Old School Richie. I have asked Wedge if he did indeed possess a smashed up Saurus as rumoured. Alas it was just a wild story. I asked around at the MOSS session tonight, including Noel Forsyth, if anyone would have one it would be him - No. It prompted a lot of opinion and memory of course and the general consensus was that there was a lot of nose on the double kicked saurus and they were indeed wide and the general view was that they were flat right through on the underside with just a tail and nose block which were quite gradual - which accords with my memory. You were right of course about it being something of a rare bird, there were not many in Melbourne simply because it was a Sydney product. I didn’t buy into that kind of parochial provincialism (still don’t even though it continues to go down in architectural circles) because I came from country Victoria and Sydney’s got the Opera House so there is no argument really. So I guess that was why I bought it - there was only one in the shop and I never saw one again for sale before or after my purchase - but I did know what it was when I bought it - probably from Slicks magazine I think. Digging up an old slicks magazine might be one way to go? Wedge suggested we politely approach David Hill - explain the project - and see what the man behind the original design thinks of your very limited edition homage and whether he can supply enough info to do it properly. Sorry. Still I’m digging the one you gave me in Canberra.
I clearly remember them having more nose than most boards - made walkovers heaps easy, and all the wheelies of course. Craig Harding (late Coke Team recruit after Horan & Sanderson got more serious about their surfing) introduced me to backwards nose-wheelies on ‘em - a trick that was bloody hard without that extra bit o’ nose.
Wedge was riding these fat, made from form-ply & quite rectangular shaped boards by '77, with a bit of garden hose cut in 1/2 & nailed to the deck to help keep his front foot on during multiple 360’s. Ask him to explain that one, we never really quite understood; or maybe we thought it was a neat way to innocently store his bong attachments when not in use ?
I retrieved my collection of SLICK’s magazines from my parents place a few weeks back. Issue 3 (there was only ever 3 that I was aware of?) has a feature on the Saurus Team & decks. Dave Hill, Bob Hastie, Ron Claasens, the Langbein & others. I don’t have a scanner, so hopefully I’ll get Dr. Bill to help me post up some picks etc before he goes back to Newcastle next week.
ERROL (who always wished he had a Saurus !)
Thanks Errol I would even make a trip to Sydney to see some pictures as could scale them up and come up with some fairly accurate sizes to work from.Better still if any one knows of the where abouts of David Hill I would love to get in contact with him.Apreciate the intrest shown in this project of Michael and me. thanks Richie
Errol, happy to do the scanning.
Bring 'em over and we’ll watch the Duane Peters film while you’re here.
Richie, David is a registered member of this site, so you could try sending him a private message (you’d have to be registered yourself).
BTW, Fox should be posting some pics of Doug, Nicky and Adam Roach at the boatramp on ancient haunts soon. I suspect that Doug is riding the Saurus Richie gave him in these photos.
Thanks for the kind words guys.
I mentioned to Wedge, I’ve still got the DHD and Saurus artwork, so I’m willing to help out with your revival project, so long as it doesn’t go too commercial (if you want to go commercial, just let me know and we’ll work something out). One of the decks would be appreciated, if you are only doing a few.
Here’s some info from a recent email to Wedge that covers a lot of the info you are after.
Unfortunately, I don’t have an original Saurus deck template any more, only a similar shape template used for one of the Edwards designs that was based loosely on the Saurus outline. I’ve been going through some of my old slides and negs to see if I can find a good top view of a Saurus deck, so I can make a new template as close as possible to the original. From memory they were 28" x 6.5".
The things I’m sure of were 3/4" (18mm) thick, with a 3/4" x 6" kick at the tail and a 3/8" x 6" kick at the nose (skateboards were always thought of in surfboard terms in those days, so there was a definite front end and back end - the lower kick in the front worked better for nose wheelies, while still keeping your feet firmly in place while doing other tricks and riding walls and slopes). The bottom edge was routed all the way around with a 3/8" round edge. The last 90mm of the underside at the tail was then cut away at an angle so that the bottom surface of the tail had the same up slope as the top surface of the kick tail. The tail block was screwed to this bottom surface with two self tapping screws.
The nose and tail kicks were glued in place with PVA, using a vacuum press. The “Space Bags” you now see advertised on TV would do this job even better than the vacuum press I made. It was very difficult to cut the nose and tail wedges accurately. The thin edge of the kicks was always a little ragged, off the saw, but you couldn’t see this once the grip tape was applied at nose and tail.
After lots of experiments with various timbers, the best combination I could find for strength and light weight, in a solid timber was white Ramin. The bonus was that you could get it easily with almost dead straight grain and no knots at all, which made for a consistently strong product. It also looked great when sanded and clear finished. With its fine surface and close grain, no special treatment was needed prior to silk screening - we used black, water based screen paint, directly on the timber. Once this dried, you could finish the board with clear lacquer - no need to protect the logo.
The down side is that Ramin is pretty much a protected species these days due to deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia. There may be some plantation-grown Ramin available. Other than this you might need to consult a timber supplier for a light-coloured timber with similar characteristics.
Only made 120 of the Saurus decks from August 75 (just a few for the Saurus Team we put together for the 75 Coke Contest) and then the production boards for sale from October 75 to about Feb 76. About 20 of the decks were consumed by the Saurus team over the six months or so of the 75-76 revival. Really amazed how many guys have commented how good they thought the Saurus decks were in recent years. I always thought they were better than anything else on the market at that time - but then I’d been refining them on and off for 10 years by 1975, so I had a bit of a head start.
The shops wouldn’t take them though because most surf shop owners in 1975 couldn’t tell the difference between a typical deck at $10 -$15 and mine which had to sell at around $22-$25 if both the shop and me were to make any money. I think only Vic Ford at Bondi, Surf, Dive n Ski (then owned by the McDonagh brothers, who knew me fairly well) and the Boat Shop at Crows Nest actually sold them.
We’d see guys from all over the place turn up on these at the various skate comps held that summer. It was always the guys that were right in to it that seemed to understand it was worth spending the extra money, but no-one ever came over at that time to say what they thought of the boards.
Several of the Coke Team guys actually bought my decks, even though I think they usually got their decks for free. Our team guys thought that was a hoot, because the old guy who ran the Coke team didn’t seem to like me much. I think it probably put a dent in some of his plans when we won the team point score at the 75 Coke Contest.
It’s only in recent years that guys who knew where the Saurus boards came from have said what great boards they thought they were for the time. Makes it all feel worthwhile.
The Boat Shop sale was interesting. Here I am trying to explain why my decks were worth the money (and not getting too far) when in walks Russ Howell with some promo guys to do an interview with ABC (Boat Shop was the closest shop they could find with skateboards as a background for the doco). The owner, thinking this will be a good way to get rid of me, says, “Hey, Russ, this guy’s trying to sell me some boards. What do you think? Are they any good?”
Russ had been for a few rides with our team guys by then, so he knew the boards well and already was using my (Power Pivot) tail blocks on all his boards. (He continued to do that when he went back to the States - only Australian skateboard product to sell in the USA for quite a few years, apart from RF Products selling a one-off shipment of deck blanks to Alva in late 1978). It was through Russ that I met Frank Edwards from NZ and Frank and I teamed up from there on.
Anyway, Russ picks up the deck, flips it over a few times, eyes it up and down from one end to the other (doesn’t let on that he knows me) and says, “Hey, these are great. Worth whatever he’s asking. You should take all he’s got.” Then, remembering he’s actually in Australia promoting Grentec and Golden Breed skateboards, he adds, “Maybe a bit wider than the ones I like to ride but still pretty good.”
Some days, timing is everything. My biggest one off sale of Saurus decks (about 15, as I remember).
All the boards were sold as deck with tail block only. They were finished with two coats of clear lacquer and had a pre-cut grip tape pattern on nose and tail. The last batch also had grip tape embedded in the three corners of the Saurus logo, which helped keep your foot centred with the end to end flip tricks, like “Walking the Dog”, that had become popular in flatland freestyle.
You couldn’t buy actual pre-glued grip tape at that time, so I used my 1965 solution - 80 grit Wet n Dry, hand glued to every deck with contact adhesive. The outlines of the shapes were die cut.
Eventually had to stop selling them because the only timber shop I’d found that was prepared to make them got a big order for other timber products. I tried a few other places but they all said it was just too much work for the price I could afford to pay. With their kick noses, kick tails, routed rails, wheel arches and sloped undersides (to mount the tail block), they were a fair bit more complex to make than the usual skateboard of the day. I’m pretty sure ours were the first boards here or overseas with wheel arches, with a kick at both ends (although there were some rockered boards in the States as early as 65), and with a replaceable tail block. I know no-one else had the tail block because I owned the patent.
I went the wheel arch route because I felt the lowest possible centre of gravity and the lightest possible weight made for the best freestyle board. Truck riser pads (the usual alternative) made the boards heavier and higher, so I made up a jig to grind in angled wheel arches. Only the team boards and the last 20 production boards came with wheel arches.
I made the the last lot of boards in the garage and spare bedroom of my rented home unit. The earlier boards had only been finished off at home (light sanding around top edge, silk screen logo applied, lacquered, grip tape applied and tail block fitted). Trying to do the whole thing from scratch at home, with no dust extraction and only a few hand tools, quickly lost its attraction.
The tail blocks were a different matter. After getting the mould (tool) made, I picked them up from the plastics moulder in boxes of 100 and they just walked out the door in their thousands. Very simple business and great money at the time. The guy who made the mould to my specs reckoned I was crazy. “You’ll never sell them” he said, but he rapidly changed his tune when I turned up the next week for another 1,000 and then in batches of 5,000 after that.
And this was before guys like Tony Alva started to use them in the States after Frank took over manufacture and distribution out of NZ.
The team boards all used trucks that were an Australian copy of the Chicago truck, made by Gary ? at Castcraft in Brookvale. Castcraft jumped on the craze to make cast aluminium decks. These proved to be deadly. After a couple of hours of riding, the edge of the tail would be worn down to a razor-sharp edge that would slice deep into any shin or ankle that got in its way. So he didn’t make too many more, once this became known.
Like the Chicago trucks (and the Chicago copies on the Farrelly boards back in the 60s), the trucks Gary made were from nodular cast iron, which was the best material in the narrow truck days before Tracker came out with their wide, aircraft-grade aluminium trucks that set the new direction in truck design. These Castcraft trucks and the similar trucks made at the time by Red Rider, over on the south side of Sydney, performed every bit as well as the imported Chicagos, although the finish on the imported trucks was better.
Gary also came up with quite a departure in wheel design about a month after the Coke Contest and we adopted it as our team wheel. (You’ll see it in one of your Slicks magazines.) These were an injection-moulded wheel (as almost all wheels were that we could get in Australia, once Frank Nasworthy’s stock or poured urethane Cadillac wheels ran out). All injection moulded wheels were deathly slow and slippery, compared to the poured urethane wheels that eventually started to flow into Australia from early 76.
Gary’s wheel design had slots moulded in it to make it look a bit like a mag wheel on a car. As it turned out this design made for a wheel that also had much better grip and rolled a little faster than solid injection moulded wheels. Still came designed for cones and loose ball bearings (which also meant you were stuck with standard, weak 7mm, fully-threaded axles).
By the time the Coke Contest came around in September 75, we couldn’t get Cadillacs anymore, so we were blitzed in the slalom event. A team from the south side blew everyone away because one of their guys had just come back from the States with a few sets of brand new Road Riders (the first of the new crop of poured urethane wheels from the States and the first to use the now familiar modern bearing systems - initially these were still designed to work on 7mm axles, using a shim and spacer system). With the speed and grip of these wheels, these guys were seconds ahead of us and the rest of the pack.
For the downhill event in the Coke contest, I’d sourced some 607 open face bearings (7mm instead of 8mm centre hole and no dust shields) to fit our custom-made 100mm diameter aluminium wheels. Having access to a lathe at the local high school had its advantages. These bearings were horrendously expensive at the time, but so much faster than loose ball systems. Plus we could knock out the fully threaded axles and replace them with solid 7mm axles. Our team all ran in the first half of the draw and, as we expected with our wheel and bearing design, plus the special starting system we had practised to comply with the standing start rule, we all scored fastest times. But the judges changed over half way through. The last group of riders were allowed to do running starts, including the Langbein boys, who also had a pretty tricky wheel set up. So it was the Langbeins first, a couple of other running starters next and then our guys.
In truth, “Runner” Langbein probably would have won anyway, because he was the only one to realise that lying flat on your back, like a winter Olympics luge rider, was the best way to avoid wind resistance at speed on a skateboard. Two years later, at the famous Signal Hill Downhill in Los Angeles, a US Marine, who had never ridden a skateboard until then, caused great controversy by beating all the best skaters of the day, using the same flat-on-the-back technique as Runner. So disgusted were the skaters that riding on your back was banned the next year. “Real skaters stand up”, or at least they did until Street Luge became popular 20 years later.
Despite our poorer than expected team results in the Downhill and Slalom, we still went into what we considered the real contest (freestyle) in good shape, on points total. We finished 1st, 2nd or 3rd in each of the Freestyle age groups, to take out the Best Team award for the whole day.
Due to the more flexible design in Gary’s wheels, we were able to fit his wheels with the new bearings for our team boards, after the Coke Contest.
So that was the kit that the Saurus team used from 75 and in the contests in early 76 for the many wins or high placings we always seemed to manage. A combination of a very good team of early skaters on equipment that was pretty advanced for its day.
Thanks for all the kind thoughts from those of you who remember the boards and the team. (Fond memories of Saurus team member David Woods, who unfortunately died the next year in a car accident, and legends like Bob Hastie, Robbie Bain, Adrian Batho, Ronnie Claasens, Marcus Moase and a few of Bob’s Queenscliff mates like Flip Wilson.)
Dave thank you for your reply. Michael and myself have no intentions to do this commercialy. I humbly would like to ask your permission to make a limited number of replicas. I am willing to pay you for the use of your designs in my project.Michael and me are facinated by the fact that your boards were so good for the time. We would like your blessing to do this. I only wish to make 3 replicas one for you if you wish and one each for Michael and myself.I am still trying to source Ramin but am willing to use a subtitute possibably Victorian mountain or American ash.Another alternative would be to use Tasmainian black wood and use white graphics and white deck tape so as to distinguish replicas from originals. When I was young I started to make boards similar to yours simply because I could not find out where to get them. Eventually Howard Day threw his Saurus out because he split it(a pretty mean feat ) I aquired it and repaired it and ran it for about 6-7 months.Had so much fun on that board it was unforgettable.Michael and me wish to rekindle the spirit of those days but in the 21st century.The boards I made were inferior to yours because I used pine and maranti.These were 28 1/2 " and 8 1/2 wide. The tail was 4 3/8" and the nose 3 3/4" . The thickness was 3/4".I would apreciate to your help in this project. Your boards mean so much to Michael and me that we really want to keep this part that you played in OZ skating alive.Iwill PM you later and we can discuss this in more detail .Thank you for your time and intrest in our project. Richard Thompson ( old school Richie)
Sorry, only kidding about the commercial thing. I assumed you were just doing a few for personal consumption.
As I mentioned in the posts, I’ve located the artwork and I should have some photos that will help me create a new template as well as giving you a few views of the decks to work with.
Wedge is doing a similar project with our DHD decks.
If you can do an extra deck for me as part of the project, that will be fine.
Send me a PM with your details so I can send the info through to you.
I just came home from a moss session, to read this. The computer and the internet make it a much smaller world. DHD - its good to have your blessing for Richie to take up this project - and even better to learn a little more of the background behind the board. Interesting to hear about the commercial resistance to retailing such a good board - the world doesn’t change much. The thing about only Surf Dive n Ski and the Boat shop selling them probably explains how I got mine in Melbourne - I’m pretty sure it was from the S D n S here. I know it was the only one in the shop and I might be wrong but I’m fairly certain it was also the most expensive board on sale. I certainly remember begging my poor mother to lend me the shortfall in my odd job savings to buy it. But it turned out to be worth every penny. If you were a skater trying to have a red hot go - you just knew looking at it that it would work, the double kicks made sense, the width made sense, it just looked right for doing the job even without getting on it. And when you got on it you discovered that unlike just about every other board around you could actually easily keep your feet locked beautifully in position through all sorts of manouvres. (It might have been designed for freestyle but it was brilliant for bank riding and even nasty Australian crap swimming pools). Mine was also definetely a complete (not just a deck and tailblock) - with trucks (and they were Chicago copies) and wheels with sealed bearings. Mine definitely didn’t have the wheel arches, I later routed some in myself.
Anyway - given Richie’s skills it will be real interesting to get a remake rolling and get on one again to see just how much the world has or hasn’t progressed.
Amazing detail from David Hill! Are you dudes sure a small commercial thing isn’t worth thinking about? Birdshop has just globally released a range of small boards that obviously mimic old Logan Earth Skis - but they are really bad toys. The retro skate market seems to be huge now, for all kinds of shapes. Why not an authentic and indigenous Aussie version? Even the name ‘Saurus’ is perfect for the relaunching of a style of skateboarding once thought extinct.
Really, its just that I’d love to buy one and do berts and stuff on it at the boatramp!
Who will be at the boat ramp? Dr. Stoopid (in spirit form), Mortdale Man, Eric Von Daniken or simply the eigmatic guest. Or are there others in your compound personality. Will it take another facet of your complex character to ride the Saurus.
Seriously though, we might have to see how hard it is for Richie to put one of these boards together in an authentic form. And how many fans of the Saurus are still alive or riding today. (three so far - and 4 if we count yourself the Bill S.)
By the way Richie - the idea of doing a negative version is absolutely brilliant. Instead of a copy then its a ghost. I’m sure my old Saurus haunts me. Have you considered a career in architecture? I should get ambitious and gear up my operation in order to offer you a postion as philosphical advisor.
And - is the boat ramp still there? If it is I would up from Melbourne in order to ride the Saurus again at a special ressurection session. (There is also fair chance I will be in Bondi around the 1-2 April for some kitchen consulting work for a friend - first job in Sydney - have I hit the international glamour big time?!! - and I hope tp have the nerve to slide, not drop, into Bondi and timidly sample what appears to be a very nasty pit - will anyone be there that weekend?).
Hi MM, I’ve been trying on Linda Blair for size today. The complexity of my inner state routinely transcends all possible forms of outward expression. Yes, the boatramp is still there and, as I understand it from Brad Shaw, more rideable than ever. So, are the Roseville pipes (maybe need a little work). But don’t bring your good bearings! The boatramp is a beautiful work in brutalist concrete and some version of me will be providing descriptions and diagrams at Ancient Haunts, as well as memories of Adrian, Tez, and Old School Riche in action there, later today.
a la prochaine, Le Corbusier
By the way Bill S., pointing to the Birdhouse Logan Earth Ski repros says it all really - nothings changed. Imagine - Bruce Logan, freestyle champion USA - and the Logan earth ski was all he could come up with. I reckon he only sold them because Tony Alva rode them briefly (at least for the photo shoots) so every kid thought they had to have one. Compare that to the Saurus - same time adjacent galaxy. The Saurus was a triumph of forward synthetic thinking whereas the Logan Earth Ski was defeat via style and nolstagia. In fact the Saurus is the story of Australia. The right idea - always a pioneering idea - way ahead of its time.
Michael, has Sean shown his beloved Duralite Bob Biniak model? The way I remember, they’re pretty cool. But the Saurus was strangely ahead of its time, no doubt about it.
Bruce and Brad and Ellen all at once.
Dear Bruce/Brad/Ellen. You only did the Duralite BB model because Tony left you - you were forced to make an attempt at progress. Shaun keeps his away from the cruel light of day and the chance that it may be exposed to the radiant glow of a rare surviving Saurus which would forever dull its dim aura. I’ve no doubt its a very pretty thing and you could certaintly get a two wheel carve on the coping as BB proved, but imagine a Saurus with ongoing development made of ply, with Bennetts (carefully copied by Castcraft of course) and some sort of way out wierd composite slot mag injected urethane wheel (sounds like a proto coretech). I think it still would have killed compared to your imperialist dog capitalist cuban cigar hating slalom cone squashing equipment of the same time.
MM - re:having a go at Bondi: Just give the MASH lads a shout via this fine forum, and I’m sure we can scare up a few folks to come and play with you! Commonly, early Saturday morning is Bondi time, but I’m sure someone will be available. I’d say me (as I live within walking distance) but domestic and child rearing duties mean I am as reliable as a chocolate watch.
I’ve scanned the Saurus artwork and put together a few photos of the boards. Might even be able to scrape up a Power Pivot or two.
Would rather send these direct to your email address. Send me a PM with your details and I’ll get the stuff to you.
Regarding your suggestion about Australian Mountain Ash or Tasmanian Blackwood, I think you’ll find both of these are considerably heavier than Ramin. My best guess would be to browse the Internet to get the weight per m3 and tensile strength for Ramin and then try to find a light coloured, fine grained softwood with similar characteristics. Again the Internet should make that a lot easier than the same exercise was back in 75.
You may even find that there is plantation-grown Ramin available and that would solve the “protected species” problem right there.
Dear Bruce, Brad and Ellen (and Le Corbusier - though you should shut up and go back to being dead since you were such a loud mouth when alive and anyway you had a good innings) -
I saw today for the first time Sean’s beautiful collection of your various models in mint unused condition. Yes it did take me back in time. I notice that Bruce’s model and Ellen’s were both flat pretty little things with kicktails (pretty much minature pintail surfboards) and my opinion stands on those. However the Biniak is something else. Its basically a Zephre in ply with a kicktail Slight rocker throughout with a sharper kick in the rocker right at the nose where the front trucks go and the kicktail starts almost mid way through the back truck mounts which would also give an increased rocker effect.
Old School Richie bought a kick tail rocker along to Canberra with him that is pretty much a Bob Biniak Logan Earth Ski if you ask me. Old School Richie has all the best boards. I made a stencil with Sean’s kind permission and I’m going to try and make some BB riders. Since they have no concave I reckon this is doable.
So OK - the Biniak is a good board.
Sean also has a DHD Edwards rocker board - ace. And a Lonnie Toft 10inch pig. Too much. The Lonnie Toft looks like the perfect skateboard if you ask me.
Dave thanks .My E mail adress is the same as the missus adress it is firstname.lastname@example.org I hope this works as we have been experiecing some problems recently. hopefully it is fixed now. Next week I find out about getting some Ramin this is small stock and may have to be edge glued to make the width required.If this is the case it will be done using epoxy which has given me good results in the past. Some power pivots would be handy as all I have ,have one side used. Last resort was to use some brand new Reflex ones I have. I would go to the trouble of machining some up from pvdf plastic if need be. Pvdf plastic is white but I can also get polly prop in white as well.I have noticed the edges of power pivots are not 90 degrees so i would get a cutter made to suit. I look for ward to your E mail Yours in skating Richie.
Rich, if its not to much trouble, can I have one as well.
Yeah, Markham got to me, and after many an in depth discussions, he has made me see the light on having a Saurus in my collection.
Sean(not logged in sorry)
David,Michael and Sean, I am only making 3 boards however the three of you will be the only people to get them in OZ made by me.I can apreciate the fact that these boards will have a lot of meaning for you three.This will be an honour for me to build them as these boards will be a tribute to there designer. AUSTRALIA’S skate board ledgend David Hill.I don’t think I personally need one because I will only thrash it to death. We all know how well they ride and they are adictive.These three boards will be well looked after by you guys. I can still get by with my boards like the one I gave Michael in Canberra.They have enough Saurus charactaristics to satify my needs. I won’t feel guilty if I damage one.By the way Sean Makaha are making replicas of their 1963 and64 boards their site is www.shop.makahaskateboards.com. $ 299 US 1963 may be already sold out .I think50 of each style were built.Michael if you want to laminate BB type decks I can give you details of the improvised moulds that I use to make most of my other decks. The concave ones I make are a lot trickier and require a very high skill level, but flat single or double kicks and rockers are easy.Might put some stuff up on CHARLIE later Richie.