Hockey sled design and construction; by Randal J. Kwapis owner of Mobility Sports.
From the beginning, hockey sled construction has been simplistic. With little more than a metal frame, standard hockey runners, a plastic bucket used as a seat, and modified sticks, sled hockey players took to the ice. Founded in Sweden in early 1960’s and introduced at the 1994 Lillehammer, Norway, winter Paralympics, sled hockey; or sledge, as it is called in most of the world has quickly become a favorite sport of many.
While Canada is considered, by some, to be the forerunner of sled hockey equipment design and construction, one US company; Mobility Sports, is proving them wrong. Mobility Sports of Fort Wayne, Indiana, has quickly become a premier supplier of sleds and sticks across the globe. From Europe to Asia; Canada to New Mexico, sled hockey products from Mobility Sports are being used by some of the best in the game.
Whereas some companies have chosen a bolt-together concept, Mobility Sports has chosen to TIG welding each sled frame to insure side-to-side rigidity and overall
traightness are maintained; even after years of repeated use. We start by using 6061-T6 aluminum tubing and billet, typically used in aircraft and bicycle construction. Each critical part is then machined to exacting standards. We then mount the machined parts onto a frame jig and meticulously TIG weld each of the twenty (20) plus connection points.
Once welded, the frame is wire brushed and readied for the mounting of the seat (bucket), runner assembly and front skid.
For maximum rigidity and to limit flexing, which is typical of the two-piece buckets, we have chosen to use single piece, vacuum formed, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) buckets. ABS is the same material found in automotive body parts and protective head gear. These buckets are available in 12-inch, 14-inch and 16-inch widths; measured at the hips. All buckets are provided with a high density foam and heavyweight polypropylene 1 Inch strapping with metal cam buckles. For smaller players we are able to cut our 14-inch bucket in half and by then bolting these two halves together, smaller width buckets can be produced.
With the use of spacers, the runner assembly on our sleds is a highly accurate and easy to adjust mechanism. No longer are you required to measure and re-measure your runner assembly to insure it is square. The runner width is adjustable from a ½-inch to 5-inches, in ½-inch increments. To adjust center-of-gravity on our sleds, simply loosen two bolts, move the assembly to the desired location and tighten. Our custom designed, Laser-cut, stainless steel runners provide smooth glides and superior turning.
The front skid on our sleds is made of high impact nylon and conforms to the IPC rules. This high impact nylon provides for low drag and high strength. The skid is bolted to the frame and is easily removed and replaced in the event it becomes damaged.
Mobility Sports offers two types of sleds; Team sleds and Custom sleds. While the basic construction is the same, Team sleds provide 12-inches of length adjustment and come standard with 4-inch runner spacing. Custom sleds are fabricated to the users’ length specifications, plus-or-minus 2-inches and come standard with foot guard, ankle strap, ratchet straps and the choice of two blade spacer kits. The foot guard provides extra protection upfront, the ankle strap allows the player to secure his legs to the sled; without the need for duct tape, and the ratchet straps allow players to securely position themselves within the bucket without worry of a strap
Mobility Sports is the first, among sled manufacturers, to offer composite sticks. These sticks are sold as kits and include blades, shafts and picks. The laser cut stainless steel picks are pre-mounted and all that is required is for the end user to cut the shaft to the desired length and using a heat gun insert the blade. These sticks have are priced so teams can afford them, but yet are durable and flexible enough for even the hardest of hitting players.