Chop Lord: Max Capps DIY Skate Creations
If you have been on Facebook or Instagram lately you might have seen some of my crazy boards and builds. With a lot of help and inspiration from my best friend Key Dougherty, we have been trying to push the envelope with what can be done and achieved for a better race board. The time has come to explain the evolution and mind set to these racing creations.
It would be wrong not to start at the beginning. The rundown: The rivalry between the guys in Team Van has been a never ending inferno of smack talk and progression. With that, we pushed ourselves on the same road all the time to the brink. Run after run. We learned a lot about how our boards would react in different situations. After Fred Baumann cut Key the first narrow Ronins for Maryhill, and the race was over, Key came back home and tried to ride his setup on every hill he could, which led to the magic moment where we all rode his board at a Talega Slide Jam and had our minds blown. This was the start to the madness.
Of course I had to make one (on the left). S9 Roxanne, 9-8.25 wide, 24.5in wheelbase. I rode it with 140mm trucks and split degrees. It was the most fun I had ever had on a skateboard, a setup style we ended up naming the ‘little board’ (GMR/Maryhill style setup). I had already been riding smaller wheelbases, but this was next level. I wasn’t brave enough to ride it on the bigger hills yet so shortly after I was asked by Sector if I wanted something custom, the rebirth of an oldie (on the right). Another recreation of the Roxanne, a setup style we refer to as the ‘big board’ (normal style dh setup). The shapes of the boards were inspired by the countless runs we took on GMR.
Im regular foot; I cut the heel side rail in narrower so that I didnt have to move my feet over for the hard leaning left sweepers and slides (I preferred to hang my heels off the rail). I cut the toe side rail in so that I didnt have to move my back foot over for right turns. My feet would be totally locked in for slides and it also made a convenient pocket if I leaned onto it hard enough in right sweepers. The idea was that if I didnt have to move my feet as much I would have more control and would take less time to get ready for turns, to be faster. I think the best compliment I ever got was from P-Swiss after a fast run, “You never moved your feet once!”.
I rode these boards for a long time, the board on the right is what I was riding when I crashed at Angies and messed up my knees. Which is when the really cool stuff started to get made.
The first board I cut when I was hurt was another Roxanne (far left) with the intention of getting a Ronin Spine put into it. Key was already way ahead of me and had been getting his little boards wrapped in fiberglass. We had figured out that our boards were not as stiff as we had originally thought and had been having torsional twist issues, especially Key at 200lb+. This was important because a twisty deck could allow the trucks to turn out of sync; the front truck is at full lean but the back is flat, or the back is fully cranked turning and the front is just going straight. Both have their own issues. Papa Fred had already been making boards with Spines to stiffen up his GMR boards to fix twist issues and PSwiss had just got one in his board so I was jealous. This was convenient because I wanted a ‘heavy board’ to dampen road vibrations and have different slide/turn characteristics, so I asked Papa Fred to fit one in. Shortly after this I found out I needed ACL surgery so I was sidelined for awhile and didnt get to ride it for a long time.
Key and I both had heavy boards now so the natural choice was to make ‘light boards’. I have been known for riding a lot of different boards and our line of thinking is there is a specific setup for every race, so having a stack of different boards to pick from was the plan. Not even a week after I dropped off the spine board at Freds, I gutted two boards into skeletons for foam cores for Key and I. At the time we didnt have a place, material source, or the skills to really send it on finishing the boards the right way, and couldn’t find someone to do it for the right price so the whole project was put on the back burner.
Shortly after that, race season really kicked into gear and the crew was getting ready for Catalina / Maryhill / Whistler / Pikes / Angies. To be useful I would watch the guys take practice runs and help them improve each run. One of the biggest leaps was Key riding his little board at Whistler and qualifying 3rd, which is just ridiculous for someone of his weight, he just gripped the whole road. Patrick and Jimmy also rode their Maryhill/little board setups and rounded out the top 3. Thats when we knew we were onto something with the little board. At this point Key was determined to ride his little board everywhere no matter what, he got a lot of flack for it but we didnt care.
Around this time Sector 9 had just dropped the new DH line with fiberglass in them, they were exponentially stiffer/better than the previous boards and pretty much made all the project ideas I had obsolete because the tech the companies made had caught up to what we were trying. But not for Key while he was riding for Gravity.
Key had been thinking up all sorts of ways to stiffen up boards at this point. He made this ghetto C channel spine inspired and building on the GMR spine idea. Like a rock from the sky, the idea hit us that we should try rectangular tube stock instead. We also had a plan to make a badass Angies board to support a footbrake game plan. To compensate for a weak neck drop thru style he was after we retro-fit a tube frame to his pro model.
To say the least it was STIFF. So stiff that when he stood on the board it didnt budge even a hair. We looked at each other and just laughed for 5 minutes. Then we took the spine off the board, put it up on blocks and just stood right in the middle of it, same thing, didnt budge. We didnt expect it to work as well as it did. Jokingly Key suggested I put a tube spine in the boards we gutted for foam cores. After a few moments of blankly staring at each other in silence we both smiled and said “ We SHOULD do that”. Fast forward a few months and I have now moved from SoCal to Indiana where I finally got to finishing/starting this project.
Even though Sector had the special sauce now I still wanted to finish this board for the sake of exploration. The idea was the same as before, make it stiff and not twisty, but now I was pushing the boundaries of how to accomplish this. The metal spine slotted into the top of the wood frame, and then it would be wrapped in fiberglass to fill in all the other spaces and combine the pieces. With the brunt of the weight on the spine there wasn’t much need to make the rails super strong. This would allow the board to have some rail give for more feel. Again I didnt have the materials/know how to glass the board so the project was put on hold again. In the mean time I was easing back into skating again.
Fast forward a few more months and I was in Indiana for the Winter holidays. Thats when the Chop Lord thing started and really caught on. I was busy doing that and waiting on my knee to be good enough to slide/race again. In anticipation for the coming race season and a healthy knee I finally cut myself a new little board from a Javelin. A quick trip to Canada and I was back in California, with spine board in hand ready to get the last step done by my buddy Lonnie Leonelli.
Key was on Jet at this point. One day we went into Chaputs office as he was explaining the new construction for the coming Jet lineup race decks. Sure enough his new layup designs had matched drawings we made months before to compensate for torsion. We were hyped to be on the same wavelength as the master of crazy boards.
The fiberglass wrapped around the wood and spine and would meet the fiberglass on the top in the empty pockets, this created a glass ‘torsion box’ around the spine and wood. It didnt need the extra strength but it supported the wood frame so it wouldn’t break off. I was very happy with the final product, but was steadily shifting to riding the little board more and more, riding my little board Javelin at Catalina. That confused a lot of people but it put me in the semi-finals, a win in my book and another feather in the crazy board working hat. After a Mid-West race leg I made a batch of Sector 9 little boards for the team to ride at Maryhill. It was catching on.
After Maryhill I was done riding big boards and decided to make the switch to narrow trucks (130-140mm) and little board full time.
Coming back from Maryhill I had to make my own Mini Jav after making the batch for the homies (far left). An inch shorter and narrower than a normal Javelin, with 23-26in wheelbase options. This was my new go to board. I could run my wider hangers on this deck but I never did, and only used the 24.5 and 25.5 options. At this point I was totally used to sliding the narrow hangers and smaller wheelbase. With the newer Sector construction there was no worries about torsional rigidity, which is ironic because we spent so much time trying to fix that with old boards only to not have to. The new challenge was to continue trying to fit the little board into race strategies on tracks no one would think to ride a setup like that at. I rode this board on all the best hills SoCal had to offer, raced it at Pikes Peak and Whistler with fantastic results, even in the rain. The shape wasn’t crazy with hooks and swoops, but it was still narrow and had the same characteristics of boards past.
The focus now had shifted from construction and size to how can we make new tools with these boards. When the season was over Key convinced me to move my footstop over the front truck more, which was a HUGE deal for me. So I made a fresh deck with all that we had learned (far right) and finalized what would be my new favorite shape and board to ride for everything.
But there is no fun in leaving it at that, so another deck was cut (center board). Way back Key suggested I make a splitter for my board, which I did but it was more for novelty rather than performance. He continued onto saying I should make an aerodynamic body to clean up air under the board, essentially ground effects. Chaput had done this years and years ago, so we knew it was do able. First we tried to do it to his Angies drop thru board, but the foam we used to shape the body didnt like us. The second attempt would be on my board.
The foam didnt want to fully cure and kept shrinking when I would shape a section. Fail. I flew back to Indiana for the Winter again and ripped the foam off to try another direction.
The 6 wheeler has landed. I have made many of these when I was a grom. An old idea Chaput used all the time when he was racing. While Key and I were waiting for our flight leaving Pikes I tried to rush a 6 wheeler together, but didnt have enough time or the parts to make it work right, so it had to wait. Back home I had plenty of time to get it right. When I did it was magic.
Adding the extra truck and wheels to the front adds grip, but at the same time it doesn’t. You have more contact patch but less weight on each wheel. This is more ideal for heavier riders, but there is still a fair amount of mechanical grip from just the amount of thane touching the ground. This changed the feel completely, and gripped A LOT more. I was able to slow down twice as fast with half as long of a slide, this let me go deeper into turns before sliding, grip up sooner and create more exit speed. The downside is that its a bit heavier, and in most race rule books you are only allowed to use 4 wheels and 2 trucks. Sad day for this awesome board but thats how it goes. I took it on a few hill scouting trips and rode it down a bunch of gnarly roads with great results. Another successful project checked off my list.
After all these years the time had finally come. Make a foam core (left board) and an aero body (middle board). I made a knee jerk trip to the hardware store and bought some fiberglass and resin. A quick phone call from Zak let me know I got the wrong stuff and told me what I really should have got. Now I was on track to get this right the first try, because I usually don’t do do-overs haha. The plan was to use all that I had learned from the previous projects and nail this on the head. I did both boards at the same time.
I feel like these two boards are pretty straight forward build wise; cut the boards, shape the foam, glass em.
I spent a lot of time getting the clearance right for the aero body. There is only 1 setup that works with it without failure, certain width trucks and height wheels. This isn’t a problem for me though because thats all I ride.
On the foam core I was hoping the final product would be around 2 lbs, and the further I got through the build the more I was worried I wouldn’t hit that mark. The final weight would be 2.7 lbs. Still the lightest board I owned, and it didnt explode when I tried race pushing it up and down the street. Win. Same test with the aero body, carve around as hard as I can, no wheelbite. Win.
Of course the aero body was much more popular than anything else I have made, no one has seen one before. Then came the endless, “ha wheelbite much?” “what about this.. what about that…”. I must have face palmed enough times to make even the best meme feel ashamed. I can’t get mad at peoples ignorance though; they don’t know how much testing went into the idea, and the boards are done and work how I want, nothing else really matters after that.
The science of the board is to let as little air be under the board as possible. The effects are marginal at best but thats racing. Do every little thing you possibly can to get the edge, it could be the difference of winning and losing by a wheel width.
Key not letting anything be good enough laid another challenge on my plate; make a drop thru little board with narrow hangers. ACCEPTED.
The biggest hurdle is making the board have big enough cutouts to clear the wide wheels and narrow trucks, but try to keep enough wood so it doesn’t break as soon as I stand on it. Since Key and I make our wheel wells come all the way to the baseplates on our top mounts, this wasn’t going to be easy. Then I had the AH HA! moment where I thought to put wood on top of the nose and tail to fill in the cutouts and shape. This would both strengthen the board and allow me to stand right over the front truck and cutouts. I don’t think this has ever been done before and adds a new element to drop thru boards.
After I fit the pieces in I realized I was going to have strength issues still. I originally thought I could use my new glassing skills to remedy this, and I’m sure I could have but I wanted this to be a tank. In comes the tube spine from projects past. I didnt really need the spine for strength as I needed it to support the mounting areas and where the cutouts meet the body of the board. A lot of grinding, checking clearance and more grinding later; it gets the ok for final steps.
Sandwiched fiberglass between the board and end pieces, cleaned it up, paint, bolted it all together and boom.
Now I have 3 unique little boards for all sorts of situations. The dream is real. Next problem, not enough trucks to have them all together at once.
These are boards I could not have just walked into my sponsors place and asked, “could I have one of these and those”. I had to learn and push the limit myself. I come away from this with new skills, an understanding of how my boards work and what the possibilities are. I definitely wouldn’t have made them if it wasn’t for Key Dougherty planting thoughts in my head, Fred Baumann and Christ Chaput for leading the way with their creations and inspiration, and the help from Lonnie Leonelli and Zak Maytum.
If you have got this far I hope that you have learned more about boards you might have been wondering about, and why they even came into existence. This is not the end by a long shot.
If you missed my Skate[Slate] Day Job video, peep it here:
Thanks for reading! Keep checking in for whatever crazy stuff comes out of my bag of tricks.