I just watched the trailer for the Lords of Dogtown on the net – it got me to thinking about the first skate movie I ever saw - circa ’78, ‘Skateboard’ starring that complete tosser Lief Garrett but it did feature some of the Z Boys. 27 years down the track I can’t remember too much more about it.
It did get me thinking to my first retail experiences regarding skateboarding. With the world wide web everything is so close these days but way back when it was a matter of sending off a money order via snail mail and then waiting months for the cargo ship to arrive with the requested goodies. The horror stories of ‘no shows’ regarding ordered products were everywhere.
I saw the movie with my step brother – he was riding a yellow ‘Trax’ and I, a recently modified ‘GT’ (read clay wheels jettisoned, open bearing urethanes in place). The boards that were being ridden in the movie were enormous by local standards and appeared to be made from ply wood. Ours minds immediately went into overdrive.
The second we walked out of the cinema, which was somewhere in town, we decided our current set-ups were never going to get us to the places we needed to be (at 14 this seemed all too logical). We got straight to work on addressing our problem – in this case it meant going to the, now long gone, McEwans Hardware in Bourke Street. A bit of creative retailing and we were on the road to new set ups – albeit all we had ‘collected’ was some very primitive mounting hardware.
After a trip to a local marine supply store, where we got some marine ply ‘off cuts’ it was back to the garage. The marine ply was only 3 layers thick so we press glued three sheets together to make a very nice 9 ply set up. The hand sanded wheel wells actually looked pretty good.
The timber was ready, now all we needed was a shape. One of the other guys at school introduced us to Skateboarder magazine – problem of shaping our ‘boards’ solved – mine was a really crappy rip off of the Kryptonic deck used by Shogo in the famous frontside grind photo.
Although I can’t recall commercial grip tape being on the market – it probably was – we decided to solve our grip problems by gluing appropriate grade sandpaper to the newly created master works!!
At that point it all looked good – then there was the small problem of getting the thing to roll. Word on the street at the time was that Mordy’s Surf Shop was the place for BIG wheels and trucks. I took no convincing, so the next Saturday morning my bro and I took the worlds longest bus ride from Box Hill to Mordialloc.
Funds were very short so Tracker trucks were out of the question. A very nasty New Zealand Tracker rip off – Edwards – looked like they would do the trick. An unfortunate consequence of having a less than technical mind saw me overtook the fact that the king pin protruded lower than the hanger – the first real attempt at a grind certainly brought this point home!!! For wheels, I think they were call Big Reds or similar – very large, very soft and very slow – still they were big and that’s all that mattered. The natural slowness of the wheels was not helped by my selection of bearings – none of that German speed rubbish for me, not when a local product would do just the same job!! With the machining tolerances only seen on open cut mines these bearing were…how should I say it…crap. Still there it was, my first ‘real’ skateboard.