The weather here has been extremely cold lately, dipping down to as much as 17 below F, which is not unusual for Wisconsin in winter; however, this winter in particular, I have discovered a few things I would like to share.
I love cracking in the snow, but usually when I am, it is a beautiful winter day well above the freezing point with a broke-in favorite. This year especially, I have made a point to go out and crack every day, rain or shine, just to practice. After all, what is the point of a whip maker that cannot crack their own whips? With this, a discovery has been made during a new whip test crack, despite the most fluid wax formulas.
A brand new whip, with brand new wax will freeze. I am aware of brittle wax in winter with a new whip; however, I never really experienced it first hand before, as I had always skipped the super cold days, preferring to stay by the fire with the other sane people. When trying out a fresh whip for the first time, I saw exactly what is happening with it in the cold: At each stress point through the rollout, there appears an angle where the wax that was solid, “breaks” causing a hinge point intermittently along the thong. This hinge point is very stressful on the binding and will cause damage to your whip if you continue to force it when frozen.
Interestingly enough, I then took a very well used and very broke-in waxed whip out into the below-freezing cold and had no problems with hinging at all, which tells me that the issue with cracking in the cold is happily limited to a brand new whip and should not be much of a concern after a good break in period over the course of the summer or indoors.