Backfire Ranger X1, a re-build.

Hi Guys,

This is the re-building of a Backfire Ranger X1, one from the first batch in the Indigogo campaign back
in 2018, though delivered early 2019. This was my first ESK8 and I was super excited about finally
getting one. I’m knocking 50 and used to skate in the late 70’s as a kid. But really the 80’s was my skate era. In the late eighties I saw my first powered skate board, a local guy had connected an RC nitro engine to a home cooked live axel truck. Quite fast, lots of noise, no brakes, a true death trap!
Ever since seeing this thing, I’ve wanted to ride a powered board, but have held off for years about
actually building one. When I saw the Ranger I was pretty amazed at the spec for only £650 ish, I
think it was $699. As it turned out, it performed as advertised and despite the battery slowly fadeing
away, it has run faultlessly ever since.

Right up untill this -

It actually happened while dropping the deck on the ground, I heard the crack but I couldn’t see it
at first. A second later, as I stood on it, it just folded. AHH SHIT!
The timing was especially shit, as I had very little work since covid and debt was mounting!
So, to the garage and make one out of what I can find,seriously.
Fortunatly, there is various composite supplies, odds and sods of vac bagging equiptment etc.
Though there was a few meters of 450g 12k, there wes never going to be enough for a solid carbon
board. So, I ended up going a very experimental route. I found an off cut of 25mm pvc foam board.
I built a chair from this years ago and the thing still stands, so clearly it’s fine for a skateboard, I hope.

This was going to be a mouldless lay-up, like a surf board, over a foam core, only it’s PVC.

It’s really easy to cut with a jig saw, and round off with a router.
Because I wasn’t doing a drop through, I had to increase the drop on the board to compensate.
Bends are made with a heat gun, just take your time and bounce from one side to the other
and allow the heat to soak in untill it bends with little effort.

This is a bit of a slab, with no concave and really I should have given it some.

No mould, no jig, winging it!
The board was given a coat of 2k hi- build primer, and a few patches of filler.
Then straight onto a huge vac bag, pre-tapped and ready to go.


This was a wet lay up, first a quick brush over with laminating epoxy resine, then build up
first one layer of 390g E-glass, then two of the 450g 12k carbon. Then peelply and breather
cloth to soak up excess resine.

Brain fart number 1.
I laminated the top first, then flipped it over to do the other side, and the first side fell off.
Somehow, as I slowly pulled the vacuum, I managed to massage it back into place and do what I
could to get the edges to line up straight. This then sat in the sun under vac to harden up.

This part of the process only took a couple of days and for my birthday present on the 21 june,
I unwrapped a new skate board!

It might be called peelply but it’s more like tare the shit out of it, and try not to stab yourself in the
process. Not the most fun I’ve had on a birthday, but satisfying to see it emerge from the bag.

It’s better than expected, even the edges are pretty good.
Not exactly flexy, but there is movement, a little.


The edges were cut with a vibro saw and sanded back before giving the whole thing a wet sand down.
Then with four screws in each side to keep it up, I gave it a brush coat of the same epoxy.

Around the edges I troweled on a layer of epoxy mixed with micro glass bubbles and black pigment.

I drilled the holes and popped in the m6 threaded inserts and gave it a dry run.
I also put on my old Freeboard bindless bindings and the only grip tape I could find!

Yep, they are phillips heads.It’s all I could find. And some very bald Onewheel leftovers.
Much to my amazment, it rides very nice. Initially it felt a bit of a rock but strangly it seems
to absorb alot of vibes. I changed the rear angle to lessen the steering output and there is a
noticable improvement in a more stable rear, especially on fast carving (an eye watering 21 MPH!).
Next was a rattle can coat of clear, though it was a 2k catalized polyurethane. I managed to squeeze
one tack coat then two good wet coats before the can was empty. This can was about ten years old
and truely amazing it still worked!

This was then given a wet sand with 1000 grit then polished with Raw 900 compound on a fresh pad.
In a way the gloss hides most of the imperfections, but looks good up close.


After the polish I fitted it up with the only purchased part, new grip tape!

It wouldn’t be right not to include some gaffer tape!


One of my favourite things about 80’s skateboards was the artwork, especially Jim Phillips at
Santa Cruz. I went with the classic slasher but with out the Beastie and a Moog in place.
For those who have never heard of the Moog go check out an episode of “Willow the wisp” for a slice
of 80’s English comic crazyness.

First gold size, it’s really just varnish, let it get tacky (have a test area along side) then apply the gold.
Catching the timing right, i.e. not 100% set, but close, give it a turn with a felt polishing pad in an
electric drill. Then a couple of coats over top to seal it in. Then on to the Oneshot paints.


Hell yes! I’m a sign guy so I have One Shot in my veins. Warms my heart to see it on a board (and gold leaf also). Great work :clap:t2:


Nice write up, and nice board!
My only concern is about this drop-down, Isn’t your battery rubbing on the ground? :cold_face:

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Hi David, it’s actually not as bad as it looks. Around 7cm clearance.

I’m thinking about building a new pack with only one layer of cells. This should give it a bit more.


Oh ok, the picture in the grass was concerning, but it’s looking ok!
Nice build :slight_smile:

Hi Dude, glad you like it. It’s ages since I’ve done any brush work, lots of fun.

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It is fun busting them out every once in a while (I don’t do it often enough)

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Some of you may have noticed just how bald my rear tires were. Actually starting to have holes
in semi-solid tires, maybe 2000 miles, so pretty good. The problem is they are not available any more.
Fortunatly, I swapped out the original fronts when they were almost new for pneumatic Trampa’s (over
two kg’s lighter!), so I have spares. But I thought that while I had some time I would re-mould the
originals so I can also play around with different compounds.

That really is1557g! Each!!

The original duro was 74 shore A. So I’m using that as a starting point.

First thing, clay it up on a board, just regular pottery clay.

Then smooth it out and clear up the edge.

Give it a couple of spray coats of Macwax, or any wax based release agent, dry between
the coats with a blast from a hair dryer then dust with Talc, regular baby talc. It helps the
gel coat bite on the waxed clay and to prevent fish eye. This is polyester gel coat, with 3%
catylist (MEKP). I also pressed in the end of a brush to make some keys to locate the halfs.

Here I have applied 7 layers of 190g E-glass, wetting out with a brush with polyester resin.

I get all my Fibreglass supplies from East coast fibreglass, in the UK, very helpful and they
always deliver next day, pretty much anything for £10. Top guys.

Flipped over, clay removed from the edge and the centre cleaned up. I usually use a triangle
cut, latex makeup sponge to clean up the very edge.

Again, waxed and talced ready for the gel coat.

6mm holes drilled around the flange.

Opened up, cleaned out. Then more 6mm holes inside to hold the core with threaded inserts
screwed down (the bolts were waxed, but not the insert). Notice, also I filled in the voids in the

Then filled with a liquid polyurethane that sets solid.

In order to get the liquid foam rubber in the mould I made an injector out of an old sealer tube.
I cleaned out the tube and re-moulded the plunger, so I could cast a new one straight on the end
of a piece of bamboo. It would have been almost impossible to glue the Polyprop plunger to
anything, also it’s kind of on the tight side. When you inject this, you need to move fast, so I
popped it in an electric drill and spun it in a piece of emery paper and reduced in down a touch.
I also drilled a few 0.5mm bleed holes each side, to let the air out. And a hole right through into
the core that becomes the filler point.

For the rubber I went with Smoothon’s Flexfoam 17, blended with a 90 shore solid rubber.
Most urethane products will blend, providing you pre-mix each component first, then combine
the two together. A word of caution, though. Although urethane hasn’t got much of a smell, it
is still a toxic product and I would always wear a carbon filtered mask when using it. I once
worked with a guy who died after a day of spraying urethane. It’s no joke.
The first couple out had voids and surface bubbles but once I guaged the mix they came out pretty
good. A few different blends and I got close to the originals. The funny thing is Flexfoam 17 was
almost perfect on it’s own.

The foam is consistent and has a good skin. But you really have to work quick to get it into the
mould before it starts expanding. The weight is also very close despite the differences.

The fit is really easy, just pop off the outer cover, leaving the hub nut on. Slide off the old one
and slide on the fresh one. Note the lack of any physical notches or groves in either the wheel
or the tire, but it seems to hold on (not exactly turbo power here).

The first ride and I could feel one tire initally vibrating but to my amazment it just faded away
over a few hundred meters, maybe seating it’s self. Then it felt pretty much the same as the
originals. Grip was good, though maybe less than the worn old ones, as the contact patch was
much less. But overall they were a useable set of tires. The thing is, they seem to improve as they
wear. The trouble though, is they wear pretty dam quick! 50 miles in and they look like originals
with 500 miles, big difference. My first thoughts was to slush in a layer of the 90 shore and build
up a tougher outer layer. But I’m not 100% you wouldn’t end up with an unbalanced tire. The good
thing with foam is they balance by being under pressure as it cures, evening it all up.
So far, I’ve stuck with my first good set and they are feeling good. I suspect I’ll be making another set
soon! Cost wise, I think you’re looking at over half a kilo of rubber per set, so maybe £15-20 a set
depending on how much you buy. There are big discounts on quantity, but it’s not good to store opened
products as it reacts with moisture in the air.
Next job battery. I’m slightly terrified about it, seriously!


Beautiful work @moog - really impressive job on the tires. How do they feel compared to pneumatics?


Thanks Bro. Much firmer than pneumatics but softer than solid rubber. You could go another
grade softer. I’ll have a play on the next run.


Damn! I was not expecting this level of awesome from a backfire rebuild!

Killer stuff dude!!! The ‘work with what you got’ ethos is a big favourite of mine!


Cheers dude. I’ve been watching your amazing battery builds, really impressive stuff, I’m taking notes.


I missed this first time around. Your work is very impressive. Love the tire section!

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Great work making your own tires and your custom paint is :100:. Very interesting work.

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@moog Very vice work! How do you compare air tires vs backfire airless tires? Does it feel very different when riding on street. I think I saw someone putting air tires on x1 hubs. I can search for it if you are interested.