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Q & A: Plastic sleds

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
We bought a sled made of plastic.But it didn’t work.What’s the best material for a sled?
- jeremy (age 9)
New York
A:
Well, you probably want a sled that has as little friction with snow as possible. Most plastics should work just fine for this purpose, but on some days, the snow can be uncooperative. On a warm day, as the snow is melting, the snow can be full of liquid water and get very "sticky". Most kinds of sleds will be disappointing to ride when the snow is sticky. Waiting for it to get colder outside may be just what's needed.

People who ski a lot talk about waxing their skis to make them slide either better or worse, depending on what's desired. There are a whole lot of different ski waxes, each designed for a different temperature range for the snow. I'm not sure if ski waxes will stick well to a plastic sled, though, and it seems like an expensive way around the problem.

If the plastic sled is scratched up on the bottom, it also won't slide as well. Don't drag the sled on rocks or the sidewalk before using it on the snow.

Old-fashioned sleds have thin metal rails, called "runners" under them. They should glide well on firm snow but may themselves get stuck in deep, soft powdery snow. And nothing will help the sticky snow be fun. The metal runners are good because you can bend them with a handle in front and change your direction. I'm not sure they sell these much any more because they can be hazardous if you run over anyone on the hill with them.

Tom

(published on 10/22/2007)

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