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mojo122

Blackstone FireBall

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Both skates at the same time look interesting, but it makes the machine huge by spinning like that.

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I spoke to Steve a few weeks ago about it. We’ll sit down on a video call soon for a live demo. 

5 hours ago, Hills said:

Both skates at the same time look interesting, but it makes the machine huge by spinning like that.

Steve’s a pretty tall guy, but it doesn’t seem that big to me. 

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One would have thought they would use a better looking skate with steel that hasn't been sharpened a couple of hundred times for their first presentation to the market...🤣

Looks like a metal grinding disc?  

 

 

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22 hours ago, mojo122 said:

Looks like Blackstone Sports is about to enter the automated skate sharpener market with a machine dubbed FireBall.  There's a short video posted on their FaceBook page. Not sure if the following FB link will work?

Blackstone FireBall FaceBook Video

Ehhhhh. It looks like a newer model of Dupliskate. I cannot imagine something so big and clunky is going to be affordable. 

TBH, I am not a fan of this machine from what I have seen. Think about the nightmare it must be to change hollows when needed since it uses a diamond encrusted wheel. Thats always been my biggest complaint when it comes to Blackstone spinners, Sparx, and ProSharp SkatePal machines. If you are a shop that does 100 sharpenings daily and 95% of them are 1/2" then its not a big deal, but if you do an equal amount of 3/8, 1/2, 5/8, 3/4 and such then this would make me very frustrated. 

Maybe this unit was intended to handle high capacity stores where you have 2 or 3 machines. Then you can use this to handle your most common hollows, 1/2 and 5/8, while using a hand held to do anything that falls outside of that scope.

 

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11 minutes ago, PBH said:

 

Ehhhhh. It looks like a newer model of Dupliskate. I cannot imagine something so big and clunky is going to be affordable. 

TBH, I am not a fan of this machine from what I have seen. Think about the nightmare it must be to change hollows when needed since it uses a diamond encrusted wheel. Thats always been my biggest complaint when it comes to Blackstone spinners, Sparx, and ProSharp SkatePal machines. If you are a shop that does 100 sharpenings daily and 95% of them are 1/2" then its not a big deal, but if you do an equal amount of 3/8, 1/2, 5/8, 3/4 and such then this would make me very frustrated. 

Maybe this unit was intended to handle high capacity stores where you have 2 or 3 machines. Then you can use this to handle your most common hollows, 1/2 and 5/8, while using a hand held to do anything that falls outside of that scope.

 

The biggest problem with these machines is the cost of wheels, which eats into a shops profit. The first grind on new blades is horrendous, it eats up the diamond coated wheel. I know several shops that dropped automated machines in favour of a traditional Blackstone sharpener. I even got a bag of Sparx wheels from a shop that had sold their Sparx machine. The automated machines are useful if the shop does occasional sharpenings as there’s no need to train any of the staff to use a traditional unit. After all you might have a saturday staff member in once a week.And while the machine is working the staff can serve someone else. One local rink stopped their grinding service as their were too many complaints, and I heard there was legal action too, but that’s just a rumour. 
 

I have the original Sparx ES100, changing wheels is easy. It’s no harder than dressing the grinding wheel on a traditional machine. 

I bet the Fireball is expensive. 

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Howdy,

43 minutes ago, Leif said:

I have the original Sparx ES100, changing wheels is easy. It’s no harder than dressing the grinding wheel on a traditional machine. 

I bet the Fireball is expensive. 

Yeah, same reaction here.  If anything, I think changing a wheel in a Sparx is easier / faster than dressing a stone to a different hollow.

I recently heard that the Pure Hockey closest to me has gone to Sparx for their general sharpenings, supposedly due to not needing to be an expert sharpener to get a good result.

Mark

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50 minutes ago, Leif said:

The biggest problem with these machines is the cost of wheels, which eats into a shops profit. The first grind on new blades is horrendous, it eats up the diamond coated wheel. I know several shops that dropped automated machines in favour of a traditional Blackstone sharpener. I even got a bag of Sparx wheels from a shop that had sold their Sparx machine. The automated machines are useful if the shop does occasional sharpenings as there’s no need to train any of the staff to use a traditional unit. After all you might have a saturday staff member in once a week.And while the machine is working the staff can serve someone else. One local rink stopped their grinding service as their were too many complaints, and I heard there was legal action too, but that’s just a rumour. 

I have the original Sparx ES100, changing wheels is easy. It’s no harder than dressing the grinding wheel on a traditional machine. 

I bet the Fireball is expensive. 

Changing the wheel on Sparx is easy but it still takes more time compared to me redressing the wheel for a new hollow. That would be acceptable if there wasn't also a cost penalty for using their proprietary wheels. If Sparx could get the cost down to $1 a sharpen that would be acceptable but from the math I did when I owned the stores in WA the overhead cost was more like $2.75 per sharpen. 

8 minutes ago, marka said:

Howdy,

Yeah, same reaction here.  If anything, I think changing a wheel in a Sparx is easier / faster than dressing a stone to a different hollow.


I recently heard that the Pure Hockey closest to me has gone to Sparx for their general sharpenings, supposedly due to not needing to be an expert sharpener to get a good result.

Mark

I was told all Pure Hockey stores will be transitioning to Sparx from other brands (Blackstone and ProSharp) to provide a consistent experience. I think this is a good move for Pure Hockey since most of the workers at their stores are 16-18 years of age and really dont give a crap about skate sharpening. They just want/need a job an dont care about the art of skate sharpening or profiling. 

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8 hours ago, PBH said:

I was told all Pure Hockey stores will be transitioning to Sparx from other brands (Blackstone and ProSharp) to provide a consistent experience. I think this is a good move for Pure Hockey since most of the workers at their stores are 16-18 years of age and really dont give a crap about skate sharpening. They just want/need a job an dont care about the art of skate sharpening or profiling. 

Pure Hockey went all out on ProSharp for the same exact reasons and it didn't work out well for them.  Time will tell whether Sparx works out or becomes another headache.

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9 hours ago, PBH said:

I was told all Pure Hockey stores will be transitioning to Sparx from other brands (Blackstone and ProSharp) to provide a consistent experience. I think this is a good move for Pure Hockey since most of the workers at their stores are 16-18 years of age and really dont give a crap about skate sharpening. They just want/need a job an dont care about the art of skate sharpening or profiling. 

When I worked there, I did not have any 16 year old employees, nor did everyone in the store sharpened. The most I ever had was 6 sharpeners out of a staff of 25 - roughly 25% of the staff.  It was the only way to maintain quality control.  But I was the exception, not the rule. 

It’s truly a blessing that I’m no longer there.  I can’t see myself still there if I had the opportunity to.  My skill set wouldn’t have been appreciated.  

And from what I’ve been told, it’s a breeze to swap wheels/hollows on the FireBall. 

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On 5/14/2021 at 1:34 PM, mojo122 said:

Pure Hockey went all out on ProSharp for the same exact reasons and it didn't work out well for them.  

I can possibly see why. A rink I coach at has 2 of the machines, the Home and the Skatepal Pro 3. Both of them sit in the corner unused, instead the manual Blackstone machine is used to sharpen rentals, figure and ice hockey skates. The problem these machines have is the alignment of the skate blade (and you can't check it once the skate is in the machine), it will do one blade ok and then the next is off. It's to do with the way they have designed the clamp, imho I think it is pos. If you don't keep the parts in top notch condition (ie basically in brand new condition all of the time) then any minimal wear on the washers for the blade clamp will eventually cause a blade to go out of alignment. I've suggested a revision to the rink (machine a new guide, add additional posts and use tight tolerance ball bearings to guide the blade clamp) and they are in discussions with Skatepal about it. 

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Isn't part of the sharpening experience, experience ? 

I completely respect Blackstone for their new product and passion. My thoughts now kick back to the operator, not the machine. If your part time employee that is just loading skates in and out of the Fireball has no experience on a manual sharpener, how will he know what he is looking for and looking at when he uses FB ? There is an understanding of the process of skate sharpening that a manual operator learns to be successful. Take that experience away and expecting the part time shop teen-ager to know exactly what to look for in finished product is a bit of a risk, IMHO. 

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You can't just have any old schmuck work an automated machine. If you're honing steel post sharpening you need to have some experience and a decent set of hands. 

I own a Sparx and love it, but it's not as simple as it's made out to be. It's not for the kitchen and it's not as simple as press a button and go.

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I wonder about the Bauer "Own The Moment" store? Or I should say "Bauer Hockey Experience" since being acquired  Pure Hockey in 2020.

The Minnesota store has a great Performance Lab leader in Romeo Vivit. All Blackstone equipped store so maybe get a FireBall but certainly not changing over to all automated.

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Like anything else I will reserve judgement until I get to feel it on the ice.  The conjecture is kinda silly IMHO.  Blackstone has a reputation as an industry leader and they are clearly aware that things are moving in the direction of being automated.  I think this all bodes well for the product.  I am intrigued.

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On 5/18/2021 at 11:10 AM, 218hockey said:

I wonder about the Bauer "Own The Moment" store? Or I should say "Bauer Hockey Experience" since being acquired  Pure Hockey in 2020.

The Minnesota store has a great Performance Lab leader in Romeo Vivit. All Blackstone equipped store so maybe get a FireBall but certainly not changing over to all automated.

Word is that Pure is ALL in on Sparx.  While there are probably many stores that deliver quality sharpening services within PH they'll at some point be transitioned to Sparx. While I see offering a great edge as leading to high end in-store purchases, I feel that their management sees it as only a $7.00 sharpening.

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On 5/13/2021 at 12:20 PM, Leif said:

The biggest problem with these machines is the cost of wheels, which eats into a shops profit. The first grind on new blades is horrendous, it eats up the diamond coated wheel. I know several shops that dropped automated machines in favour of a traditional Blackstone sharpener. I even got a bag of Sparx wheels from a shop that had sold their Sparx machine. The automated machines are useful if the shop does occasional sharpenings as there’s no need to train any of the staff to use a traditional unit. After all you might have a saturday staff member in once a week.And while the machine is working the staff can serve someone else. One local rink stopped their grinding service as their were too many complaints, and I heard there was legal action too, but that’s just a rumour. 
 

I have the original Sparx ES100, changing wheels is easy. It’s no harder than dressing the grinding wheel on a traditional machine. 

I bet the Fireball is expensive. 

I thought the automated machines are only meant for re-sharpenings.  Even manual sharpening new blades (hockey, goalie, or figure skating) uses up more grinding wheel material and labor time. Some shops will give you a discount on a first time sharpening (which you should take advantage of) when you buy the skates or replacement blades from them.

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On 6/16/2021 at 3:28 PM, caveman27 said:

I thought the automated machines are only meant for re-sharpenings.  Even manual sharpening new blades (hockey, goalie, or figure skating) uses up more grinding wheel material and labor time. Some shops will give you a discount on a first time sharpening (which you should take advantage of) when you buy the skates or replacement blades from them.

I don't charge for sharpening other than first time sharpening for brand new skates that customers buy from stores other than mine. 

My only ask is a customer buys an item to get the free sharpening. Could be a roll of tape, a stick handling ball, laces, anything. 

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1 hour ago, JR Boucicaut said:

When I spoke to Steve at first, $16k was the number mentioned. 
 

We have a follow up call - just trying to get it scheduled. 

16k!!!! That's ridiculous. 

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