 

Regarding the glass, I know someone with Sparx machines that have taken a hard puck shot to the glass, it’s tough. The exterior metal case is tough too, although the cosmetic plastic ends might break more easily. 

I mean... I'd expect about the same out of the Sparx if dropped when not in the case as I'd expect from a TV, or a laptop. I would expect that I'd be pissed and then I'd go buy a new one and be more careful next time.

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3 hours ago, IPv6Freely said:

Nailed it. 

Nailed it???? Not even close. I am all for automation.  Can't wait to get a machine to work the way I want it to. Nothing out there yet I think is good enough. 

As for training for 30 mins and let them go? Never my program was weeks long lots of practice and they had to sharpen there own skates first before a client. 

But thanks for thinking I'm 30 years older than I am. Hahahaha 

And sorry not sure how I copy the guy you copied. But anyway. 

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1 hour ago, IPv6Freely said:

What I meant was that I agree with everything he said.

Oh I know. I just didnt kkow how to tag both of you.  No biggie. 

It's just he has me all wrong. I love automated machines.  But they have to work with me not against me. I'm sure Russ can dig up some of those original IG and Twitter posts that got all of us pro shop guys up in arms. Some of us would have liked to work with this and Make it even better mouse trap  but that times past. 

And if you think about what he said where would they get the money to make Pro Shop machines... if I want all the market share I would be going after both revenue streams not just the one. Hence again go to the shops first ask them what they want in a machine and build it from there. But hey just a business idea. I'm mean it's not like Blademaster or Blackstone and Pro sharp dont have Home machines already. 

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2 hours ago, IPv6Freely said:

I mean... I'd expect about the same out of the Sparx if dropped when not in the case as I'd expect from a TV, or a laptop. I would expect that I'd be pissed and then I'd go buy a new one and be more careful next time.

You missed the key point, which is that I (maybe not you) find the Sparx hard to carry as it is big and heavy, and it has no carrying handles, and I’d quite likely drop it. With two people it’d be fine. 

I doubt there are any laptops that weigh even half the Sparx weight. Most people don’t walk round with TVs. 

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37 minutes ago, Leif said:

You missed the key point, which is that I (maybe not you) find the Sparx hard to carry as it is big and heavy, and it has no carrying handles, and I’d quite likely drop it. With two people it’d be fine. 

I doubt there are any laptops that weigh even half the Sparx weight. Most people don’t walk round with TVs. 

I didn't miss any point. It's big and heavy and might break if you drop it. So, don't drop it. 

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Nothing much to add to the current, just want to say, I purchased in October of last year and after 8 months my only thoughts are, I blew it not buying earlier.  I’ll take A LONG TIME to break even, because I tend to sharpen a bunch of friends and friends kids skates.  Then again, I’ve never sharpened our skates so often, about every other skate, they go in.  Sometimes, after one, just because I’m doing skates anyway. 

This machine, at this time, is the best purchase I’ve made in a while as far as useful to me, my family and friends.

I have no experience with the ProSharp and assume it’s the same(went with SPARX only due to I assumed I could ask all those here for advice if I had questions, due to numbers of community that had machine), but assume it’s as easy and effective.  My point, if you have the funds & desire, not pulling the trigger on one of these is a no brainer.  Again, my only wish...that I did it sooner.  

Flip side, glad I didn’t buy the travel case.  At this point, we don’t drive to many tournaments anymore, wouldn’t have been a cost effective purchase, even with a 20% discount, which I still haven’t seen since my purchase....which would result in numerous wheel purchases.  (We use to road travel to 7-8 tourneys a year)

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