Trench Digger Bindings, Binding Cant, AT Boot Mods
Note: This is a further modification of Trench Digger bindings made by Bomber Industries [4.21.2013] original modification is discussed here…
For everyone that knew Rick Gaukel, they understood his enthusiasm to teach others, and more than anything how he motivated others to enjoy the mountains. I had the opportunity to ride with Rick at RMNP and enjoy good times at the Silverton Splitfest. Rick passed away along with four others during an avalanche while traversing Sheep Creek Drainage near Loveland Pass on April 20, 2013.
Rick introduced me to the Phantom Bindings while at RMNP, and is probably the sole reason I was so excited to demo them from John Keffler at Silverton Splitfest just a short week later. Meanwhile though, Rick took time out to explain some modifications to my setup and offer suggestions. These were not going to be easy modifications, and I slated this as a summer project. I was in general disbelief when I heard the news late Saturday night in to Sunday. I decided to make a cup of Jo and headed to the garage to do the mods.
So as modifications continue, here is the latest, the three key areas were;
- Placing the Trench Digger bindings directly to the Voile slider plate, eliminating the inner mounting plate. This would eliminate 1/4″ of space between the boot sole and deck.
- Using binding cants under the Trench Diggers at three degrees.
- Modifying the Scarpa AT boots similar to his Scarpa F1’s; it entailed cutting down the inner and outer tongue, eliminating the power strap altogether, eliminating the rear liner wedge, and drilling the touring bar to offer more forward lean.
The first mod; placing the Trench Diggers directly to the slider plate, was involved to say the least. I had to dismount everything from the plate and TIG weld the aluminum plate to seal the existing holes. I could then re-drill holes to align with the Trench Digger mounting holes. I also had to fabricate, tap & die a set of T-nuts since the TD’s do not use the standard M6, but rather an M8. Not an easy mod, but by eliminating that mounting plate I reduced the weight of the bindings by 365 grams. Not to mention, I am much closer to the deck.
The binding cants were fabricated from rubber compression gasket material (formally known as HDPE – High Density Polyethylene block), again something Rick had suggested. By the way, if anyone local needs some of this for their own canting material – I fabricated enough for a dozen setups – just ask and it is yours. If you are using Voile Mountain Plates this can easily be used on that setup as well.
Lastly, the Scarpa boots, a pretty straight forward modification. A little tricky to oblong the touring bar, but using a dremel with a flex shaft and carbide bit; I was able to get in to the tight area (Scarpa Matrix boots have the touring lockout on the interior of the boot, not the exterior like most AT boots).
I also replaced the slider pin cable with a nifty holding leash the Voile is having me give feedback on (I believe the materiel is also a hybrid HDPE material, as it seems to be resistant to temperature). You will likely see this addition in next year’s Voile split kits, and perhaps the Mountain Plate kits. I have never been fond of the steel cable, we will see how the new one holds up, so far I am impressed. The weight reduction was 5 grams.
Just another step in the progression. I am hoping to migrate to the Phantom Bindings by the beginning of next season. In the meantime however, I will make do with this setup and ride a few lines for a friend. Thanks for all the help Rick, you will be missed.
Assorted photos of modification: