Plastics News West Coast correspondent Roger Renstrom compiled the following briefs at the Action Sports Retailer expo, held Sept. 5-7 in San Diego.
Spectra Line makes tow ropes tougher
Liquid Force, a manufacturer of wake boards, has begun marketing low-stretch Spectra Line aramid fiber tow ropes, according to Mike Petersen, the firm's sales manager.
Spectra Line ``is 10 times stronger than steel on a strand-by-strand basis'' and allows a wake boarder to build up tension and maximize a boat engine's pulling power, according to Petersen.
It's ``not like polyethylene rope,'' he added.
Liquid Force team riders have been using Spectra Line, based on an AlliedSignal Inc. material, he said.
Because of the potential hazard of the thin Spectra Line wrapping around a finger or ankle, families with small children should not use the product, according to Petersen.
Liquid Force, a unit of Earth and Ocean Sports, employs 30 at its facilities in Oceanside, Calif. The company expects 1997 sales of $8 million.
Carbon fiber making skateboard comeback
Skateboard truck manufacturer Gullwing Products will offer next-generation models with a carbon-fiber base and a long-carbon-fiber hanger next year.
``I see carbon fiber coming back,'' said Walter Tiedge, Gullwing owner and president.
Typical hangers are made of aluminum, although Gullwing offers an 8.3-inch axle in magnesium.
Beginning in 1986, Gullwing included carbon-fiber bases on about half of its trucks, or the platforms that support the board. But, according to Tiedge, user acceptance for carbon-fiber bases ``took a dive down to nothing'' in 1991.
``I still have 1,800 pounds of material on shelf,'' he said.
Boarders riding frequently on a vertical ramp benefit from carbon fiber's properties, but the material ``doesn't work'' for those riding in streets, Tiedge said.
``I've had many phone calls from people trying to develop various carbon-fiber boards for market. Many coming out of aerospace overengineer the product and can't make anything that is practical for this industry,'' he said.
Someone ``who wants to spend some money for a die and knows this industry could make some money,'' he added.
But a change in basic designs could cost a company from $75,000-$125,000 in molds, he said.
Gullwing employs 22 at its 14,000-square-foot facility in Santee, Calif., and sells skateboard trucks worldwide to original equipment manufacturers, shops and distributors.
XTreme Wheelz finds niche in toe straps
Hardware supplier XTreme Wheelz Inc. has found a lively market niche in supplying front and back plastic toe straps for rugged all-terrain skateboards.
Injection molder Polar Glass Inc. of San Diego makes the hooks of nylon 6 resin.
Sales have gone ``from handfuls to thousands of sets a year,'' said XTreme Wheelz owners Paul Del Bosque and Rick Wilson.
All-terrain skateboard riders find the product to be a necessity, and devotees of the surf and snow use the straps in cross-training apart from their normal boarding activities, according to the company.
XTreme Wheelz employs nine and occupies 1,500 square feet in Poway, Calif.