home catalogue history references appendix 
sibley : surf sleds and boards, 1928 

Hi Sibley : Surf Sleds and Boards, 1928. 

Sibley, Hi: Surf Sleds and Boards
Popular Science Magazine
Volume 112 Number 6, June 1928, pages 79 and 96.

(Thanks to Howard Fink, April 2010)
Googlebooks- Hi Sibley: Surf Sled and Boards, 1928.

This 1928 article in Popular Science Magazine was identified  by Howard Fink as presented on googlebooks, April 2010.
Many thanks to Howard.

Reprinted in
Wakeling, Arthur (editor): Home Workshop Manual; how to make furniture, ship and airplane models ... sporting equipment.
Popular Science Pub. Co., New York, 1930, pages 340-341.
Hathi Trust

Page 79

Surf Sleds 
and Boards

Simple Ways to Build 
Them - One Type Is Only 
a Piece of Plywood,  yet 
It Gives Thrilling Sport



Fig. 1.
Most successful of the many varieties of surf 
boards used on the breakers of southern California 
is this lightweigty model made of plywood.

There used to be a tradition that no one but a native Hawaiian could ride a surf board.
Young America, expert in the sports of all nations, soon exploded that myth.
Now nearly every beach on the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts, as well as on the Great Lakes, has its devotees, some of whom have developed a fine skill.

Persistence and enthusiasm are required to master this exciting sport; it is matter of catching the right roller at right time- of climbing aboard just the comber is going over.
One can learn by practice better than by being told how to do it, but to start with one must have a suitable surf board or surf sled.
A sled requires a little more work to construct, but it will give the less skilled or less daring bather a sure-fire ride on the crest of the foam.
Both types are illustrated.

Surf boards are made in a large variety of styles to suit individual tastes, but the one which has proved the most successful on the breakers of southern California is the light plywood model shown in Fig. 1.
This illustrates a boy's size- about 4 1/2 ft. long.
A drawing at the bottom of Fig. 3 shows how to make its adult prototype.

A plywood board is desirable because of its lightness and the fact that it is not likely to split or warp.
It may be purchased from any cabinetmaker and from many lumber yards.
A three-layer piece about 1/2 in. thick is satisfactory, although a thicker piece of five-ply wood will make a more substantial board.

Saw the outlines as shown with a good keyhole or turning saw.
A sharp saw with comparatively fine teeth is to be preferred, as there will be less likelihood of tearing the wood.
The hand slot is made by boring two 3/4-in. holes about 5 in. apart and sawing out between them. The slot is only for convenience in carrying the board; it is not used in the surf.
The rider grips the sides of the board where he can shift his grip or let it go entirely if disaster looms.

Fig. 2. 
The surf sled can be used in any sea not too dangerous for ordinary bathing. 
The rider holds himself by the handgrips or lies flat on the deck. 
In Fig. 3 is shown a slightly improved design.

It is highly important to round off all sharp corners and edges to prevent cuts and bruises while in the turbulent surf.
You must also give the edges several coats of spar varnish so there will be no possibility of the water's soaking in between the layers and loosening them.

As the plywood usually has a beautiful grain, a natural finish with spar varnish produces the most
attractive appearance.
First, however, paint in your star at the forward end.
Brilliant vermilion, or bright green with an out-line of gold, is effective.
On one board the writer made a gold-leaf star with green border.
It is a good idea to b put your initials and address at the lower end of  the board, for anything as much in demand as a surf board has a tendency to wander from the home strand.

Because the lower end is cut to fit the body, the bather is able to walk out facing the surf and looking for an accommodating wave (Fig. 4).
When it comes he quickly swings the light board around and climbs aboard for a swift and merry trip.

Take great care that the nose of the board is always tilted up.
If it goes down and likes the sand, with a big breaker behind, painful injury may result.

Fig. 3.
The surf sled is a frame of light white pine covered with galvanised iron; the surf board merely sawed from plywood.
(Images adjusted)

With a surf sled such as illustrated in Fig. 2 and the drawings in the upper part of Fig. 3, the rankest amateur is guaranteed a successful, hair-raising trip, provided he once gets it out to the starting point.
Being sufficiently buoyant to support a heavy adult, the sled calls for little skill except in the matter of getting under way and has a great advantage in that it can be used successfUlly in much lighter surf than the surf board.
It even can be used as a float or raft in calm weather and will always be in demand.

This type of sled is fairly light for a grown person to manage, but it is not the thing for a youngster to tackle, except in moderate seas, because of the tremendous force with which waves may strike it broadside.
Note that all edges and corners are rounded, so that if one has a spill and is struck by his mount, it will not leave any appreciable dents.
The vital importance of removing all protruding angles was learned after several beginners had become conspicuously bruised by screw eyes used in our first model.

The proper way to maneuver the surf sled is to walk into the surf at right angles, towing the sled behind you by the sash cord provided for that purpose.
It will slide over the oncoming breakers easily if the stern is lifted slightly.

Use light white pine for the framework and fasten it with flat-head wood screws, well countersunk. The ...
(Continued on page 98)

Fig. 4. 
The light plywood surf board is easy to handle. 
The lower end is cut so as to fit the body.
The bather takes this position when walking out into the surf.

Page 98
(Continued from page 79)
... ends should be rounded so that the galvanized sheet bottom can be carried up around them and fitted snugly at every point.
Have the top and bottom galvanized sheets cut about 3/8 in. narrower than the width of the frame, so that there will be no possibility of their protruding and injuring the bather.
Likewise, the corners of the sidepieces and handgrips must be rounded smoothly.

Before setting the sheet metal, paint the edges of the side boards with white lead and lay a strip of muslin or electrician's tape the entire length, taking care that there are no folds or wrinkles.
Cover this with a coat of white lead.
Then fasten the galvanized iron with nails about 3/4 in. long, staggered about 1 in. apart.
Drive them in well; then depress the edges of the metal into the wood (Fig. 3).

The cleats over the places where the galvanized sheets join each other should be drawn down tightly with screws, but first nail the ends of the sheets to the crosspieces to make the joints water-tight.

Follow your own taste in painting and trimming; green with orange striping is effective.
In any case, be sure the first coat dries thoroughly before applying the second.
Several coats of spar varllish will add to the life of the sled.

Sibley, Hi: Surf Sleds and Boards
Popular Science Magazine
Volume 112 Number 6, June 1928, pages 79 and 96.

Return to Surfer Bio menu
home catalogue history references appendix

Geoff Cater (2010-2017) : Hi Sibley : Surf Sleds and Boards, 1928.