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Iditarod sled repairs 101

By Dave Detling 11:14 PM February 28, 2014

Mushers ship extra sleds to checkpoints

WASILLA - If you need an Iditarod sled you go see Bernie Willis. He’s one of the top names in Alaska and a handful of mushers have him on speed dial.

He’s been building sleds for 50 years.

Building sleds is one thing, he says, maintaining them is a whole different beast.

“Wisdom comes as a result of dealing with mistakes,” Willis said.

He shows off one sled that’s experienced tough terrain.

“These runners are full of coarse grooves. They’re not even parallel,” Willis said. “The condition of these runners tell me the sled has been across roads or on bare ground.”

The sled builder says runners are easy to change and mushers should know how to repair their sled if they’re in a bind.

“You’re never at a competitive advantage with a broken sled,” he said. “You may be able to finish the trip but it’s no longer a race if you’ve busted your sled much.”

It’s recommended mushers carry extra equipment.

The list of must-haves include:

  • Hose clamps
  • Spare tools
  • Extra lines

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