Homemade Ski Pulk---great way to pull stuff! (or kids!)
I can't believe I haven't posted about this before.
When our kids were little I worked up a really nice homebrew pulk that anyone could make in a jiffy and I hauled the kids around in it. They loved it, I loved it.
I'll try to put up pics sometime.
What's a pulk? It's a sled you pull with skis.
To control the sled---and not have it ram you on downhills---pulks probably always connect the skier to the sled with poles. The poles go to a hip-belt. It's not too tricky. But there are a couple nifty twists...
I see that there's a website out there showing a pro, high-end way to make your own pulk: http://www.skipulk.com. But this is quite a complex item---and, ya know, it seems to have a major design flaw, from first glance. That's weird, as this guy is known to be the best pulk guy. Well, see what you think...
My friend Tom and I just slapped our own pulks together jiffy style from a few hardware store parts and our pulks have worked great.
I don't recall exactly how Tom finished-off his pulk but it just might be that mine was the best of all!
Here's the big, main, difference, and improvement, that my design offers: when you ski you travel along in pulsations; you're kind of lunging down the trail. But you want anything you're pulling to travel along at a steady pace. This makes pulling FAR FAR FAR easier. And if you're pulling a kid, they're comfortable if sliding at one speed rather than going fast/slow and getting jerked around.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
We made these sleds with simple rope loops thru holes in the ends of the poles to attach to belt and sled. To pull kids we tied in a Thermarest chair---so there'd be a backrest---and gave toddlers a seatbelt to keep em from tumbling out. They're simple things, really.
Now, here's a twist that everyone in the know recognizes: your pulk poles have to CROSS over each other. One pole goes from the left side of the sled to the right side of your hip-belt, etc. Get it? This and only this allows the sled to track thru a turn. Nifty, huh? Try it with straight poles and you'll *run your sled off the trail.*
Oh, here's yet another twist before I get to my own big twist: Tom bolted skis to the bottom of his sled so it glides in the tracks that he's putting down up front. Glides REAL EASY. (Thus you can use your Supersled as a pulk-sled...)
Now here's the main twist: To make my poles I used a couple long 3/4" dowels then I got long 3/4" I.D. aluminum tubes and installed the dowels inside the tubes then I anchored the dowels in the tubes with bungie cord. The result is a shock-absorbing pulk pole. I made 2 of those, crossed em over and used em. They totally smoothed out the sled action and allowed me to ski freely---I didn't even notice the sled back there. Once you get a sled moving, it moves easily. Yet this also gave me the "stiff pole" control you need on downhills. WOW! ...So I can't see why the famous official pulk doesn't use this---they just use "flexy" poles---and are really into how flexy they are. What's up with that? Well, something must be. But MY WAY works great with skiing.
Now, I see that one of the factory models, the Baby Glider---built by Olympian Pierre Harvey!---also has a shock pole, but the others don't. Weird. Even with walking a sled I really like the shock action.
Anyway, I really like my homebrew shock pole.
Years ago we used to do winter camping at remote cabins with our friends. We'd haul in huge tobaggan loads of stuff. We soon realized that a bike inner tube was the only way to hike a heavy sled on in to a cabin, due to its shock absorption. Sometimes I'd even pull a 200-lb toboggan that way.
A funny story is that when we first got our dog Daisy (German Wirehair) she even pulled the main toboggan in herself that way! Once she got it moving, due to the shock absorption she was able to keep it rolling. --I had just tied her to the sled line to keep her from running off. She was a rescue dog and new to our family and this was her first time in the woods with us. She had on an orange collar and bell, but we intended to keep her on leash for the duration. While I was loading up someone else's sled the big toboggan suddenly started moving! She pulled it at a fast trot pace for over a mile to the cabin. I ran alongside her in my Sorels, all excited. It was a thrill. She was very happy. She won everyone over that day, 12 years ago. (She's old and grey now...but we're going winter camping again today!)