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  1. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    in the grace of the most holy FSM
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    3,067
    i classify firewires as "high-end" popouts mainly b/c they're produced overseas by cheap, non-surfing labor, same as surftech & boardworks. they're certainly high-tech popouts, but the fact that firewire closed their domestic & australian manufacturing facilities moved them into the popout category for me.
    yes, channel islands, rusty, ...lost, etc... use the cnc machine to pre-shape their blanks, but at least those boards are then finished by hand in the united states. not ideal, certainly, but from an accuracy perspective, beneficial. that & the fact that those companies manufacture their boards in country using surfer labor is what, in my mind, makes them a better investment then firewires. i've seen more sanded-through firewires than any other company. i think their quality control is lacking there. sand-throughs rarely, if ever, happen w/ the other big names.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Salisbury
    Posts
    229
    One of the things that appealed to me about surfing was that boardmaking was a cottage industry made up of surfers and their friends/family. But now boardmaking is a mass production industry, and like so many outdoor sports (bicycling comes to mind) the gear is made overseas by folks who may not be enthusiasts. I used to get a real shot of stoke to see Ashton or Keesecker out in the water when I was sitting on one of their boards. Made me feel "connected" somehow.

    Firewires and other machine-made boards are probably great to ride. Durability and repeatability are laudable, but I feel like we have lost something along the way. Or am I just being overly sentimental?

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Chadwick
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    1,308
    In The Eye Surfboards are shaped by hand for over 30 years,now

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    485
    [QUOTE=Mikey;96322 Firewires and other machine-made boards are probably great to ride. Durability and repeatability are laudable, but I feel like we have lost something along the way. Or am I just being overly sentimental?[/QUOTE]

    Not at all! I agree. In all honesty 1000th of an inch accuracy will probably never register in my brain. That accuracy gives Kelly Slater or whomever exactly what he needs, and I really enjoy watching the pro's do their thing. At the same time, there's something truly special about our local "tribes". The old guys, the shapers, the groms. It's like a big extended family. I notice the alternative very clearly when I visit places like SoCal and see hoards of people in the lineup, most of whom will never know each other. While we don't get nearly as many waves over here, we are truly blessed to have such small communities of people that we recognize just about everyone...at least in April. When the local shaping culture disappears, I think the local surf community will go with it. Or maybe not, just my perception.

  5. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Mikey View Post
    One of the things that appealed to me about surfing was that boardmaking was a cottage industry made up of surfers and their friends/family. But now boardmaking is a mass production industry, and like so many outdoor sports (bicycling comes to mind) the gear is made overseas by folks who may not be enthusiasts. I used to get a real shot of stoke to see Ashton or Keesecker out in the water when I was sitting on one of their boards. Made me feel \"connected\" somehow.



    Firewires and other machine-made boards are probably great to ride. Durability and repeatability are laudable, but I feel like we have lost something along the way. Or am I just being overly sentimental?
    Feel ya all the way on this. grew up racing on custom bikes from Dave Moulton's FUSO's. last custom i had built was a masi gran criterium from the factory in italy, that art is lost!! Nothing gives me more joy then talking shapes with Brian Wynn and picking up the final result. Seeing the process and what it means to have a board made for you results in me never going elsewhere for a shape. Guy's mowing foam on the east coast know the waves and what works. And yes you feel "connected" and you should.

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    garbage state
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    835
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    its a catch 22

    i have one firewire in my quiver and its an okay board. I never felt like i had it wired, but i have had some fun sessions on it. One session in particular was a nor-easter sell that produced an over head day with long reeling lefts. Later in the day the wind changed its angle and created mini speed bumps along the face of the wave. I had one ride i can remember that had me feeling that i was riding a sea shell skipping across the water nearly out of control. The speed was intense, but the control was gone. i attribute this to the EPS foam construction of the board which makes it very "chippy". I felt my legs vibrate and heard the sound of the vibrating board traveling at a high speed over these mini sped bumps. If i had a PU board this probably wouldn't have happened. Regardless, it was a great ride and the only one i can remember of that day which was pretty epic.

    Getting back to to my original post. I agree with many people on here that firewires and CI's are a bit of a hybrid of sorts. CNC machining and hand finished shaping seem to be the direction that all big board companies aspire to move toward. Its about the bottom dollar right?

    Other shapers scoff at the idea, and I appreciate the hard work, risk (yes there are health risks involved) and uber craftmanship that they put into a board that you want. I am in the process of getting my very first custom board by a local shaper. I am very stoked!! However, it sucks for these guys that the price is still nearly the same that the mass produced CNC shaped companies are shelving at our surf shops, when the hand shaped boards are right around the same price, or less. CI boards range anywhere from 600-750$. And, depending on who apparently so called "designed" it (ehem machado, slater ehem) they can sell for even higher. The traditional shapers are working harder and getting less.

    Does it surf the same? probably, but some of that cliche "soul" that is so carelessly thrown around sometimes is certainly lost. If i buy an Al Merrick surfboard, i want him to be touching my board and gracing it with his magic. Unfortunately though im not a team rider. So I'll never have one of his handshaped boards in the post CNC era. And firewire? I dont even have a signature on mine!!

    All said and done my biggest complaint is the cost of CNC boards. They should be half the price of what they cost in the stores, but that would ruin the entire surf economy if they charged that. Its a catch 22.
    Last edited by DaMook; May 6, 2011 at 01:56 PM.

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Monmouth Beach, NJ
    Posts
    2,416
    Mook... From a design and construction perspective, I would guess that the jittery, "skipping seashell" feeling you felt had less to do with the type of foam than it did with the bottom contours and perimeter stringers. Those boards are designed with a specific flex pattern in mind, and so the bottom is shaped to accommodate those affects. I say this because I've ridden center-stringered EPS boards that felt nearly identical to PU, and because I've ridden perimeter-stringered boards and "springer" stringered boards with very different feels... more along the lines of what you're talking about.

    As for CNC... I'm not in the manufacturing industry, but the big guys almost HAVE to use them to keep up with demand, and to remain competitive in the marketplace. I guess you could ask yourself... do you want a board that's CNC'd and hand finished here in the US, or an overseas manufactured board produced by cheap Asian labor? Which is more... uh... "wrong" than the other, because realistically, that's the other option.

    Personally, I think everybody should be buiding their own boards. But that's just me...

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Seattle, WA
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    485
    Quote Originally Posted by LBCrew View Post

    As for CNC... I'm not in the manufacturing industry, but the big guys almost HAVE to use them to keep up with demand...
    Back in the "old days" (50's???) when it was much more difficult to get a surfboard, I'd venture to guess it took a lot more commitment to learn how to surf. Just getting a board must have required a lot of effort and people skills ("pretty please make me a board!!") instead of a mere credit card.

    Now you can be a teeny bopper and go watch "Soul Surfer" with your mammy, then cry and whine until she drives you to the nearest Ron Jon and buys you a shiney new Bic, all over the course of an afternoon.

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    MonCo NJ
    Posts
    355
    Ok so since I was the one that started this I guess I should chime.

    1. A Pop-out is a foam core that comes out of the mold ready to glass. It is not shaped at all by hand. NSP, 7S, Surftech, basically all the global industries boards started out as purely pop-outs produced over seas in Asia. Over the years some of these companies have trained their workers to do some shaping, but the processes remain basically the same. Firewires 1lb EPS cores are produced the same way. This is one of the reasons the average person can not buy a custom Firewire. The board sizes are set by the mold.


    2. CNC boards such as CI, JS, Lost, etc... are not pop-outs. These boards a milled by a CNC machine and hand finished by a trained shaper. The CNC does not cut a board to 1/1000. It leaves groves on the surface that are roughly a 1/16 of an inch. The "ghost shaper" must remove these groves, add certain design elements not left to the CNC including concave and rail transitions, edges, etc. They basically fine tune the shaped blank. Most companies require a ghost or "finish" shaper to be able to hand shape a board from start to finish before they can become a finisher. To become a finish shaper for CI you had to shape a board in front of Al start to finish totally by hand. I know, I have two friends who shaped for CI for years. There is still an art to the process and it is still true customization. Pop-outs do not allow this.

    3. As far as pricing goes. A master shaper can shape a board in an hour. Terry Martin (Hobie) can do a longboard in an hour. Pretty amazing to watch. Average production shapers will do a full board by hand in under 2 hours depending on the difficulty and size. A young shaper will average around 3 hours. A backyarder is looking at 4+. Your first time, usually a day or so. The cost of a surfboard is in the glassing and materials. Not the shaping time.

    4. Firewires are built by non-surfers in Asia. Surfboards are one of the few things left where a functional piece of art can be crafted by someone who cares as much as you do about how it works for you. There is soul in buying local and handshaped boards. This is a personal choice. Coil is a great hand made local alternative to Firewire.

    5. The chattering on the surface felt with Firewires is due to several factors, but not the Epoxy/EPS. One is how the built in flex is engineered. One is the 1lb EPS. In my opinion 1lb EPS is too light. 1.5lb is the minimum, I prefer 2lb. When glassed well and the right core is used, EPS/Epoxy will feel as good as a PU/PE. Smack a Firewire on the deck when sitting on it in the water and feel the vibration. That Vibrational energy translates into chattering on the surface because the flex is too tight. Do the same on a PU/PE and a Coil. You wont get the same vibration.
    Last edited by rDJ; May 6, 2011 at 03:39 PM.

  10. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    garbage state
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    Quote Originally Posted by LBCrew View Post
    Mook... From a design and construction perspective, I would guess that the jittery, "skipping seashell" feeling you felt had less to do with the type of foam than it did with the bottom contours and perimeter stringers. Those boards are designed with a specific flex pattern in mind, and so the bottom is shaped to accommodate those affects.
    I had initially explained my feelings about the firewire to Brian Wynn about that particular nor'easter session and how i felt that the bottom contour was the reason for that skipping feeling. I have the 6'2 futura model which has a very flat contour through the fin area. It has no concave in the back. He explained to me that the eps foam was the reason and not necessarily the bottom contour. So given what your saying, I'll meet both of you in the middle and say its a bit of both. Regardless, head high plus waves with some side chop= not a good board. Also, going on with what RDJ said, i can't disagree with anything your saying.

    I beg the question though, is Taj Burrow riding eps or PU with a Firewire sticker on it?
    Last edited by DaMook; May 6, 2011 at 04:38 PM.