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Author Topic: Rebuilding boots?  (Read 6239 times)

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Offline jjane45

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Rebuilding boots?
« on: August 29, 2012, 08:34:16 PM »
This topic has been brought up recently here, and I am hoping to find out more details about the actual decision making process: Should the skater go for new boots ($$ hundreds) or just rebuild the current ones (~$50)? When to do it? How would it affect the fit?

Apparently boot manufacturer or reputable local shoe repair places can rebuild boots to restore the stiffness. I assume the boot manufacturers know what they are doing :)  Anyone with first hand experiences about shoe repair places? Is rebuilding leather boots considered a standard service? I mean, handing expensive boots to shops that never handled figure skates could be a bit of suspense! :P

I am happy with my Jackson Competitor boots, feet are no longer growing and jump contents won't change for a long time. They are slowly breaking down though. What factors should I consider between looking for a new (used) pair in the same specs or rebuild? If the decision is to rebuild, is there a preferred "timing" for best results? ASAP? Or boots need to be really worn to rebuild? Any risks involved especially considering fit? Say if some spots were punched out or stretched, would they be affected by rebuilding? :D 

There also seems to be different levels of rebuilding, a skate pro shop claims it can "buy a little time until the end of the season, or restore the boots to near-new condition".

Tips and stories please :love:

Offline jjane45

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Re: Rebuilding boots?
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2012, 09:04:59 PM »
Places that I see people mentioning for rebuilding skating boots:

Doubletoe mentioned Willie's in Los Angeles
Rainbo recommends Mont Clair in Chicago area
Cooke's Skate Supply in MA area


Recent FSU discussion starting at post #13

Offline FigureSpins

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Re: Rebuilding boots?
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2012, 09:21:34 PM »
Klingbeil rebuilds skates for their customers.  Don usually advises against a second rebuild, but maybe that's just special denial for his favorite pest.  :angel: 

I believe C&L Skates in Morris Plains, NJ still does skate rebuilds.  There's a limit of two maximum and I think the cost is $50.  I was surprised that they still offer the service; I always thought that the late "Uncle" Al Corona handled that part of the business. 

I had C&L rebuild my Riedells back in the 1980's, when they were at Sky Rink and later, South Mountain Arena.
The first rebuild was always excellent, the second made the skate too low-cut for my taste.
I turned them into patch boots by having the bottom toepick ground off and the ROH made more shallow.

The one really bad experience I had with rebuilt skates was that the process left beads of hard glue at the top edge of the boot.  I ended up with bleeding abrasions on my calf - still have the scar.  I finally wised up and used a suede brush to get rid of the glue bits and had no problem with the skates after that.


The process is this:

. Cut open the top of the boot along the stitching. 
. Back in the day, this meant removing the stitching.  Now, it entails trimming off the top of the boot at the stitching.
. One shop used to open up the entire top of the boot, from the eyelets to the heel strap. 
. Another just cut open the boot above the hooks. 
. Remove the inside support layers between the outer and inner layers of leather.  That may also include the padding.
. Use the removed material to trace and cut new material.
. Restuff the boot
. Glue the layers together
. Stitch along the top to close the seam permanently.


It felt like a different boot after it was rebuilt once and I never liked the second rebuild, even if it was just for figures. 

On my original Riedells, I would get maybe six months out of a pair of Gold Stars before I needed a rebuild.  The rebuilt skates only lasted about 3 months before they started feeling too-soft.  I think it's because the remaining leather had lost its stiffness by that time.

I switched to Klingbeils because I was spending a lot of money on skates and rebuilds with Riedell.  My first pair of Klingbeils lasted many years before needing to be rebuilt.  I actually outgrew them after I had my twins.
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Offline blue111moon

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Re: Rebuilding boots?
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2012, 06:29:36 AM »
I had Riedell rebuild an eight-year-old pair of Silver boots once because the sole rotted out and my blade ripped out while I was skating.  The boots that came back were like a brand-new pair, refinished inside and out, but they fit marvelously and lasted another five years.  All it cost me was the shipping to Riedell, because they said the sole failed because of "bad leather." :)

I'm not hard on my boots, though. Blades, yes, but not boots.

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Re: Rebuilding boots?
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2012, 05:17:14 PM »
BTW, when Don Klingbeil rebuilt mine, I had to re-stretch everything to make it fit again.

I don't think I'd trust a skate to a non-skate shoe repair person, if I had a choice. They don't understand how stiff skates need to be. The boot maker has experience rebuilding skates. But that's me.
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Offline jjane45

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Re: Rebuilding boots?
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2012, 05:27:27 PM »
Thanks everyone  :love:

How much does it generally cost to send the boots back to manufacturers? Turnaround time? I hear Riedell and Klingbeil mentioned, does Jackson or SP-Teri also do offer rebuilding service? Can Edea boots be rebuilt at all?

Our pro shop experts recommended the local shoe repair shop, so I guess they must know the basics at least, like what stiffness rating a certain major brand's model has. But yeah, I'd certainly be concerned if the shop had zero prior experience with figure skates.

Offline Janie

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Re: Rebuilding boots?
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2012, 06:45:44 PM »
Great thread! Thanks for sharing everyone!
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Offline Doubletoe

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Re: Rebuilding boots?
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2012, 07:19:04 PM »
When skates are rebuilt, they add an extra layer of leather on each side of the boot, and that does end up making them a tiny bit tighter.

Offline techskater

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Re: Rebuilding boots?
« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2012, 03:45:29 PM »
Montclare does a marvelous job.  Everyone I know that has had a rebuild here has had him do them.

Offline jjane45

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Re: Rebuilding boots?
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2013, 09:12:49 AM »
Well I guess it's time for me to rebuild those beat-up Jackson competitor boots now, although I just discovered my blade have only a tiny bit of sharpening life left.

Looking for more comments on the opening post. Would it take the approximately the same amount time to break in rebuilt skates compared to brand new skates? Many thanks!

Offline amy1984

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Re: Rebuilding boots?
« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2013, 02:57:43 PM »
I'm not an expert or anything but it was my understanding that a rebuild just eeks out a little more life... ie: a skater with a test or competition coming up and no time to break in skates.  I don't think it's meant to be a long term solution.  Yes, it's only $50 - but is it $50 well spent?  Would that $50 be better spent if invested in new skates?  I guess the answer depends on your reasons for the rebuild.  And I guess how long the rebuild would last would depend on the level of skating.  I'd contact the manufacturer and have a discussion about it.

Offline TDL

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Re: Rebuilding boots?
« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2013, 03:03:58 PM »
I had Montcllare rebuild my Riedell 2010LS boots and they seem to have done quite a good job.    They did require breaking in again, which makes sense to me given that the padding has been replaced.  Only been a couple of weeks since I started skating in them again, so can't yet speak about the duration of the work (but the boots broke down in the first place after only 6 1/2 months, so if  I can get even three months out of the rebuild, I will be happy).

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Re: Rebuilding boots?
« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2013, 05:37:24 PM »
Yes, it's only $50 - but is it $50 well spent?  Would that $50 be better spent if invested in new skates?

I agree... and having seen pictures of your boots, I'm not sure they are really the sort of thing a rebuild can address.  I think it's probably wise to invest in a new(er) pair of boots.

I have never had a pair of boots rebuilt... I'm not sure I ever will.  When I wear them out, I get a new pair.

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Re: Rebuilding boots?
« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2013, 05:45:02 PM »
I have heard that a rebuild will last about a year and that your skates will be tighter when you get them because they have added an extra layer of leather... this is back when boots were real leather without all of the extra thick padding that we see now.


Offline jjane45

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Re: Rebuilding boots?
« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2013, 06:03:29 PM »
I agree... and having seen pictures of your boots, I'm not sure they are really the sort of thing a rebuild can address.

would you kindly elaborate what issues do you see? when I talked to my sharpener last time, he said the boots can benefit from a rebuild, but he was too busy to talk more about cost benefit. I'm all ears, thank you so much!

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Re: Rebuilding boots?
« Reply #15 on: June 29, 2013, 06:57:02 PM »
The outer leather cracking... usually a boot rebuild has to do with replacing the inner layers and lining, so if you did have them rebuilt, the outer leather will remain, and I would worry about the remaining lifespan of the outer leather.  I guess what is the benefit of rebuilding vs buying new boots?  Is it just cost, or do you have other concerns as well?

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Re: Rebuilding boots?
« Reply #16 on: June 29, 2013, 07:28:03 PM »
I guess what is the benefit of rebuilding vs buying new boots?  Is it just cost, or do you have other concerns as well?

both. I got the boots to work and hesitate to dive into something completely new. there is also some (not a lot) life left in my blades, and it seems like a good idea to give the boots a little more life to match the blades.


The outer leather cracking... usually a boot rebuild has to do with replacing the inner layers and lining, so if you did have them rebuilt, the outer leather will remain, and I would worry about the remaining lifespan of the outer leather.

Thank you very much, I will visit the shoe repair shop and ask about the outer leather :)

also I think I'll mostly do moves and dance, with little spins and jumps, hope it's easier on the boots. more comments truly appreciated :)

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Re: Rebuilding boots?
« Reply #17 on: June 29, 2013, 08:02:49 PM »

also I think I'll mostly do moves and dance, with little spins and jumps, hope it's easier on the boots. more comments truly appreciated :)

My comment about hearing that rebuilds last about a year was from an ice-dancer perspective.

Offline amy1984

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Re: Rebuilding boots?
« Reply #18 on: June 29, 2013, 08:28:04 PM »
it seems like a good idea to give the boots a little more life to match the blades.

If you're not changing sizes, you can keep the blades! Even if the model you wear is usually sold as a set, you can usually purchase just the boot.

Offline jjane45

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Re: Rebuilding boots?
« Reply #19 on: June 29, 2013, 08:57:28 PM »
If you're not changing sizes, you can keep the blades! Even if the model you wear is usually sold as a set, you can usually purchase just the boot.

the blades would need to be remounted to the new boots (it took a few tries due to pronation), and I thought why all the hassle if there is not too much sharpening life left?

but then I may face adjusting to new boots and new blades at the same time... at least I'll try to keep everything in the same model.

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Re: Rebuilding boots?
« Reply #20 on: June 29, 2013, 09:29:12 PM »
There also seems to be different levels of rebuilding, a skate pro shop claims it can "buy a little time until the end of the season, or restore the boots to near-new condition".

I talked to my local shoe repair that everyone recommends, and they have 3 stiffness levels, they recommend medium.

Offline Query

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Re: Rebuilding boots?
« Reply #21 on: June 30, 2013, 11:16:29 PM »
I actually like my boots soft and broken down - I'm not really jumping much, and for low level ice dance, as long as they don't fold over, and I can still control the blades by aligning my ankle, stiffness isn't a problem. I don't want to reduce my range of motion in any way, just slow down the sideways bending a bit. So I continue to use broken down boots.

A manufacturer rebuild (at least from Klingbeil), as I understand it, consists of ripping apart the upper part of the boot at its seams,  completely replacing the stuff in between the inner and outer leather layers as far down as they can easily reach, including pretty much everything that gives boots their stiffness, and re-sewing the seams. So if a loss of stiffness, and/or maybe the formation of a crease that would be fixed by stiffening is the problem, a rebuild is an excellent long term solution. But they only rebuild the top of the boot, down to a little below where breakdown creases usually form. They don't modify the lower part of the boot - such as the toe box, or near the insole, or the part of the boot significantly beyond the front of your leg, because it would be too much work.

So, look at what is breaking down. If the seams are falling apart, it is a lost cause. If the problem is the lower part of the boots, it is a lost cause. (Exception: if the heel is starting to detach, that is separately fixable, and doesn't need a rebuild. Likewise, insoles are easily replaced.) But otherwise, if stiffening the upper part of the boot (such as where the "breakdown crease" usually forms) would fix all problems, a full manufacturer rebuild should be almost like a new pair of boots. They may not look new - but they will feel new, and should last nearly as long.

(However - if all your shoe store wants to do is to glue in a stiffening layer inside the boots, without tearing apart the seams and replacing the insides - that probably won't do as much. And if they aren't careful to "feather" (thin to nothingness) the edges of that layer, so you have an abrupt edge at the edges of that layer, it will be very uncomfortable._

All modern upper level figure skating boots (by which I mean boots that have an inner leather layer for comfort, an outer leather layer for looks and lacing, and one or more super-stiff layers of something in between that are the heart and sole of the boot), are much stiffer than any other type of shoe I know of (except downhill ski boots). So I'm not sure an ordinary shoe store would know what to use to replace the insides with that is stiff enough to do the job, especially if you ever jump. Unless they've worked on upper level skates before. Also, what they use might not be heat mold-able.

To ponder: Many serious skaters spend a lot more money on lessons, driving, ice time, blades(including sharpening), tests and comps than on boots. Maybe new boots are worth it, if they make you happier?
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Re: Rebuilding boots?
« Reply #22 on: July 01, 2013, 09:23:42 PM »
I got the boots rebuilt today, $65 same day pick up. They came back um... looking stiff without the previous ankle crease. Wearing them at home, can't tell much difference yet. For the punched-out areas, ball of foot and heel remain intact but ankles are affected. (If I understand correctly about 3" wide area on the sides got rebuilt.) I will report back on how they feel like on ice.

To ponder: Many serious skaters spend a lot more money on lessons, driving, ice time, blades(including sharpening), tests and comps than on boots. Maybe new boots are worth it, if they make you happier?

I hate to dispose of things with residual value unless someone else can use them properly. As long as safety / comfort / performance are not compromised, I try to make maximum use of everything. (grrrr I have this weird habit of making old computers work for friends...)

Also think why do people recycle?

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Re: Rebuilding boots?
« Reply #23 on: July 02, 2013, 12:36:52 PM »
I hate to dispose of things with residual value unless someone else can use them properly. As long as safety / comfort / performance are not compromised, I try to make maximum use of everything.

I don't have a problem with that, but I think of shoes/boots as having a limited lifespan - they're like tires.  You wouldn't keep using a set of tires with no tread left just because they still hold air - you'd replace them.

I think there is a really limited capacity for repairing boots - for me, as long as I can afford to replace them, that's the route I'll take.  I've really only seen rebuilds done at my rink in situations where the skater can't afford another pair of boots... it's done simply to buy some extra time before they absolutely have to be replaced.

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Re: Rebuilding boots?
« Reply #24 on: July 02, 2013, 09:38:52 PM »
Hope it works!
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