Project: Homemade World's Best Sled!
December 15, 2017
[Bump from 11/08. Bump from 12/07.]
The world's best snowsled is only available homemade from your workshop -- that is, from Santa's actual workshop!
Fastest, farthest, safest, most comfy, lightest, cheapest, easiest to make!
...Wins all around!
My brother thought of the concept. I revised it to use XC skis and simplified it and made a couple of them for our kids for Xmas.
At this point, I can't think of a better sled.
Get a plastic tub sled ($10 hardware store) and screw a pair of XC skis to the bottom of it. Use the smooth-based waxable type, not the ones with fishscales.
Use XC skis if it's a sled for packed snow, or for use as a pulk on XC ski trails, or for kids.
Use wide downhill skis for deep soft snow, or for really heavy riders. (Use 3" tall wood blocks as raiser spacers so the sled rides above the deep snow.)
Use stout, short screws and big washers inside the sled to avoid pull-thru.
Then you glue foam-padding to the inside of the tub. The pad plus the flex of the skis makes for a uniquely comfy ride. Other sleds are far more harsh and bumpy. Our sled is wonderful for adults! Grownups need a smooth ride.
This sled runs really straight. And superfast, smooth and far. Really, it's the best we've ever seen.
Note that this sled makes for an awesome ski-pulk -- put tow-bars on it going to a hip belt and a skier can easily haul a lot of gear. Install the skis so they fit the width of a tracked ski trail. It even helps set the track better! You can also just pull it with a rope. But there's a reason why pulks use rods for pulling -- they prevent the sled from running into you and they let the sled turn easily to follow a skier. Note: you have to *cross* the pull-rods to make the sled follow you properly around turns.
When used for sledding it can be turned somewhat by hand-dragging or leaning. We need to experiment more with the leaning. But really all our slopes have been fine for straight run-outs and actually I don't know of any snowsleds where turning is part of the fun. Maybe by angling the skis inward at the front a bit one could get more turn from leaning. Nobody ever asks if snow-saucers or toboggans turn!
...So just aim it before you start. That's where you'll go.
If you install a wood spacer to the top of the skis before mounting to the sled bottom, you get more height above the snow and so can ride through deeper snow without scrubbing speed on the bottom of the sled---this can be far faster. It's great fun to float over the snow that way.
A sled made with downhill skis is somewhat heavy, but it floats better in the soft stuff. With XC skis a sled is very light ... and awesome. That is the set-up I use nearly all the time. Most sled hills are already pre-packed.
I found several manufactured sleds online that are described as being fastest. They cost over $100. They're mostly patterned after luges or crestas. Some are curved wood, others molded plastic. Are they any better than our homebrew sled? We need a head-to-head! If they are faster, and can even be controlled, maybe we can use some of their ideas in our design...
My brother's sled concept. Note--he says to not make it too rigid---tracks best with some 'give' in the frame.
Homebrew sled in action!