Toboggans meet all the specs for the annual competition

Need a toboggan for the Nationals? Build one at Rockland Apprenticeshop

Posted:  Sunday, January 8, 2017 - 10:00am
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ROCKLAND — With the U.S. Toboggan Nationals quickly approaching, the Apprenticeshop at 655 Main St. in Rockland hosted a two day workshop on how to build a competition-ready toboggan. At the end of the workshop, one could walk away with a beautifully crafted, competition ready sled that meets all the specs for the Championships at the Camden Snow Bowl February 10-12.

Kevin Carney is the lead instructor and director at the Apprenticeshop and explained what goes into building a toboggan.

"They are pretty simple, really," he said. "And a basic skill level is all you need to complete one. There are oak slats that we bend over a form and then there are stretchers every 18 inches or so to keep those slats together. We rivet those slats to the stretchers with bronze rivets and that's pretty much it."

Carney said there is a rope to help hold the shape and provide handholds on the sides.

"There are seven slats that go into the toboggan," he said. "Three are three-eighths thick and four are quarter-inch thick. The thick ones go in the center and on the outside edges. Those are the runners. That's what comes in contact with the ice."

Carney said that depending on how many one has built, a toboggan can easily be built in a day, but at the workshop they take two days to complete the sled.

"We take two days because it's not a hectic pace, but you move right along," he said. "We don't put any finish on it like varnish, we leave that to personal preference. Some people want to paint them and some want a polyurethane on them; regardless, the toboggan is ready to go."

Carney explained what spec needed to be met to enter a traditional toboggan in the Championships.

"There are certain widths and lengths you have to adhere by," he said. "There's a certain range of curl to the front end of the toboggan you have to adhere by. And there are certain lengths depending on if you want to go down as a two-man or a four-man team. For example, a four man toboggan can be eight to 12 feet long.”

Carney said they use 11-foot slats, which gives you a toboggan a little over nine feet long. He said nine feet is a comfortable size for a four-man team. Carney added that a wax is usually applied to the runners on the sled, but in his opinion, one type of wax is not really any better over another type.

Roger Crossland came up from Fairfield, Conn., to participate in the workshop.

"It's fantastic," he said. "The materials are great and training is way, way better then I expected. We're using oak, we're using mahogany, we're using copper fittings, just like you would use on a boat."

Crossland said he was building the toboggan to race eventually, but that he already had a couple of toboggans that he had picked up second-hand to race this year.

"The only toboggan championships anywhere are in Maine," he said. "My father and grandfather lived in Maine, so it's fun just to be up here."

The Appreticeshop will be holding a second workshop toward the end of January and another during the February break at the schools.

Carney said the February workshop is too late for the Toboggan Championships and is designed more for school kids to try their hand at building a toboggan.