A few nights ago, I bent out 3 pairs of FKS brakes. They were bent for the following skis: 08 4FRNT STL, 08 Armada JP vs. Julien, and 08 Line EP Pro. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures, although they would have been incredibly helpful. I’ll do my best to explain my techniques and methods, but it might be hard to understand. Sorry! Props if you read the whole thing.
Anyway, I decided to use heat to aid the bending process. I heated with a blowtorch with MAP gas as fuel. For those of you who don’t know, map gas is a mixture of propane and acetylene. Propane itself will not yield a temperature high enough to heat the metal to red-hot, and acetylene itself requires the use of special equipment which I don’t have. The MAP gas was easy to work with and inexpensive.
I first had to determine how far out to bend the brakes. I used a caliper to attempt to be accurate, but the process wasn’t really that precise. I determined how far up from the end of the brake arm the new bend would need to be made at, marking on a popsicle stick for reference.
Then, I disassembled the baseplate. This isn’t too difficult, and there’s a great instructional thread on TGR (http://www.tetongravity.com/forums/showthread.php?t=24647&highlight=brake+bending). Anyway, I placed the brakes into the vise and got my broken ski pole ready.
The next thing I did was grab a pan of cold water. After bending the brakes, it might not be a bad idea to quench them. Quenching is a process of hardening steel, where after the steel has been heated and bent it is quickly dipped in water to keep it hard. Although this makes the steel a little more brittle, it will be stronger than if it was not quenched at all, and significantly stronger than if you cold-bend the brakes by hand.
Then, I fired up the torch and began heating. I first had to bend the brake arms straight out. To do this, I heated the original bend and within a half of an inch of the surrounding area. I took note of all the approximate angles of the brake arm, as I would be attempting to replicate them into the new bend. Be sure to go slow and be careful. After the arm was bent straight out, I quickly removed it from the vice (use a pliers to grab it, it will be really hot… duh) and dunked it in the pan of water. After it cooled, I put it back in the vise and used my popsicle stick to determine where the new bend was to be made. I heated that area to a red hot and slowly bent to the new specification. Once again, I dipped the steel into the water to aid in the hardening.
Repeat a few times, and you’ve got new widebrakes! A few things to note: When bending for really wide skis, the plastic brake foot will melt somewhat, if not entirely (depending how far out the new bend is). I don’t know how to get around this, but if you’re creative you could build a new one using a p-tex candle and a razor blade. You might also be able get new ones to put on from a shop, but don’t quote me on that. Also, the metal will be pretty haggard looking. I used some steel wool to polish it up to a nice silver sheen. If you want, you could repaint the brake arms, but I wasn’t that motivated.
Reassembly wasn’t as difficult as I had expected. Make sure you have a partner to help out here; otherwise it would be a HUGE pain in the ass. I didn’t need to squish the springs in a vice, although getting the spring in was the hardest part. Basically, we just fiddled around until we devised a system to get everything back together. We lined the spring up with the brake pad, pushed the bottom plate so the binding was together, sans metal tab engagement (see TGR thread). Then, we used a c-clamp to temporarily hold everything together while a flat-head screwdriver was used from the top to engage the metal tabs. Everything snaps back together and you’re ready to go!
Once again, sorry for the lack of pictures. Hopefully my explanation isn’t too bad. I’ll post pictures of the final products when they’re back from the shop. Good luck if you bend a set of your own, feel free to shoot me a PM if you have a question and I’ll try my best to answer it!