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John Lobb Paris shoe tree damage... no, really, thoughts on options for repair?

TheWGP

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I'm looking to evaluate repair possibilities for this pair of shoe trees. They are in the lower range from John Lobb Paris, the older style with the "screw-down adjustable" bit in them. The photo should make clear what I mean. The issue is that on both trees, on the heel piece's adjustable, rectangular connecting metal bit, the little "pins" have snapped off where they'd usually fit into the forefront of the tree. Thus, each shoe tree is in two halves. Because these are adjustable (so the rectangular metal bit is in fact removable) and the housing for the pins on the forefoot is easily removable via two screws, I really wonder if there might be a repair possibility - all I really need is a tiny bit of metal for each tree and they're good as new. Does anyone think there's any possibility of locating something like this? I've debated whether calling the NYC John Lobb Paris store would be a possibility or not; obviously, the shoe tree design has long since changed, but perhaps others have had this same issue and the design DOES seem somewhat flawed - there's a reason they changed it, after all. If no way exists to get the original bit, any ideas about home-based repairs? I've got the trees, after all, and they're very nice - it seems a shame to trash them for want of a pin connecting the metal bits. Here's a representative photo of one tree. But for this issue, the trees are in excellent shape, look great, and I'm really hoping I can figure out a way to make them usable.
EDIT: Here's two additional photos trying to show detail:
 

SnarlPatrick

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Ok, here's my thoughts. Firstly, you need suitable metal rods of the right diameter. I keep boxes and boxes of metal scrap around here and could find something that would work. As far as buying them.... idk

You're not going to be able to weld or braze the new pins back onto the metal piece, too difficult and too much potential to damage it. So what I'd recommend doing is drilling a hole through the metal in the forefoot, threading the new pins through there and super-gluing them in place.

Make sure that you use a punch to place the start of the hole exactly where it needs to be. If you just put the drill bit where you want it, it will travel before it bites into the metal and it won't line up right.


If you post more photos, I might be able to be more helpful.

(It looks like I've misunderstood. The "pins" aren't round right? They are shaped to fit into the rectangular metal piece on the right? In that case, you'd have to cut and file your own piece to match. But I'd still recommend cutting a slot in the forefoot piece, rather than trying to weld them)
 

TheWGP

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First off, thanks for your help and comments! I've put two additional photos in the OP to see if that helps. I think, if I'm reading what you said right, that the additional information there and written below will make it more clear. As far as I can tell, the metal part is just screwed onto the forefoot piece - and the "pins" from the protruding rectangular metal bit from the heel piece are supposed to be socketed in a tiny hollow space underneath this metal part on the forefoot before it's screwed down. Thus, replacement operations would be: remove forefoot piece, insert (diagonally) rectangular protruding metal bit with pins, slip into sockets (which are really just grooves in the bottom of the forefoot piece) and then re-screw-down the forefoot piece. The thing is, you're right - my first thought was to somehow attach new pins to the sides of the heel piece protruding rectangular metal bits. I just don't see how that's ever going to be possible, and even if I somehow manage it, the same breakage will happen again, presumably. I don't think attaching a metal pin to the FOREFOOT will help me, will it? There'd still be no way to attach the pin to the rear piece, right? If the design were "hooks over the pin" that would work, but this is "pins protrude from the side." I'm not really sure anything other than calling JLP and praying they have spare parts for that protruding rectangular "adjustment bit" on the heel piece is going to really yield a functional tree, so long as I can't get pins onto that heel piece.
Edit: Yes, you're right - but the pins were broken off the sticking-out bit from the HEEL piece. Those pins then fit into the small hole on the metal bit on the forefoot, allowing rotation. This is best visible in photo #2 - look at the left side, right above the letter J - you can just barely see the hole that the pin rotates in. BTW, yes, the pins were round - they had to be for rotation purposes.
 

cptjeff

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Just call JL. Hell, they may even send you new trees.
 

durstgt

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This is easy. Drill two holes 5 mm deep on both sides of the brass male piece (attached to the heel). Use a punch like mentioned before to keep your drill bit from walking. Buy two appropriate diameter dowel pins from McMaster-Carr. http://www.mcmaster.com/#dowel-pins/=b8ewc9, get pins that match whatever diameter drill bit you are using. If you get the 316 or 416 stainless steel pins, they will not break off. Take the female piece off the front of the shoe tree, and see if you can see the holes from the outside of the brass part. If so, align the holes on it with the newly drilled holes in the male piece, and insert the pins. It's easiest to press dowel pins in with a hydraulic press, but since you probably don't have one you can use a bench vise. Worst case, tap them in gently with a hammer, but be careful to keep things lined up and not bend the male piece. Reattach the female piece to the tree and you should be good to go.
 

TheWGP

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Just called the NYC Lobb store, and they want me to send them in so they can evaluate. I figure, 11.65 for a priority flat rate box with delivery confirmation is worth a shot at having them repair or replace it. The guy on the phone seemed to know exactly what was wrong with them as soon as I explained which model they were, and apparently they've done this before.

I hadn't thought about drilling into the male piece to put a dowel in - that's a great idea. My only concern is the extreme small size of the male piece - even with a punch I'm afraid I'll have a difficult time with them.

If I get them back from Lobb un-repaired for some reason I'll definitely pursue the dowel method.

Thanks to you all for your helpful comments!
 

patrickBOOTH

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Cant you just stick both pieces into the shoe? Wouldn't that accomplish what they are supposed to?
 

TheWGP

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Originally Posted by patrickBOOTH
Cant you just stick both pieces into the shoe? Wouldn't that accomplish what they are supposed to?

That's what I've attempted to do - but what happens is, the "male" bit ends up sliding over the "female" bit and not holding down in the "socket" - the end result is the forefoot loosely jammed into the front of the shoe, and the heel part just rattling around in back. I.E. there's no tension or anything holding anything in place.
 

TheWGP

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Just to update: Lobb's still got the trees, but is apparently having some difficulty with the home office on it - not sure what's going on exactly. They've been very apologetic, but it's been coming up on two months now they've been just sitting on someone's desk with nothing happening.

Anyone dealt with Kelly at Lobb NYC / know if she's a manager, etc? I'm not complaining at all, but they initially indicated (or so I thought) a much speedier resolution and that I should just call back every week. I've since only called back every 2-3 weeks, but it is getting tedious. Tempted to forget about them, but at this rate I could have fixed them myself by now!
 

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