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Author Topic: How to take care of skates?  (Read 34568 times)

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Offline Isk8NYC

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How to take care of skates?
« on: August 29, 2010, 11:08:40 PM »
Figure skates are the only required piece of equipment for this sport.  Someone on the old board said "Buy cheap, buy twice."  Skates are a great investment, with some resale value if you care for them properly.

How do you take care of skates properly?
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Offline Sk8tmum

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Re: How to take care of skates?
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2010, 07:05:48 AM »
1. A chamois to dry the blades. Works better than a towel.
2. GOOD soft covers. We tried cheap ones, and they simply didn't soak up any residual moisture. We also replace them if they get any signs of rust (as a result of sloppy blade drying).
3. Good hard guards, which we run through the dishwasher about every 6 weeks to take any grit out of the channels. Wearing a guard is not particularly effective if dirt has gotten inside them and the blade is pressing down on them in the guard.
4. Soaker/perspiration absorbers inside the boot. Cuts down on boot rot and stink. Very important with my son, sigh.
5. Taking the skates out of the bag, and the covers off, and letting them air dry (NEVER over a vent) after usage. We have a shelf in each kid's room for this purpose.
6. NEVER leaving them in the trunk, heat or cold.
7. Vented skate bags that let them air in the time between arena and home.
8. SnoSealing boots that don't have them already sealed (i.e. Riedells).
9. Using a good blade sharpener who checks the boots, the soles, and the blades and tells us what to do. Also lectures kids on any sloppy or lazy care of the skates  88)




Offline Isk8NYC

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Re: How to take care of skates?
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2010, 07:17:36 PM »
Whenever I store skates, I rub a little vaseline, WD-40 stick, or even candle wax over the edges. It keeps the damp from causing rust.  If they're going to be stored for a longer time, I put it on thick and cover with wax paper/rubber band, then the dry soakers over the top.  

Finding a good skate tech, as Sk8tmum points out, is critical.  I usually ask the pros at the rink for recommendations.  Some techs (if you have more than one) are better at fitting than sharpening, and vice versa.  
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Offline Sk8tmum

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Re: How to take care of skates?
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2010, 07:24:07 PM »
On the subject of sharpening: your blades may be sharp, but still need to be sharpened; nicks and chips in the edges are possible in nice sharp blades, and will definitely impact your skating quality.  Nicks from learning new jumps, stepping on something sharp by accident ... jumping on a steel rod in excitement ... 88)

We know the edge is gone when a fingernail, run along the edge, doesn't have anything pared off.

Offline kiwiskater

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Re: How to take care of skates?
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2010, 09:22:18 PM »
8. SnoSealing boots that don't have them already sealed (i.e. Riedells).

If you can't get SnoSeal then try looking for an identical product e.g. Nikwax - same stuff, different brand (I use them on my tramping boots :))

Offline scootie12

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Re: How to take care of skates?
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2010, 01:02:25 PM »
The single best maintenance you can do to increase the life of your skates is to ensure they are dried off properly.

All too often, skaters take off their skates, place soakers over the blades, and throw in their bag until next time.  HUGE no-no, lol.

I tend to do the following after each skate:

1. Wipe down the blades with a soft cotton towel.  I usually have a hand towel in my bag, so I wipe off the excess water on the blades, and also wipe around the blade, the sole, and quickly over my boot.  This literally takes all of 20 seconds per skate.

2. I place soakers on the blades...always make sure they are dry.  If you skate several times per day, perhaps two different soakers will work so you always have a dry pair handy.  I know some people that turn theirs inside out.

3. I'm usually either at the office or home directly from skating.  In either case I always make sure my skates are taken out of my bag and placed out to dry.  At home, I usually have my fan running, so I have this nice, cool spot where I can place my skates to air dry.  If I'm in my office, I usually put my skates in the corner and take home with me at the end of the day.  I avoid, at all costs, just leaving them in my trunk and out of the bag since there's no air circulation.

4. This is not exactly part of the other 3, but kinda in-line.  I always check my blades before I lace up my skates.  I do a quick wiggle test to make sure the blade isn't loose or shifting on the boot.  A common issue with skaters that don't properly dry their skates is water getting stuck between the blade and boot, which will eventually strip out the screws.  

As a side note, some skate specialists will permanently mount the blade with a layer of silicon between the sole and the blade plate.  Other specialists will simply make sure the sole is water-proofed and screw in the blades.  If you have a silicon layer, eventually the silicon will come out and it will cause your blade to come slightly loose.  Usually, you'll simply need to tighten the screws on the blade, but keep an eye out to make sure the blade doesn't *shift* from the original mounting.  Just mentioning since the positioning of the mounting can be the difference between skating well and skating badly. :)
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Offline kiwiskater

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Re: How to take care of skates?
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2010, 04:16:46 PM »
 

As a side note, some skate specialists will permanently mount the blade with a layer of silicon between the sole and the blade plate.  Other specialists will simply make sure the sole is water-proofed and screw in the blades.  If you have a silicon layer, eventually the silicon will come out and it will cause your blade to come slightly loose.  Usually, you'll simply need to tighten the screws on the blade, but keep an eye out to make sure the blade doesn't *shift* from the original mounting.  Just mentioning since the positioning of the mounting can be the difference between skating well and skating badly. :)

Ooh thanks for the tip - my skates come with a rubber layer covering the sole of the boot (it says 'Rubber Protected', and 'genuine leather' so I guess that means rubber protecting the leather sole? I'd never have known this could have an effect!

Offline Isk8NYC

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Re: How to take care of skates?
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2010, 05:00:21 PM »
Here's one we missed:

There are temporary mounting screws that go into the slotted holes on the blades' sole plate.  These let the fitter adjust the alignment when you first wear them, to get it just right.

Once you're sure the blades are aligned properly, get the permanent screws put into the round holes.  Those will hold the blades in place, especially if you jump.


Note: if you have recreational skates, the blades might be riveted in place, so this doesn't apply.  Some boot-and-blade sets already have the permanent holes in use.

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Offline scootie12

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Re: How to take care of skates?
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2010, 05:06:41 PM »
Ooh thanks for the tip - my skates come with a rubber layer covering the sole of the boot (it says 'Rubber Protected', and 'genuine leather' so I guess that means rubber protecting the leather sole? I'd never have known this could have an effect!

Hmm, I think you might be referencing something different.  

I know some skates have an extra rubber piece attached to, or covering, the sole, which is fine.  That would serve as an extra layer to prevent water from eventually rotting the sole.  What I'm talking about is a layer of silicon (sometimes epoxy glue) that holds the blade securely to the boot.  Some skate techs put it on the sole before mounting the blade in order to make sure both parts of the blade plates are "super glued" down.  This is great and will last for a long while, but eventually the silicon/glue will rot and it will slowly fall out from the mounting.  In many cases it will very slowly ooze out over time, and you can even pull on it....it is a bit stretchy.  

So what I was saying is once this glue layer is gone, the blade might feel loose, and you'll need to have the screws tightened.  This happened to me before, and as an extra precaution I had my skate guy drill in an extra screw to one of the open holes on the blade (my issue was with the heel part).


Not a huge big deal, but because of this, I always check my blades to make sure the screws aren't starting to strip or come loose.
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Offline JimStanmore

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How Do I Use Sno Seal
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2010, 04:12:36 PM »
I am receiving new boots on Wednesday and I want to make sure I treat them right.  My first ever pair of new boots, Jackson Freestyles, seemed to have lasted a year with just wiping down.  When they blades were changed last week, however, there were a few rust stains and some areas seemed raised - these were not related to the impression of the plate.  I don't want my SP Teri's to end up the same way after 11 months.  So,...

What are the best ways to use Sno Seal?
Does it just go on the sole of the boot?  i.e., do you also use it inside of the boot?
Should you wait before putting it on the sole of a new boot or can you do it right away?
How often do you reapply?
Does WD-40 work as well (ala skaterslandingtv)?
Any warnings about using Sno Seal?

(This info was in old posts, but I thought I would find out current info instead of resurrecting the old.)

Offline kiwiskater

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Re: How to take care of skates?
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2010, 04:24:19 PM »
What are the best ways to use Sno Seal?
Does it just go on the sole of the boot?  i.e., do you also use it inside of the boot?
Should you wait before putting it on the sole of a new boot or can you do it right away?
How often do you reapply?
Does WD-40 work as well (ala skaterslandingtv)?
Any warnings about using Sno Seal?

(This info was in old posts, but I thought I would find out current info instead of resurrecting the old.)

Jim - while I can't be specific about experience from a skate perspective I can from my tramping boots!

When using the snoseal, make sure you have a well ventilated room, I often do my waterproofing in the laundry & open the outside door, if it's anything like my Nixwax you'll want to vent the fumes when using a fresh tin.

Apply only to the outside of the boot (soles and the entire outside of the boot) - it is there to repel water (which you don't get inside) it doesn't serve to apply to the inside as the boot still needs to breathe.

Reapplication depends on how often you skate & individual conditions (e.g. how much moisture do you expose the boot to e.g. by the way you skate or the level you skate at?), you might be able to see the layer of wax on the boot if you hold it up to the light in a particular way, look for inconsistencies in the waxy texture/sheen on the boot to tell you when to reapply.

hope this helps :)

Offline JimStanmore

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Re: How to take care of skates?
« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2010, 07:12:03 PM »
Thanks, kiwi.

I found this at http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080829205936AAxiJ0x.  Can anyone comment if this is about right?

Quote
"You only apply to the sole and I don't even worry about the sides that much. The most important place is where the blade attaches to the boot because the water can get under the plates and then the sole sits wet - that's when you have problems like screws falling out/stripping and screws breaking off b/c they remain wet. I also always replace all screws any time I remove a blade for service. I never replace the blade with old screws.

I use a heat gun to sno-seal boots and a sponge paint brush. I also do this a lot as I am a skate technician. It used to take me a really long time to sno-seal a pair of boots (with a hair dryer) now not so much. You want to put as many coats on as the leather will take. You will know that it cannot absorb any more wax when it won't melt into the leather anymore. I usually get about 20 - 25 coats or more on a pair of boots.

Source(s):
competitive skater - 8 years
coach - 17 years
boot fitter & skate technician - 9 years
skating mom - 7 years"

Offline Isk8NYC

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Re: How to take care of skates?
« Reply #12 on: October 04, 2010, 12:24:45 PM »
There are a lot of posers on Yahoo! Answers, so I rarely believe radical suggestions like using a heat-gun or putting plastic bags over your feet to mold skates faster.  I tried the plastic bags - I just felt like I ended up with sweaty feet inside the bags and none of that perspiration made it to the boot, where it was needed.

I've used heat guns to remove wall paper and paint - those suckers get hot enough to blister skin in a second!  I would NOT take a chance using one on my skates for waterproofing or for heat-molding.  (Then again, I'm not a skate tech.)

New skates usually won't absorb Sno-Seal because they have a layer of laquer or polyurethane on them.  You can wait until you see water marks, then remove the laquer/poly with steel wool and then apply sno-seal.

TYPES OF SKATES:
. If the bottoms of the skates are plastic/pvc, you don't need to waterproof them.
. If the bottoms of the skates are leather, but have a layer of plastic/PVC on the sole, waterproof the sides and any nicks/scratches in the sole.
. If the skates are all-leather, waterproof before the blades are attached.

Only waterproof as needed - when you see the leather's absorbing water from skating, it's time to get out the hairdryer.


I use WD-40 on the blades, but not the soles.  I don't know anyone who does that to their leather boots.  I'd be interested to see what the skate manufacturers say about that approach to waterproofing - I wonder if it would void the skate warranties?
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Offline Sierra

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Re: How to take care of skates?
« Reply #13 on: October 04, 2010, 01:06:21 PM »
Anything involving perspiration is not going to help the boot a bit. Perspiration contains bacteria from our feet, and bacteria eats protein. Leather is 98% protein. That's also a reason not to skate barefoot, even if you never sweat.

On other water/molding issues-
Y!A has several posters that tell people to do things like putting on a hot, wet sock to help break in boots. I believe I once read an answer that said to sit in a hot bath with the boots on. These suggestions make me cringe. Water and dampness just should not be brought near any sort of leather. I'm not a skate expert, but I do know how to care for leather products, especially important equipment (such as saddles.)

I had my skates lacquered because a coach told me to. According to skatingforums users, lacquer is not the best thing to use, as it chips and traps water. It hasn't chipped at all yet, but there's a place on the right boot where it's rubbed off from doing lunges, and water soaks in. I just let the skates air dry at home and the dark, wet spot disappears after a couple of hours. I now protect that area by not doing lunges. I had to do lunges before because it was a part of my program.
Maybe it just depends on how much the skater beats up the soles of their boots and the quality of the lacquer.

Rust- Here in Florida it's virtually impossible to keep low quality blades from rusting, due to the humidity. I haven't had any rust issues with my Aces, but on my old blades I used lime juice to wipe rust off. Works very well. You can use a bottle of juice such as ReaLime or a halved key lime.

Offline Isk8NYC

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Re: How to take care of skates?
« Reply #14 on: October 04, 2010, 01:14:12 PM »
Actually, it was an elite skate expert who recommended "sweating up the skates" after they'd dried out from disuse.  He was right and I used those skates for another four years.  I don't have a foot-bacteria or perspiration problem and I skated barefoot for years with no ill-effects on my feet or my skates.  Drying out leather makes it hard and stiff, not what you want for the inside of skates.
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Offline Kim to the Max

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Re: How to take care of skates?
« Reply #15 on: October 04, 2010, 01:50:21 PM »
I have used a heat gun to apply sno seal before and it works wonders! I used to have to sit there with a hair dryer forever until the leather opened up enough to accept the wax. It was really quick with the heat gun. I also didn't let the gun sit in one place too long.

Offline Isk8NYC

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Re: How to take care of skates?
« Reply #16 on: October 04, 2010, 02:25:13 PM »
On the other hand, I believe in Kim...about the heat gun: does it darken the leather?  How do you hold the skate and use the gun?  Where do you put it while you apply the wax so you don't burn or melt anything?
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Re: How to take care of skates?
« Reply #17 on: October 04, 2010, 02:38:14 PM »
Haha :)

The leather didn't darken any more than it did with the hair dryer.

I tend to sit on the floor to do them and I put the skate on the floor, and hold them by the blade while I use the heat gun to warm the leather. Then I turn the heat gun off and use my fingers to apply the wax. It will melt from there and then I blast it again to make sure the wax gets absorbed. I also take a while to do mine, so the blade doesn't get hot...but if you are directing the heat right, you don't hit the blade at all (which is what happens to me...the blade is only as warm as my hand..maybe a little warmer because of the radient heat from the gun).

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Re: How to take care of skates?
« Reply #18 on: October 09, 2010, 06:24:38 PM »
Quote
on my old blades I used lime juice to wipe rust off.
You can use ketchup too.  I use it to remove tarnish and rust from stuff...people laugh whenever I tell them, but it works great.  :)

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Re: How to take care of skates?
« Reply #19 on: October 10, 2010, 07:52:21 AM »
Ketchup contains vinegar, which is acidic like citrus fruits.

If you really have rust on your skates, just get them sharpened.
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Offline Query

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Re: How to take care of skates?
« Reply #20 on: October 10, 2010, 11:51:37 AM »
Vaseline contains a plasticizer [sp?], a substance that causes organic molecular chains to bond with each other. (I think that's the point of whole point of Vaseline - maybe it seals the cracks in your skin by binding them together.) It would modify the chemical bonds in leather. May not be a good idea. It seems to me that if you want to use an oil or grease, it makes sense to just use an oil or grease.

A very common oil used in maintaining leather is Neat's Foot Oil. But most types stain leather. Maybe the stain won't matter on the bottom of your sole. Lexol brand Leather Conditioner doesn't stain things much.
According to various Internet sources, oil droplets, not water, are used to lubricate the layers comprising skin and leather, and therefore make it more flexible ("supple"). Chemicals that "moisturize your skin" use oils, not water. Leather is primarily dried and preserved animal skin, and still behaves a lot like living skin. So soaking it in water is like soaking yourself in the bathtub too long. But leather is dead and can't heal itself. Leather that stays too wet cracks and fall apart, just like skin would.

I wouldn't use soap or alcohol to clean or keep the leather soft - they would cause water to mix with the oil droplets and kill the suppleness. I have been thinking of using a water/alcohol mix after punching (stretching) the leather over my ankle bones, so it becomes too hard to keep un-stretching itself, but I don't think most people would want to.

Heat guns: I think hair driers are less hot and safer, especially if you use a candy thermometer to check the temperature you are reaching at the boot surfaces. If my sources are correct, it is easy to weaken the threads and glues that hold the boot together (which is why each type of boot has a maximum heat molding temperature, which for many boots is as low as 185 deg F). E.g., glues hold together the layers of leather in leather heels, and may help bind the sole to the boot, or the layers within the boot to each other.

Perhaps a skilled professional can isolate the heat from a heat gun to just the places that won't be affected? But pro shop professionals don't always want boots to last forever.

WD-40 partially evaporates and is therefore of limited value as an oil. But it leaves a solid residue - I honestly don't know how well it works as a sealant. That's not what WD-40 is advertised to do, which is partly to penetrate things that have become rusted or clogged. Any oil might be used to help you buff the sole to make it pretty and shiny, but that is a separate matter from waterproofing it.

I think the idea that Bill_S has put on his website about using silicone instead of Sno-Seal should work, and might possibly be more durable than Sno-Seal. He seems very knowledgeable about mechanical things. You don't need more than room temperature heat, just a little time to let it set.


Offline Bill_S

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Re: How to take care of skates?
« Reply #21 on: October 10, 2010, 01:29:26 PM »
I use Silicon Seal under blades when mounting them. When the screws are tightened, the excess squeezes out and can be smoothed around the edges of the mounting plates. It waterproofs under the metal blade, and improves the fit because it cures into a "shim". The shim fills any voids under the mounting plate to prevent any water from collecting there.

However, I would not rub it on the entire sole because of adhesion problems - especially if the leather soles have been Sno Sealed previously. It just won't stick enough without being mechanically trapped between metal and leather. I've tried that - it flakes off.

I'd try thinned polyurethane before lacquer because lacquer isn't as durable or as water-resistant as polyurethane, and lacquer solvent contains acetone (nasty stuff). Thinning the polyurethane with mineral spirits, as is done when finishing wood, allows it to penetrate more deeply into the leather.

Some people use shellac, but while it is fast and easy to apply (the alcohol solvent smells pleasant and it dries in under an hour), shellac isn't known for good water resistance. It won't do the job long-term.

Concerning heat guns  - I use them to speed melting when Sno Sealing, but I am VERY careful not to get the nozzle too close, or to pause in one spot too long. Careless use can damage leather (burn it!) in a hurry, and I'm very aware of the potential for damage when using one.
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Re: How to take care of skates?
« Reply #22 on: October 10, 2010, 01:52:58 PM »
Hey Bill,

You had recommended using a certain size and type of stainless-steel screws for blade mounting.  Can you tell us the size/type we would typically need?

I noticed that some of the screws used to mount a student's blade were rusting, so I wanted to suggest they replace them before the rust stains develop further.
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Re: How to take care of skates?
« Reply #23 on: October 10, 2010, 06:42:42 PM »
I buy 18-8 stainless steel screws to resist rust. Most blade installs I've seen use cheap galvanized screws. Galvanizing provides substantial rust resistance, but the protection afforded will diminish over time. I prefer stainless for long-term protection.

You'll need four different screw sizes - #6  x 1/2" round (or pan) head, #6 x 1/2" flat head, #6 x3/4" round (or pan) head, and #6 x 3/4" flat head. I use Phillips heads (personal preference). I buy my screws in 100 pc. boxes from McMaster-Carr in the US. They cost between $3-$4 per box depending upon size.
 
The screws have a "sheet metal" thread with a standard point. These screws cut their own threads as you tighten them into the pilot hole you drill first. Don't confuse the sheet metal threads with machine screw threads that require tapped holes.  

Here's current pricing (late 2010) from McMaster-Carr...

#6 pan head x 3/4 long $4/100, part no. 92470A151
#6 pan head x 1/2 long $3.18/100, part no. 92470A148
#6 flat head x 1/2 long $2.97/100, part no. 90065A148
#6 flat head x 3/4 long $3.74/100, part no. 90065A151

http://www.mcmaster.com/#tapping-screws/=97xu1h

The longer 3/4" screws go into the heel. The short 1/2" screws go into the sole. If you get that wrong, you'll know it immediately when you try to put on your skates  ;)
Bill Schneider

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Re: How to take care of skates?
« Reply #24 on: October 10, 2010, 06:50:13 PM »
BTW, if you strip a screw on your skates, move up to larger #8 screws instead of #6. They are larger in diameter, but still fit through the mounting plate holes. The larger diameter will bite into the enlarged old hole usually without any trouble.

Don't overtighten any screw in boots! "Snug" is a good way to describe the feel of a properly tightened screw in leather. Leather is not the strongest material.
Bill Schneider