Friday, April 25, 2014


I'm a little reluctant to include rails as a gimmick as they can serve a functional purpose, especially on ramps. Early 1990s street skating was quick to eschew all plastic accouterments that had been a staple of 1980s setups. The masses haven't exactly gone back in the twenty years since, although rails still have their fans today. The dearly departed vert powerhouse Blaize Blouin was a supporter of a plain board without plastics because that stuff was just extra weight. On the other hand, Kevin Staab and Joe Johnson would bend a rail around the nose of their boards to make it easier to grab. It might have even been for noseslides, too. Rails certainly can be acceptable as Lance Mountain, Jeff Grosso, and Jason Jessee's boards all look really cool. Ride 'em if you want to.

Paul Schmitt at Schmitt Stix was always tinkering with ways to improve skateboards and his rail designs offered a variety of options. The Type II model are designed to improve your grip with the extended edge. The other rails are low profile and would be good for street skating.

World Industries usually had the coolest stuff way back when. The Skinny Little White Boys were neat. I never had a set of Bedpan Risers, but I always wanted a pair.

Z-Products ditched mounting hardware altogether and came up with Z-Skinz. These were thin plastic rails that had an adhesive backing that you stuck on your board. I never had any. Matt Hensley had a couple photos with a Z-Skin stuck on his board so that probably helped them sell.

Finally, we have the Cellblock rails by Santa Cruz. They were experimenting with different sizes and shapes as well. I had a few sets of Cellblock rails. I think they did slide faster than Powell Peralta rails, but don't hold me to that.

The Mike Folmer photo is by Paul Schmitt.

Mike Folmer: Thrasher - January 1989 Volume 9 Number 1

World Industries Plastics: Thrasher - February 1989 Volume 9 Number 2

George Watanabe: Thrasher - January 1990 Volume 10 Number 1

Eric Dressen: Thrasher - May 1990 Volume 10 Number 5


Ben said...

The S.S. type 2 rails would cut my hands after I slid them a bit. I remember buying some rector gloves so my hands wouldn't get tore up while doing early grab airs. I have another idea for a week of posts. You could do tricks that have gone out of fashion. It could be launch ramp stuff, pressure flips, ollie grabs, etc.

stephen said...

great post. i remember when NOT putting rails on your board was like a new thing and feeling wierd about it. haha. i used to rock z skins too for a bit... they'd always fall off after a while though. rails were functional though. remember sex bolts vs woodscrews for mounting them? haha. it used to be way more involved setting up a new deck! whats even sillier than rails was that whole ripgrip craze. i remember fools with tons of spongy shit stuck all over the nose of their boards. oh... that kevin staab thing with the nose rail was funny too. i remember my friend eric dewitt used to mimic that. hahaha

Ben said...

Shit! Powell made nose bones, rib bones, rails, and never forget the tail guard. They had there own "rat bolts" to put them on. Santa Cruz rails came with "sex bolts" to mount the rails on. Imagine me as a twelve year old kid with a power drill and no knowledge how to use one. I messed up so many boards drilling holes in them trying to put rails on. I was shocked to learn drill bits came in different sizes. When I screwed the rails on they always popped out after a little while. I remember the rattle you would hear and be so bummed. That all stopped when Shackle Me Not came out. When I got my first H-street board in seventh grade I didn't put rails on it.

Ben said...

Wow! I just got it after typing my last post. Santa Cruz made "sex bolts" to "mount" their rails on. A male and female system. I was a pretty naive little kid.

Justin said...

I always used rails and then switched to slick bottom boards. It was a notable discovery for me when I found I could still do board slides on a plain board. I haven't used any plastics since.

I had a nose bone and a busted skid plate in the junk drawer in the garage that I thought about including.

There was a Schmitt ad that said NO SEX with sex in really big letters to announce their new mounting system.

I realize now I probably learned so much about the different types of bolts and how to properly use a drill from putting rails on boards. I'm thinking regular wood screws are the best way to mount rails.

Ben said...

I think I had the first everslick produced. It was made by B.B.C. It had prototype written on it and was numbered. I got it at Savannah Slamma 3.

Keith said...

Reading posts in reverse order so my zskin comment is in the next post.

I never understood the schmitt type 2 shape. Were your fingers supposed to grab under that little channel?

And with asymmetrical rails, I remember there not really being very clear instructions on which way they were supposed to be facing along the rail.

The first time I tried to drill some holes for a rubber nose guard on my very first pro board, I had the drill in reverse and I was trying to drill the first hole for hours before I figured out it was spinning in the wrong direction lol

One of the best shops in town would assemble completes and when they did the rails, they would just line up the rail, use the t-bolt/rat nut/sex bolt size drill bit and drill right through the hole in the rail rather than mark off where the holes should be. Lazy fuckers.