Max McCool: Rubber Sidewalls

Posted on July 25, 2009 by

Categories: Stringing

We’ve all been in a position where we’ve broken a sidewall string in the middle of a game. That got Lacrosse Playground’s resident stick-stringer thinking how he could do something to strengthen the sidewall strings and lengthen their life. Max came up with the Rubber Sidewall Experiment, where he tested melting rubber onto the sidewall strings. Still in its conceptual stage, here are his initial results:

thick-side


I did a lot of sidewall repairs last season, so I thought I’d do a little experimenting to see if I could make them any more durable. I found different sizes of heat shrink rubber tubing at my local Home Depot in the electrical section, so I thought I’d give it a shot. All you need for this is the rubber tubes, (about 2 bucks a pack), and a hair dryer or lighter.

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For the first side, I coated the entire string in rubber, adding a piece of rubber on each one as needed. I put the first two close together and heated them, but it still left a gap. When you are putting on the rubber, try to overlap the pieces so there are no gaps. I started with the bigger of the two rubber tubes, and they shrunk to just about the size of the string. It was still a little loose, and made stringing through the sidewall holes difficult.


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When you are heating the rubber, a lighter works quickly, but you really have to keep it moving. Hold the string vertical and the rubber will melt right up it. I found it easier to melt it evenly if I used a hair dryer. Kick it up to high and shrink that rubber. Make sure it has fully shrunk down, then let it cool. If you try to string or stretch it too quickly after you heat it, the rubber will get damaged or tear. It’s easier if you put them all on at the beginning, but it’s hard to get the rubber through the sidewalls if you’re using the big tubes.

overlapping

I pulled each section as tight as I could, but made sure not to rip the rubber. I got to the bottom and tied off the string. The rubber makes some pretty significant bumps where it comes out of the sidewall. This could give it a dampening effect, reducing ball rattle. However, if your stick is already pinched like an Evo, it might make the ball get stuck between the sides more often. That’s just something to watch out for.

For the second side, I started a couple of holes down where the ball will most often be. I’ve never seen a sidewall string break near the shooters because the ball never hits the side there.


thin-side


I cut inch long pieces of rubber and slid them on the tip of my string.

put-in-one-strip-in-between-holes

To make a tip: Melt the tip and roll it to a point. Then keep the lighter moving back and forth quickly to brown the edges of the string. Roll it between your fingers when it is soft to make the hard shoelace-type point.

melt-tip

For each section, I put the rubber on the sidewall string. As I got lower, I used more rubber to cover the loops around the plastic. This should keep the ball from severing the strings. By the time I reached the bottom, I was overlapping like I had done on the other side. For this side, however, I used the thinner tubes. It’s harder to fit your sidewall string through, but if you make the tip you should be able to force it through.

What to avoid: In order to get something with the strongest hold, you’ll want to avoid damaging or tearing the rubber. When you string the sidewalls try not to leave the end of the rubber exposed where the ball would hit. If the end of the rubber is exposed, the ball will start to peel the end of the rubber away from the string. Make sure it’s hidden in the sidewall or outside of it .


what-to-avoid


Another thing to avoid is over-heating your rubber or pulling the strings too tightly where hot. Otherwise you might get a rip or tear in the rubber.

When you are done you should get an end result that looks like the pictures below. If you have questions about how to do this, leave a question below and Max will answer your questions.


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thick-side

Posted in: Stringing

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  • Ricky Bobbay

    This is such a great idea! I always have to fix kids sticks on my team and I’m tired of it! Everyone always said it was safer to use a rubber!

  • Blake

    Does this work better than plasti-dipping your sidewall?

  • http://www.lacrosseplayground.com Max McCool

    You know something Blake, I’ve never tried using the plastic dip with sidewall strings. I’d imagine this method is much easier to apply in thin, even coats. As for durability however, your guess is as good as mine. Have you tried this already?

  • Blake Morris

    Max, Yeah I have, I used the plasti-dip spray. The only draw back is that because the string gets stiffer, it is hard to get the sidewalls as tight as you normally could. I sprayed the sidewall runners on one of my goalie heads that I did with open side walls. The ball does not rub goalie sidewalls very often though. I did a team mates shortie with it and he loved it, definitely stops common fraying but as for long run strength I am not sure.

  • Sean

    Electronics supply stores (and sometimes hardware stores) will have heat shrink tubing in 3-4 foot sections. This would be a much easier and cleaner looking option, imo.
    Cool idea.