7 Deadly Sins of Tech Binding Mounting


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | September 18, 2017      

Oh boy, mistakes were made? Hopefully you don’t hear that at the ski shop when you’re picking up your shiny new planks. More, let’s hope you are not shouting something stronger when you discover your binding mount is messed up and you’re standing on the summit of Denali — ready to launch — now you get to walk. Most shops (for example our publishing partner and sponsor of this post, Cripple Creek Backcountry) do a pretty good job of quality control. But human error happens. A few of the more common errors below. Some easy to check for, some presented as a warning as to why you should indeed trust your skis only to a top shop.

Boot off center at the heel, classic tech binding (exaggerated). Click images to enlarge.

Boot off center at the heel, classic tech binding (exaggerated). Click images to enlarge.

1. Boot heel off center

Why is this deadly: Too much misalignment preloads the binding heel lateral release, might cause an imbalance in how much retention the binding provides, thus possibly causing accidental release. Less dire, can also make it difficult to step-clip into the binding heel.
How to evaluate: Easy to check when you pick up your skis from the shop. Place boot in binding, in touring mode. Drop boot heel down so it rests on the heel pins (or other, in the case of hybrid binding). Check centering of the heel. It’ll usually be quite close, usually appearing near perfect. That’s best. But being off by a small amount is ok; a millimeter or so.
How to fix on the bench: Assuming the ski touring binding screw holes are not entirely messed up, remove front unit screws, reglue, reinsert screws but leave loose, lock boot in binding, push heel of boot to side until aligned, gradually tighten screws while continuing to apply “English” to the boot.
How to fix in the middle of the Messner Couloir: Not gonna happen.

You be screwjacked!

You be screwjacked!

2. Screw jacked base plates.

Why is this deadly: Simply because the binding screws are not entirely inserted in the ski, and uneven screw pressure can crack the metal binding base.
How to evaluate: Another one that’s easy to spot. Look for binding base plates that are not snugged down onto the ski top. Screw jacking occurs when an inattentive mounting technician tightens screws, and while doing so doesn’t notice the screw threads catching on the binding plate and “jacking” it up off the ski top.
How to fix on the bench: Remove screws, possibly drill out the holes in the plastic base plate to slightly larger diameter, re-mount, taking care to keep plate pressed down on ski.
How to fix during ski tour on Mount Olympus, Greece: Get out your screwdriver, attempt tightening screws. Success may be unattainable due to glue blocking up the holes and preventing the screws from sinking.

3. Stripped screws.

Why is this deadly: This one can be a surprise dumpster fire as your binding toe or heel appear fine, but can come off the ski while you’re skiing. An unexpected and possibly violent fall could be the result. More, it’s likely your ski is lost, perhaps part of your binding. You might be hurt. It’s a long way home.
How to evaluate: Difficult to spot, easy to feel if you do it yourself. This is one where trusting a reputable ski shop to do the job right is your only hope.
Only way to fix: A real fix in the field is nearly impossible, though you can jury rig repairs such as inserting splinters of wood into the hole and re-inserting the screw. Problem is, you usually don’t know about the bad screw until you rip the whole binding off the ski.

Improper boot length adjustment of a G3 Ion, correct adjustment  involves closing up the space between boot and binding. Each binding has a somewhat unique specification for this, know yours.

Improper boot length adjustment of a G3 Ion, too much space, correct adjustment involves closing up the gap between boot and binding. Each binding has a somewhat unique specification for this, know yours.

4. Improper boot length adjustment

Why can this be deadly? Wrong adjustment makes accidental release more likely, or even a given.
How to fix on the bench: Sometimes this is tricky, as we’ve even seen bindings with the same model name that require different amounts of space between the boot heel and the binding (known as the “tech gap”). Trust the ski shop — but verify by reading the binding documentation. This blog post goes into adjustment details, is curated, but difficult to keep entirely up to date.
How to fix anywhere: Assuming the binding has enough forward back adjustment to accommodate your boot length, get out your screwdriver and adjust it. Presumably you do know the specification?

5. Missing parts and pieces.

Why can this be deadly? Count the ways.
For a while, a certain binding brand had a removable brake, secured with a small metal clip. Poorly trained technicians often left this in the box or on the floor of the workshop. Even if the clip was installed correctly, you could hardly spot it. The brake would slide off the binding without the clip. Another example: Some bindings have a crampon mount that’s a separate piece — easily forgotten. Again, trust but verify with the binding documentation.
How to fix on the bench: Hold ski shop employee feet to the fire while using other hand to point at the binding document.
How to fix while ski touring a remote volcano in Chile: Duct tape and bailing wire, perhaps a Voile strap if you’ve got an extra.

6. Unglued screws, or wrong glue

Why deadly? Water intrudes into the screw boor, softening the ski core. Screw loosens or pulls out. With a shop mount, ask. They should be using either water resistant white glue, dedicated binding mount glue, or epoxy. We prefer epoxy for nearly all mounts (exception being our tests and demos).
How to fix: Back out one screw at a time, apply glue, re-torque.
How to fix in the field: Tighten screws, ski carefully, glue when you return to civilization.

7. What’s the seventh? Reader’s comment!

Last thought. If you ski much you’ll probably fix a few of these problems yourself, someday. To do so you want a nicely equipped shop of your own. Time to generate that gift list for your significant other.

Tool posts:
Specific to this post, The Tech Binding Tool Set.
And check out 10 tools for the complete home ski shop.
Let’s make it a triad,Yet more tool ideas.

Ski touring binding mount mistakes.

Ski touring binding mount mistakes.


Comments

17 Responses to “7 Deadly Sins of Tech Binding Mounting”

  1. Charlie Hagedorn September 18th, 2017 8:18 am

    Great checklist, Lou! Especially valuable for someone new to tech bindings.

    One nit-pick: Improper boot-length adjustment can also lead to a less-functional or non-functional release mechanism, arguably worse than one that releases too easily.

  2. See September 18th, 2017 8:54 am

    It seems to me that if you attempt to fix problem 2 on Mt. Olympus using the method described, you risk causing problem 3. Stripped screws might be worse than skiing on a slightly jacked binding until you can get back to the shop to fix it properly.

  3. Jim Pace September 18th, 2017 8:59 am

    I’ve seen/experienced every one of these. You covered it all I think. On a good note, I just received my new UL 78’s from Skimo.co, mounted with Plum 150 racing bindings. They are mounted perfectly. Racing bindings are even more finicky than touring bindings. The sole length has to be spot on. I wouldn’t dare mount them without a jig supplied by the factory.

  4. atfred September 18th, 2017 11:19 am

    Would one stripped screw (out of four or five) really cause a binding to rip out?

  5. Lou Dawson 2 September 18th, 2017 11:48 am

    Sure, especially if the bindings was “worked” for a few days.

  6. Camilo September 18th, 2017 12:06 pm

    Thanks Lou! For #1, a key tip is to mount bindings using both boots, especially if they’re older boots. I had some Scarpa Lasers about 15 years ago that required dedicated left and right skis.

  7. XXX_er September 18th, 2017 1:53 pm

    I asked the local shop guy/ski bud how he mounted AT and he gave me a real simple tip that made sense

    Mount the heelpiece dead center, mount the toe at centerline by one screw only, lock the boot into ski mode so the toe can pivot around to find its happy place, mark/drill the other screw holes in the toe piece

    No jig or template to shift around so tech or frame it always seems to work

  8. Lou Dawson 2 September 18th, 2017 2:00 pm

    Mounting the heel first is key, but can be done _after_ drilling all holes with a jig. You get a bit of fudge factor with the toe even after the holes are drilled. Trigged out through the length of the boot = lots of side-side adjustment of where the boot heel ends up.

  9. Patrick September 18th, 2017 2:11 pm

    An oddly frequent error from shops that don’t mount many tech bindings: bindings aren’t mounted to the ski center line.

  10. Lou Dawson 2 September 18th, 2017 2:15 pm

    Patrick, can you be more clear? Are you talking about the boot ending up to far forward or back based on the recommended position mark? Or are you talking about the binding being off center left-right? Thanks, Lou

  11. Thom Mackris September 18th, 2017 4:15 pm

    One nit I have to pick with manufacturers of most tech bindings is the fact that they countersink (instead of counterbore) the toe holes.

    Fritschi is the only exception I’m aware of (haven’t played with Plum, ATK, Trab).

    With a counterbore, you can more effectively finagle the toe piece’s orientation than with countersinks.

    … Thom

  12. Sam September 18th, 2017 5:58 pm

    Another common problem I’ve encountered over the years is premature contact of the boot sole with the arms supporting the toe pins on the binding toe as the heel is brought down. This could, I imagine, add upward pressure on the toe and/or the heel at baseline, increasing the risk of pre-release. Easy enough to carpet test to see if this is a problem, and a little work with a box cutter blade on the sole of the boot should fix the problem. I haven’t yet discovered a fix for the anxiety felt when taking a sharp knife to the sole of a $1000+ pair of new shoes ….

  13. Lou Dawson 2 September 19th, 2017 7:43 am

    Sam, thanks, perhaps that’s #7, as it can slip by the person installing the bindings, and subsequently cause accidental release. Lou

  14. Michael charley September 19th, 2017 9:34 am

    For #6: What’s the verdict on wood glue? Asking for a friend who’s done a lot of mounts with wood glue…

  15. justin September 19th, 2017 10:17 am

    Hey do you guys know what the deal is with the Look HM12 binding? Is Dynafit just rebranding their Radical FT 2.0 for Look/Dynastar?

    Is this the first time they’ve had this arrangement?

  16. Lou Dawson 2 September 19th, 2017 10:25 am

    Hi Michael, in my experience, wood glue is not good for long-term use in wet environments. Ok if the gear is not heavily used and/or used with less free water, for example used more during cold mid-winter, in dryer snow climates. It’s not something to obsess over. Easily evaluated by removing one screw and examine for corrosion and discoloration from water intrusion. Re install screw with similar glue if ok. If not, time to take all screws out and renew with glue of choice.

    Where this really holds true is with used gear. Clearly, if you buy used skis with unknown provenance, screw glue inspection is mandatory, perhaps even a binding removal and re-mount to be sure no screws are stripped.

    This sort of stuff is not DIY level 1, it’s easy to break or otherwise damage screws during removal attempts. I excessive force seems to be required to remove screws, time to re-evaluate need for inspection, or time to try heat to break the glue bond.

    Lou

  17. Jim September 19th, 2017 11:34 am

    Quiver Killers machine screw inserts can help solve some of the binding screw problems and allow for easier fixing in the field.





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