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Sparx Skate Sharpener - At home sharpener

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I was talking to a rink owner yesterday about his Sparx, which was one of the first in the UK. He travels with it, and on one occasion he dropped the bare machine (not in a case) from waist height down a flight of stairs. It bounced down 7 steps. It has also taken direct hits from a puck, including to the glass, and has some cosmetic damage as evidence. It still works perfectly, which shows how solid the internal mechanism must be. The fact that it is not out of alignment is surprising. Mine copes with the stresses of sitting on a carpeted floor. 🙂

Edited by Leif

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Does anyone clean out their Sparx periodically?  (like vacuum and wipe the interior - outside of changing the filter). If so, how often?  I was thinking of cleaning out every grinding wheel use...

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4 hours ago, shoot_the_goalie said:

Does anyone clean out their Sparx periodically?  (like vacuum and wipe the interior - outside of changing the filter). If so, how often?  I was thinking of cleaning out every grinding wheel use...

I empty the tray and vacuum it out every few weeks. Depends on how much it gets used. My every few weeks might be someone else's weekly thing.

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I would like to know who here owns or works at a Pro Shop that uses Sparx? We are looking at adding a few machines to our lineup when the season is busy or during tournaments and they keep pushing us toward the PS units but the volume is so low I think the ES unit makes more sense. We are looking at maybe 60 sharpens a month on two machines, so 30 per machine. I don't see why we would need or want a PS unit...? 

We currently have 3 ProSharp machines, and an older triple head BladeMaster. The main issue with the BladeMaster is the younger kids aren't reliable enough to sharpen by hand so I am trying to find a better alternative. 

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4 hours ago, Nicholas G said:

I would like to know who here owns or works at a Pro Shop that uses Sparx? We are looking at adding a few machines to our lineup when the season is busy or during tournaments and they keep pushing us toward the PS units but the volume is so low I think the ES unit makes more sense. We are looking at maybe 60 sharpens a month on two machines, so 30 per machine. I don't see why we would need or want a PS unit...? 

We currently have 3 ProSharp machines, and an older triple head BladeMaster. The main issue with the BladeMaster is the younger kids aren't reliable enough to sharpen by hand so I am trying to find a better alternative. 

Pro Sharp with Diamond Wheel.  IMO. More sharpens and more consistant.  Do you have diamond wheels on them now?? 

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1 hour ago, oldtrainerguy28 said:

Pro Sharp with Diamond Wheel.  IMO. More sharpens and more consistant.  Do you have diamond wheels on them now?? 

Diamond wheels on the SkatePal, and we are using custom 80 grit Ruby wheels on the AS units. 

While I like the idea of having more SkatePal units the cost for a machine that is not going to be constantly used outweighs the overall value. Hence why I was considering Sparx units. 

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37 minutes ago, IPv6Freely said:

I don’t understand the question. Why would the crossgrind wheel not work?

Was not sure if the newer ES100 models the NFC reader in the is sharper does not allow/recognize the XG (cross grind) wheel. 

Edited by Nicholas G

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We got two of these units for our travel team yesterday. When they are on the road they will go with the club team and when they are at home we will keep them in the shop and use them if we are super busy or have overflow and the workers are buried. We did about 50 sharpens yesterday and my overall impression so far is good. 

Edges are usually level or very close to level, off by half a line on a Wissota “Elite” Even Edge Checker or perfectly even. I would say the uneven edges are very rare, 95% of the time I would say the sharpening is spot on. I think its quite strange that multiple pairs in a row will be perfect and then one pair will not and assume this has to do with the general condition of the steel. The more mangled the steel or low quality, the more likely it will will not be perfectly 100% level and will sometimes require adjust of the Sparx alignment. 

The finish is not as good as hand sharpening, which I kind of expected. I dont think its bad, but if you have been sharpening by hand or even using a Pro Sharp AS machine, its just not as polished and smooth. You can polish out any of the "marking" with a leather hone and "magic sauce" but it does require more attention to detail. 

There are absolutely more burrs when using the Sparx which I find a bit annoying. When I hand sharpen I have little or no burr on the steel, regardless of the steel type. This is usually the same with Pro Sharp too. With the Sparx, even with the highest quality steel, it will usually leave a decent sized burr that has to be worked out. Not a huge issue, but it does require attention to detail. 

Final thoughts, these are a great addition for club teams that travel and need consistent sharpening or for families with multiple players. I can see these being really great for low volume stores too, maybe doing 100 or less sharpening monthly, but a high volume store doing 400+ sharpening a month just doesn't seem like these would work well for such. 

Ill add more information and feedback as we continue to use them but this is what I noticed in a very small-time using the machine. 

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1 hour ago, Nicholas G said:

We got two of these units for our travel team yesterday. When they are on the road they will go with the club team and when they are at home we will keep them in the shop and use them if we are super busy or have overflow and the workers are buried. We did about 50 sharpens yesterday and my overall impression so far is good. 

Edges are usually level or very close to level, off by half a line on a Wissota “Elite” Even Edge Checker or perfectly even. I would say the uneven edges are very rare, 95% of the time I would say the sharpening is spot on. I think its quite strange that multiple pairs in a row will be perfect and then one pair will not and assume this has to do with the general condition of the steel. The more mangled the steel or low quality, the more likely it will will not be perfectly 100% level and will sometimes require adjust of the Sparx alignment. 

The finish is not as good as hand sharpening, which I kind of expected. I dont think its bad, but if you have been sharpening by hand or even using a Pro Sharp AS machine, its just not as polished and smooth. You can polish out any of the "marking" with a leather hone and "magic sauce" but it does require more attention to detail. 

There are absolutely more burrs when using the Sparx which I find a bit annoying. When I hand sharpen I have little or no burr on the steel, regardless of the steel type. This is usually the same with Pro Sharp too. With the Sparx, even with the highest quality steel, it will usually leave a decent sized burr that has to be worked out. Not a huge issue, but it does require attention to detail. 

Final thoughts, these are a great addition for club teams that travel and need consistent sharpening or for families with multiple players. I can see these being really great for low volume stores too, maybe doing 100 or less sharpening monthly, but a high volume store doing 400+ sharpening a month just doesn't seem like these would work well for such. 

Ill add more information and feedback as we continue to use them but this is what I noticed in a very small-time using the machine. 

 

The one thing I'd say about burrs and the finish - if you adjust the height for less pressure of the ring on the blade you get better results from the Sparx, based on my experience.

If you try to start too high on the toe/heel it can end up riding the blade with too much pressure and dragging/struggling a little (you can tell by the pitch of the sound). Then you end up with more burrs and less clean of a finish. The machine won't cut out on you, and you'll still get an acceptable sharpen, just not as clean.

colins

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59 minutes ago, colins said:

 

The one thing I'd say about burrs and the finish - if you adjust the height for less pressure of the ring on the blade you get better results from the Sparx, based on my experience.

If you try to start too high on the toe/heel it can end up riding the blade with too much pressure and dragging/struggling a little (you can tell by the pitch of the sound). Then you end up with more burrs and less clean of a finish. The machine won't cut out on you, and you'll still get an acceptable sharpen, just not as clean.

colins

Yeah, I don't go very far up on the toe/heel. I only sharpen the area players actually skate on. I have no idea why some people sharpen the entire surface area. It baffles me. Its one of my personal pet peeves. 

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2 hours ago, colins said:

 

if you adjust the height for less pressure of the ring on the blade you get better results from the Sparx, based on my experience.

colins

I didn't know you could adjust pressure. I thought there was only a height adjustment and that wouldn't change the actual pressure.

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15 minutes ago, 218hockey said:

I didn't know you could adjust pressure. I thought there was only a height adjustment and that wouldn't change the actual pressure.

 

There is no adjustment labelled pressure. But since the ring deflects on the blade via a spring, the amount of deflection and force on the spring determines the pressure of the ring on the blade.

So if you move the ring up to hit very high on the toe of the steel, the spring is forced to stretch more on the way down the radius of the toe and that creates more pressure (drag) on the steel down the length of the runner. If you adjust the ring too high, the amount of drag will actually cause the machine to cut off. There's a point where you aren't so high that it cuts out, but you're still too high in that a smooth continuous pass doesn't occur, instead the ring chatters and changes pitch (sound) along the length of the runner. Almost like it's skipping or dragging. 

You have two ways to influence the ring contact point on the toe of the runner and therefore the amount of spring deflection - move the runner/boot up vertically in the clamp (manually or via the risers), or adjust the ring up or down via the ring height adjustment.

 

colins

 

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I've used the machine, I know how it works.

If it's a single rate spring it doesn't matter where the spring is in it's travel, the rate (and pressure) will be constant.

What you're experiencing at the beginning of the cycle is higher pressure caused by the angle of the wheel. If you start too high you can drive the wheel directly into the toe and that's when you get the chatter and even possibly a brief stop to the wheels rotation. Do you agree?

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8 minutes ago, 218hockey said:

I've used the machine, I know how it works.

If it's a single rate spring it doesn't matter where the spring is in it's travel, the rate (and pressure) will be constant.

What you're experiencing at the beginning of the cycle is higher pressure caused by the angle of the wheel. If you start too high you can drive the wheel directly into the toe and that's when you get the chatter and even possibly a brief stop to the wheels rotation. Do you agree?

This is my understanding as well. Which was confirmed by someone who works there.

 

Edited by stick9

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1 hour ago, Nicholas G said:

lkRpGww.jpg

 

I tried my best but couldn't get a clean shot from my iphone with the lighting to show the hollow like that. My finish is similar, but you seem to have some distinct lines running the length of the runner there that I don't see on mine. Is it a new ring?

colins

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14 minutes ago, 218hockey said:

I've used the machine, I know how it works.

If it's a single rate spring it doesn't matter where the spring is in it's travel, the rate (and pressure) will be constant.

What you're experiencing at the beginning of the cycle is higher pressure caused by the angle of the wheel. If you start too high you can drive the wheel directly into the toe and that's when you get the chatter and even possibly a brief stop to the wheels rotation. Do you agree?

Raise the ring to where it cuts the machine out. Lower it one step at a time and repeat until the first step where it no longer cuts off. Listen to the pass (any chatter? skips? changes in pitch?) and observe the finish (do you see horizontal ticks marks running perpendicular to the runner at the point the sound/pitch of the pass occured?).

Now lower it 2 or 3 more clicks and observe the same. 

Are your observations the same or different? If different, what could account for the difference?

 

colins

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20 minutes ago, 218hockey said:

I've used the machine, I know how it works.

If it's a single rate spring it doesn't matter where the spring is in it's travel, the rate (and pressure) will be constant.

What you're experiencing at the beginning of the cycle is higher pressure caused by the angle of the wheel. If you start too high you can drive the wheel directly into the toe and that's when you get the chatter and even possibly a brief stop to the wheels rotation. Do you agree?

 

Single rate or dual rate spring, Hooke's law applies doesn't it? The spring in question is mounted at about a 45 degree angle, so the forces aren't vertical, but some grade 12 physics can work out the difference each extra couple mm of spring extension puts on the ring pushing back against the runner.

Screenshot-2019-08-09-at-8-30-10-PM.png

I've never seen @Sparx Hockey Russell Layton weigh in on this, and I'm not an engineer. Russ designed the machine, if he says this is all wrong I gladly stand corrected. I'm just basing the above on my observations and experiments in using the machine at home the past three years.

 

colins

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One way to find out. Lower the wheel and check the spring tension by hand. Raise it up and see if you feel a difference.

The difference you hear could be debris on the ring after hitting the toe.

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Sure, I don't actually have a SPARX now and I haven't even looked at the way it's designed. But I do know that preload will not change a springs rate, only a stiffer spring will.

I wish there was a way to do the toe evenly on a new, tall, blade. Some of these runners have quite an angle at the ends. Not a deal breaker though, and after using one for a couple of months I will probably purchase soon. Just waiting for the next $75 or $100 code! 💰

Edited by 218hockey

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17 hours ago, colins said:

 

I tried my best but couldn't get a clean shot from my iphone with the lighting to show the hollow like that. My finish is similar, but you seem to have some distinct lines running the length of the runner there that I don't see on mine. Is it a new ring?

colins

Yes, brand new ring. 

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How often are you guys changing the filter? I know they say every 200 sharpens or something when the filter light comes on, but my current filter looks brand new, I have OCD when it comes to cleaning, so I do a very thorough cleaning daily. I clean everything, take out the tray, wipe everything down, and even blow it out with an air cannon, and such. 

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