Video: Briggs Takes the Pro Model Prototype for a Test Drive

Remember the board you saw Tom of TR Custom Longboards cutting in our Local Spotlight? Robert Briggs of the Northern Skate Alliance has been testing it and finally got it on film while riding some DH with Douglass Schmidt, another NSA skater out of New Hampshire (we’ve posted a couple of his videos here before).

The board looks sweet! I can’t wait till I can see it completely finished soon!

Video: Dane Webber and Brian Bishop SHRED a 19% Grade Hill

This video is insane, reps the East Coast so well and shows these two very talented skaters absolutely shredding it. Standies galore, I see a few pretty smoooooth looking 360s in there too, the coolest feature is definitely the way they both bomb it at once and weave between each other. A note too: these guys aren’t shredding any shortboards either, these guys are rockin some length and still making it look like it’s nothing.

Ham-Jam 2011 — Steptember 3rd in Hamden, CT

Southern New England get ready for the second annual Ham-Jam going down on Perry Road in Hamden, CT at 11:00AM on September 3rd. This event is going to be a great way to close the summer, the hill is rated at a 12% grade and is wide with buttery pavement making it perfect for sliding according to one of the event organizers, Will Strauss. He said last year the event was organized rather quickly and went better than expected with 20-25 skaters showing up and having a great time. This year they’re hoping to grow the event even more and have a whole slew of sponsors on board including some big names like Loaded, Seismic, Original Skateboards, Randall Trucks, Daddies Board Shop, our friends at Surf-Rodz and more, so some sweet prizes are sure to be had. The event should turn out to be a lot of fun and will probably feature a lot of the same skaters that will be out at the Central MA Competition a couple weekends before.

As always, helmet and gloves are required. Check out the Facebook Page for more information and updates.

Video: Skate The East and NSA Neighborhood Session

My friend Iver and I met up with Robert Briggs and Ryan Howard of the Northern Skate Alliance and did some  skating and filming in an undisclosed, top-secret neighborhood in Central CT. The session was a ton of fun although the heat wave we’ve been experiencing for the last week out here on the East Coast made the session a little shorter than we woulda hoped although we still managed to walk away with some good footy.

Shout outs to another friend of mine, Sam Grossman who edited the clips and Iver Hulleberg for doing a lot of the shooting.

Video: Amanda Powell Dancing Up a Storm

Hopefully everyone’s weekend has been good so far, a new video for you guys today. The East Coast’s very own Amanda Powell does some absolutely gnarly dancing and freeride tricks in “Amanda on a Pleasant Street.” Good to see Amanda shredding and repping it for the East Coast women out there. I’m waiting to get some video back from a buddy of a small neighborhood session with Robert Briggs and Ryan Howard, hopefully I’ll have that posted tomorrow or Monday.

Local Spotlight: TR Custom Longboards

Continuing with the Local Spotlight series that started with Surf-Rodz a couple weeks ago, I took a trip to visit Tom Rutledge of TR Custom Longboards in Simsbury, CT to check out his shop, how he makes boards, what sets him apart from other small board makers and why he’s gotten into making longboards in the first place.

I first learned about TR Longboards through the grapevine on Facebook and saw some boards he posted on his page. The first thing that struck me about Tom’s longboards was the absolutely breathtaking wood veneer that he uses as the “graphic” on the boards. If you read Cory’s Peeping Tom review from the other day, you saw a perfect example of the exotic woods that Tom uses as a finishing touch. We’ll go a little more in depth on that later, though. After seeing his boards I reached out to him and quickly got in touch so I could visit his woodworking shop, see how he does things and talk a little about his process for making longboards.

From the start you can tell that Tom isn’t your average longboard maker. A successful engineer as his day job (doing some very cool stuff around the world, working with anything from cars to aircraft) Tom started woodworking as a hobby around 10 years ago. The combination between engineer and skilled craftsman is dangerous, let me tell you, as there’s pretty much no problem in woodworking it seems like Tom can’t solve. He started making longboards a couple years ago as wedding gifts for his sister-in-law and her husband in California. Pretty soon Tom was getting e-mails from people who had seen the boards and were interested in them, the rest is history. When I went to visit I got to see the process from start to finish as he created a new downhill deck.

The “Custom” in TR Custom Longboards isn’t just a word he threw in to sound cool, Tom is serious about building custom boards. When I walked into his shop last weekend to watch the design phase and how he builds his molds, I was surprised to see two local skaters from the Northern Skate Alliance, Cory Medlar and Robert Briggs (soon another, Bill Steinbacher came too), already in the shop giving him ideas and feedback about what they do and don’t like to see in downhill boards. Tom was able to take the best parts of their ideas and figure out a way to transfer them off paper and onto wood. More talk went into how stiff it should be, the shape it should have, and other factors to determine how the board should ride before the making the mold and pressing the wood.

I went back last night to watch some more of the process as the wood had been pressed and was ready to be cut and sanded. This time I walked in to once again see Robert Briggs in the shop along with fellow NSA skaters Ryan Howard and Alicia Godbout already giving Tom advice as to what the shape should look like and how to go about forming the wheel wells (good news: no wheel bite possible on this board!). I cannot emphasize enough, when Tom says he makes custom longboards, he makes custom longboards. With his background in engineering, there doesn’t seem to be a problem that Tom can’t solve and with his woodworking skills he can pretty much do anything so long as it’s physically possible. The board was cut pretty quickly and work began on putting the holes in for the trucks and cutting out the wheel wells. Since this was a prototype board Tom didn’t put the exotic wood veneer he usually does on the board, which has given TR Custom Longboards a very distinct look in comparison to the rest of the field. Tom uses a mirroring technique with the exotic wood, making it almost seamless and making the grain run absolutely perfectly. A finished TR board is a true work of beauty with these ecotic wood finishes.

With his skillsets in both engineering and woodworking the sky is the limit for what Tom can produce for boards, and unlike other board makers Tom is willing to listen and take advice to make his boards even better and customized for your wants. What’s next in the pipeline for TR Custom Longboards then? The downhill board that was being shaped while I was there is currently out for testing with Robert Briggs of the NSA, that doesn’t mean things will stop, though. Tom mentioned yesterday on his Facebook Page that he visited Surf-Rodz and was hoping to start offering completes soon — I’m also hoping that means we’ll see a new deck designed around a set of INDeeSZ or RKPs, time will tell. Until then Tom has posted a bunch of images from past boards he’s done and a few of the prototype DH board.

Make sure you check out TR Custom Longboards Facebook Page — support local and spread the stoke!

Review: TR Custom Longboards’ “Peeping Tom”

This review comes from Skate The East friend and guest writer Cory Medlar. I got the chance to visit TR Custom Longboards this past weekend so I was more than excited when Cory told me he had written a review on one of their boards. TR is capable of doing some unbelievable things in his shop, I was pretty blown away. I’m going to write a Local Spotlight post for TR Custom Longboards sometime this week to give everyone some more information on the man behind TR, how the boards are made, and what makes him different from other longboard makers, until then enjoy Cory’s review of the “Peeping Tom.” You can also find Cory’s last review of the Surf-Rodz FreerideSZ and a quick bio about him here
Board Stats: 39.5 X 9.5 Drop Through, 7ply, Mild Concave, Two .032” thick exotic wood veneers/inlay
Tested on the following setup: SZ INDeeSZ 10mm (197mm), 10mm SZ Precision Bearings, Red Cone Solidz (roadside), Black Barrel Solidz (boardside), ABEC11 70’s Flashbacks 88a.
Rider Stats: Cory Medlar, 155lbs., 5’7″, Regular Stance

Where to start with the TR Custom Longboards “Peeping Tom”? This deck is a twin, 7ply, drop through, Freeride deck. The deck is 9.5” wide at its two widest points and has a slight taper towards the middle; this allows the deck a mild amount of torsional flex under my 155lb frame. Being a 7ply deck it also has a very mild flex for my riding weight, as I am not a heavy rider you may see different results in flex as you get near the 180-200lb range, if that is where you find yourself then I would ask for a 9ply version to add rigidity. Another thing you will notice about the “Tom” is that the beautiful veneers/inlays are not covered with grip tape but rather silica sand (much like that of deck paint on sailboats), this grip feels much like that of Gator Grip. I was skeptical at first as I had not ever ridden anything like this before but was pleasantly surprised when I threw some slides at higher speeds my feet held fast to the board with ZERO slipping! Since picking up the Board from TR for testing I have been particularly abusive to the silica grip to ensure its durability and I can say that I have had none of it begin to flake off (Even after riding it in the rain)(I will update the review later on the LONG TERM durability), so if you HATE re-gripping boards due to either the hassle or price of grip look no further (I even heard rumblings in the Halls of the TR shop that they are thinking of packaging it as a separate purchase so you can do it to you own board at home).

I have been riding the “Peeping Tom” for a few weeks now and have put it through its paces and found that the “Tom” excels at Freeriding but can crossover to be a Mild DH as well as a nice and low cruiser deck. When I took it freeriding I liked the small amount of torsional flex as it helped me to control my slides a bit more by independently leaning more or less over the rail with one foot over the other. (It almost felt like a snappier spin on the way out of one). I also felt that the mild concave of the board cupped my feet well, not allowing them to slip off during longer, held out slides (25-30mph) as well as the concave almost telling me where to put my feet. When I took it out for a good Long Distance Push I loaded up (no pun intended) my 80a Durians instead of the 88a Flashies and found it’s a fairly good push deck as well. The small amount of flex in the board was able to absorb more of the road bumps and vibrations; I also enjoy a small amount of flex to allow your non-push leg some give with each kick as to not cramp up your thighs and calves. (Almost like a small amount of suspension) This board also runs very low to the ground making it a breeze to push, especially when mounted on SZ INDeeSZ (ZERO RAIL BITE on this set-up). The other thing that really stood out to me was the overall weight of the board being very low. This makes it much easier to push long distance, to carry multiple times up a hill, and for me it’s easier to control a feather under my feet than a dump truck. In the mild DH testing I did (25-35mph) the board held up well and did not feel too springy under my feet at speed on rough pavement. This board prices out around 200 dollars depending on inlay/wood choices and is worth every penny.I am currently working on a modification of the “Peeping Tom” that would see it hit around 10” wide rather than the 9.5” as well as the addition of small kicks just past the trucks to add to the Freeride capability of the board (Mannys, Curb Jumps). Once the mold is finished I will add that as well to the review.

One of the hallmark features on each and every TR Customs Longboard is the exotic wood veneers and inlays. These are the top and bottom sheets of the board and each veneer is .032” thick, not really adding to the overall weight/flex of the deck. This look can be achieved using many different types of wood creating complex and beautiful designs out of the natural grains and colors of the woods. This is where the boards really begin to shine as they become more than just a piece of high performance wood and more a functional work of art. When I look at TR Custom Longboards I see a “Beautiful Form with Beastly Function”. These boards are made by hand by Tom Rutledge with pride, he is an engineer with a true passion for woodworking and creating the right deck for you.


D.C. Slide Jam — August 21st

The D.C. Slide Jam is going down on August 21st at 9AM sharp near Sherrill Dr NW in Washington, D.C. Sponsors are lined up and include Bustin’ Boards, Daddies Board Shop, Original Skateboards and Skate Maryland. It looks like it’s going to be a great day and awesome follow up to the Baltimore Slide Jam that went down at the beginning of the summer. I’m sure we’ll see lots of familiar faces with some awesome new moves. Prizes will be awarded for longest slide, best trick, best outfit, as well as other, yet to be determined categories. The panel of judges will be secret but on site, prizes will be presented after the event on Sherrill. Below is a post from the organizer and a flyer. As always, a helmet and gloves are required.

Between fancy suburbs, buildings and an infestation of trees and deer is where the spot is located.
Not too far from everyone’s beloved Sherrill Dr NW where Chris Bono hosts his picnics.
The Jam is sticking to the true Jam spirit. Starts at 9am sharp. BE THERE, SKATE HARD, SHOW OFF YO MOVES and be judged by a secret line up of east coast all stars. You won’t be disappointed by the prizes ready to be thrown your way. We’ve got sponsors signed and more are on the way to do so. (This announcement being all the needed).
Right after the jam and prizes are handed out the fun will be moved to Sherrill for a picnic.
If you are still not stoked, go skate. The read this again, AND GET SUMM!!

Tutorial: How to Clean Your Longboard Bearings

For our second tutorial I decided to stick to our theme of maintenance, although this time the focus isn’t on carnage from a fall, but rather your longboard bearings. After riding hard through dirt, dust, sand, and water your bearings will eventually show signs that some maintenance is needed.

When you notice your wheels no longer freespinning for as long or as fast as they used to, it’s probably time to give them a good cleaning. If you’ve recently skated in the rain, you’ll also want to give your bearings a once over, especially if you didn’t skate the board for a day or two after. Once water gets inside the bearing it can oxidize the metal and form a thin layer of rust, creating lockups. If this happens mid-run your wheel (or wheels, depending) will lock up and could throw you off balance and toss you off your board. So, to keep your bearings in tip-top working order follow our instructions on how to clean and lubricate your bearings and you’ll be skating hard all season long. The video is below, followed by text instructions.

Step 1: Remove wheels and bearings from the board.

Using a skate tool or socket wrench remove your wheels from the skateboard. Be careful to hold onto any spacers or washers that are between the nut and the wheel, if there are any there put them aside as you’ll want them when you reassemble the board. Once the wheels are off the board, use one of the bare axles to pry each bearing out of the wheel. Be gentle, applying only as much force as needed to get the bearing out of the wheel. Many wheels have a spacer between the two bearings that sits on the axle, if this is present take it out and place it aside with the other hardware from earlier. Repeat this step for each wheel, you should end up with 8 bearings total.

Step 2: Remove Bearing Shields

For this step you’ll need a razor blade or other sharp object. Remove the colored rubber/metal shield on the side of the bearing that exposes the actual ball bearings themselves. An example of what it should look like can be seen in the video above. Once all the bearing shields are removed set them aside and give each bearing a good rub down with a paper towel.

Step 3: Put bearings in rubbing alcohol

In an empty Gatorade or Vitamin Water bottle (the wide mouth makes this much easier) pour enough rubbing alcohol to submerge all 8 bearings in. Next, put the bearings in the bottle and shake for a few minutes, check to make sure the bearings no longer appear dirty. If they do, continue shaking the bottle until they appear clean. Once they do, remove them from the rubbing alcohol and use a paper towel to dry them off. Let the bearings sit and air dry completely before moving onto Step 4.

Step 4: Lubricating the bearings

Once the bearings have completely and thoroughly dried it’s time to lubricate the bearings. Using any skateboard bearing lube, such as Bones Speed Creme or Rockin’ Ron’s Rocket Propellant, apply two to three drops to each bearing. I cannot stress enough that you don’t need much of this stuff. Two or three drops and you’re good to go. Spin each bearing around a little with your fingers to get the lubricant onto each of the balls. Once you’ve done this, it’s time to start reassembling everything.

Step 5: Reassembly

Once you’ve applied lube to each bearing you’re reading to reverse the process we took to get here and reassemble your wheels and trucks. The first thing you’ll want to do is replace each one of the bearing shields. Before putting them on those nice clean bearings, however, you’ll want to give them a good cleaning using a paper towel and then simply put them back onto the bearing and press down. Make sure to just press hard enough to get them to stay, if you push them down too far there’s a risk of them rubbing against the individual ball bearings and creating friction that will end up slowing you down.

Once the bearings are reassembled you’ll need to put them back in the wheels. I’ve heard people complain about hurting their thumbs or being insanely frustrated by this step, don’t worry though, I’ve got a tip that will save you a lot of headache and thumbache. To push the bearing back into the wheel, first put the bearing onto the axle, then place the wheel on and push down, seating the bearing into place. Next, take the wheel off and place the other bearing followed by the spacer onto the axle. Put the wheel on and push down again, seating the bearing once again. Be careful the second time, as pushing down too hard could push the bearing on the other side back out. Make sure the wheel is facing the right way and screw the nut back on. Make sure the wheel lug is as tight as it can be without restricting the movement of the wheel or else you’ll have chattery slides and lose some valuable momentum while pumping and pushing.

That’s it! You now have clean, good as new (or better depending on the lubricant) bearings. Feels nice, right? Some bearing lubricants require a brief break-in time before you notice a vast improvement in performance, don’t panic, just skate it for a little bit. If it still doesn’t feel right repeat the process as you might not have used enough bearing lubricant.

If you have questions leave them in the comments or on our Facebook Page.

Boarding for Boobies (7/17-7/21) — Maine

Three seniors in high school from Maine are taking to the streets Sunday, July 17th to begin their 150 mile journey from Ellsworth, ME to Old Orchard Beach, ME. The boys are making the ride in the hopes of raising $1,000 for breast cancer research. The trip is self-supported as the boys will be carrying backpacks with sleeping bags, tents, and other essentials and will be staying at campgrounds along the way. They plan on arriving in Old Orchard Beach on the 20th and will be around the next day relaxing and collecting any remaining donations people have on the 21st.

IF YOU’D LIKE TO SEE THE GUYS OFF: They will be leaving from Printing House Square in Ellsworth, ME at around 10AM so be there a little early if you’d like to talk to them before they begin the long push.

To support the guys in their efforts or to make a donation contact Connor Reeves at (207) 249-9060 or e-mail him at More information can also be learned by heading over to the Facebook Page they set up.

Good luck boys! It sounds like the trip will be an awesome time for an awesome cause.