Ski, Collapsible ; Holly ski a.k.a. Smith/Johnson ski ; Hinged ski; folding ski
Single hickory hinged ski that folds at the Kandahar-style binding with spring loaded cable. Steel edges. The hinge is manufactured from 4130 Chrome Moly steel, heat treated to 150,000 psi ultimate tensile strength. The weight of the two hinges and attaching screws in 14 ounces.
While skiing in the Mammoth mountain area of California in 1939 Robert Beaton Smith, a young aeronautical engineer, noticed a Swiss ski instructor fold a pair of skis to put into his small sports car. Smith liked the idea of such a ski and started work on his own design. The following year he had the opportunity to examine the Swiss hinge in detail. The mechanism was quite different from his own but the examination stimulated him to make improvements in his own design. With the onset of World War II, Mr. Smith's job of designing aircraft heated up considerably but he continued to refine his ideas and made a prototype pair of folding skis. Mr. Smith and his brother-in-law, J. Stanley Johnson formulated a plan to submit the concept to the ski troops for evaluation. Johnson, who owned Holly Heating and Manufacturing Company in Pasadena, California had the facilities to manufacture the prototypes and became the interface with the military. By September 9, 1942 General McNair, commander of the Army War College in Washington directed the Mountain and Winter Warfare Board to test 20 pair of the collapsible skis. Initial tests were planned for the Mountain Training Center at Camp Carson (Fort Carson), Colorado. Concurrently work was proceeding on the completion of construction of Camp Hale on Tennessee Pass, Colorado. Camp Hale was to become the Mountain Training Center for the U.S. Army where the full 10th Division would soon be assembled. Twenty pair of Northland hickory skis were furnished to Holly Heating by the army where the hinges were manufactured. In turn, Holly shipped the assembled skis to Camp Carson. Shortly after testing started there, the program was moved to Camp Hale where tests were scheduled for December 1942 and January 1943. Testing actually lasted four months altogether. Special efforts were made to use the skis in all types of snow, across dips, and on icy traverses. In fact, in one test of a similar designed ski, the skis and a set of poles were wrapped in a canvas covering and dropped about 2,500 feet from an airplane flying over Homestead Lake near Camp Hale. No damage was noted. Other problems were discovered, however. There was a noticeable loss of camber in the skis, but this problem was attributed to the wood not the hinge. The tests were considered successful but no plans were ever made to issue them except for in special situations. No other skis of this type were ever manufactured for the military. Robert Smith retained one pair for his personal use and continued to use them for 15 years before stowing them away in his attic. This ski is one from that pair.
Binding: Smith Delux//Norse Ski Co.//Seattle WA Ski | SIGI ENGL halfway between binding and tip.
Ski tip: Northland on the top, Sigi Engl on bottom.