June 21, 2012

Removing rubber from a Pre-fabricated Table Tennis Bat

You do not get Chinese Penhold style table tennis blades easily in India. In fact, it would be safe to generalize the previous line and say that you do not get Chinese penhold blades in India. I have been searching for years now and there are no distributors who stock them. I contacted the Yasaka distributors and they disappointed me, and then i directly contacted the Yasaka manufacturers in Japan and they disappointed me even more, with a bland 'NO' reply.

My hunt for Chinese penhold blades took an interesting turn when i stumbled on one in Decathlon; i least of all expected there. Nevertheless, the deal was good and i got an Artengo 880-0 for around 800 INR. The rubber looked interesting too; though it spun and was good during the first few days, i could see the spin and the speed deteriorating after a few days; with couple of hours each day. I decided to take this blade and apply my preferred rubbers on it instead. Rubbers are easily obtainable in India, but again they are slightly expensive; but still atleast you get it, unlike the choice with blades!

After having researched a bit on modus-operandi to be used in removing the rubber from a pre-fabricated bat, i decided that i will get it a try, after all, it was only a question of 800Rupees!

This is how it looks like(notice the small handle which is typical of a Chinese penhold grip) :

Then, was the step to remove the topsheet. A rubber is a combination of the topsheet and the sponge. Topsheet is what gives you the tackiness etc, and the combination of the topsheet and the sponge gives the much needed spin and the speed(not to mention the control). I started slowly peeling off the topsheet; a few suggested that i dip the bat in boiling hot water, but i was not sure whether it would destroy the actual blade or not; instead i slowly started from the ends and began peeling. The glue was strong and the topsheet stuck to the sponge at many places, but i kept on going and after sometime(say 15mins?) the topsheet came off separately as seen below.

Note the impression of the pimples on the sponge; the pimples are the depressions that you see on the topsheet. The kind of pimple also mandates the kind of play - for you would seen that some pimples are also visible outside - i.e, the smooth side would be glued to the sponge instead. More on pimples etc in a later post.

Then, i tried to remove the sponge; this was the toughest part. The sponge was just not budging and i had to slowly remove it in bits and pieces. It was like chiselling this tight sponge with one's nails; and it did hurt a lot!

Still , after around 20minutes, there were remnants of the rubber all along the blade which was just not coming out. I used a fine sandpaper and started rubbing on it; the rubber came off slowly as a dirt. At times, the sandpaper got REALLY hot. I tried to remove as much as possible using the sandpaper.

And then, i applied drops of nail-polish remover on small regions of the bat and started sandpapering more.This was a good move, nail-polish remover did help a lot and after around 30mins, i got a blade with one side clean. The same step was repeated for the other side.

So for around 22Rs[4Rs(sandpaper) and 18Rs(nailpolish remover)] and with 2hours of effort, i got a clean nice Chinese Penhold grip blade.

Try to do only one side on one day, the process really hurts your nails; i got a boil in one of my fingers by the time i was finished with one side.

I have applied Tibhar Aurus Soft(red) on my forehand and Tibhar Aurus(black) on my backhand now; and i do see a drastic improvement in my performance..so much so that i managed to stay till the 3rd round in a State Ranking tournament.
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