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Wheel Shields: Innovative Longboarding Accessories

August 21, 2013

We recently had the opportunity to talk with Chase Kaczmarek, the founder and inventor of Wheel Shields. The story of how he took his invention from the drawing board, through 20 different prototypes and design iterations in under 12 months is compelling. (Check out their recently launched Kickstarter Campaign!) In this post, we delve into some of the techniques and methodologies that were used to develop and prototype this new longboarding accessory. These tips and lessons are great for anyone working on their latest DIY skateboard project. If you have an idea for a new great longboarding product you will find these tips and techniques from the Wheel Shields story extremely useful.

The Idea

Wheel Shields is a unique accessory for your longboard that is guaranteed to prevent wheel bite, and will also act as a “fender” keeping the top of you board dry when riding on wet road conditions. There is one shield for each wheel, and each shield is made from sturdy aircraft grade aluminum (light-weight and strong).

Paper to Product

It all started with Chase’s original post on Reddit. He was in the process of finalizing his patent when he connected with Christopher Wagner, an engineer and product developer. Although they lived hundreds of miles apart, working together via email they were able to rapidly execute a number of product development cycles: design, prototype, test, improve.


Early Plastic Prototype


Initial prototype versions of the Wheel Shields were made out of plastic. They used Shapeways, an online 3D printing service, to create plastic versions of their initial designs. The quality of the prototypes was great but turnaround time and shipping time significantly lengthened the product development cycle. After a number of design iterations Chase purchased a 3D printer (Solidoodle 3, $799) to reduce fabrication time between each iteration of the design. With a 3D printer in hand, Chase learned to use 3D CAD design software (SolidWorks) and was soon printing and designing with shorter product development cycles than before.


Wheel Shields CAD Design IterationsDesign Iterations


One of the biggest design challenges for Wheel Shields was creating a design that prevented the Wheel Shield from rotating about the longboard truck axle. It soon became clear that the standard longboard truck axle nut does not have sufficient rotational resistance to prevent the shields from rotating. Chase and Christopher experimented with adding a series of spring-like arms to the inside of the mount. These arms were designed to clamp down and provide a sturdy slip proof attachment upon tightening of the nut. However, this design still did not provide sufficient resistance to prevent the Shields from rotating.

The final solution that the Wheel Shields team came up with to solve this challenge is really neat. The mount system consists of two nuts, one on either side of the Wheel Shield. The inner nut holds the wheel and bearing in place. The Wheel Shield has an inner keyed mount that fits securely around this inner nut. The outer nut is tightened to secure the wheel shield in place onto the inner nut. “If the Shield wants to rotate clockwise, it is stopped by the bearing. If the Shield wants to rotate counterclockwise, it is stopped by the outer nut,” says Chase.


Wheel Shield Mount Dual Nut Locking MechanismDouble Nut Wheel Shield Mount


The design was not the only thing that the team at Wheel Shields experimented with. They tried all sorts of plastics (ABS, PLA, Glass-injected nylon, to name a few) but ended up selecting aluminum because of its durability and strength to weight characteristics. After much experimenting, tinkering, and testing of more than 20 different designs, Chase and Christopher had finalized the the design of Wheel Shields.


Final DesignFinal Design for Wheel Shields

So there you have it! The finalized Wheel Shields, thoroughly designed and rigorously tested. We’d like to thank Chase and the team and Wheel Shields for making this post possible and provide all the details and photos.


Hydraulic Skateboard Press

March 16, 2013

Many of you have been asking about our hydraulic longboard press design.   Where did we get it?  Where can you get one like it?  Actually, we made it ourselves and we had a lot of fun doing it!  We wanted to throw up a quick post, to provide a few more details to help you get started if you are interested in building your own.

When we decided to upgrade to a hydraulic pressing system, we were looking to buy—we never intended to build our own.  However, we quickly realized that many of the commercially available skateboards presses wouldn’t work for us.  Most units come welded together as one massive unit.  The fact that our skateboard shop is in the basement complicated things.  Every piece of equipment, all raw materials, and all completed boards have to come in and out through a tight staircase, the top of which is guarded by narrow doorway and a sharp turn.  Trying to navigate a one-piece steel hydraulic press, capable of applying 50+ tons of pressure to a stack of veneers, down a tight staircase would have been virtually impossible.  After some thought, we decided to try building our own.  Our key goal was to make it relatively easy to transport, while at the same time maintaining the performance and high pressures needed to produce a quality longboard.

We chose to use the basic H-frame press design.  The  design consists of two large stationary horizontal beams on the top and bottom.  These beams are bolted onto two vertical tubular sections.  At third horizontal beam, located in the center of the press, can slide up and down.  The vertical tubular sections act as a guide and ensures that the mobile beam tracks properly.  The pressing action occurs between the top horizontal beam and the middle horizontal beam.  The press opening is fifty inches by twelve inches and allows a skateboards mold up to 48”x12” fits easily into this opening. A picture of the completed press is shown below.  Notice the bolts that hold the separate members of the press together.  The entire press can be dis-assembled and transported by two people.  The heaviest member is 125 pounds.



Assembled press with skateboard molds installed.

The structural components consisted of standard A36 structural steel (C-channel, tubular, bar, and sheet).  These sections can be obtained and cut to length at most steel service centers.  High strength A490 bolts ordered from Fastenal were used to fasten all structural components.  Bolt holes in steel sections were formed using a punch (to mark the precise drilling location) and a drill press.  Two 40-ton hydraulic rams from and a hydraulic hand-pump from Fox Hydraulics were used.  Hydraulic hoses rated at 10,000psi and a y-splitter were used to connect hand-pump to hydraulic rams.


Drilling hydraulic ram baseplate for installation on press.


Drilling 1” steel plate to be fastened where hydraulic ram contacts middle moveable beam.


Side View of fully assembled press.

There you have it!  An 80-ton hydraulic skateboard press that is portable, can be easily assembled with a pair of wrenches, and can be made with a drill press.  If you have any further questions or find this post helpful please email us to let us know!

Occupy Broadway

October 12, 2011

Was back in New York City this past Saturday.  We were just one of the many attending the Broadway Bomb skateboard race.  Hundreds of rides gathered at the start on the Upper West side for this epic event.  This race is a mad dash through traffic, cabs, and cheering pedestrians.  Wow!  what an experience. Gotta love NYC!

The rider to race the length of Broadway and to arrive at the southern tip of Manhattan first is deemed the winner!  If you were at the Bomb this year, see if you can find yourself in this footage!  Already looking forward to next year.   See you at the Bomb in 2012!


Longboarding in Seattle

September 28, 2011

Back in August I took a trip to Seattle to meet up with two buddies from high school.  Photo below was taken on my last night there.  We had just finished cruising roads that overlooked the Ocean. We even taught Chuck (Zach’s dog) how to tow a skateboarder.  It was a fun night.


While I was on the West Coast, we dropped in to check out Motion Boardshop; the best longboard store that I’ve been in.  They stock tons of boards.  They even press their own decks on the premise!  If you are ever out in Seattle, definitely check them out.  Thanks to Nate, Ryan, and Nick for the shop tour.

- Lorne

Just Another September Weekend in Brooklyn

Thanks to everybody that came out and showed their support.  We had a great time demoing boards at the Brooklyn Flea!  Looking forward to next time.


Beartooth and the Empire State Building


Beartooth Enthusiasts

How to Build a Skateboard: Deck Pressing

September 11, 2011

Learn how we press our decks!  In video we are pressing 7-ply decks out of 1/16″ hard rock maple.  Each veneer is coated with glue and the 7 layers are stacked together to make a deck.  The stack of veneers is then placed between two rubber-polycarbonate sheets.  This helps to create a completely uniform pressure distribution across the face of the deck in the press.  Boards are pressed for over 2 hours at 56 Tons in our custom-made hydraulic press.  This 2 hour long pressing time enhances the strength, durability, and flex life of our boards.  We press 2 longboards at a time.


Riding the Kancamagus Highway

September 08, 2011

Check out this video of Ryan Stolp riding a Beartooth and Miki Vizner riding a Landyatchz in New Hampshire. Video by Arlin Ladue.  Thanks for sending to us! Keep us posted on any new adventures with the Beartooth.




Going Back to the Brooklyn Flea

We will be back at the Brooklyn Flea on September 18th!  If you missed us in August, come out and demo one of our longboards.  If you came out in August, come again to ride with us!  For those that haven’t longboarded before, don’t let this stop you.  We’ll give you a quick 101 on how to longboard before you ride.

In addition to our traditional Beartooth design, our new polka dot longboards will also be available.  Hope to see you there!

- Lorne


Brooklyn Flea Info:

Time: Sunday, September 18 – 10:00am-5:00pm

Location: Williamsburg: East River Waterfront (btw. North 6 + 7 St.)


The Dots



Sk8Trip Distribution

September 06, 2011


In a recent shipment from Sk8Trip Distribution, we received more than we had asked for…  Shipping box came with a Beartooth drawing!

Beartooth Composition

August 09, 2011


Awesome photograph taken by Steve from NYC.  Steve, thanks for sharing with us!